Unconstrained by an English teacher disdainful of run-on sentences, he ran on: “…we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Sound familiar? Think about where we are today. We have the wisdom of Dr. Fauci, the CDC, the vaccine developers; the foolishness of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the anti-vaxxers, the climate change deniers.
We have the positive beliefs of the Black Lives Matter movement; the incredulity and refusal to believe of the white supremacists.
We have the light of the young leaders of March for Our Lives; the darkness and ignorance of the insurrectionists.
We have the hope of Amanda Gorman*; the despair of the drug-addicted.
And in regard to the last sentence in the Dickens quote above, remember we recently had a noisy “authority” who was addicted to superlatives. I suspect he still is, but mercifully he’s no longer in authority except to those who have willingly surrendered their independence and free will.
But I digress.
One of my favorite pieces of literature to share with teen-agers during my teaching years was William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. In that book, a group of young boys are stranded on an uninhabited island. With no adult guidance, they soon quarrel over what they should do and eventually split into two antagonistic groups. Chaos ensues and two of the boys are killed. The book closes when a naval officer lands on the island and finds the boys, some of whom have been longing for an adult to take charge.
As I listened to Joe Biden’s inauguration speech six months ago, I realized how the boys in that book must have felt when that grown-up appeared: Instantly relieved, but not fully aware of what awaited.
But now we have an inkling: Details to follow.
*Amanda Gorman is the young poet who read her work, "The Hill We Climb," at Joe Biden's inauguration. Read it here.