Joan has inspired me to re-read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. I am entranced. It is a masterpiece for a reason and covers pretty much everything and applies, as masterpieces do, as much to times today as then. In light of the current arguments around health care, I am struck by the following piece. Pierre has inherited a huge estates and thousands of serfs. He would like to help the serfs out by lessening their work load and providing schools and hospitals. From War and Peace:
Prince Andrei bent down a third finger,"what else was it you said? Oh, yes. Hospitals, medicine. Our peasant has a stroke, he's dying; you have him bled and he recovers, but he's a cripple, he'll drag about for ten years, a burden to everyone. It would have been far easier and simpler for him to die. Others are being born, there are plenty of them as it is. It would be different if you grudged losing a laborer - which is how I regard him - but you want to cure him out of love for him. And he doesn't want that. And besides, what an idea - that medicine ever cured anyone! Killed them, yes!" he said, frowning sardonically and turning away from Pierre.
This book is well-balanced and this is one mood, one opinion, one moment, and there will be many more, bouncing back and forth. The book begins in 1805, and is an examination of society and war and differences in ranks, and the differences between royalty, land-owners and serfs. Sound familiar? I'm still in the part on war. I'll see if it gets to peace.