Narrative Medicine Book Club: April 11, 2020

It was difficult to choose a quote from today’s pages because there are so many that resonate. The narrator discusses Tarrou’s “health groups,” made of civilians risking their health to take care of those suffering. He says he doesn’t want to “attribute more significance” to these groups because he believes that “by giving too much importance to fine actions one may end by paying an indirect but powerful tribute to evil, because in so doing one implies that such fine actions are only valuable because they are rare, and that malice or indifference are far more common motives in the actions of men.” We are all so heartened, in America, by the “fine actions” we see by so many around us — and of course we must continue to give them significance! — but it is against the backdrop of so much seeming indifference that we must not accept as more common. “…There always comes a time in history when the person who dares to say that two and two make four is punished by death. The schoolmaster knows this quite well. And the question is not what reward or punishment awaits the demonstration; it is knowing whether or not two and two do make four.” This quote speaks to us of the struggle between facts, science, and lies and spin. And finally: “…the conclusion was always what they knew it would be: one must fight, in one way or another, and not go down on one’s knees.” 

FOR MONDAY: Read next 7 pages, to the line (in dialogue), “‘That man…is Enemy Number One.” 

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