In the garden of consolation 3

America has been vanquished by a band of savages; pestilence is spreading through the land; millions of aliens from backward countries are flooding in; the currency is losing value; half the citizenry has been disenfranchised by the other half’s tyrannical leaders; liberty is lost.

We cover our faces. We close our schools. We shutter the places of pleasure. We hear the gloating savages mock us.

Optimists still find “blessings” that remain to us.

But we resort to “counting our blessings” only when we feel many of them slipping away. Serious loss has us tightening our grip on what remains. “Be grateful for small mercies” is the counsel of despair.

We may also console ourselves by finding “bright sides” and “silver linings” to being suddenly poorer and afraid for the future. Or even joke about it in a “grin and bear it”, or “whistling past the graveyard” effort to keep up our courage.

Or we resort to concentrating our attention wholly on our private lives, working our personal ground.

As Voltaire advised long ago.

These are the concluding words of his Candide:

Pangloss would sometimes say to Candide:

“There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds. Had you not been kicked out of a fine castle for the love of Miss Cunegund; had you not been put into the Inquisition; had you not traveled over America on foot; had you not run the Baron through the body; and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts.”

“Excellently observed,” answered Candide. “Let us cultivate our garden.”

Or is there something else we could do – something to recover self-esteem, dignity, strength, health, nationhood, wealth, and freedom?

Posted under United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, September 3, 2021

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