Shakers Lie

The Shakers were a religious sect who believed that favoritism in love was a bad thing. They believed that passion for a partner drained the proper passion one should have for God.

Sorry, but I think they were nuts.

Back at the beginning of the nineteenth century they were considered by most people to be well-meaning flakes with weird hairstyles. The men cut their hair in mullet-like fashion, I suppose, to broadcast to the world that they were “different” and possibly superior to the rest of fallen humanity.

Occasionally rumors about secret orgies filtered out from their well-manicured compounds scattered across a few states. There were stories about couples who joined the sect struggling to relinquish their personal bonds for community bonds. One way in which the Shakers helped in the process was to have one partner witness the other being humiliated over and over. Soon the witness would find the humiliated one repulsive to her.

Am I the only one who finds this gross?

Shakers are mostly known now for their cute little boxes, austere furnishings and the hymn Simple Gifts used famously in Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite. But there was a time when some people viewed the Shakers with suspicion and even hatred.

Eunice Chapman had the great misfortune of being married to an awful drunk who occasionally spit in her face. Lovely. One day James Chapman deserted Eunice and their three children leaving her penniless. After enjoying his alcoholic freedom for a while he landed on the doorsteps of a Shaker community in SHAKER COMMUNITY in Watervliet, New York.

There he had a religious experience (or just found a place to live where good food was provided and his basic self absorption could be masked as a devotion only to God). How much easier is it to profess love for all people than to love individuals? From a distance humanity looks like a glossy photo shoot for National Geographic. Up close we see wrinkles, unrest and violence. Up close people expect things from you. Emotional, messy and uncomfortable things.

Shakers set up rules for engagement with the opposite sex. How they missed the passages in the Bible about passion, sex and procreation, we will never know. What we do know is that the prominent woman who popularized the sect hated having sex with her husband. Maybe he wasn’t any good in bed but using a religious experience to get out of it  and then spreading your new gospel is going too far.

Yet I understand that women in horrible marriages had very few escape routes. In New York divorces could only be granted in cases of adultery. Married women had less rights than unmarried ones. Eunice Chapman was one of those married women.

The Shakers had no interest in splitting up families. They sent James back to Eunice hoping he would convince her to join the sect. She refused, James got belligerent and then kidnapped the children who were promptly indentured to the Shakers. Eunice attempted on multiple occasions to see the children who were devastated by the loss of their mother. After a few rocky episodes James, with the help of the Shakers, secretly moved the children to a different compound in another state.

In the perpetual struggle of well-meaning humanity the pendulum of justice often swings too far in one direction or the other. People are so damned black and white in their thinking (I suppose that’s why we should fear mobs of any kind). New York was once a state where men had all the rights when it came to their offspring. Now New York is one of the worst states to live in as a man in a failed marriage.

Eunice fought in the state legislature for years to get her children back. The Shakers in all of their religiosity lied to her and helped keep the children hidden. They may have believed the ends justified the means. Wouldn’t the children be better off in their communistic, fanatical society? Never trust anyone who says the ends justify the means!

Think of all the fanatics of the past : Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Sanger.   Look at what’s happening in South Africa today. Is it really okay to rape and torture white farmers because you want to take their land without compensation? Is it okay because of past grievances?

Okay, so were the Shakers of the past even close to being anything like the above mentioned fanatics? No. Not exactly, but I wonder how many steps it takes once you dive into the us-against-them mentality to move from lying about the whereabouts of children to lying about where all those Jews went to.

Fanatics are dangerous because their motives are so off kilter. I’d never start a new religion to avoid sex. I’d never torture people for the sins of the past. I don’t have the animating energy of hatred to get the job done. Hating sex is all it takes for some people. Hating political opponents is all it takes for others.

the great divorceTHE GREAT DIVORCE was a fascinating read but highly disturbing as well. This little sect of people eventually died out (there are a few people living a sort-of Shaker lifestyle here and there), but their weird dances and extreme rules trouble me because fanaticism, no matter how  seemingly quaint, always has the seeds of things more sinister.

Classics Club Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Vengeance is sweet. Is it really?

Personal admission: I’m too lazy to be vengeful. I get angry, feel slighted, plot revenge and then forget about the whole thing. Well, not quite forget …

Granted I’ve never been wrongly accused of plotting against the government. I’ve never been sent to prison for years. And I’ve never lost a great love to a  friend/enemy.

Sometimes a classic book opens a new world to its readers. I’m usually easily led into these worlds. The count’s world left me cold.

Maybe my standards for leading man have been made too high: #Prince Andrei. #War and Peace

Over tea at my favorite coffee shop my sister and I debated the merits of Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo). She adores him and can not understand my lukewarm opinion.  She doesn’t mind that Edmond’s great love is named Mercedes (I don’t like the name) and has zero personality.

Edmond is wrongly imprisoned. A chance friendship while incarcerated transforms him. Upon escape he becomes not only wealthy but highly educated. He also becomes a master of disguise. This is where the book truly loses me.  In a series of coincidences and unbelievable turns of events Edmond (now the Count) appears to every last character left behind at the time of his imprisonment.  He disguises himself with British accents and capes. I’m over thirty years out of high school but when I visit my home town I see the guys I had crushes on. They look  a little heavier, but I still recognize them.

There’s poisonings and secret potions to revive the dead, there’s tons of perspiring for some reason (every character wipes their forehead of sweat at least once in the book), and  there are perfectly executed acts of revenge. In the hands of Shakespeare these sorts of things don’t bother me a bit.

In the end Edmond engineers  his revenge but realizes it’s not always so sweet. He doesn’t even get his Mercedes back (not that she deserves him).  As a final slap in the face to the reader, Edmond travels away with his pathetic little Greek slave girl. Is this his reward? He treats her as his angelic, exotic child. The line between sensual love and childish affection blurs and off they go into the sunset.  Can I just say I hated Haydee the slave girl? Also hated the relationship between Haydee and Edmond.

I can usually relate to something in a novel, but I just couldn’t here. Because I’m obsessed with readers liking the characters in MY NOVELS, reading books about characters I don’t connect with is, in a way, comforting. My sister and a few friends have been recommending THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO for years. Dumas obviously strikes a chord with many people but not me. Books are like friends. It’s impossible to like everyone or to be liked by everyone.

How about you? Anyone love this book and think I’m crazy? What’s the one book you were expected to like but didn’t? I’d love to know!

Featured Image: Józef Mehoffer, The Strange Garden

 

9 Signs You May Have Mistakenly Joined a Dystopian/Utopian Community

“I had staked no valuable amount of hope or fear; it had enabled me to pass the summer in a novel and agreeable way, [and] afforded me some grotesque specimens of artificial simplicity.” Nathaniel Hawthorne from The Blithedale Romance

MY CLASSICS CLUB Response to The Blithedale Romance

Having sent one of my main characters, BUCK CRENSHAW, to a 19th century perfectionist community based on THE ONEIDA COLONY and having lived on a modern-day farm with utopian pretensions, and having worked on yet another farm with similar pretensions, I was excited to read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance—to compare his opinions with my own.

The book is a strange one; seeming to first be about the utopian society and then about the mysterious history of two female characters. Many of the people I’ve met in my utopian circles, who often disdained “conventional society,”  tended to be running from some real or imagined life of mystery and horror.

Unlike my character Buck who arrives at my fictional “Middlemay Farm” as a somewhat prudish and naïve babe in the woods, Hawthorne’s narrator, Miles Coverdale is a poet who manages to keep just enough of his individualism to begin to question the motives of the charismatic leader of the Blithedale community. This leads to the first thing one can expect when joining a society of people who think they know just how to fix the world, and by world I mean other people.

A reform movement usually has a charismatic leader who, while possessing a dynamic sexual energy (felt by one and all), is actually kind of gross, mean-spirited and selfish in his desire to change the world as he sees fit. This man may be, as at Blithedale, a man who is obsessed with prison reform. Miles Coverdale is shunned when he expresses honest concerns about Hollingsworth’s grand schemes of reform:

“They have no heart, no sympathy, no reason, no conscience … They will keep no friend, unless he make himself the mirror of their purpose; they will smite and slay you, and trample your dead corpse under foot, all the more readily, if you take the first step with them, and cannot take the second, and the third, and every other step of their terribly straight path.”

 

At Middlemay, Richard Rhinedale is obsessed with sexual reform. Buck becomes a useful pawn until he is no longer useful. The socialist farmer I worked for was obsessed with Cuba, wind energy and shocking Hasidic Jews (who paid for farm tours) with his hatred of their religion. He did this in the name of women’s rights but it seemed to me that he was bitter at losing his own faith while attending Yale Divinity School. I was also shunned for questioning a socialist idea.

These strangely charismatic men often attract women who are willing to fund the leaders’ pipe-dream endeavors while also accepting the men’s only slightly veiled contempt for said women. Miles Coverdale is shocked by the mad infatuation and devotion the two lead female characters have for the brooding, self-absorbed Hollingsworth.

Utopian women often subject themselves to “free love” once they are convinced that it will improve their relations in the long run. At Blithedale, the woman perceived to have money is thrown aside when it becomes clear that she has nothing.

In MY NOVEL, Richard’s wife is given the job of training young men to control themselves sexually. This is Richard’s inside joke since he finds his wife so repulsive and assumes the young trainees will control themselves with little coaching. As I mentioned in a post long ago, a friend raised in a Utopian society bitterly remembers his mother’s neglect due to her devotion to “the cause” of socialism in the 1960’s.

Many (if not most) people who dive into this lifestyle really don’t like people they consider “common.” For instance, I’ve heard many an erudite farmer blame regular farmers’ stupidity for the loss of their family farms. The fact that many of these perfectionists often rely on unpaid labor in the form of eco-apprentices or converts to their cause and often aren’t more successful than the regular guys who don’t read Mother Earth and Foreign Affairs, their disdain seems pretty hypocritical.

One farmer I knew insisted on only using horse-power-unless he was in a hurry. His contempt of modern machinery was thrown aside when he butchered a lame old goat with a dull knife in front of a family of Hassidic Jews in the rain and unceremoniously shoveled up the animal with his tractor. Hawthorne brilliantly captures the uncouth but far more able true farmer who trains the city folk at country life.

Manual labor is often “spiritualized,” says Hawthorne, with the actual sweat on someone else’s brow at these colonies. There is something quite lovely about raising your own food, living by the seasons and going to sleep tired, but the work is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. From a distance golden hay bales look beautiful at sunset, but hay up close means work, sweat and worry.  It doesn’t take long for those of us with big ideas to realize that picking and hauling potatoes isn’t the glamorous thing it looked like in the old peasant paintings. Hawthorne quips,

 “I seldom saw the new enthusiasm that did not grow flimsy and flaccid as the proselyte’s moistened shirt-collar, with a quarter-of-an-hour’s active labor, under a July sun.”

Usually when living in utopia people start dressing funny. Many of these reformers think they are quite unconventional yet in most cases they only trade one uniform for another.  Whether it be at the Oneida Colony where dress reform was explored or on your basic farm as at Blithedale. When city folk come for a visit you’re usually pretty shocked at how far off the path you’ve gone in terms of fashion. Zenobia, the beauty at Blithedale, wears a hothouse flower in her hair. In the city it’s a flower of jewels. I suppose it’s true that in real life we buy more fake things. Certain high-end farm gear is always in style on the “better” farms these days (on others the badge of honor is wearing 100% thrift store items—I do both ;)).

Utopians hate the present. Some romanticize the past. Some, at the very beginning of their endeavors, worship the future. In the present, many feel misunderstood, angry at humanity and depressed. I’ve seen this myself far too many times. It’s sad because if these reformers actually stepped out of their dream/nightmare they might possibly see some of the pleasant things in life that make humanity and the world worth saving.

A very odd thing I’ve noted and Hawthorne mentions is that there’s usually a utopian who insists on being called by a name that isn’t their own. I’m still not sure what to make of a young lady I once met who called herself “Fiddlin.” She didn’t play an instrument as far as I know. Zenobia at Blithedale sported a fake name as well (for mysterious reasons).

Utopians are bound by their hatreds:

“Our bond, it seems to me, was not affirmative, but negative. We had individually found one thing or another to quarrel with, in our past life, and were pretty well agreed as to the inexpediency of lumbering along with the old system any farther. As to what should be substituted, there was much less unanimity.”

Hawthorne, like many other people who end up deserting these attempts to change the world one elevated summer at a time, sees the characters he once called friends as tragic and deluded.

Related: UTOPIA & SEX

***Peasant Girl by Jules Breton

Classics Club Review: War and Peace

The day after taking doxicyclene for Lyme disease and anaplasmosis this is the text conversation between my daughter and me:

Me: I was feverish with a bizarre and pounding headache. Not normal. Felt really weird. Sweating profusely. And UNABLE TO STOP GOING OVER SCENES FROM WAR AND PEACE in my head.

Daughter: Okay. That’s terrible but the War and Peace thing you obviously know is hilarious. “unable to stop” 🙂 🙂

Me: Even as I was almost dying I was like: this is ridiculous.

Daughter: LOLOL. It’s so you though. Are you okay now?

Me: Called the doctor. My reaction was rare but serious so she prescribed a new drug.

Daughter: Oh, God. Did you tell her about the War and Peace hallucinations? Is that part a common reaction?

 

For most of August my daughter received texts like this:

Me: Prince Andrei may forgive Natasha but I never will. NEVER.

I’m in such a state of despair. Prince Andrei is finally dead. So terrible I’m sobbing.

Daughter: Oh my God, but didn’t we know it was coming?

Me: Yes but when it finally came it was terrible. There’s little reason to live now. My life is a desert.

Daughter: I wish we lived closer 😦

Me: Tolstoy has ruined my life. Okay. I need to calm down.

Daughter: Yes. You do. But it’s cute. . . . Mom…

Me: Yes?

Daughter: Ugh. Life has been cruel (here’s where my daughter talks about her real-life break up with a cad. I’ll keep it private).

 

But what is real life? Great fiction certainly blurs the lines (it doesn’t help that my nervous system has been under attack from the dreaded Lyme disease). For some there is the summer of rage, for others the summer of love, but for me this was the summer of War and Peace. My heightened sense of awareness as I feverishly followed the lives of Pierre, Natasha, Marya and Andrei made each new revelation more glorious and painful (or the book is just that glorious and painful?).

I’ll start at the end because new life begins at the end of something and that end in this case is the slow, heartbreaking death of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky. Andrei, in fact, dies many deaths before the final one which I’ll get to, but here at the end we glimpse Andrei’s son, with the same nervous and thoughtful temperament as his father, living a rather neglected life with his aunt and uncle. He is the echo of Andrei. In his brief appearance as he sits listening in rapt awe to Pierre (Andrei’s best friend), we get a picture of Andrei. Tolstoy doesn’t say much about Andrei’s absent mother but we see the lonely, shy eagerness in his son’s eyes in the presence of the only real connection he has to his deceased father. Poor Nikolenka unexpressed neediness comes out in his accidental destruction of a pen set. We hope that Pierre and Natasha will see past themselves to give the orphan boy what Prince Andrei only allowed himself to experience briefly—love.

At the start of the story we meet Andrei in a loveless, dull marriage to an annoyingly good, decidedly silly girl. Andrei’s father suffers his pregnant daughter-in-law’s silliness with barely hidden contempt. Andrei himself has trouble hiding his own contempt and confesses to Pierre on the eve of going off to war that he considers marriage a mistake.

Andrei’s father, the count, hides his great love for his children behind a self-protective wall of hostility. Andrei’s sister Marya takes the brunt of her father’s abuse but is armed with her great devotion to God. Marya begs Andrei to take a religious icon to war. Andrei is dismissive at first but we see his heart for his sister when he accepts her gift even as he doubts her faith.

“Andre, I am going to bless you with an icon, and you promise me never to take it off . . . Do you promise?”

“Of course, if it doesn’t weigh a hundred pounds and pull my neck down . . .To give you pleasure . . .” said Prince Andrei, but that same second, noticing the distressed look that came to his sister’s face at this joke, he instantly repented. “I’m very glad, truly, very glad, my friend,” he added.

“Against your will He will save you and have mercy on you and turn you to Him, because in Him alone there is truth and peace,” she said in a voice trembling with emotion, with a solemn gesture holding up in both hands before her brother an old oval icon of the Savior with a blackened face, in a silver setting, on a finely wrought silver chain.

She crossed herself, kissed the icon, and gave it to Andrei.

“Please, Andre, for me . . .”

From her big eyes shone rays of a kindly and timid light. These eyes lit up her whole, thin, sickly face and made it beautiful. Her brother wanted to take the icon, but she stopped him. Andrei understood, made the sign of the cross, and kissed the icon. His face was at the same time tender (he was touched) and mocking.

Marya’s words are prophetic. God does save Andrei but not in the way we mortals like. Andrei, without a mother and only a father unable to show love, seeks glory (not love which he doesn’t understand) as the highest good. He thinks to himself as the Russian army retreats that for glory he would give up family, friends and life. As the throng of frightened men all around race to the rear Andrei takes up the standard and moves forward.

Andrei falls and is captured but not before noting the expanse of sky above him—the emotionless, unperturbed sky which is neither impressed nor ashamed of the tiny glory a young man seeks. Andrei meets his hero Napoleon briefly at the hospital but no longer worships him and sees him for the small, mean man he is. He sees glory as small and mean as well.

What is the epitome of manhood? Andrei’s best friend, Pierre, a hulking, fumbling decent sort of fellow and bastard son to a man with a large fortune lives a life of debauchery. While Andrei is tightly wound and spiritually deep, Pierre is led by his feelings and appetite which he has trouble controlling.  Andrei sees Pierre’s integrity hidden deep within his hefty frame and frivolous living. Pierre sees Andrei’s soft and pained heart beneath his creeping cynicism, hostility and irritation so similar to his father’s.

Both men search for goodness but as Christ said no one is good but God and here lies the tragedy and hope. Even in this friendship they fail each other. Pierre visits his recovered friend just returned from the war eager to tell him all about the truths he’s discovered about social justice. Andrei covers his love with contempt, belittling Pierre’s naïve ideas even as he himself is at the forefront of the movement to improve the lives of his serfs. He refuses to let Pierre have his victories. He refuses to show his weakness in agreeing with anything his friend says. How sad. How distancing. How lonely.

Yet God has other plans. Andrei travels through a forest of dead trees that mirror his mood. He meets a girl in the bloom of life and falls in love. He tries to do right to please his father and this young girl, Natasha Rostov fails the test he gives her when he asks her to wait for him as he travels to warmer climates to recuperate from his still unhealed war wounds.

Natasha and her mother fear something in Andrei. Is it the integrity and depth they are so unaccustomed to in the Rostov men? The Rostovs are foolish spendthrifts and emotionally volatile. Always at the brink of ruin, they are saved in the end by Andrei and Marya Bolkonsky.

War and Peace is large and sweeping but it’s the little moments that are so poignant and true. Andrei, with broken heart after Natasha’s affair with an awful man, goes back to war ready to die until the moment he’s injured by shrapnel.  He sees the man who tricked Natasha into loving him at the hospital suffering an amputation and forgives him–forgives humanity and feels the depths of his ability to love—a love bigger than self and a love only possible as a gift from God.

Andrei dies a slow death but not before reuniting with Natasha. Yet again, humans fall so short. After Andrei dies Natasha remembers with great regret a conversation between herself and Prince Andrei. A conversation that exposes his true soul, his search and need for unconditional love:

“One thing is terrible,” he had said, “it is to bind yourself to a suffering man. That is eternal torment.” And he had looked at her—Natasha could see it now—with a searching gaze. Natasha, as always, had answered then before she had time to think of what answer she would give: “It cannot go on like this, it won’t be, you’ll get well—completely.”

She now saw him anew and lived through all she had felt then. She remembered his prolonged, sad, stern gaze at those words, and understood the meaning of the reproach and despair in that prolonged gaze.

“I agreed,” Natasha now said to herself, “that it would be terrible if he was left suffering always. I said it then only because it would be terrible for him, but he understood it differently. He thought it would be terrible for me. He still wanted to live then—he was afraid of death. And I said it to him so crudely, so stupidly then. I didn’t think that. I thought quite differently. If I had said what I thought, I would have said: let him be dying, dying all the time before my eyes, I would still be happy compared to what I am now. Now . . .There’s nothing, nobody. Did he know that? No. he didn’t know, and he’ll never know. And now it will never, never be possible to put it right.”

And again he was saying the same words to her, but now, in her imagination, Natasha answered differently. She stopped him and said: “Terrible for you, but not for me. You know that for me there is nothing in life without you, and to suffer with you is the best happiness for me.” . . . and in her imagination she said other tender, loving things to him, which she might have said then, and which she was saying now: “I love you, I love . . .”

 

And this love is all there really is. It’s all we seek. Tolstoy’s view of history leaves little room for free will (especially in leadership). Events happen. Deaths happen with no escape for any of us. The war is within each of us. The battle moves forward to its final conclusion, and we are carried along with great throngs of fearful masses. The sky, God, is not devoid of feeling as Prince Andrei once thought.

I quote the apostle Paul: I pray that he would give you, according to his glorious riches, strength in your inner being and power through his Spirit, and that the Messiah would make his home in your hearts through faith. Then, having been rooted and grounded in love, you will be able to understand, along with all the saints, what is wide, long, high, and deep—that is, you will know the love of the Messiah — which transcends knowledge, and will be filled with all the fullness of God.

Our world today is full of people hiding behind irritability, anxiety and fear. Every last person feels the pain of separation from others—and from God. But love is right here. We do it badly but it is here.

Tolstoy does not tell us what becomes of Andrei’s son but I hope Pierre and Natasha recognize the need he has—that echo of his father’s need. Let them love him.

***As one might imagine in a book so rich there are many themes and ideas I couldn’t possibly cover such as:

The nature of beauty

Sibling love

Military strategy and military life

Fate and free will (in general)

The nature of God

Love and forgiveness

The slavery of great men thought of as leaders to their fate

I’ve included links but have not read them since my desire with this endeavor is to come at these works using my own heart and brain. 🙂

WAR AND PEACE:THE 10 THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU HAVEN’T ACTUALLY READ IT

THE DEATH OF PRINCE ANDREI

 

Books I’ve Known And Loved

Confederate Soldier courtesy http://www.pbase.com

Confederate Soldier
courtesy http://www.pbase.com

“One surviving letter suggests that the men engaged in seizing black civilians may have had no uniform attitude toward the kidnapping.” And here lies a great truth: people are complex.

As much as we would like to think otherwise there are no super heroes–and villains while evil may only be slightly more blind to their imperfections than the rest of us. Most of us think we’re pretty good most of the time. It is the rare event that exposes us to the true nature of our selfishness and hypocrisy. We want to run from such exposure, but without it there is no impetus to change.

When evil exposes itself how easy it is to ignore it. How easy it is to go with the flow. Only blind people do not recognize how thin the veil of goodness and integrity is over our weak frames.

Before the Battle of Gettysburg Southern troops slipped across the Pennsylvania line and into the close-knit towns and villages filled mostly with women and children. The men had gone to war or raced further north with their livestock and valuables in the mistaken belief that the men in grey would leave the young and female alone.

Black women worried with their neighbors. Some remembered escaping from slavery years ago. Some had manumission papers proving they’d been freed and some had never tasted slavery, but as the sound of cavalry horses clip-clopping just outside their nighttime windows alerted them to their danger they gathered their frightened children to their breasts in dread.

And dread they should as the mission of these men was to gather the darkies and herd them south. A witness to this mass kidnapping said that this more than all the political talk proved that the war was about slavery. The marauders refused to be convinced what they were doing was wrong. In a few cases  northern men left behind did fight the kidnappers and win the freedom of some crying children and their frightened mothers but in general the blacks were herded. White women watched unable to help and afraid for their own lives (and virtue as rape was a very real fear) and cried at the sight of their black women friends and neighbors being led away south.

“Do you not feel bad and mean in such an occupation?” a Pennsylvanian asked. The soldier replied that “he felt very comfortable.” A judge in the same town asked one of the invaders “if they took free negroes.” “Yes,” he replied, “and we will take you, too, if you don’t shut up!”

Smugly we look on. How brute-like these soldiers were! Never would I do the same. I ask myself: when was the last time I spoke out about cruelty not from some safe distance in a comment box on a blog post but in the public square? When was the last time I listened to a cruel remark and said nothing to defend the victim? When was the last time I risked myself for another?

A surviving letter from a soldier, Colonel William Christian from Virginia, to his family gives me hope, but not perfect hope: “We took a lot of Negroes yesterday. I was offered my choice, but as I could not get them back home I would not take them. In fact, my humanity revolted at taking the poor devils away from their homes. They were so scared that I turned them all loose.”

Note that his first instinct was selfish: how would he get them home? The second instinct, the braver and nobler: give them freedom. And how many of us get to that second instinct?

Men like William Christian are BETTER than SUPER HEROES because they show us that despite our basic instincts there is a way of choosing better even if it’s not what arises from our first thoughts.

THE WAR WAS YOU AND ME edited by Joan E. Cashin is full of humanity’s constant, invigorating and maddening complexity. Wars are you and me and they’re happening every day with every choice we make to look into another human’s eye with love or turn away.

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Weary of Running by Adrienne  Morris

Weary of Running

by Adrienne Morris

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