WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY … AND HE IS US – Marilyn Armstrong

“We have met the enemy… and he is us”

Walt Kelly – Pogo cartoonists

I receive many inquiries concerning this quote, so perhaps this page will answer most questions, and explain the origins.

From the foreword to The Pogo Papers, Copyright 1952-53

“The publishers of this book, phrenologists of note, have laid hands upon the author’s head and report the following vibrations:

Herein can be found that rare native tree, the Presidential Timber, struck down in mid-sprout by the jawbone of a politician. Pogo returns to the swamp from a couple of political conventions to find his unfinished business being rapidly finished, once and for all, by rough and ready hands.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

With that much information, you are about as well-equipped as anybody to plunge into the still waters of the Okefenokee Swamp, home of the Pogo people. The activities in this present book were spread shamelessly over the past drought-ridden year. Looking back across the fertilizer, small shafts of green can be seen here and there, while off in the distance wisps of smoke denote the harvesters at work.

Some nature lovers may inquire as to the identity of a few creatures here portrayed. On this point, field workers are in some dispute.

Specializations and markings of individuals everywhere abound in such profusion that major idiosyncracies can be properly ascribed to the mass*. 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 the 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.

I receive many inquiries concerning this quote, so perhaps this page will answer most questions, and explain the origins.

— From the foreword to The Pogo Papers, Copyright 1952-53


This was true when he wrote it, it was true when he said the words that we still recite — because they are true. They are even more cogent and urgently needed today.

We have met the enemy … and he is us.

EARTH AS EARTHDAY APPROACHES

In honor of  April 22 – Earth Day 2017


Pogo – Walt Kelly

There is little about which to feel enthusiastic this year. With the world in turmoil and the U.S. environmental protection agency in disarray, it isn’t going to be a good year for the environment. I hope not every nation will be as cavalier with their resources as we are being.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

EARTH DAY AGAIN – APRIL 22, 2016

earth day 2016I run this Walt Kelly Pogo cartoon every year. Despite the passage of time, it is as true now as it ever was. It shouldn’t be. Garry and I remember the first Earth Day. How sure we were that everything would get better. We believed we could fix the world.

Forty-six years later, the earth should be cleaner. We should be saving the planet, not destroying more of it. But, reality bites. The earth is more endangered than ever.

Pogo - The First Earth Day - 1971 - Walt Kelly

Pogo – Earth Day 1971 poster – Walt Kelly

Save the planet. Save something. Live greener. Use less stuff. Don’t litter. Do what you can. Don’t let the despoilers buy all our beautiful places and pave them. Say no to fracking. Say yes to fossil fuel alternatives.

Vote for smart people. Caring people. Vote for people who understand that climate change is real. That if we are not good shepherds for our earth, there will be no earth to shepherd.

Let’s leave a green planet for the next generation and the ones thereafter.

For a history of this day, see “The History of Earth Day.”

OH MOTHER OF INVENTION, HOW ABOUT ELIMINATING US?

It’s really a simple solution, you know.

We may already have one somewhere. It probably needs a little refinement, but I think it would solve the Earth’s problems. A bomb. A huge one.

Not neutron because  that kills animals as well as people. Too much other destruction, too. We need a special people-eliminating bomb. After all the people are gone, Earth can recover and eventually, a new species will reign supreme. Hopefully the new masters of earth will show respect for Mother Earth and other creatures who share her bounty. A species which would allow the trees to grow, water to flow without damming or poisoning every stream. A species without the compulsion to dig up every mineral, pave every inch of ground, replace forests with cities belching soot, smoke and chemical fumes.

Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster - Walt Kelly

Pogo – Earth Day 1971 poster – Walt Kelly

Earth needs a caretaker species. Not humans. We don’t care. We think God gave us permission to ravage and destroy our home as well as every living thing on it. I don’t remember any God — ours or anyone else’s — saying anything of the sort. How did I miss such an important passage in someone’s mythology? Why do I think that isn’t what any God would want?

Short of wiping out the human race, how about our species display a little self-restraint? How about not pouring sewage and industrial poison into the rivers, filling the air with dirt? Tearing open the earth to get to fossil fuels on which we should not be depending? How about behaving like proper guests of Mother Earth? You know, not eating our own Mother? How about that?

Are we even capable of not destroying our own nest?

Down in the Okefenokee

Pogo – Earth Day 1971 poster – Walt Kelly

This is the first Earth Day poster (1971) from Walt Kelly and the gang down in the Okefenokee. Although Walt Kelly took ecology as his personal cause, he was highly political in other ways. Many of his cartoons are subtle references to McCarthy and the HUAAC thugs.

He died in 1973 after a long battle with diabetes and his grave is unmarked and unknown. He would hate the world today. Sometimes, I think I hear the little voices of Pogo and gang looking sadly at our world and wondering what will become of their beloved swamp … and the rest of the wild places.

Albert Carrying Pogo - Walt Kelly

Albert Carrying Pogo – Walt Kelly (Photo credit: Lynn (Gracie’s mom))