Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Astern Conclusion

The experience [of being stranded on a passenger liner whose engine failed, leaving it adrift] taught me something about the behavior of human beings in adversity: The untrustworthiness and failure of a minority at one end of the human spectrum; the rather passive response to leadership on the part of a majority in the middle; the extraordinary faithfulness, courage, and general excellence of a few. I came away with a new admiration for one portion of mankind, but a portion which, as I now recognized, would never be more than a minority. For the majority at the center, I felt a mixture of sympathy and solicitude. For the remainder there was only horror and repulsion.
            -Diplomat George Kennan, 1925-50 Memoirs

(Kennan gained reknown as "X," the author of a 1947 Foreign Affairs article that provided the foundation of the U.S. postwar doctrine of containment.)