On the Banks of the River

English: Village stream Avening stream close t...

Village stream Avening close to bursting its banksĀ  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting, and doing the things historians usually record; while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry, and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happens on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river.” ~ Will Durant

I opened a favourite book of mine, Storycraft, by Jack Hart, and by pure chance found this quote on page 142 of Chapter 9. Now you can open a book at random and not find anything of consequence. This time I opened a book at random and found a quote that pretty well sums up all of the important things that need to be summed up.

It is the everyday, the lives that we live, the families we make (and family is a big word–you do not have to be related by blood to be family), and the things we do and create that are important. Like a headline ripped from the paper–civilization is given short shrift if you only look at the extremes.

The “story of civilization is what happens on the banks” in our everyday lives. That is the interesting stuff. Leave the other stuff to historians and the headlines. (Not all historians keep account of the killing, stealing, and shouting–Will Durant is himself a historian).

Bliss is what happens on the banks–what do you think?

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19 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s in our everyday lives where dreams and goals are hopefully accomplished, or lessons learned and memories are made…Diane

  2. Blissful banks, I like that….you summed it up perfectly!

    • I like that term– “blissful banks”–may we stay on the banks and out of the rivers

  3. Amen. Don’t you love it when you open a book and a quote like that just sums up our crazy/wonderful world so succinctly?

  4. Banks are where all human civilisations first established themselves – definitely bliss in that :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. I have to agree. You have a penchant for finding the best quotes.

  6. That must be why I’ve always lived close to water. To whittle children and raise statues..

  7. Whenever I studied history in an academic setting, it was never the big deeds or the wars that were fought that interested me, but the historical accounts of events by random people (who then became known in history because they talked about those big events). Oftentimes through those accounts, we get certain details about the people involved that make them more human and thus more relatable.

    • I too like the little historical facts, the everyday lives of our past–random people are sometimes so much more interesting, as are the real lives of the historical figures

  8. Couldn’t agree more. When I was in grad school I studied the history of every day life. I wanted to know how people like you and me lived, not Henry VIII. Nothing against Henry, but I cheer for the little people.

    • I would love that–the history of everyday life–you kind of do that in your blog don’t you?

      • Never thought of it that way. Interesting point.

  9. Really like this post. I think it is so true. Sometimes we overlook the everyday people and their everyday live along the bank. Thanks for the reminder.


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