Monday, March 26, 2012

Lessons from the Donner Party

You perhaps have thought of a few aphorisms to suit the lessons taught by the Donner Party's experience.

1. Write any you thought of in the comments section below. Give an example of who and how they went wrong. Or argue a point of your own using the events as your evidence.
The documentary we just watched opens with this paragraph from a French observer of American habits in the 1830s:

Alexis de Tocqueville (Actor, voice-over): It is odd to watch with what feverish ardor Americans pursue prosperity. Ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it. They cleave to the things of this world as if assured that they will never die, and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach as if they expected to stop living before they had relished them. Death steps in, in the end, and stops them before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them.
How would you boil his sentiments down to a few words? What aphorisms suit his observations?
2. How would they differ or align with those you wrote after seeing the documentary?


  1. 1. If you don't have the time leave stuff behind. What the Donner Party should have done is to have ditched their stuff and come back for it after the winter. When winter approaches head south for the winter. When it started snowing they could have headed south. If it a'int dead don't eat it. When the smaller party that went to go find help they ran out of food and ate the recently deceased. If your brother Fred a'int dead don't eat him. The smaller party labeled the "meat" so not to eat their own relatives.

    2. Americans are under the false belief that money can bring them happiness but they don't live long enough before they realize that money can't solve their problems. Americans have a one track mind. Don't cut corners.

    3. They would align because haste makes waste. Taking the short cut to success was not a very strong foundation

    1. Hey Riley,
      You're now ahead on your homework. Nice.

      I'm a little confused about your second response. When you say, "Americans have a one track mind," you're saying we're overly focused on money, right? Your next line is meant to suggest we ought not cut corners in attempts to save money because we lose in the long run, right?

      Haste definitely makes waste. That they missed an open way through the pass at the summit by one day seems cruel beyond measure.