Robespierre For Breakfast

It’s 7:30 in the morning and I’m having a rather heated disagreement about the French Revolution with the one I love. The first thing this tells me is that I married the right person. The second–maybe it is time for me to question the truism: The person who does not understand the past is condemned to repeat it.
Or, to put it more bluntly–maybe I have no fucking way of understanding the news or what is happening in my country.
I was raised by a brilliant Marxist Freudian–my father. His dark–very dark–view of human history permeated my childhood. It was rather a pleasant shock to find myself, in my twenties, in the hot tubs of northern California where people did not find human fate to be so grim.
However, it is paradoxically my inheritance that allows me to argue that idealism doesn’t necessarily lead to terror, i.e. Robespierre. Then I get a flash–maybe I can’t understand Donald Trump by looking at history. And I’ve certainly tried.
I’m in my mid sixties, and many people in my cohort are sick, in various kinds of treatment, grief stricken, anxious about children, struggling. The one thing I’ve observed about suffering is that we seek certainty and information in a situation that is essentially out of control. We hope and think we know what is happening–but we do not. It is rare for a doctor to tell us if we will live or die. We comb statistics, hoping to find salvation, but cannot see the future.
In this way, obvious suffering is just like ordinary life–which both Freud and Buddhists call maya, or illusion. I got a bit of Buddhism 101 in those hot tubs. And so I am wondering if my attempt to understand isn’t partially tripping me up. Maybe the United States is ill, and therefor I cannot see its future.
I have a smart friend who has lost her peace of mind by following the news 24/7. “But I need to know what is going to happen so I can get ready,” she said. I don’t think this is going to work.
I’ve written before about being ready to act, about clarifying ethics. I still think action (as defined by you) is a good solution but this morning I told my spouse–“I only feel obligated to not lie to myself about what is around me.”
Then he went off to proof read legislative bills. Adding an incorrect zero can make a budgetary difference. As Robespierre said, in a calmer moment, “The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

1 thought on “Robespierre For Breakfast

  1. Blues for breakfast, just coffee please
    I’m having blues for breakfast, no calories.
    There’s nothing like a long and sleepless night
    To make you lose your appetite.
    (Matt Dennis)

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