He's right, of course. Natural calamity and human miscreance and malfeasance are par for the course. And I'm sure that even in the Emperor's time reports of disaster and human folly were spread far and wide in bad faith, ignorance, and self-interest by the supercilious newsmongers of the day (even in the absence of such hallmarks of Human Progress and Enlightenment as Twitter).
In the meantime, bad news or not, the creators and preservers of that which is important proceed quietly about their business.
A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.
He who is grateful for the existence of music.
He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.
Two workmen playing, in a café in the South, a silent game of chess.
The potter, contemplating a color and a form.
The typographer who sets this page well, though it may not please
A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto.
He who strokes a sleeping animal.
He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done him.
He who is grateful for the existence of Stevenson.
He who prefers others to be right.
These people, unaware, are saving the world.
Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alastair Reid), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems (edited by Alexander Coleman) (Viking 1999), page 449.
Richard Eurich (1903-1992), "The Window"
In the autumn of 1923, Ivor Gurney remained involuntarily confined in an asylum, as he had been since September of 1922. "In Hell I buried a score-depth, writing verse pages." ("Hell's Prayer," in Ivor Gurney, Selected Poems (edited by George Walter) (J. M. Dent 1996), page 64.) If you ponder it for long, his life will break your heart. Yet, as sad, desperate, miserable, and bedeviled as we was, he was at times more lucid and acute than any of us can hope to be. In or around October of 1923, he wrote this:
I believe in the increasing of life whatever
Leads to the seeing of small trifles . . . . . .
Real, beautiful, is good, and an act never
Is worthier than in freeing spirit that stifles
Under ingratitude's weight; nor is anything done
Wiselier than the moving or breaking to sight
Of a thing hidden under by custom; revealed
Fulfilled, used, (sound-fashioned) any way out to delight.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trefoil . . . . hedge sparrow . . . . the stars on the edge of night.
Ivor Gurney, Ibid, page 46. The punctuation (or lack of it) and the ellipses are in the original typescript. The poem was not published in his lifetime.
Perhaps it is not my place to say so, but I don't think Ivor Gurney would want us to break our hearts in pity for him. Rather, he would want us to read his poems (and listen to his music). They tell us what matters. They are what matters.
Richard Eurich, "The Road to Grassington" (1971)