Daily Dose of Ingersoll – What I Want for Christmas

If I had the power to produce exactly what I want for next
Christmas, I would have all the kings and emperors resign and allow
the people to govern themselves.

I would have all the nobility crop their titles and give their
lands back to the people. I would have the Pope throw away his
tiara, take off his sacred vestments, and admit that he is not
acting for God — is not infallible — but is just an ordinary
Italian. I would have all the cardinals, archbishops, bishops,
priests and clergymen admit that they know nothing about theology,
nothing about hell or heaven, nothing about the destiny of the
human race, nothing about devils or ghosts, gods or angels. I would
have them tell all their “flocks” to think for themselves, to be
manly men and womanly women, and to do all in their power to
increase the sum of human happiness.

I would have all the professors in colleges, all the teachers
in schools of every kind, including those in Sunday schools, agree
that they would teach only what they know, that they would not palm
off guesses as demonstrated truths.

I would like to see all the politicians changed to statesmen,
— to men who long to make their country great and free, — to men
who care more for public good than private gain — men who long to
be of use.

I would like to see all the editors of papers and magazines
agree to print the truth and nothing but the truth, to avoid all
slander and misrepresentation, and to let the private affairs of
the people alone.

I would like to see drunkenness and prohibition both
abolished.

I would like to see corporal punishment done away with in
every home, in every school, in every asylum, reformatory, and
prison. Cruelty hardens and degrades, kindness reforms and
ennobles.

I would like to see the millionaires unite and form a trust
for the public good.

I would like to see a fair division of profits between capital
and labor, so that the toiler could save enough to mingle a little
June with the December of his life.

I would like to see an international court established in
which to settle disputes between nations, so that armies could be
disbanded and the great navies allowed to rust and rot in perfect
peace.

I would like to see the whole world free — free from
injustice — free from superstition.

This will do for next Christmas. The following Christmas, I
may want more.

Robert Green Ingersoll – “What I Want For Christmas” (1897)

(First posted on Dec. 22, 2009)

16 Comments

  1. I disagree with the bit about allowing the people to govern themselves. In the absence of a formalized government, others are bound to take power – better be it that the people should hold some degree of control over their government as opposed to the government suppressing/controlling the people militarily.

    Most of the rest of it sounds good though. Love the idea of the pope admitting he’s just an Italian guy. (No proper capitalization for you, pope)

    Happy winter, all.

  2. You know, that brought tears to my eyes. I was especially glad to finally learn the antonym to politician (statesman), but also the whole idea of men being men and women being women – without prejudice as to who is better. But most especially to live without superstition – that would be the greatest gift of all! To live with clarity of mind and heart – that is the best blessing of all!

    Thank you so much for the Daily Dose – it really makes my day!

  3. I’ve read this before but when I saw it today, I found myself reading it over and over and over. Not because I didn’t understand it, but because of the profound beauty and intelligence of the words. Thanks for posting this and every Daily Dose, Chris!

  4. @misc,

    government of the people, by the people, for the people

    That’s what I took it to mean. He didn’t say anything about the disbanding of governments except for monarchies.

  5. Socialist! Infidel! LIberal! Anarchist! Namby-pamby! Tool of Satan! “Chatholicophobe”! And any other number of nonsense and often contradictory labels certain to be spewed by the right-wing hate machine (and maybe a few lefties as well).

    Why do we have so few Ingersoll-type men and women today? How have we now DEVOLVED to our current state of religious hysteria worldwide???

  6. this sounds like a version of hell.
    with all conflict, superstition, and dishonesty abolished, what is there to live for?

    you paint a bleak picture, mr. ingersoll.

  7. I loved it all except the “teacher should only teach what they know” thing.

    As a teacher, I think knowledge comes from discourse- there is nothing wrong with presenting opinions in the classroom, as long as you are open to others’ opinions as well. Isn’t the careful consideration of all options kind of the scientific process?

    Oh, I also disagree with the abolishment of drunkeness.

    1. I think this is another quote open to interpretation, at least I took it another way. I take it to mean that one should not assert as fact that which is not. For example, perhaps not asserting that dinosaur bones were inserted into rocks 6000 years ago to confuse us, when everything that we objectively know suggests decidedly different origins. Discourse and opinion is critical to learning, teaching, and the creation of knowledge – I wholeheartedly agree.

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