American antiques figure Henry David Thoreau created a plan to Mathama Gandhi a century later on how to free the peoples of India from British rule in his essay On Civil Disobedience. In this Thoreau discusses his time in jail in protest of a new tax to support a war against Mexico during which American soldiers occupied Mexico City. To Thoreau this was not what his idealized Athens on a hill should be doing to the neighbors, who surely had their rights to their own gardens.
And in stating his protest openly and be able to survive jail yet continue to speak his mind was such an inspiration to Gandhi. America had a voice in the world and this voice for freedom and justice for all independent and free was a firm base to occupy. The lawyer in Gandhi would be aware that across several seas another American, Franklin Roosevelt was prodding his new chum Wnston Churchill on fighting this good war so that all might be free was a worrysome aspect of friendship with the Americans.
To Churchill, it seemed near impossible to convince these fine Americans of how things were in that regard. Americans including that chap Thoreau seemed to have no appreciation of all the good that comes down from benevolent English rule over the lesser classes. He tried to little avail to assure the Americans that the British Empire was surely was all in the good order of things in the world as Churchill had lived his life.
To wear it even when fashion changed quickly after the war was to become a badge of honor. To make and wear your own became its reverse status symbol and a badge of honor: you were quietly standing up to the British. So whether he was on his way with his flock to the salt mines or jail, Gandhi wore his same salt encrusted robes to all. And even when beaten and bleeding he would gather himself and his followers into peaceful prayer groups and stay with their traditions and inner respect, which the British rarely had time to allow.
Britain, like ancient India of the Raj, ruled by the color of your skin: lighter on top, darkest at the bottom. Only an untouchable to carry your latrine, as would his son after him, and his father before. The seasons would change quickly and the modern world would intrude. The fashions of the French and the bikini and a loosening of moral strict behaviors were to wash over the shores of India without a ripple. The ways to set yourself free was to understand this, and to incorporate a respect for grace and harmony as it flowed from your society to you need not change at the whim of fashion.
And always when or where there are more primary needs then the issue at hand must be dealt with clearly and with no discrimination other than to discern the truth and speak it. Gandhi would show that to apply ourselves to our task would mirror in our garb by the resonence and permanence of what was trying to be achieved. And how you evade the elusive butterfly of fashion will be determined by each item you wear. And how best to appear to be with the great fashion tide flow of life and not in resistance to that. But in at a deeper closer and more personal way you can show who you are in such subtle ways as you know or dare.
The small pin from a loved one or a momento of something no longer in fashion but still expressing something intangible inside you. Wear it. Time for the lady in purple in you to have her say. For, as Napoleon said of China, this is a sleeping giant, let her sleep. For when she awakens, her roar shall surely shake the earth. Time, gentleman, please, to hear the dragons roar, feel the earth move. They love our fashions. They wear our fashions. They make our fashions. They send, we buy.
Time to stand up to the tyranny of the mall. Respect for human dignity and reverence for the dream of the American antiques hero says go for it. Wear it and be proud. If it is that out of fashion, it may even have been made in America. And you must feel comfort from that.
Derek Dashwood enjoys noticing positive ways we progress, the combining of science into the humanities to measure politics, wise use and mis use of power and protective love at