In one of his trendy quotes, Henry Ford said, “If you asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It would be difficult for anyone to make a clear judgement of this statement without unravelling the initial context of its use. For instance, why would one of the world’s most influential innovators of all the time make such a remark? Did he intend to refer to the situation of his community at that time or the entire universe? And if his statement was provoked by either of these instances, what was the connecting thread between a competitive society and horses?
As an initiative to interpret Ford’s sentiment, it would be essential to think of the word “horses” beyond the limits of a quadruple solid-hoofed species of the Animalia Kingdom. This venture will require the consideration of symbolic meanings portrayed by the word. For instance, in Native American societies, the word “horses” was figuratively used to express “power” and “freedom”. In the current world, we have also witnessed the use of horses as a symbol of power and royalty. A good example of this are the horses we saw in a last year’s event, drawing the royal carriage during the Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding.
With these links in mind, one can as well assert that Henry Ford might have used the word horses figuratively to point at the means people use to achieve their dreams. The kind of ‘horses’ that carry someone from a place of servitude to a paradise. Or maybe the particular type of horses which Pam Brown defined when she said, “A horse is the projection of people’s dreams about themselves -strong, powerful, beautiful – and has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.”
Based on Ford’s diction, it’s clear that he used the word “faster” to enable himself to refer to a particular type of horse whose abilities vary from the ordinary ones. This will therefore mean that for somebody to be successful in any competitive undertaking, he or she must use a horse. However, faster horses (thoroughbred) act as catalysts, thus reducing the straining one normally undergoes to achieve a certain goal. For instance, anybody can relate to the facets of Ford’s opinion and thereafter paraphrase it. One of the potential interpretations of Ford’s sentiment in this case would be, “If you asked people what they wanted, they would have said quicker means of achieving success.”
Even in our societies we may have seen these horses in action. One of the outstanding characters these horses possess is the ability to carry people to fortune within the span of a single night. They also exist in different varieties but have power. We have even seen people using them to unlock their career dreams, their political ambitions, and the gates of justice. For instance, as one hundred job applicants undergo the tedious process of securing a job, one of them may use a black thoroughbred horse. With this type of horse, the person will therefore secure a well-paying job without facing any interviewing panel or filling a single application form.
In other cases, we might have seen these horses performing miracles in the political arena. One of the outstanding breeds in this case is the white thoroughbred horse. This one knows the secrets to victory. For instance, in a free and fair election those who possess them will never be shaken. They will never waste their time to tell us their manifestos or beg us for our votes. However, when the results are announced they always emerge as the winners. These are the horses that have sometimes carried the incumbents and atrocities back to glory.
Within our societies, it’s also evident that we have another category of people who have always stood against the use of these horses. I mean the kind of people that Henrik Ibsen pointed at when he opined, “The strongest man on earth is he who stands most alone.” (An Enemy of the People) These men are always strong enough to call these horses ‘vices’. Some will courageously call the black thoroughbred horse ‘corruption‘ and for the white ones, they will call them ‘daylight robbery of people’s voices’. These men risk their lives to condemn the ills that results from faster horses, and advocate for justice. They even go an extra mile to tell us how these horses have cost us our societies’ progress. What they advocate for is a transformed society where the peasant’s son, women, and those from royal families, shall have equal access to justice and opportunities. The kind of society where hard work will be the only horse that carries everyone to success.
Unfortunately, some of our societies have never given an ear to ‘the strongest men on earth’ because they stand in the way of the horses that drive people to success. In some cases, these men are considered toxic and therefore silenced. For instance, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968 for having been strong enough to fight for change in a “sick society”. This society was dominated by another faster horse (vice), which he identified as racism. This horse was extremely powerful, but it would only help one segment of the society achieve a prosperous life faster (by virtue of their skin colour). In other societies, those who stand for change are imprisoned, and some are forced into exile.
Ford’s opinion is a true reflection of our societies. It simply illuminates our own character which can never be judged based on what we say but what we consistently do. For instance, if you asked people in a society whether they can bribe, none of them would ever say “Yes”. However, within the same society corruption would always be evident from the same people who deny it in public. In the same way, if you asked people what they wanted, none would openly say faster horses. But if we were to judge from what happens in our societies, actions would speak louder than words. That’s the reason a few people who stand against these horses are always victimized, because they oppose what we secretly want: faster horses!
These horses connect a small group of people to their destinies. They trample upon the poor and destroy the hopes of the less privileged. They are anarchists, thus will never bow before the rule of law. By them, thieves are acquitted while the innocent are declared guilty. Despite all this, we love them and secretly desire to have them by our side. Our value for them is great, not because they are good but because we have our priorities upside down! We need success but we are not ready to fully pay for its cost!