will plant trees under whose shade
they will never sit
Based on a fragment from a quote that states:
“old men plant trees they will never sit under.”
I came across the quote in the book, His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life by Jonathan Alter,
Mr. Atler considers President Carter as “a man who lived the advice of the columnist Walter Lippman to ‘plant trees we will never sit under.’ “
The book is interesting in its efforts to paint Mr. Carter as the most renaissance President since Thomas Jefferson.
I will not go into that now but I will say that the book is full of interesting historical observations including the fact that Mr. Carter was the first President to be born in a hospital.
Back to the quote.
As I said, Mr. Atler attributes the quote to Walter Lippman.
Mr. Lippmann wrote, “Yet this corporate being, though so insubstantial to our senses, binds, in Burkes words, a man to his country with ties which though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. That is why young men die in battle for their country’s sake and why old men plant trees they will never sit under.”
Mr. Lippman published this thought in a 1955 in a book titled. Essays in The Public Philosophy by Walter Lippmann, Chapter 3: The Derangement of Powers, Section 2: The People and the Voters
First I have to stop and ask does anyone today know who Walter Lippmann was or remember the role he in played in United States Political History?
I know the name from 4 years of college course on United States history.
Wikipedia says that Mr. Lippmann “was an early and influential commentator on mass culture.”
Mr. Lippmann wrote a nationally syndicated column, Today and Tomorrow, that appeared across the country in US newspapers from 1931 to 1967.
An early and influential commentator on mass culture.
In an age before twitter.
In an age of complete sentences.
In a age of the printed word.
Mr. Lippman somehow was still a person of influence.
A person of influence for 36 years.
And barely remembered today.
Indication for the future of the Kardashians I hope.
ANYWAY, put the quote into the google and versions of the statement are shown to go back to Cicero when he said, serit arbores, quae alteri saeclo prosint, or he plants trees, which will be of use to another age.
It is a good thought.
A lasting thought.
Not a bad way to be described.
Where are these people today?
Let’s look at the entire quote again starting with, “Yet this corporate being.”
Mr. Lippmann is writing about The People as in WE, the People.
Yet this corporate being,
though so insubstantial to our senses,
binds, in Burkes words,
a man to his country with ties
which though light as air,
are as strong as links of iron.
That is why young men die in battle for their country’s sake …
and why old men plant trees they will never sit under.
Sorry to say that one review of this essay referred to Mr. Lippmann’s “Unattainable Ideal.”
Maybe I am just jaded by the leadership available today.
Lots of old men.
Hard to imagine them planting trees that others, let alone not themselves, might sit under.
They are out there.
People who plant the trees for others.
And I am thankful they are there.
Excuse me while I go plant a tree.