Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade: Ours is Not to Reason Why
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Read the full poem here
The Government to You: Don’t Think, Just Go Along with It
Perhaps with the exception of McCauley’s “Out Spake Brave Horatius,” I think that Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade is one of, if not the, most beautiful poems ever written. My father introduced it to me at a young age and it has stuck with me ever since. And yes, I recognize the version I’m using in this article, “ours is not to reason why,” is marginally different than the original.
However, as with all things, even the great ones, it gradually slipped from my mind. I still recognize the name of it and remember the event that it references, the light brigade’s charge into Russian cannon positions during the Crimean War, but I rarely thought of the words over the past decade or so.
Then, a few days ago (this article being written on 2/8/2021), that changed. I was sitting at lunch with one of my closest friends and both of our phones buzzed at the same time. Involuntarily, as members of our technology-focused generation are apt to do, we both glanced down at the notification. It was yet another email from the incompetent administrators of our school, informing us of some new, absurdly restrictive Covid policy that both we and they knew everyone on campus would violate. But, despite knowing that it would likely not be enforced and that, even if it was, we would nevertheless break it, he couldn’t help but exclaiming something to the effect of “why the **** are they still bothering with all this? Don’t they know it’s ridiculous?”
Almost without thinking, it slipped out. “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.” A bit melodramatic, of course, the plight of the embittered and self-centered college student is somewhat less than the situation faced by a cavalryman charging into the glinting teeth of heavy artillery, but I think it expresses the feelings of and situation faced by many Americans during the Covid crisis quite well.
Have a small business that was destroyed by the lockdowns while Big Businesses were able to remain open and earned record-breaking profits? Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.
Do you recognize that Fauci lied about masks, first saying they were useless, then that you had to wear one, then that you should wear two even though wearing two wouldn’t do anything more than wearing one, which, based on his earliest (and perhaps most forthright) statement, does nothing? Then, a) good for you for getting through a sentence as complicated and convoluted as Fauci’s meandering statements and b) Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.
Do you recognize the absurdity of forcing businesses to remain closed while BLM rioters gather in thousands-strong crowds to burn them down and hordes of pro-Biden revelers partied in the streets? Well, ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.
Or perhaps you were one of those Keystone XL pipeline workers whose lives were ruined, at least in the short term, by Biden’s decision to cancel the pipeline to appease the green mob. A decision, it should be noted, that will probably lead to more carbon emissions than if the pipeline were allowed to exist. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.
Maybe you see the absurdity in the Janus-faced Democrats calling for peace and unity while also calling for drone strikes on Trump supporters and lists to be made of those who voted for him, as Nicolle Wallace and AOC, respectively, have done. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.
The list of absurdities and hypocrisies could go on forever. In the interest of not causing your blood pressure to spike too high, I’ll end it there. But here’s what all the said and unsaid examples show: your ability to reason, your right and responsibility to think and try to grasp the best solution to any problem, doesn’t matter anymore.
Our nation, as Professor Presser so wonderfully noted in his Law Professors, has transitioned from one of laws to one of men. And men, unlike properly made laws, are unreasonable, full of inconsistency, and governed by passion rather than logic.
What is right and what is best make no difference to them. They’re after power and will obtain it at any cost, let alone the meaningless (to them) cost of logical consistency. They don’t want you to think, they want you to do as they say.
The men of the light brigade were slaughtered because they had been taught to follow orders rather than reason. Had they thought about it, the orders they were given, which were the wrong orders, made no sense. How could an unsupported light cavalry brigade dislodge and defeat an entrenched line of artillery and infantry? But they didn’t think about it. They simply did. The result was a massacre.
Now Americans are being told not to think and reason, but to follow orders. And, thanks to the constant efforts at regimentation, especially of our children, we’re largely going along with it. Ayn Rand summed the problem up as thus:
“From the first catch-phrases flung at a child to the last, it is like a series of shocks to freeze his motor, to undercut the power of his consciousness. ‘Don’t ask so many questions, children should be seen and not heard!’–’Who are you to think? It’s so, because I say so!’–’Don’t argue, obey!’–’Don’t try to understand, believe!’–’Don’t rebel, adjust!–’Don’t stand out, belong!’–’Don’t struggle, compromise!’–’Your heart is more important than your mind!’–’Who are you to know? Your parents know best!’–’Who are you to know? Society knows best!’–’Who are you to know? The bureaucrats know best!’–’Who are you to object? All values are relative!’–’Who are you to want to escape a thug’s bullet? That’s only a personal prejudice!’”
“Who are you to know? Society knows best!” Society of course being, in this case, technocrats like Dr. Fauci, senile buffoons like Joe Biden, and witless bureaucrats and administrators. Yet if you criticize them and point out the inconsistencies in their ideology, then to the circular firing squad of cancel culture go! You’re not meant to question, you’re meant to obey. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die.
By: Gen Z Conservative