How to Get Yourself to Stop Complaining (and Why Politics Matters)

September 28, 2012

If you want to be reminded of why politics really matters, or be cured of romantic notions about old fashioned rural life, or just feel grateful that electricity comes out of the sockets in your house, read Chapter 27 of Robert Caro’s Path to Power. “The Sad Irons” is a vivid description of life in the Texas Hill Country before the 1930s, particularly the daily chores of a farm wife. It will cure you of whining about your smartphone for a full week.

There’s no legal link to the full chapter online, but here’s a sample:

An interviewer from the city is struck by the fact that Hill Country women of the older generation are noticeably stooped, much more so than city women of the same age. Without his asking for an explanation, it is given to him. More than once, and more than twice, a stooped and bent Hill Country farm wife says, "You see how round-shouldered I am? Well, that's from hauling the water." And, she will often add, "I was round-shouldered like this well before my time, when I was still a young woman. My back got bent from hauling the water, and it got bent when I was still young."

Thousands of gallons a year for her family. And then there’s hauling wood, and hours each morning milking cows, and the scalding days of laundry and ironing, and on and on. And then politics, through government, changed all that. The whole book is good, but if nothing else, stand in the bookstore and read this one chapter. I should make myself reread it anytime I’m tempted to complain about almost anything.

Check here for regular observations on the 2012 presidential campaign and political history, as well as new clips from The Bigger Hammer. Follow @TheBiggerHammer on Twitter to find out when new excerpts are released and where you’ll be able to see the whole film.

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