The Sum Is Greater Than The Parts

Another popular exercise in Dr. Deveney’s class was the timed essay.  Again, you will notice that his strict time limit promoted the brevity in our writings that he so espoused.  If memory serves, we had 30 minutes to respond to his prompt.  For posterity’s sake, I’ll share with you the unedited versions, typos and all.

It’s also worth noting that this piece in particular employs one of my favorite writing styles: contrarianism.  I learned from my days in high school Student Congress Debate that oftentimes, rather than responding directly, it’s easiest to simply reject the underlying premise all together.

Prompt

Winston Churchill was a warlord, a political leader, an historian, and a social commentator.  For which of these roles should he be remembered, and why?

The Sum Is Greater than the Parts

The ancient Greek demi-God Achilles was motivated out of fear, the fear of being forgotten.  Time is merciless in its onward pursuit.  How can we know for sure that what we do matters?  It has most certainly been this fear of being forgotten that has spurred out modern day heroes to make their mark on history.  Winston Churchill is certainly one of those heroes and continues to be remembered vividly.  He succeeded as a warlord, politician, historian, and social commentator.  But which of these ought to be remembered most?  To be sure, modern day professions of those respective fields argue for their side: military leaders respect Churchill for his military feats, politicians for his power, historians for his prolificacy, and social commentators for his insights.  But if anything, Winston Churchill was a Renaissance Man.  Churchill should be remembered for not one of these roles, but for all of them.

There are plenty who advocate for a singular memory of the great Winston Churchill.  The history professors are sure to have a strong, if not the strongest argument.  To them, the answer to the query boils down to a simply question: how is one remembered?  The pen is the greatest weapon against the onslaught of time.  Actions fade, but the words that capture those actions endure.  As a historian, Churchill was able to directly color how his actions would be perceived by later generations.  During his many disputes, Churchill was often quoted as declaring, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”  Simply put, Churchill painted his own historical portrait.  It is for this reason that he ought to be remembered as a historian: the memory of that role was most greatly molded by Churchill himself.  Analogously, modern day historians surely argue that today we remember Picasso over any of his individual paintings.

But what’s the use in remembering who a man was and not paying tribute to all that he did?  Would the memory of Picasso have any meaning if we couldn’t also see his work?  To remember Churchill as a historian and only a historian would be to commit a grave injustice a Renaissance man of the highest order.  Each of his roles brings to mind different connotations when one remembers Winston Churchill that cannot be segregated.  Yes he was a warlord, but he only achieved such a post because of his political success.  He wrote history and social commentary simultaneously: chronicling the Second World War while expounding on the virtues of hobbies (say, for example, painting).  All of his roles must be given their own respect.

About these ads