“Ring in the thousand years of peace,” wrote Tennyson. But the world is ready to compromise on, say, a hundred.
This quip comes down to us from the ancients — those wise and industrious souls who produced The Kansas City Star’s editorial pages 100 years ago. The brief paragraph led the editorial column on Jan. 1, 1915. The war in Europe was four months old and not “over by Christmas” as many had predicted. (For a refresher on that topic, see the small but engaging exhibit “Over By Christmas” at the National World War I Museum, Kansas City’s newly designated national memorial of that global conflict, or click into the museum’s exhibit website.)
Another morsel of editorial wit that day: A scientist says the human brain hasn’t improved for one hundred and twenty-five thousand years. That does explain a lot of things.
Today’s editorial staff does have a habit of explaining a lot of things, in addition to its efforts at stimulating civic discussion and its propensity for enraging disagreers. But today we choose to channel our elders, and perhaps by doing so we’ll gain some insight into how far we’ve come as a city in 100 years.
“Nineteen Fifteen!” reads the headline on another item in The Star that day:
Patrick Henry said he knew no way of judging the future except by the past. On that basis consider Kansas City’s prospects for the new year.
Bank clearings in excess of 3,000 million dollars. Twice as great as eight years ago.
A federal reserve bank for Kansas City, allotted in this city because the government couldn’t ignore its tremendous commercial importance.
The biggest wheat crop ever, combined with the highest prices, laying the foundation for continued purchasing power and continued prosperity....
The new station and terminals, provided at a cost of 50 million dollars, the railroads’ tangible belief in the town’s future.
The country’s business generally on the mend, the war scare panic over, foreign trade getting back to normal, an excess of exports over imports for December....
It’s a great year that’s in store for Kansas City and the Southwest — the greatest of a great series.
One of the Jan. 1 editorials was intended to discourage “knockers,” the busybodies and complainers who tend to tear things down in life rather than build them up. It presented the case for changing one’s behavior as a New Year’s resolution:
In every office, store or shop there is a “knocker.” You can always find him among the ones who have not succeeded, the ones yet at the foot of the ladder, for one of the surest things in the world is that a “knocker” never climbs very high.
If you have a disposition to think and to say unpleasant things about your employer and your associates, divest yourself of that fault today.
Tear it out of your character and throw it from you forever. As long as you hold to that habit of thought it will be a drag to you, holding you back and down.
No man can say mean things about another without the other hearing at least some of them. “Knocks” travel on the wind like thistledown.
Resolve to quit “knocking” this year.
The editorial was silent on the matter of whether editorial writers should retain the practice of knocking when knocking was due. But we think we know where those highly intelligent guardians of this space would stand on that issue. Their practice has traveled down to us on the wind like thistledown.