HomeStuff2016 . 02“Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep,” Not So Much - Sketchbook

“Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep,” Not So Much

American Politics

Seen around the interwebs:

Lion picture and Benito Mussolini Quote, Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep

Here’s the quote:

Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.

So, what’s it to be? A day as a lion or 100 years as a sheep?

— and I have to say —

— my decision is —

— is —

Yes. I’ll go with “sheep” for 100 years, Alex.

And now that I have that uncomfortable feeling of instinctive self-preservation that tells me I’ve stepped out of the safety of the herd (on some level, I’m probably standing very still, with my head up, and my half-chewed, delicious grass hanging out of my mouth), I need to do a quick check of my decision’s consequences.

So, I’m “beta” now? Nope. Not feeling the beta.

So, I’m an opponent of the second amendment now? Well, no, I’m a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. I’m just choosing to be a sheep for 100 years, instead of a lion for one day.

Maybe I’d own a gun.

Maybe I’d just pick up the lions gun, since he wouldn’t be needing it.

Actually, with a whole century to work with, I could become the world’s largest manufacturer of hunting rifles and fashionable sporting accessories, known everywhere for my great quality and reasonable prices. If I were the cheeky type, I could even make the lion my logo and snicker every time I saw it.

I know. I’ve taken the quote out of the context of the card. To back up and be as fair to the figure as I can, the most friendly interpretation of the idea in context might be that the lion is someone protected by the second amendment, and the sheep is someone without that protection. The statement, interpreted that way and stripped of metaphor, is this: “better to live a day with the second amendment than 100 years without it.”

That’s a little different. And, being a fierce defender of the natural rights of man, when I imagine it put that way —

I’d probably stick with the sheep.

Look, I’m trying. But I. want. to. live!

I said I would probably stick with the sheep. I would need more information to make a firm decision. Am I to live 100 years in London, or 100 years in a Soviet gulag? I think I could make London work. Honestly, to find the line where I would be willing to trim 100 years down by ninety-nine years and 364 days, I should probably work upward from some ludicrous bottom, something like a choice between being tortured in a proverbial Turkish prison for a century or snuggling in a proverbial American drive-in for a day. That would be a firm, “Go, lion!”

I’m skipping less friendly interpretations of the idea than “better to live a day with the second amendment than 100 years without it.” For example, if it means, “better to be a predator for a day than prey for 100 years,” it’s a terrible slogan for defending the second amendment. The second amendment is not about empowering predators, and it’s not about separating predators from prey. From every angle, the second amendment is about equality.

I think the proverb strikes a flat-long blow, and I think I know why. It fails what I’ll call “the all things being equal test.” It introduces a binary choice, but it over-complicates the choices. To demonstrate what I mean, this is what we might keep:

It’s better to live as a lion than a sheep.

and in doing so, this is what we would leave behind:

It’s better to live one day than one hundred years.

By the way, who said this? Dropping the context of the second amendment, who would prefer to be a lion for one day? I’ll finish the quote:

Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.

Benito Mussolini

The quote is usually attributed to Mussolini, but it was present as graffiti that predated his attribution. Before that, similar proverbs wind their way into history. I would say something snarky here about history being apparently replete with self-loathing sheep, but I don’t want to tick off any lions.

A bit of housekeeping.

Of course conditions are fine:

Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 25:24

but not when they are so hyperbolic that they weaken the expected choice. If the author of Proverbs 25:24 had written, “better to die a thousand deaths upon an ant hill,” the unintended takeaway would have been, “sharing a house with a quarrelsome wife is really not that bad.”



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