Quote of the day

This, from an introduction to John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” written by Susan Shillinglaw. Shillinglaw pulled it from Steinbeck’s 1938 journal entry:

“In every bit of honest writing in the world there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other.”

“Steinbeck’s greatness as a writer lies in his empathy for common people — their loneliness, joy, anger, and strength, their connection to places and their craving for land,” Shillinglaw writes following the Steinbeck quote.

That’s what I love about Steinbeck, besides his crisp and imaginative writing: He treats readers like friends and sets out to show a story, often a story about people who would otherwise be marginalized and their plight condensed into convenient vignettes that serve powerful people and the structure that keeps power put.

But to understand. That, to me, is what writing, reporting and journalism is all about. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes funny. Sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes anger inducing. But at its heart, if the writer is brave enough, it’s about understanding. And that’s hell for the zero sum set, who don’t want to — or perhaps can’t — access an empathic and understanding chord. And it did nothing to help Steinbeck’s popularity among the comfortable and powerful set during his time.

Just a random thought and quote of the day.

-Christy

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