We live in a time of nursery rhymes. These catchy ditties are no longer just for children, for better and for worse.
Let’s begin with for worse. Full grown adults of our species, Homo sapiens, tell fanciful rhymes all the time—and swallow them whole every day.
The cow jumped over the moon, everybody knows it.
And the fork ran away with the spoon; trust me, trust me on this.
Here’s some modern nonsense about COVID-19: We’ve done a phenomenal job. Not just a good job, a phenomenal job…we take an A+.
There are many fraudulent fables abroad like that. There are people who think that if their A+ candidate for high office loses this November, the other guy must have cheated —ergo the election must be rigged. They believe this because their favorite fabulist is telling them so.
They believe as children do at their mother’s knee: The little dog laughed to see such fun.
They believe it even though their A+ candidate is trailing in virtually every national poll over the past several months— consistently, and by a sizable margin.
No evidence need apply. It is so because they wish it to be so.
Here’s some more doggerel:
If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride
If turnips were swords, I’d have one by my side
If “ifs” and “ands” were pots and pans
There’s be no work for tinkers’ hands
There are people today who believe, in effect, that “ifs and ands” are pots and pans for no better reason than it rhymes. For example, there are people who believed in 2016, and likely still believe, that one of the two major parties was involved in human trafficking and a child sex ring. Such is the power of demonization in our modern politics.
Not all nursery rhymes are nonsense. They also can be dark and describe real events. The bubonic plague in 17th century London is thought to have inspired this black verse chronicling its devastating effects:
Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
Perhaps someone is drafting a nursery rhyme about our current pandemic.
A sizable portion of the body politic believe that their man is an intensely patriotic American despite the facts that he effectively dodged the draft and pays less in federal income taxes than a supermarket checkout clerk. These inconvenient truths don’t deter him from disparaging people who have served their county, including war heroes.
Here are some ancient lines apropos of the man who is fixated on walls:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
This man, who many people voted for because he vowed to “drain the swamp,” is now up to his eyeballs in primordial ooze. He has family members who are either on the government payroll or continue to do business with foreign entities —in some cases, both of those dubious things simultaneously. His family businesses take millions from American and foreign lobbyists anxious to make a good impression on the owner.
Many of this man’s associates, some earning salaries paid for by we the taxpayers, have been charged with crimes or are in jail.
Here’s a no nonsense nursery rhyme to close with:
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
and they all lived together in a little crooked house.
David Holahan is a freelance writer in East Haddam.