So this is a rather serious and non-writer related post, but it has been weighing heavily on my mind.
It may seem inappropriate, but yesterday I read Happiness in Slavery by Jean Paulhan. This essay is a preface to a very famous novel, but speaks volumes in terms of its position of violence in our society. The essay was written almost 60 years ago, but still holds many relevant reflections. Overall it is a statement on a very different matter, but I digress.
Perhaps sociology and history majors would be best to address the topic of history repeating itself, but it seems that it does time and time again. You would like to think that we can learn from our past mistakes, but instead we seem to repeat the old ones at even more horrific levels.
My Facebook feed has been full of postings which blast fear in the form of a nation scared of losing their rights, specifically to bear arms. It baffles me to no end that people could compare a hammer or a car to a gun and claim that because the end result of using any of these tools could result in the same end — death — that we should therefore treat them all the same. I will say what many others have said, a gun has no other purpose other than death. That it why guns are different. End. Of. Story.
Jean Paulhan has this to say about the overriding fear of loss of freedom: “And, what is more, we know how an all-consuming passion for freedom in the world never fails to lead to conflicts and wars which are no less consuming.” This speaks to me more on the current ails that seem to be so pervasive in our news today.
There is a disassociation between human decency and human beings. We view people now either through the lens of social media or through the scope of a gun. When did people stop talking with one another? “The only tortures we inflict these days are undeserved and anonymous ones.” Jean Paulhan said this 60 years ago and it seems even more true today. Personally I believe it is because people have stopped connecting with one another. Is it because our lives are too busy? Is it because we have all these “tools” of social media that do it for us now? Why talk to one another about our day when you already read about it on Facebook?
Whatever the cause or effect I won’t stop studying it myself, because I think the only real solution is to teach our children a different way. Because something isn’t working.
Oh, and if you recognize the book this essay is from, I am totally reading it for research on an upcoming book I am thinking of writing. I swear. Just research. 🙂
2 thoughts on “Happiness in Slavery”
I am glad I came to read this post. The title and picture interested me, but the message I came away with mattered. I fall more solidly on the right of freedom and believe it is our right and duty to fight for it. (Fight, in this instance isn’t necessarily a violent action, thought it can be inclusive of) I agree that changes need to be made at some of the basic levels of humanity. Things need to change in the way that we perceive, and treat, those around us and the world we live in; but also we must guard against evils that will, through subterfuge and other nefarious deeds, infringe upon our basic civil liberties.
Thanks Nathan. There is some kind of precious balance that we have yet to achieve. Maybe we won’t ever. But I definitely don’t want to surrender all hope.