Thursday, December 18, 2008

All misfortunes are kin

"All misfortunes are kin, speak the same language and show the same generosity, the generosity of those who, because they can call nothing their own, are prodigal of sympathy and lavish of their time and trouble."

Balzac. The Wild Ass' Skin.

1 comment:

  1. If only it were so. I fear the greatest number of instances of this are in those whose lot from birth is misfortune, or at least a low estate. The cited sentiments are not evident in, e.g., the Book of Job. Long before Balzac, the fall of the mighty, construed as tragedy by Aristotle out of the belief that it resulted from a character flaw in one otherwise selected by the fates for greatness (which meant “nobility,”) often produced only bitterness of spirit. But those guys didn’t get plays written about them.

    Our culture has expanded the concept of entitlement to include the masses, and, often, has elevated by the vagaries of economic happenstance those who have neither innate nobility nor any learned greatness of character. Thus we have the spectacle of the wealthy and powerful who neither deserve nor bear appropriately their good fortune; and their fall, when it occurs, only serves to reveal all the more clearly their meanness.

    It will be interesting to see, in the coming years, what happens to the slogans that have heretofore been so regularly evident on the bumper stickers of nice new SUVs purchased during the seven fat years with a paycheck and sixty months of promises: “Prosperity is My Birthright.”


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