Thursday, May 10, 2018

Rudyard Kipling's "IF"

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it ...  
you'll be a Man, my Son." Rudyard Kipling

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog

There's one thing that summarizes the theme of Kipling's works in general. If you are a child and read Kipling, you are challenged to grow up into a responsible adult - full and ripe, responsible and true - perhaps ahead of your time and that of others. The poem, If, epitomizes a son becoming a man - or a daughter becoming a woman.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken 
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them, "Hold on!"

If can talk with crowds and keep your virtue
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you will be a man, my son!

Calamities continue to claim lives and properties, even as previous victims have not yet recovered. Typhoon Yolanda cut a swath of destruction and desolation unprecedented in Philippine history. 

War erupted recently on the Gaza Strip at the Israel-Palestine border.   Civil war threatens Libya and Egypt as they struggle for democracy after a long period of dictatorship. Racial and religious conflict rock Iraq and Sudan. 

Separatist movement in Ukraine aided by Russia may break into civil war. The conflict has claimed innocent civilians including the downing by missile a passing Malaysian commercial airplane that resulted in the death of 298 passengers and crew members. 

Terrorism in on the rise in many countries, including the Philippines, principally by the Abu Sayaff. The world is threatened by the breakdown of peace and order on one hand, and the decline of economy, exacerbated by man-induced disasters principally global warming and pollution.           
Image result for Boy at the Dike: A Dutch FolktaleHard times breeds the Man of the Hour. It awakens the child to become man.
    Oxford Bookworms Library: Oliver Twist
  • He is the Boy on the Dike who plugged a leak in the dike with his arm in order to save Holland from the engulfing sea. 
  • He is the boy who carried an apple on his head which his father, William Tell, must hit with arrow in order to gain their freedom from the dictator Gessler. 
  • He is the orphan Oliver in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, who became a victim of a cruel and unjust society, but was able to rise from his woeful state. 
  • He is the boy in Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island who found a treasure not only of gold and silver, but an immeasurable one - treasure of becoming into real man. 
Image result
  • He is our own, an eighteen year old who saved two families before he lost his own life in Pasig during the flood. 
  • They are the two teenagers led by a police officer who heroically ferried 130 victims to safety at the height of the flood in San Jacinto, Pangasinan. 
  • He is the young Rizal, the young Bonifacio, Mabini, del Pilar et al destined to become heroes of their country. 
While Kipling glorified the common man - the common soldier in his works (Plain Tales from the Hills, and Soldiers Three), this Nobel Prize winner in Literature equally prodded children to become responsible, as clearly manifested in his Jungle Book, which became a children classic all over the world. His advocacy is also shown in Kim (1901), an adventure book in the Himalayas, which is perhaps his most felicitous work. Other works include The Second Jungle Book (1895), The Seven Seas (1896), Captains Courageous (1897).

What make a child to be a man to Rudyard Kipling are basically the same to Mark Twain, which are early freedom and love of adventure, coupled with discipline and virtuous grooming under a natural setting - Kipling, being the immanent- moralist; and Twain, the liberal sociologist. Twain's characters - Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and Mowgli in Kipling's The Jungle Book turned adventurism into heroism in their own right.

There are models of girls-turned-women ahead of their time.  

  • Take the case of Joan of Arc who was then only 16 when she led the French army against the English invaders,
  • the blind and deaf child who was able to overcome the world of darkness and silence and became one of the most famous women in the world - Helen Keller. 
  • the orphan girl in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett who rebuilt a forgotten garden into a "piece of Paradise," 
  • the Railway Children by Edith Nesbit who carried on a responsible life while their father was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. 
  • Lest we forget Heidi by Johanna Spyri, an all time favorite story for girls. Heidi rose from the circumstance of being unwanted to become the light and inspiration to many.

Millions of boys and girls all over the world, if given the same chance and test, are the characters to whom the poem, If of Kipling is addressed to - be it in times of extreme difficulties or peace.

This article is dedicated to the young people who crossed the bridge to adult life through deeds that proved themselves responsible citizens and children of God, heroes notwithstanding, during the calamities. ~

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