Nobody Owns Anyone, or Every Rose has a Private Life

In the words of EM Forster -- "only connect." Years ago I read the journals of the french writers, the Brothers Goncourt. A time machine -- a trip to Belle Epoque Paris in the 19th century that is worth every page. The well-to-do brothers lived and wrote together for their lifetime through the period of the commune in Paris, and the late 19th century. They were more than a bit privileged, they prided themselves on their exquisite insights into people and events, and they were served for a lifetime by their "devoted" maid, Rose.

It was their belief that Rose was totally dedicated to their lives, that she existed only to serve them. She was "our Rose", an angel of servitude who kept house, washed and ironed their soiled laundry, cooked for them, and saw to all their material needs without complaint. The brothers held a low view of women, writing "Woman is an evil, stupid animal... she is incapable of dreaming, thinking, or loving." This they applied to all women except their beloved, faithful Rose. Imagine their shock when they discovered that their Rose, who had served them so faithfully for years, lived what they considered a private life of debauchery. Creditors had tried to collect money she owed for liquor, and through those creditors and other townspeople the Goncourts discovered that the plain, middle aged Rose had squandered her money on sexual adventures with young men. The brothers were "shocked", "shocked", "shocked." This could not be their Rose, but, alas, she was. It is one of the great instances in literature of our ability to delude ourselves -- of intelligent men and women believing that the lives of others orbit around their own -- to believe that others exist only to serve us or define our own lives. Or pick up our socks.

I am not saying that everyone is debauched but everyone is Rose -- in so far as they have private lives, private needs, that have little or nothing to do with our own. They may oblige us, but we do not own them -- the best we can hope for is friendship (and that's a lot) and the shock that the Goncourt's felt reminds me somewhat of Trump (yes, I am obsessed, I can even drag him into obscure French literature) who shouts that a black man in his audience is "my African American" or "my Mexican." No, Donald, you do not own your Rose, whoever she may be, nor your "black" or your "Mexican." Or even your devoted "Slovenian."

Donald, if you were literate you would learn at an early age that the world was not made to serve you. You don't even have to be literate -- just observant and humane -- but you are none of the above. You are a thug and a fool. With any luck the majority of the electorate will come to share this view.