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11 november 2006

                                                                 

Mark Twain over de gemiddelde medemens

 

 

Mijn meningen over de gemiddelde medemens zijn wat pessimistischer - misanthropischer, cynischer, realistischer: u mag kiezen - dan in Nederland populair is, vooral onder mijn Nederlandse gemiddelde medemens, kiezer, politicus, academisch "opgeleid" of niet.

Wel, geachte lezer(es), hier is Mark Twain...

We zijn in het begin van hoofdstuk XXII van Huckleberry Finn, en "de gemeenschap" van een Amerikaans dorpje heeft besloten één hunner, een kolonel Sherburn, te gaan lynchen. Ze begeven zich in menigte naar zijn huis, waar hij na enige tijd uitkomt, met een geweer in de armen, waarna dit gebeurt - en Huckleberry Finn vertelt, opgetekend door Mark Twain:


Sherburn never said a word - just stood there, looking down. The stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to out-gaze him, but they couldn't; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that's got sand in it.

Then he says, slow and scornful:

"The idea of YOU lynching anybody! It's amusing. The idea of you thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a MAN! Because you're brave enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a MAN? Why, a MAN'S safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind - as long as it's daytime and you're not behind him.

"Do I know you? I know you clear through was born and raised in the South, and I've lived in the North; so I know the average all around. The average man's a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it. In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in the daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people - whereas you're just AS brave, and no braver. Why don't your juries hang murderers? Because they're afraid the man's friends will shoot them in the back, in the dark - and it's just what they WOULD do.

"So they always acquit; and then a MAN goes in the night, with a hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is, that you didn't bring a man with you; that's one mistake, and the other is that you didn't come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought PART of a man - Buck Harkness, there - and if you hadn't had him to start you, you'd a taken it out in blowing.

"You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and danger. YOU don't like trouble and danger. But if only HALF a man - like Buck Harkness, there - shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!' you're afraid to back down - afraid you'll be found out to be what you are - COWARDS - and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that's what an army is - a mob; they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any MAN at the head of it is BENEATH pitifulness. Now the thing for YOU to do is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real lynching's going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern fashion; and when they come they'll bring their masks, and fetch a MAN along. Now LEAVE - and take your half-a-man with you" - tossing his gun up across his left arm and cocking it when he says this.

The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn't want to.


Het is geen vrolijk mensbeeld, geef ik toe, maar de menselijke geschiedenis is overwegend weinig vrolijk, en verdient een rationele empirische verklaring - die Twain hierboven in althans één opzicht geeft, en die ik citeerde.

Daarbij: dat Jan en Jans Modaal heldhaftig noch intelligent zijn heeft ook vóórdelen, waarvan er één is dat een bevolking zonder ruggegraat ook meestal de ruggegraat mist - voorzover niet bezopen - elkaar actief en zelfstandig naar het leven te staan.

Het nadeel van dit voordeel is helaas dat ze ook geneigd zijn alles en iedereen die afwijkt van hun norm aan te geven bij de autoriteiten, zodra die bereid zijn afwijkenden te vervolgen.

Vandaar bijvoorbeeld de populariteit van Verdonk en Wilders, bij Ons Gewone Nederlandse Volk - want ooo wat zou het veel waarachtig gemeend Neerlands leedvermaak geven om al wie niet deugt en niet normaal is, en niet gezond autochtoon ook, ongetwijfeld, aan te geven en naar "werkkampen" en "heropvoedingskampen" te sturen! Ach ja, zoals Jezus zei: "Vader vergeef ze, want ze weten niet beter". (Hmmm ja, maar had de Heer in Zijn onmetelijke wijsheid en goedheid ze niet wat intelligenter en moediger kunnen maken?)

Maarten Maartensz

 

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