Posted on 7 Comments

‘Vivas To Those Who Have Failed’


The men and women of these reserve corps of destiny thus have various degrees of contact with their Adjusters through the intervening ministry of the midway creatures; but these same mortals are little known to their fellows except in those rare social emergencies and spiritual exigencies wherein these reserve personalities function for the prevention of the breakdown of evolutionary culture or the extinction of the light of living truth. On Urantia these reservists of destiny have seldom been emblazoned on the pages of human history.

                                                                                                               –  Urantia Book, p. 1258.1     


~ ~ ~ ~ ~                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Nature distributes the properties of its creatures according to a ‘Normal Curve’ … sometimes referred to as – The Bell-Shaped Curve  (because the center of it has the approximate shape of an open-downward bell :  high and rounded at the top, and then flaring outward at the bottom).

Let’s take height as an example.  

Not every human adult is the same height.  So, then, how is height distributed among a population?  The answer is – it’s distributed along a normal curve  [with height represented along the horizontal / (x) axis … and the number of individuals depicted by the vertical / (y) axis]

It means (normal distribution means) – that most of a population is close to average height, and then the further you look   (away) from the ‘average’ – the fewer individuals will be found to be of that height. A given height will be found to be rare … according to how far away it is from the norm / (the average).

In fact, the Bell-shaped curve was found to be so ubiquitous (so whereful, so everywhere) that (when we invented I.Q [ntelligence quotient] to measure human intelligence) it was (simply) assumed     –  that intelligence would (also) of course  – be distributed Normally (that is – according to, and along the usual bell-shaped curve.

But (for the purposes of this essay) –

The ubiquitousness of the normal curve means –  “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes the game gets rained out.”

That’s just normal.

John Burroughs points out  that –


“It is good that fire should burn, even if it consumes your house; it is good that force should crush, even if it crushes you; it is good that rain should fall, even if it destroys your crops and floods your land.  Plagues and pestilences attest to the constancy of natural law. They set us to cleaning our streets and houses and to readjusting our relations to outward nature. Only in a live universe could disease and death prevail.  Death is a phase of life, a redistribution of the type. Decay is another kind of growth.”


He is acknowledging that it is difficult and hazardous to live in a ‘live’ universe; but (he hopes that we will understand – that) only in a ‘real’ universe … do we have the possibility to create a meaningful life.


So … if a person has taken on (as a lifelong project) the development of their own character, and has made Doing the Right Thing a (mere) habit … a policy  – what are the chances that person will become a HERO  (known and beloved by many) ?

Slim, I expect.

Occasionally an heroic act will ‘hit the news’ … but it probably will NOT.

I’m pretty sure – that the number of unknown heroes far outweighs the number of known ones.


[And so (now) I wish to offer you a certain poem (which I came across just a few days ago) – as the core of this essay – 


“Vivas To Those Who Have Failed:

The Paterson Silk Strike, 1913″


Vivas to those who have fail’d!

And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!

And to those themselves who sank in the sea!

And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes!

And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!

                                                                                                   —Walt Whitman


    1. The Red Flag

The newspapers said the strikers would hoist

the red flag of anarchy over the silk mills

of Paterson. At the strike meeting, a dyers’ helper

from Naples rose as if from the steam of his labor,

lifted up  his hand and said here is the red flag:

brightly stained with dye for the silk of bow ties

and scarves, the skin and fingernails boiled away

for six dollars a week in the dye house.

He sat down without another word, sank back

into the fumes, name and face rubbed off

by oblivion’s thumb like a Roman coin

from the earth of his birthplace dug up

after a thousand years, as the strikers

shouted the only praise he would ever hear.


  II. The River Floods the Avenue

He was the other Valentino, not the romantic sheik

and bullfighter of silent movie palaces who died too young,

but the Valentino standing on his stoop to watch detectives

hired by the company bully strikebreakers onto a trolley

and a chorus of strikers bellowing the banned word scab.

He was not a striker or a scab, but the bullet fired to scatter

the crowd pulled the cork in the wine barrel of Valentino’s back.

His body, pale as the wings of a moth, lay beside his big-bellied wife.

Two white-veiled horses pulled the carriage to the cemetery.

Twenty thousand strikers walked behind the hearse, flooding

the avenue like the river that lit up the mills, surging around

the tombstones. Blood for blood, cried Tresca: at this signal,

thousands of hands dropped red carnations and ribbons

into the grave, till the coffin evaporated in a red sea.


  III. The Insects in the Soup

Reed was a Harvard man. He wrote for the New York magazines.

Big Bill, the organizer, fixed his good eye on Reed and told him

of the strike. He stood on a tenement porch across from the mill

to escape the rain and listen to the weavers. The bluecoats

told him to move on. The Harvard man asked for a name to go

with the number on the badge, and the cops tried to unscrew

his arms from their sockets. When the judge asked his business,

Reed said: Poet. The judge said: Twenty days in the county jail.

Reed was a Harvard man. He taught the strikers Harvard songs,

the tunes to sing with rebel words at the gates of the mill. The strikers

taught him how to spot the insects in the soup, speaking in tongues

the gospel of One Big Union and the eight-hour day, cramming the jail

till the weary jailers had to unlock the doors. Reed would write:

There’s war in Paterson. After it was over, he rode with Pancho Villa.


    1. The Little Agitator

The cops on horseback charged into the picket line.

The weavers raised their hands across their faces,

hands that knew the loom as their fathers’ hands

knew the loom, and the billy clubs broke their fingers.

Hannah was seventeen, the captain of the picket line,

the Joan of Arc of the Silk Strike. The prosecutor called her

a little agitator. Shame, said the judge; if she picketed again,

he would ship her to the State Home for Girls in Trenton.

Hannah left the courthouse to picket the mill. She chased

a strikebreaker down the street, yelling in Yidish the word

for shame. Back in court, she hissed at the judge’s sentence

of another striker. Hannah got twenty days in jail for hissing.

She sang all the way to jail. After the strike came the blacklist,

the counter at her husband’s candy store, the words for shame.


    1. Vivas to Those Who Have Failed

Strikers without shoes lose strikes. Twenty years after the weavers

and dyers’ helpers returned hollow-eyed to the loom and the steam,

Mazziotti led the other silk mill workers marching down the avenue

in Paterson, singing the old union songs for five cents more an hour.

Once again the nightsticks cracked cheekbones like teacups.

Mazziotti pressed both hands to his head, squeezing red ribbons

from his scalp. There would be no buffalo nickel for an hour’s work

at the mill, for the silk of bow ties and scarves. Skull remembered wood.

The brain thrown against the wall of the skull remembered too:

the Sons of Italy, the Workmen’s Circle, Local 152, Industrial

Workers of the World, one-eyed Big Bill and Flynn the Rebel Girl

speaking in tongues to thousands the prophecy of an eight-hour day.

Mazziotti’s son would become a doctor, his daughter a poet.

Vivas to those who have failed: for they become the river.


                                                                                                –    MARTÍN ESPADA


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


When Martin Luther King was young, he heard (from his father, I believe) –


                                “When you find a good fight, get in it.”


And – what if we DON’T ?


What if we choose to live life the (‘normal’) other way ?  … what if we choose (instead) to simply adopt some (material) goal (say – making money) … and then subordinate (abandon) our highest principles (in order to facilitate the reaching of our ‘goal’) ?  

Then we will have a ‘normal’ life; (Mmm?)   but, should we really think that THAT is the best we can do?


Of COURSE not.


While it may not be the fast track to material success, if we strive to live according to our (own) HIGHEST PRINCIPLES and loyalties … THEN (when the time comes to put our life down and walk away from it … we may be able to do so … with the sense that our life meant something.


(It is not just for peanuts … that we play this game)


And – we should keep in mind that in these modern times our enemies (those who are committed to a program which includes our exploitation/injury or death)    are much more invisible than in the old days.  By now, the Super Rich have figured out how to control the culture (and the 99%) by means which are not at all obvious.

In his (great) work {The Art of War}  Sun Tzu says :

Know yourself


                                                    Know your enemy.

Well, so far, our enemies have done better at this than WE have;



If we are to prevail in the Great War of Ideas … we’re going to have to do our homework.

We must educate ourselves and each other.

That’s our only hope.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    (Noam Chomsky  – 10 strategies of Manipulation)        (Chomsky:  Propaganda And Control Of The Public Mind)


[book]:  The Art of War    by   Sun Tzu       [Scroll down to Section 7]



7 thoughts on “‘Vivas To Those Who Have Failed’

  1. I’m impressed, I must say. Actually rarely do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you’ve gotten hit the nail on the head. Your concept is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very joyful that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for something referring to this.

  2. Hey there I am so delighted I found your blog, I really found you by
    error, while I was searching on Askjeeve for something else,
    Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say many thanks
    for a incredible post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I
    have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please
    do keep up the superb b.

  3. It’s an awesome piece of writing for all the internet users; they will obtain advantage
    from it I am sure.

  4. If you are going for finest contents like myself, simply visit this web page
    daily as it presents quality contents, thanks

  5. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I may as well check things out.

    I like what I see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.

  6. I am genuinely thankful to the owner of this
    web site who has shared this impressive piece of writing at at this time.

  7. Hello, just wanted to say, I loved this article.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *