what keeps mankind alive?

    Let us get our priorities in order:

    Zweiter Dreigroschenfinale     Second Threepenny Finale
    Macheath:
Ihr Herrn, die ihr uns lehrt, wie man brav leben
Und Sünd und Missetat vermeiden kann
Zuerst müßt ihr uns was zu fressen geben
Dann könnt ihr reden: damit fängt es an.
    Macheath:
You gentlemen who think you have a mission
To purge us of the seven deadly sins,
Should first sort out the basic food position,
Then start your preaching! That’s where it begins.
Ihr, die euren Wanst und unsre Bravheit liebt
Das eine wisset ein für allemal:
Wie ihr es immer dreht und wie ihr’s immer schiebt
Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.
Erst muß es möglich sein auch armen Leuten
Vom großen Brotlaib sich ihr Teil zu schneiden.
You lot who preach restraint and watch your waist as well,
Should learn, for once, the way the world is run:
However much you twist, whatever lies you tell,
Food is the first thing, morals follow on.
So first make sure that those who now are starving
Get proper helpings when we all start carving.
    Jenny:
Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?
    Jenny:
What keeps mankind alive?
    Macheath:
Denn wovon lebt der Mensch? Indem er stündlich
Den Menschen peinigt, auszieht, anfällt, abwürgt und frißt.
Nur dadurch lebt der Mensch, daß er so gründlich
Vergessen kann, daß er ein Mensch doch ist.
    Macheath:
What keeps mankind alive? The fact that millions
Are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced, oppressed.
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed.
    Chorus:
Ihr Herren, bildet euch nur da nichts ein:
Der Mensch lebt nur von Missetat allein!
    Chorus:
For once you must try not to shirk the facts:
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.
    Jenny:
Ihr lehrt uns, wann ein Weib die Röcke heben
Und ihre Augen einwärts drehen kann
Zuerst müßt ihr uns was zu fressen geben
Dann könnt ihr reden: damit fängt es an.
    Jenny:
You say that girls may strip with your permission.
You draw the line dividing art from sin.
So first sort out the basic food position,
Then start your preaching! That’s where we begin.
Ihr, die auf unsrer Scham und eurer Lust besteht
Das eine wisset ein für allemal:
Wie ihr es immer dreht und wie ihr’s immer schiebt
Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.
Erst muß es möglich sein auch armen Leuten
Vom großen Brotlaib sich ihr Teil zu schneiden.
You lot who bank on your desires and our disgust
Should learn for once the way the world is run:
Whatever lies you tell, however much you twist,
Food is the first thing, morals follow on.
So first make sure that those who are now starving
get proper helpings when we all start carving.
    Macheath:
Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?
    Macheath:
What keeps mankind alive?
    Jenny:
Denn wovon lebt der Mensch? Indem er stündlich
Den Menschen peinigt, auszieht, anfällt, abwürgt und frißt.
Nur dadurch lebt der Mensch, daß er so gründlich
Vergessen kann, daß er ein Mensch doch ist.
    Jenny:
What keeps mankind alive? The fact that millions
Are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced, oppressed.
Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance
In keeping its humanity repressed.
    Chorus:
Ihr Herren, bildet euch nur da nichts ein:
Der Mensch lebt nur von Missetat allein!
    Chorus:
For once you must try not to shirk the facts:
Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts.
    — Bertolt Brecht / Kurt Weill, Die Dreigroschenoper     — translation by Ralph Manheim and John Willett

    More precisely, albeit less lyrically: Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt das Getränk, dann kommt die Moral. Therein lies a morality tale:

    The teacher gave her fifth grade class an assignment: get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it. The next day the kids came back and one by one began to tell their stories.
    Kathy said, “My father’s a farmer and we have a lot of egg-laying hens. One time we were taking our eggs to market in a basket on the front seat of the pickup when we hit a bump in the road and all the eggs went flying and broke and made a mess.”
    “And what’s the moral of the story?” asked the teacher.
    “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!”
    “Very good,” said the teacher. “Now, Lucy?”
    “Our family are farmers too. But we raise chickens for the meat market. We had a dozen eggs one time, but when they hatched we only got ten live chicks. And the moral to this story is, don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.”
    “That was a fine story Lucy. Johnny, do you have a story to share?”
    “Yes, ma’am, my daddy told me this story about my uncle Bob. Uncle Bob was a Green Beret in Vietnam and his helicopter got hit. He had to crash land in enemy territory and all he had was a bottle of whiskey, a machine gun, and a machete. He drank the whiskey on the way down so it wouldn’t break and then he landed right in the middle of 100 enemy troops. He killed seventy of them with the machine gun until he ran out of bullets, then he killed twenty more with the machete till the blade broke, and then he killed the last ten with his bare hands.”
    “Good heavens,” said the horrified teacher, “What kind of moral did your daddy tell you from that horrible story?”
    “Don’t fuck with Uncle Bob when he’s been drinking.”

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