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Euthanasia and euphemism are closely related. One kills people, the other kills language.


If I remember one book from college (or more accurately, one series of books), it’s the Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who died yesterday.

Sure, I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in high school, like so many others. But it was the Gulag Archipelago that made an impression, It wasn’t assigned reading, but the three or four volumes were right there on the reserve shelf in the college library where I worked. It guaranteed a semester’s worth of absorption for the 10 hours a week I spent on the job.

One quote still stands out from all those thousands of pages, though I might mangle it a bit here: “Most men go through life without knowing what deep well of evil they may fall into.” Hopefully you get the gist.

The book, more than any other, opened my eyes to the fatal fallacies of ideology, whether on the left or on the right. They ultimately elevate ideas over people, allowing for atrocities both big and small in the name of a better tomorrow, a better homeland or a better whatever. I never really trusted any ideology again, no matter its appeals to fairness and reason. Often enough they are mirages themselves.