So I’ve been sick for almost a week, and I was feeling a little better today (let’s see how long I can write tonight tho–I have the feeling too many nights of sleeping upright so I don’t break a rib coughing are about to catch up with me) and the kids and I had…
Well, it sort of an awesome conversation.
It started out when Squish started talking about Frankenstein, and how the privileged white man made a mess and refused to take care of it and it consumed him.
Then ZoomBoy said, “Yeah, and we read A Modest Proposal today– it was hilarious!”
I was so excited! “It was, too! I mean, you got it, right? That Swift was saying that since the English aristocracy had pretty much devoured the parents with their taxes and inhumane treatment of the Irish that they might as well devour the children!”
ZoomBoy hadn’t been prepped with that part of the history– I told him about the sanctions against the Irish during the Age of Enlightenment and how Swift was a clergyman in a poor Irish slum–Presbyterian? Anglican? I forget– but that he was so beloved the churches of Ireland rang their bells at his death, because he was kind and humanitarian to everybody, but the English didn’t understand irony because (go figure) the men in power weren’t that bright, and they didn’t understand the power of irony, particularly when it was aimed at them.
We discussed the finer points of Modest Proposal some more and then Squish said, “Well, it’s like the French Revolution, isn’t it? Where civil unrest continues on and the people in power get killed and the next people in power get too power hungry and they get killed, because by then they’re too mad to listen to reason!”
“Yes!” I said excitedly. “And then you get diabolism, where people are so angry they believe ‘If you’re not with me, you’re evil and need to be slaughtered!’ Did you know about Maximillian Robespierre who was so bloodthirsty that he managed to convince a tribunal to kill over 1,300 people?”
“Oh my God! That’s terrible!”
“Yes–and because he was with the revolution, everyone assumed he was a good guy, but the truth was, he just liked to watch people who didn’t agree with him bleed. You see a lot of those types on Twitter.”
“Yeah,” ZoomBoy said. “It’s frustrating when they’re progressive–they make people afraid of progressives because they’re terrifying.”
“So when did the revolution end?” Squish asked. “Did they just run out of people to kill?”
“No– they ran out of government, because they’d nuked the existing government without a plan for one to take it’s place. And they were sort of milling about going, ‘But what do we do now’ when Napoleon grabbed a flag and screamed, ‘Follow me into war and bloodshed and let’s take over the world!'”
“And what then?” Squish asked.
“And a hundred years later, Lenin grabbed a flag and said, ‘Follow me into war and bloodshed and let’s take over the world!'”
“And then twenty years later in Germany…” ZoomBoy said.
“…Adolph Hitler grabbed a flag and screamed, ‘Follow me into war and bloodshed and let’s take over the world!”
We all sighed. “And then Orwell wrote a book,” I said, “about how language can be used against us, and Arthur Miller wrote a play about how not having complex adult thinking can lead to chaos.”
“Mom, English is a really great subject,” ZoomBoy said.
“Yeah–and Frankenstein was a dick,” Squish added.
“You guys are gonna save us all,” I said, and then we all went to do chores and homework and play video games.
Because you can only solve the world’s problems some of the time. But y’all, it was a REALLY good time.