+3 votes
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Thinking for example of Anna Sewell (1820-1878), the author of Black Beauty. If I recall correctly, she spend much of her adulthood working on the book, and died soon after its completion. And it changed our attitude forever toward horses; more compassion (in addition to becoming one of the best-selling children's books ever).

I thought of others too, including George Orwell, whose life caused me to ponder this idea of a purpose to some lives. I just learned about Orwell's tragedy couple days ago...he had TB. But he not only gave us ANIMAL FARM, the great metaphor for the Communism catastrophe, but also 1984 - a great warning for humankind (and you prolly know I am thinking of this kind of thing a lot now). 

Anyway, George Orwell completed the final draft of the novel 1984 typing in his bed, while chain-smoking, which is NOT the thing to do when you have a bleeding lesion of tuberculosis in your lung! And then he never left his bed again, dying age only 46. Orwell talked about his book in 1950 shortly before his death; “This is the direction the world is going in at the present time…always there will be the intoxication of power…the intoxication of trampling on the enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

* * *

The second part of this question is that sometimes also I wonder if there is something protecting us, protecting humankind...people like Orwell giving their lives for a book that helps us SO much...???

Here is another photo of Orwell...I am thinking of him a something of a hero now...


3 Answers

+3 votes
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I think there are indeed people that devote themselves to one purpose, and yes, they can serve as guardian angels for humanity.

In Orwells' case, I think he was more concerned with radical, revolutionary totalitarianism, having just lived through the rise and fall of Nazism and the continuing evils of Communism.  But his warnings are also valid for a totalitarianism of of a gentler but perhaps more insidious, Fabian sort, where freedoms are lost so gradually that few are aware of it.  And of course the corrupt elites are just as corrupt, if not as violent, as in the former systems.


A very thoughtful response, ty Other Tink...I hope you are not losing your own belief in the ability of the US gov't. to self-correct, as I seem to be losing my own belief. It is a desolate feeling, but as you know I am not giving up, just doing all I can now to intercept the US decline, whatever I can to prevent more violence.

One hopeful note for me is that the USA has been through horrendous crises, such as the ones you so rightly pointed out as affecting Orwell - very likely shaping his profound but pessimistic insights. And yes, something I have seen with the YouTube documentaries is the concern over the gradual loss of our freedoms. 

But the USA has emerged okay through some really really awful awful stuff, so I have not quite totally given up hope for our capacity for self-correction!

I learned about Fabian socialism from you, had never heard of it...whew!!!

+2 votes

There are many stories and books which contributed to the evolution of general attitudes toward people and animals. But also superstitions, "traditions" and abusive practices went on - with economic or religious arguments.

Regarding books and their sacrificed authors, I have been thinking of Olympe de Gouges, who was guillotined for her political engagement and for defending the rights of women, "forgotten" by the French Revolution:



Sadly enough, the change of attitudes was prevented with violence.

Further, may I cite Tolstoy's "Kholstomer", Victor Hugo's "Les Misérables", Emile Zola's "Germinal", Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet in the West", Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - there are too many ...







or, long before, Erasmus or Rotterdam, Thomas More, or the Holy Bible, though too often misinterpreted, misused and distorted:




Yes, there are many people who are devoting themselves to one or several causes, but very few are noticed on a broader level, while fanatism caused too often conflicts and disasters.

"Sauce for the goose is (not) sauce for the gander" is an ancient principle:


but it was rarely respected, as the struggle for surviving in "hostile environments" - or the quest for power, wealth and control - caused too often the sacrifice of the weaker or less aggressive persons or creatures.

Compassion, empathy, loyalty, respect, altruism and solidarity are too often silenced by immoderation, injustices, greed, false principles and hate - or superstitions and "fashion trends".






Marianne I will pick just one of your fine links...Olympe de Gouges, because I had never heard of her, and SO glad to learn of her life! So I also ended up reading about the Girondins...did not know of them, either.

Marianne, don't you think it is strange how a revolution with the motto of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, could end so badly?They all turned on each other, slaughter/execution/murder, arguable worse than the aristocracy they overthrew! France eventually came out okay, of course...perhaps one of the best governments now...

But for Olympe de Gouges to do what she did, I honor her, a life of pure courage.

btw, I thought I had either read or at least knew of most of the writing of Tolstoy, as I admire him; but Kholstomer is new to me. I hope to learn more.


Virginia, here's the story of Kholstomer, the Strider (it is a short story):


Sadly enough, most revolutions led and still lead to blood baths, vendettas, corruption, further conflicts and oppression.








+2 votes

No, people choose their purposes, believing otherwise seems dehumanizing to me


Thank you Fuzzy Corona, a concise and powerful point!

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