Mecklenburg in the 19th century was a land of forest and agriculture and small towns. An agricultural laborer was surrounded by nature. His own bread grew under his own hand. He was a man of the open air living a simple life. He had a sturdy relative independence and his work had interest and variety. He knew everyone in his neighborhood and his conduct was commented on by his neighbors, as he commented on theirs. He fit into the seasons, into sun and frost, spring and autumn. He was connected to rain and snow and wilderness. He saw many radiant dawns.
When he was a boy his father used to bounce him on his knee and tell him about the old days when Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the wife of Frederick William III and the Queen consort of Prussia.
He asked his father how old he would be in the year 2011.
“You’ll be 161″ his father said.
“But I’ll be dead then!”
“You don’t have to think about that for a long time,” said his sweet father.
Then he moved into the city because he heard rumors that the streets were paved with gold. He faded in and became anonymous. He was one of a crowd. He had no neighbors. No one commented. The customs of his family and his village receded. He earned money. He drank water from a tap instead of from a spring. His milk came in bottles on his doorstep instead of squeezed from the udder. He had a job in a factory where he knew neither the owners nor the employer, who was himself an employee of the owners. His job was monotonous, impersonal. It had nothing to do with who he was. He didn’t feel like himself. He became melancholy and had dark thoughts.
In New York in July 2011, the weather was clear – oops, cloudy- and there was a bidding frenzy for the 2018 Summer Olympics, which South Korea won. Rupert Murdoch in one fell blow shut down the biggest tabloid newspaper in the world amid fury over a sickening phone hacking scandal, and watched a YouTube video on the upbringing and slaughter of chickens that never saw the light of day. Simply ridiculous, isn’t it, to be happy over that? And yet we are glad, even if we are a chicken, when a new day begins with its beautiful light and we are here to witness it.
Some living creatures, though, are raised for a specific purpose and it has nothing to do with the new day’s light.