How could I have been alive for three quarters of a century, earned a PhD, and only recently discovered—quite by chance—words that have been my mantra since early adolescence? Thomas Paine, the idol of my high school civics class and author of Common Sense, wrote, “The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”
How did I learn of this statement? In a most unlikely novel by Deborah Harkness in her Discovery of Witches trilogy. It is actually mentioned at the end of the newly added fourth book. Nonetheless, there it was. I sat straight up in bed, my Kindle shaking in my trembling hands. These were the words I live by.
Although I consider myself a rather erudite person, I thought that this creed was the philosophy of my father, passed on to me at a young age prior to his premature death. He must have been a scholar who knew the works of Paine.
I am constantly amazed and surprised that I have as much to learn as I have forgotten. At lunch, my granddaughter asked me if I knew the word for throwing someone out a window headfirst. “What?” Everything I thought of was either rude or cruel. It turns out that the word is defenestration—a practice in Prague, among other places, in lieu of the guillotine! I quizzed my Messenger pals and got about a recognized the term, although most had long since forgotten the word.
Now Disney+ and Marvel have a new series called Falcon and Winter Soldier. I was eager for it to begin. However, the premise of bad guys and flag smashers trying to rid the world of national boundaries and unify it into a community of equals is anathema to me. I think they are the superheroes, not the avengers.
Ah, so much yet to learn and do . . . and so little time.