In search of story

August 10.20: Coping


“The malignant air of calumny has taken possession of all ranks and societies of people in this place…The rich, the poor, the high professor and the prophane, seem all to be infected with this grievous disorder, so that the love of our neighbor seems to be quite banished, the love of self and opinions so far prevails….The enemies of our present struggle…are grown even scurrilous to individuals, and treat all characters who differ from them with the most opprobrious language.”

According to David McCullough’s book “John Adams,” Christopher Marshall wrote the above in 1776.

Perhaps spellings have changed, and maybe vocabularies have weakened a bit, and maybe also “social media” is no longer the handwritten letter, but otherwise Mr. Marshall would not be much surprised, it would seem, by any of the news accounts today. So I pass it along to you, dear reader, for what it’s worth, and I leave it to you whether to laugh or to cry.



10 thoughts on “August 10.20: Coping

  1. “The more things change, …” Yep, it’s one of those laugh AND cry timelessnesses! The same is true when one looks back at ancient papal documents decrying the loveless, joyless way of the world. The words change over time, as do some ways, but never man’s inner follies.

  2. Good find in a superb book. The ugly flaws of human nature are exposed.

  3. We pat ourselves on the back with regard to how far we’ve come when in fact I’d say not so much. It does cause a moment of laughter but then dissolves into the sad state of affairs it is. I saw some of the looting in Chicago, and it makes me wonder what is becoming of us all. After this year is over, I can only guess that many of the major cities are going to be dealing with residents who are relocating. I’m not sure how many Detroits we can support.

    • It’s unnerving, isn’t it? So much destruction. It happens so quickly. And that’s just the physical destruction. The destruction of morale is something else again. I like your words “after this year is over.” I try to think of that and yet I have absolutely no footing for it. We are certainly challenged to be real about how far we’ve come.

  4. Yes. Anthony Trollope’s political novels portray a degree of sneakiness, manipulation, libel and betrayal that would be right up there with what’s happening today. However, then it was behind closed doors and no one was the wiser.

    • In my opinion, you’ve hit on a big part of this current state of affairs: the malice and manipulation seem so unashamedly public — and so unashamedly enabled! Thanks, Shirah — it’s good to hear from you, as always! I hope you and your family are still safe and healthy.

  5. It seems funny to read of the past having problems we imagine to be peculiarly restricted to our time. I suspect an all-seeing eye would realise nothing is unique to us, or at least nothing human.

    • Agreed. We thought we invented these problems, but I guess we just inherited them and packaged them differently. Not very admirable, I fear.

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