Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wisdom on reigns of terror

Today is Bastille Day. In history, it marks an important part of the French Revolution and it represents the day the mob stormed Bastille, a medieval prison and fortress in Paris. The French Revolution and the years leading up to it are a time period of great interest to me. The horrors of the revolution sadden me, but there is a quote by Mark Twain that I discovered today and I do believe it captures the essence of the situation.
“There were two ‘Reigns of Terror’, if we could but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passions, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred million; but our shudders are all for the “horrors of the… momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief terror that we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror – that unspeakable bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”
I wish to point out that it is estimated that one million people were and it is more than a few thousands and they were killed over the course of some years. On the other hand, these numbers cannot be compared to what had been happening for centuries. It can also be argued, however, that the revolution did not end the poverty gap and the poor continued to suffer in spite of all the killings. In the end, this is a topic that I have many conflicting thoughts about.

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