Saturday, 24 September 2011


'Which brings one back to the old argument between the Lady Bountiful and the Impatient Revolutionary, as to whether it's worth while patching up a dilapidated house - or social system, or world order, or whatever you like - when what is really needed is a new one. The L.B. sends a nice bowl of soup to the poor, and then sits back and thinks she's done the whole of her duty. The I.R. with a sneer of "Pallatives!", rushes off to reorganize the world, and thinks he's doing the whole of his. Personally, I believe they're both wrong. It certainly isn't enough to send soup and then think no more about it: but equally it isn't enough to reform the world (which can't be done in a flash) and leave people, in the meanwhile, soupless.
The truth is, some of us are more suited by nature to be Palliators, or Patchers, and others to be Rebuilders; very few have either the time or the temperament to do both jobs. There ought to be an arrangement by which all the people who are trying to clear up the present mess could label themselves either "P" or "R," and guarantee not to interfere with each other's jobs while continuing to get on with their own. That would enable half of them to go on providing the necessary soup until the other half had finished creating the much better world in which charity soup wouldn't be needed. To make out that these two methods can't be used concurrently seems to me dangerous nonsense.'
Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, p.144.