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A Mary T. Hoffman Commentary from


"Joyful Curmudgeon" An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.


Eugene Field – 8 February 2009
By Mary T. Hoffman

In his book The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac, published in 1899, Eugene Field has this to say in his opening chapter titled “My First Love”:

At this moment, when I am about to begin the most important undertaking of my life, I recall the sense of abhorrence with which I have at different times read the confessions of men famed for their prowess in the realm of love. These boastings have always shocked me, for I reverence love as the noblest of the passions, and it is impossible for me to conceive how one who has truly fallen victim to its benign influence can ever thereafter speak flippantly of it.

Yet there have been, and there still are, many who take a seeming delight in telling you how many conquests they have made, and they not infrequently have the bad taste to explain with wearisome prolixity the ways and the means whereby those conquests were wrought; as, forsooth, an unfeeling huntsman is forever boasting of the game he has slaughtered and is forever dilating upon the repulsive details of his butcheries.

Unfortunately, judging by comments in his book, where non-human animals (especially fish) are concerned, I would say that Eugene Field expressed contradictions that perhaps were based on his desire to be a “people pleaser.” At the same time that he befriended anglers and praised Izaak Walton, he expressed an appreciation of nature and wrote: “The best anglers in the world are those who do not catch fish; the mere slaughter of fish is simply brutal….” This brings to mind Theodore H. White’s comment: “To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can have.”

After all these years, the sociopathic behavior of those who lack empathy is widespread in this blood-soaked world. The human development and expression of basic kindness and compassion for all of creation – love – has lagged far behind the rapid advance of technology.

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