Pogo: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us. Walt Kelley

by
Dec 19, 2006


The Bottom Line "Deck us all with Boston Charlie" AKA my seven year rant.

Today marks my seven-year anniversary as an Epinions member. Others choose to celebrate similar events with write-offs and editorials covering their personal history with this site; I wish I had that much energy.

If “We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us” fails to ring a bell, let me share a little background relating to this and other pogoisms. Walt Kelley created a comic strip named Pogo consisting of creatures that reside in the Okefenokee Swamp. Those same characters reveal even more of their quirky personalities in dozens of books published between 1949 and 1979. Kelley’s microcosm of society replicated the past, present and future of good old American life complete with flag waving, corrupt politicians, environmental issues, family values and clashing personalities. The swamp community represented a society that had the ability to fall into disrepair due to their inability to communicate well enough to quell anarchy and other signs of discontent. Through all this, the residents never packed their bags and moved away in a huff, they simply fell into deep and not so deep debate over non-issues and urgent matters alike.

The creator enjoyed pointing fingers and poking fun at extreme liberals and conservatives, he also had a way of shaking up those who fit neither the far right or left.

From the foreword to The Pogo Papers, 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.

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 idiosyncrasies 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 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 Kelley’s swamp dates back to the mid-twentieth century but the topics, concerns and slight exaggerations of that day are timely today. We can look at the state of the world and see modern versions of Pogo, Porky, Albert, Beauregard, Churchy, and Howland in the news, in our hometowns and even here, in our online community.

The lessons I brought home from those wonderful political cartoons are simple, there’s nothing new under the sun, life is less stressful when we agree to disagree, debate should be taken with two aspirin and a tall glass of polluted water and we live with the messes we make. Hilarious malapropisms aside, we can learn quite a bit from the possum and his friends.

If you sit there scratching your head about why I chose a quote from the comics to title this rant, consider this: The original statement was, "...we may meet the enemy and, he may not only be ours, he may be us." The shorter version came about as the heading on an Earth Day poster that read, “We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us”.

Depicted on that poster is a pair of beautiful old trees standing side by side amid piles of trash as far as the eye can see. Pogo stands in front of those trees with their roots nearly buried in garbage, looking over his shoulder at us with a look that tells us how ashamed he is for the current state of affairs. His dejected appearance, demoralized by what we all did to turn this planet into a dump for our own personal waste matter, makes us feel as if he takes responsibility and wants us to join him in his efforts to make things right. He cannot do it alone but he can and did make a difference.

As I consider the seven years I invested in this website and the current state of the community, the one thought that sticks with me is that change is constant and unless we voice our concerns and get involved we may not like the community as it evolves into the business model of the future. This is a business but it also serves as the meeting place for our online family and friends.

A number of members wrote to ask if they were mistaken about what feels like Epinions wanting to clear the roster of dinosaurs, those old time members that helped shape the site. My knee jerk reaction was to respond with a resounding “No!” but second thoughts changed my guess to, “I hope not.”

If the comfort zone known as Epinions no longer feels like a haven for those with common interests, we have our options. If the site is a mess and we feel our long-term contributions are not respected, we could walk away and remember the friendships and good times with fond regard. Right now, that is not my choice, instead, I choose to hang in a little while longer, watch the small flags wave and listen to the tinny blast on tiny trumpets.

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About Me: Web/puter person who, disguised as mild-mannered Pogomom, offers unsolicited opinions to all she encounters.