Henry David Thoreau

Lives of Quiet Desperation

10/09/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Henry David Thoreau famously said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.  I never really understood that line when I first read it many years ago, and as I was growing into maturity, it always seemed to me a bleak assessment of the human condition.  ”Quiet desperation” seemed to negate the very possibility of living a meaningful if not joyous life.  In my youth, hearing those words made me feel distant at best from what Thoreau was trying to say.

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