"He is base - and that is the one base thing in the universe - to receive favors and render none."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
This is a poet choosing a word that describes what he wants to say.
Look up the word "base." It is a noun and an adjective.
In my Oxford Dictionary there are nine definitions for this word as a noun. As I read the definitions, it is obvious that he intends for us to understand the word as an adjective.
There are three such definitions, but one applies to precious metals. I am sure that is not what he intends.
The other two are instructive, however:
1 without moral principles, ignoble
2 of low social class
Ignoble is an interesting word too. Oxford thinks that means "not honorable."
So, to be "base," one is immoral and not to be honored and lowbrow.
The older I become, I realize that societies do not line up left or right, liberal or conservative, right or wrong, big gubment or small gubment, or any such leaning.
I think societies are made up of providers and takers, contributors and drainers, and assets and liabilities.
- When I hear interviews with people who have no experience contributing, but who want, and want, and want, and, well, let's see, that might not be the right word. Perhaps demand is the right word. Who demand, and demand and demand that something be given them - I think that is "base."
- When I hear people speak who want to divide and take advantage of division based on something as irrelevant as heritage or skin color - I think that is "base."
- When I experience people who are more creative about 'using the system,' whatever the 'system,' than I am about what I do for a living, and make more money 'using the system' than I do contributing to the 'system' - I think that is "base."
- When I listen to interviews with people who feel entitled to my assets, to what I contribute, to what I am trying to provide for myself and family and who think lunch is free - I think that is "base."
- When I hear people, empty, vacuous people, who, with specious cliches and using words they cannot define, think that the economic system of FREE ENTERPRISE is unfair, or mean, or oppressive, or unfairly divides the skilled from the unskilled with rewards - I think that is "base."
WE REAP WHAT WE SOW! THERE CAN BE NO OTHER WAY THAT IS MORE FAIR, LESS MEAN, OR LESS OPPRESSIVE - BUT FREE ENTERPRISE DOES DIVIDE, NECESSARILY - IT MUST DIVIDE - BECAUSE IT IS FREE.
I don't try to take from anybody, I don't scheme to take from anybody, and I don't work 'the system' to get something from others and keep for myself. But I affiliate with a subculture (my church) that strives to give, and serve, and provide when needed, and contribute voluntarily - and when I am in need and someone voluntarily, and lovingly, provides for me - I will accept that offering. I think that offering is "exalted."
I believe in THAT system.
I BELIEVE IN THAT SYSTEM BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT TO BE "EXALTED" IS THE OPPOSITE OF "BASE."
And like Mr. Emerson, I am getting really, really fed up with "base." I am getting really, really fed up with the takers, the drainers and the liabilities. And I am frightened by a society that promotes them as "exalted."