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  • Carroll Devine


"Il pleure dans mon coeur comme il pleut sur la ville..."

Those words of French poet Paul Verlaine have touched my soul many times before, but probably never with such exquisite pain as in this aftermath of the massacre in Nice.

My heart goes out to all of the people of France, and really to all the people of this world---a world that is aching, breaking, under the weight of the reality that this demonic attack won't be the last, either abroad or at home.

In times of madness like these, we can't find "reason," a possible way out, or much comfort or consolation, but we try, and we keep up hope, because we have to.

Recently, in searching for words of wisdom, I've been revisiting a small book that fell into my hands a few years ago. (Funny how that happens.) This extraordinary book is Excerpts from The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant, with Foreword and Commentary by Alonzo L. McDonald.

After spending seven decades in research, reflection, and writing their eleven-volume Story of Civilization, The Durants summarized some of their more important findings in in this small book. From a broad perspective, they examine historical tendencies in light of biology, race, character, morals, religion, economics, and war, as well as various forms of government. It is truly fascinating.

One of the many astute observations made in this book concerns repeated revolutions throughout history that raise to power "a new minority with essentially the same instincts as in the old." The authors say, "The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints."

Whether or not you agree with all of their findings, they do provide some sort of real food for the mind as opposed to junk food, devoid of all nutrition, being dished out by too many who happen to have a platform.

I keep going back to the wise words of the great man of Peace, Mohandas Gandhi who said, "We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change...A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

While we can't change the past and what has already happened, we can work every day on being the change we want to see in the world.

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