Saturday, November 06, 2010

As Pogo Would Say " We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us."

In what has become the most famous of many quotes and witty observations that were made in the comic strip Pogo by it's writer Walt Kelly he makes a profound statement that goes to the heart of most of our problems today. "We have met the enemy, and he is us." With that one short sentence Kelly managed to express the simple but powerful thought that all the problems we see as being somehow done to us by an unseen and unknown enemy are actually done to us by us. For the they and them we seek, write about, and condemn is made up of our neighbors, our friends, our family, and even ourselves. It is only by seeing that we are part if not all of the problem that we can begin to fix things in this country. By fixing first those things we are responsible for and then demanding of others to do the same we will start a chain reaction that will ripple through our society. Once we all start to do and be responsible for what we can change everything from our government to our businesses will see things right themselves. For as Kelly went on to write in June of 1953 "Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

Forward!'

Amplify’d from en.wikipedia.org
"We have met the enemy..."

Probably the most famous Pogo quotation is "We have met the enemy and he is us." Perhaps more than any other words written by Kelly, it perfectly sums up his attitude towards the foibles of mankind and the nature of the human condition.

The quote was a parody of a message sent in 1813 from U.S. Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to Army General William Henry Harrison after the Battle of Lake Erie, stating "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." It first appeared in a lengthier form in A Word to the Fore, the foreword of the book The Pogo Papers, first published in 1953. Since the strips reprinted in Papers included the first appearances of Mole and Simple J. Malarkey, beginning Kelly's attacks on McCarthyism, Kelly used the foreword to defend his actions:

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle.

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.


Forward!


—Walt Kelly, June 1953

The finalized version of the quotation appeared in a 1970 anti-pollution poster for Earth Day, and was repeated a year later in the strip reprinted here. The slogan also served as the title for the last Pogo collection released before Kelly's death in 1973, and of an environmentally-themed animated short on which Kelly had started work, but which ill health prevented him from finishing.

Read more at en.wikipedia.org
 

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