Freeman

ARTICLE

A Message to Garcia

SEPTEMBER 01, 1963 by ELBERT HUBBARD

Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) was lost with the "Lusitania," but his works live on. As timely today as when first published in the March, ¹899 edition of his magazine, The Philistine, "A Message to Garcia" bears re­printing once more.

In all this Cuban business [1898­-99] there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion.

When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communi­cate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was some­where in the mountain fastness­es of Cuba—no one knew where. No mail or telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Someone said to the President, "There is a fellow by the name of Rowan [Lt. Andrew S. Rowan, U.S. Army] will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How the "fellow by the name of Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disap­peared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having trav­ersed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia—are things I have no special de­sire now to tell in detail. The point that I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?"

By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their ener­gies: do the thing—"Carry a mes­sage to Garcia."

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias. No man who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well-nigh appalled at times by the im­becility of the average man—the inability or unwillingness to con­centrate on a thing and do it.

Slipshod assistance, foolish in­attention, dowdy indifference, and half-hearted work seem the rule: and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook or threat he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant.

You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office—six clerks are within call. Summon any one and make this request: "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."

Will the clerk quietly say, "Yes, sir," and go do the task?

On your life he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he?

Which encyclopedia?

Where is the encyclopedia? Was I hired for that?

Don’t you mean Bismarck? What’s the matter with Charlie doing it?

Is he dead?

Is there any hurry?

Sha’n't I bring you the book and

let you look it up for yourself?

What do you want to know for?

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia—and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Averages I will not.

Now, if you are wise, you will not bother to explain to your "as­sistant" that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile very sweetly and say, "Never mind," and go look it up yourself. And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheer­fully catch hold and lift—these are the things that put pure so­cialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the bene­fit of their effort is for all?

A first mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting "the bounce" Saturday night holds many a worker in his place. Advertise for a stenogra­pher, and nine out of ten who ap­ply can neither spell nor punctu­ate—and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

"You see that bookkeeper," said the foreman to me in a large fac­tory.

"Yes; what about him?"

"Well, he’s a fine accountant, but if I’d send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street would forget what he had been sent for."

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the "downtrodden denizens of the sweatshop" and the "homeless wanderer searching for honest em­ployment," and with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the em­ployer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne’er-do-wells to do intel­ligent work; and his long, patient striving after "help" that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out-process going on. The employer is constantly sending away "help" that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues: only, if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer—but out and forever out the in­competent and unworthy go. It is the survival of the fittest. Self-in­terest prompts every employer to keep the best—those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really bril­liant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worth­less to anyone else, because he car­ries with him constantly the in­sane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to op­press, him. He cannot give orders, and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, "Take it your­self!"

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular firebrand of discontent. He is im­pervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled Number Nine boot.

Of course, I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slipshod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry and home­less.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming, I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds—the man who, against great odds, has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there’s nothing in it: noth­ing but board and clothes. I have carried a dinner-pail and worked for a day’s wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said of both sides. There is no excel­lence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all em­ployers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous. My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter to Garcia, quietly takes the mis­sive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking in­tention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civiliza­tion is one long, anxious search for just such individuals. Any­thing such a man asks shall be granted. He is wanted in every city, town, and village—in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such; he is needed, and needed badly—the man who can "Carry a Message to Garcia."

 

***

Ideas on Liberty

Social Consequences

One of the tragedies of the day is that in the name of social security we are developing a moral decay in our future citizens who are being taught the entitlement attitude of: "Regardless of what I do, I’m to be taken care of." This reminds one of the saying now going the rounds, "God helps those who help them­selves and the government takes care of the rest."

RALPH E. LYNE, Taylor, Michigan

ASSOCIATED ISSUE

September 1963

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