a still more dangerous thing (John Steinbeck)

Just read Grapes of Wrath, and found this passage in Ch. 14:
Doug Noble
This you may say of man – when theories change and crash, when
schools, philosophies, when narrow dark alleys of thought, national,
religious, economic, grow and disintegrate, man reaches, stumbles
forward, painfully, mistakenly sometimes. Having stepped forward, he
may slip back, but only half a step, never the full step back. This
you may say and know it and know it.

This you may know when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on
the market place, when prisoners are stuck like pigs, when the crushed
bodies drain filthily in the dust, You may know it in this way. If the
step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not
alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut.

Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live – for
every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died. And fear the time
when the strikes stop while the great owners live – for every little
beaten strike is proof that the step is being taken. And this you can
know – fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a
concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this
one quality is man, distinctive in the universe...

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car creaking
along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a single tractor took
my land. I am alone and I am bewildered. And in the night one family
camps in a ditch and another family pulls in and the tents come out.
The two men squat on their hams and the women and children listen.
Here is the anlage of the thing you fear. This is the zygote. For here
“I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split and from its splitting
grows the thing you hate – “We lost our land.” The danger is here, for
two men are not as lonely and perplexed as one. And from this first
“we” there grows a still more dangerous thing: “I have a little food”
plus “I have none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little
food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction.

Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are
ours.  The two men squatting in a ditch, the little fire, the sidemeat
stewing in a single pot, the silent, stone-eyed women; behind, the
children listening with their souls to words their minds do not
understand. The night draws down. Your baby has a cold. Here, take this
blanket. It’s wool. It was my mother’s blanket – take it for the baby.
This is the thing to bomb...

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