Going in Circles
For the past week, I have been reading old correspondence – I mean really old from as far back as the 1890s. They are family letters that I am sorting for delivery to the Washington State Historical Society which houses the Espy Family Archive. As always, I am struck by the similarities of life ‘then’ and now. The differences I expect, but I find the similarities fascinating, even eerie.
Yesterday I ‘spent’ in Oysterville in 1937 listening in, as it were, to conversations between my grandmother (who was here) and my uncle Willard (who had a part-time job in Washington D.C.) The effects of The Great Depression were still much in evidence. There were few jobs, money was scarce to non-existent, and people were having a hard time.
There is something wrong with a system that makes the need of money block the road to health, comfort and the pursuit of creative work my grandmother wrote in April of that year. As I read those words, I wondered what the opposite of déjà vu is, for I was immediately fast-forwarded to the here and now and the dozens of similar remarks we have all made recently.
In another letter she wrote: I can understand Edwin’s [Willard’s older brother] reaction to Congress, as I experienced the same disgust when attending our state legislature. I don’t know just what I expected, but the mediocre caliber of the average representative amazed me. It was a body of badly behaved boys – gum-chewing and peanut-cracking. I remarked to Pa that I hoped the national group made up for this lack in the state. He did not reassure me.
I don’t know how my grandmother would characterize our politicians of today. Probably not as “gum-chewing and peanut-cracking” but, perhaps, as “badly behaved boys” with their endless blaming and finger-pointing and lack of accomplishment. I doubt that she would have judged the situation improved.
I am reminded of the passage from Ecclesiastes: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”
It does, indeed, seem that we are going in circles.