Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason.
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!
–Traditional English nursery rhyme
Today is November 5, which means that it’s Guy Fawkes Day.
What Is Guy Fawkes Day
It doesn’t get a lot of press on this side of the Atlantic, and that’s really a shame. It’s the day that the English remember one of their most notorious villains — or one of their most celebrated heroes. It all depends on the celebrant.
In the early hours of November 5, 1605, Fawkes was found hiding under the House of Lords with a cache of gunpowder large enough to level the building. He had planned to take out the entire English government — king, ministers, members of parliament and all — during the State Opening of Parliament.
Or, as I like to call it, he planned to aggressively cut government spending!
Alas, one of his co-conspirators ratted him out.
Fawkes was captured and brutally tortured for two days. Though prior to his execution, he did manage to get the final laugh by jumping off the hanging platform and breaking his own neck, thus denying the king the pleasure of doing so.
Though ultimately unsuccessful in the gunpowder plot, Fawkes is remembered, in typical dry English humor, as “the last man to enter parliament with honest intentions.”
Today, the English celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with fireworks displays and by burning effigies of Fawkes or of contemporary political figures… but it’s always a little ambiguous as to whether they’re celebrating the foiling of the gunpowder plot or the spirit of rebellion behind it.
The Parallels with Today’s Political Situation
More than anything, it’s an excuse to make noise and burn stuff, something that every red-blooded American can appreciate.
On this side of the Atlantic, we’re unfortunately entering a new election cycle.
I say “unfortunately” because many Americans will be unhappy with the results, regardless of the outcome.
I’m tired of the Trump circus and would love to see someone that doesn’t resemble a cartoonish movie villain in the White House.
But when I see the other side experimenting with socialism, a cartoonish movie villain suddenly seems viable…
This is a common thought these days. More than half of Americans would like to see Trump impeached. Yet, in most polls, he still ranks competitively against Elizabeth Warren. This suggests that there is a non-trivial number of Americans who want to impeach Trump but would still vote for him in 2020 given the poor alternatives.
That’s just depressing…
I can’t recommend you take a play out of Guy Fawkes’ playbook and blow up the capitol at the next State of the Union address. That’s the sort of thing that will get you thrown in a Guantanamo cell for the rest of your life.
But you can choose to disengage.
And that’s exactly what I suggest you do.
How to Disengage and Focus on Your Personal Wellness
Turn off your TV for the next year. Better yet, take your TV out to your driveway and light it on fire. Watching the news for the next year is only going to make you feel worse, whereas watching your TV explode might be therapeutic.
I’m mostly joking about blowing up the TV… But I’m dead serious about turning it off.
Beyond that, I’d recommend avoiding news websites for the next year. CNN, Fox, and the rest discovered a long time ago that making you angry with inflammatory stories is a great way to keep you reading longer and generating more ad revenue for them. Don’t play their game.
Get out and exercise. Max out your 401(k). Enjoy a nice stream of dividends from Peak Income.
Whatever you do, just avoid politics and avoid people that obsess over politics. They’re not healthy to be around.
And remember, whoever wins in 2020, you’re still going to need to get dressed and go to work the next morning.
So, you might as well focus on the things that will make you happy and successful rather than angry and miserable.