Hamilton: The USA, have we lost our marbles?
If Mrs. Bill Clinton does not “knuckle down,” get her “ducks” in a row, “toe the line,” start “playing for keeps,” and stop “fudging” the facts, Hillary is going to “lag” behind in a game of “Ringer,” and people will say Hillary has “lost all her marbles.” Wait. Stop. Is this some kind of political comment about Hillary Clinton?
No. The foregoing is merely an illustration of how the ancient game of Marbles has influenced our everyday language. How ancient? Ever since about 4000 B.C., little boys and even grown men in cultures ranging from Europe to the Americas have been playing some form of Marbles.
Those of a certain age may recall carrying a small cloth bag of marbles. We had our favorite “shooter,” a marble slightly larger than the 5/8th-inch diameter of our other marbles. On a suitable area of flat dirt, we scribed a ten-foot circle. Thirteen marbles were placed in the center of the circle in the form of a cross.
Then, we took turns seeing who could “lag” their shooter closest to the “lag line.” That determined who got to shoot first. The first shooter would “knuckle down” and continue to shoot as long as he or she kept knocking other marbles out of the ring. When he or she missed, the other player got to shoot. And, so it went, until all the marbles were all shot out of the ring.
We did not realize it at the time; however, there was something uniquely Western about how we played that simple game. The rules of the game were agreed upon in advance of play and every player expected that the rules would be followed. In advance, the players would decide if they were going to “play for keeps,” meaning if your favorite marble was shot out of the circle by another player, your favorite marble was lost to you, forever. Or, you could decide to play “for fair,” meaning everyone got their own marbles back at the end of play.
Here in the West, we grew up in what historians call the Westphalian Culture which means that a deal is a deal. Agreements, once made, are to be kept. Religion, skin color, or ethnic origin have nothing to do with whether the deal is honored or not.
When considering the recent “deal” with the Iranians that allows the Iranians to have $150 billion dollars in formerly frozen assets in return for promises the Iranians have no intention of keeping, bear in mind that Westphalia means nothing to the Islamists. The Peace of Westphalia was just some dead Christian white guys meeting in Mϋnster and Osnabrϋck in 1648. Moreover, the Islamic teaching of “taqiyya” encourages the Islamic faithful to deceive infidels. That’s us.
Lacking the Westphalian tradition, the Iranians have zero conception of “playing fair.” And the Iranians always play “for keeps.” Any sane person who followed the recent nuclear negotiations with the Iranians in Vienna would have to come to the conclusion that our negotiators must have “lost their marbles” and no one is ever going to be able to re-impose the economic sanctions that would force the Iranians give them back.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the Infantry School, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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