H. L. Mencken and Mary Pipher’s WRITING TO CHANGE THE WORLD

The Mary Pipher book, Writing to Change the World, is finally my very own. The copy I began to read a couple of years ago was taken to China before I could learn all I needed to know from it. Dr. Pipher is a psychologist and anthropologist that began to learn to write when she was 43. Up until that time she says that she was uncertain that she could actually do what she felt called to do. In my view, the only thing she failed in was not beginning to write the day she was born.

But, as with every reader, the author need to resonate with your life and time when they are giving advice. And she does just that for me. Her country up bringing, college education, 1960’s emotional involvement with the anti Viet Nam war movement and her love of her family all seem to parallel my life. I am not so well educated nor did I protest the war in a public way. My life was much simpler and more isolated. The outcome was the same though. She holds a liberal view of life that allows for disagreement and respect for others opinions. She simply wants us to write in a logical and effective way that might make change for the good. I like that a lot.

As I began reading her book last night I came across the quote I paraphrased in an earlier blog. The quote actually came from a H.L. Mencken in a article written for the Baltimore Evening Sun titled “Bayard vs. Lionheart” on 26 July 1920 and was later republished in a book called On Politics: Carnival of Buncombe. When I went to Wikipedia I found the complete quote. He said:

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre – the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

Dr. Pipher seemed to share the view held by the “Snopes” website that Mencken was “cynical”. “Cutting” was the word she used. In Snopes they list the quote as an urban legend, proclaiming it to be true. (I think that snopes.com opinions could be the subject for a blog.) But, you will have to admit, Mencken was, above all else, prophetic. We truly did get someone just like ourselves. The reign of the monarch is gone and the common man is ruling our country.

If Mary Pipher has her way, we will write until we change what needs to be changed and our country will be led by a man or woman of integrity and above all else, with a large and wonderful intellect.

I dedicate this writing to my grandchildren. We all know they will pay for our mistakes!!!


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