In the world of fiction, Pulitzer Prize winners are the cream of the crop. I have been seeking out these novels recently and have uncovered some truly outstanding literature.
My current find is A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, winner of the 1945 Pulitzer Prize for novels. The story is set in a port town in Sicily(The real Adano )just after the American invasion which drove German forces back during World War II. Major Joppolo is a good man, charged with helping the war-torn town regain its identity and normal life in the aftermath of the fascist government of Mussolini. He very soon learns of the townspeople’s great love for the bell that had been taken away to be melted down for military purposes.
Early in the book, Major Joppolo tells some of his new appointees what is different about democracy.
“Perhaps you do not know what a democracy is. I will tell you. Democracy is this: democracy is that the men of the government are no longer the masters of the people. They are the servants of the people. … Therefore you are now the servants of the people of Adano. I too am their servant. When I go to buy bread, I shall take my place at the end of the line, and I will wait my turn. You too must behave now as servants, not as masters. You must behave as the servant of the man without shoes just as much as of the baron. … Remember: you are servants now. You are servants of the people of Adano. And watch: This thing will make you happier than you have ever been in your lives.”
I wish every American (especially our leaders in Washington, including the President) would read these words and live by them.
When leaders behave as servants, everything is transformed.