Each on His Own White Charger
OCTOBER 01, 1968 by EARL ZARBIN
Mr. Zarbin is a newspaperman in Arizona.
Someone to set our troubled world aright! Someone else, that is! Not me! I’m overwhelmed by the difficulties. Who am I to cause an end to racial injustice, to rejuvenate the cities, to diminish crime, to end the war in Vietnam, to lower taxes, to replace poverty with wealth? Me? How can I do all of these? Obviously, I can’t, but there has to be someone who can!
How often have we heard that thought expressed. Not in just that way, perhaps, but something like it. James Reston recently said in the New York Times, "The American conscience is not quiet these days. It would like to be eased by some political savior…." Holmes Alexander, in his column, wrote, "Somewhere along the road ahead we must find a turning, or find a leader to perform some miracle of rejuvenation." (Emphasis supplied)
What is necessary, in their view and in the view of millions like them, is for a man on a white charger to come bounding onto the scene. They want someone in whom they can put their faith, behind whom to unite. They want him to issue instructions, to transform the unthinking, to wave a lance and thereby imbue all around him with their idea of right thinking.
But there’s the catch: to imbue all around him with their idea of right thinking! Little chance of their agreeing among themselves, aside from their universal desire to create a utopia and to have someone else — if they are not picked — lead the way. This doesn’t stop them, though. What they want now is the messiah. They can quarrel about substance later.
There is, of course, no end to the list of men ready to take on the role of the Glorious Knight. Even a semi-Glorious Knight would do: just someone, somewhere (within the democratic tradition, naturally) to rescue us from ourselves and set us on the loving path of brotherhood and righteousness.
This is the wish, but it is also the defect; for there is no one person capable of doing what they want. There are, however, millions of persons who individually can mount their own white chargers. They can do this by insisting upon right thinking and right action for themselves. Thus, each can be his own man on a white charger. If each does this, there will be no need for a "political savior," no need to "find a leader." Each person would be a savior and leader in his own right, for he would have saved himself.
We may understand and admit that this condition is unlikely to occur very soon. But, unless each mounts his own white charger —if men insist on finding a savior instead of doing what is right themselves — the goal of freedom in all areas of our lives will be impossible of achievement.
If our troubled world is to be set aright, it is to be done by ourselves, by each of us setting himself aright.