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1000 Black Lines

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Poet and Prophet?

Ever read a book and there's a passage that get's stuck in your head like a bad top 40 pop tune? That happened to me recently as I was reading one of my favorite writers, Khalil Gibran, famously known for The Prophet. In his novelette, Broken Wings he wrote:

Modern civilization has made woman a little wiser, but it has increased her suffering because of man's covetousness. The woman of yesterday was a happy wife, but the woman of today is a miserable mistress. In the past she walked blindly in the light, but now she walks open-eyed in the dark. She was beautiful in her ignorance, virtuous in her simplicity, and strong in her weakness. Today she has become ugly in her ingenuity, superficial and heartless in her knowledge.

Is he condemning greedy men for the state of "modern" womanhood? Or is he endorsing early feminism? That passage will have to be properly understood in it's context (Broken Wings was first published in 1912), but the idea exists that the demise in America of a patriarchal system coincided with the Industrial Revolution. It's possible the poet's demoralized woman in Broken Wings was a foreshadow of today's feminism. And where are the American men today? Maybe they hide behind the guise of work and derive purpose from that. They work in tall office buildings in a metropolis to make a good living. But the truth is that "because of man's covetousness... the woman of today is a miserable mistress."

Reality television programming seems to reinforce that idea. A group single women agree to be filmed while displaying their superficiality and ugliness in an attempt to marry the "Bachelor." It's both demeaning to the women (and men). The strength and virtue of women of character are obviously not popular television programming. Fortunately, Khalil Gibran didn't watch television. So, is he a prophet? or just the author of The Prophet?

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