I have decided to write about old movies instead of old politicians, primarily because I am fed up with most politicians. The last politician I appreciated was Tony Blair, the British Prime minister, who made the mistake of supporting President Bush’s mistake to invade Iraq because Bush somehow blamed Iraq for 9/11.

Blair lost his popularity, then his ability to lead because he went in with the USA to Iraq. After 9/11. Blair was able to salvage some of his leadership when he worked with other capable leaders to bring peace to Ireland.

Now if my reference to old movies makes any sense, I think sometimes that the old movies that are really well done help a person understand some points in history that help you understand current events.

Consider “Sir Lawrence of Arabia.” After Sir Lawrence united Arabian tribes to a high level of power, the movie showed how England and France waited for the unity to crumble then the  English military in the person of Jack Hawkins, French diplomacy in the person of Claude Raines, and King Faisal, in the person of Alec Guinness had meaningful talks with the implication being that territories were being divided.

This is how my old mind works when it does work.

The other night while listening to CBS News about health care I thought about this biography of Charles Darwin by Janet Browne who described this family crisis during 1859:

“Family illness descended without  warning. First, his daughter Henrietta, aged 15, came down with a raging temperature and sore throat. Darwin and Emma (his wife) feared she might have caught diphtheria, the frightening new disease invading Britain in epidemic waves from France during 1858 and 1859, as deadly in its way as the continuing threat of a military invasion under Louis Napoleon’s orders.

“The country of Kent was already under seige. ‘No actual choking, immense discharge & much inability to speak or swallow & very weak & rapid pulse, with a fearful tongue,’ Darwin wrote in consternation … Both parents took turns to nurse her.

“Apprehensively, they asked their Mackintosh relatives, who were guests in the house, to return home; and just as apprehensively they called for Emma’s older sister Elizabeth Wedgewood to come over from Hartfield, near Tunbridge Wells, to help with the nursing. Unintentionally making a bad situation worse, George’s headmaster wrote from School to say their second son had caught measles, another dangerous disease in the years before antibiotics and mass vaccination programmes. At any other time they would have brought him home. Now they asked Mr. Pritchard to keep him in at school in isolation.

“The following day the baby was taken ill with fever. This baby, Charles Waring Darwin, was their tenth and last child, at that point around nineteen months old.”

And this is the way it was in England and everywhere else in 1859.

There was no public health and no planned-parenthood.


Gillis Morgan is an associate professor emeritus of journalism at Auburn University and an award-winning columnist. He can be reached at morgarg7@aol.com