The Common Lot of Mortals
In my more cheerless moments I often reflect that while life is full of misery and suffering it is also, blessedly, short. That’s my own version of brightside thinking. It’s not a sentiment I frequently share with others. Society is important and nobody wants to socialize with someone who combines the dour cynicism of Benjamin the Donkey with the misanthropic grumpiness of Oscar the Grouch. Although that guy does sound pretty awesome.
Anyway, if you’re one of those unfortunate souls afflicted with the empathy bug born of prolonged exposure to reading literary fiction then you probably can’t come away from today’s chapter with anything other than a similarly lugubrious feeling. Just look at the sorry lot of the Muscovites. They evacuate their beloved city. Man’s irrepressibly rapacious nature surfaces as the troops double back not to help others escape but, rather, to loot the unguarded marketplace. Peasant women shriek desperate, piercing howls. A General fires on a bridge packed full of civilians to get things moving again. A crushing, screeching stampede ensues.
The human condition in one short chapter.
No one denies that it is sad: but it is the common lot of mortals. You were born to lose others, to be lost, to hope, to fear, to destroy your own peace and that of others, to fear and yet to long for death, and, worst of all, never to know what your real position is.
Seneca, To Marcia, On Consolation