I just re-read the great World War I memoir Testament of Youth, by British writer, pacifist, and former volunteer nurse Vera Brittain. (The book was also made into a movie last year.) Published in 1933, it is many things: personal story, war chronicle, and warning about how fascism was beginning to fizz within Europe. There are many quotable moments in the book, but there was one paragraph that stopped me in my tracks, because it seems so relevant for today in my own country. It’s actually a quote from the novel The Judge by British feminist author and critic Rebecca West.
Speaking about the British Houses of Parliament, which historically ran through phases of indifference and corruption to a place of hope, she could very easily be speaking about the American halls of power at this moment. Can the Republican party get to this same place?
“There men of all sorts who seemed utterly selfish and corrupt have to an extraordinary extent, that the most cynical interpretation of history cannot dispute, showed that they cared a little for the common good.”