What I Learned from Downton Abbey

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  • Just because you differ in class, culture, assumptions and goals, you do not have to change who you are. Isobel Crawley had a well defined sense of self which she did not allow the domineering culture to taint or defile.
  • All generations face the same tests and issues – identity crises, inability to handle money, fear of the future, resistance to change, decisions of bad judgment, unfairness and false charges of evil, forgiveness, revenge and violent clashes of personality,
  • Wealth has an unpleasant price to pay. Cora’s wealthy brother could not have a genuine solid relationship with a woman, which he both needed and wanted. He displayed a charming sadness.
  • Poverty has another cost – the ingrained notion that one can never improve one’s lot – that the chances are behind you. Mr. Mosely was a buffoon at a menial job but shone as a true scholar of history, a love which he passed on to others. We just might be in the wrong job.
  • History and science change life for everyone. Patrick might have a claim to the Earldom had he been born after DNA was discovered- but not in 1920. He could not prove who he was.
  • Money does not necessarily bestow good manners, charm or character. Heiress Mabel Lane Fox was “common” even by today’s much lowered standards. Anna, a lowly ladies maid, was a true aristocrat in her heart and behavior.
  • Mary’s aloof, even cold hauteur was a product of her inheriting a title and the responsibilities of landed gentry which the world was leaving behind. Every decision put her on the spot. Most of us never have that kind of burden. Her youngest sister, Sybil, had no such strictures and could marry for love. Watch Downton to identify the pressures life puts on us all.
  • Dating today may be too easy but then it was nearly impossible. To marry someone without knowing them is something today we are not required to do. It led to many a mistake.
  • We learned why so many English people came to America. Our system is based not on birth and inheritance but a meritocracy proven by effort, brains and investment. Their loss, our gain.
  • Wealthy newspaperman, Richard Carlisle, reminded us that just because you make money through wit, brains, and occasionally violence does not mean you are are a nobleman even if you can buy the title. But he also was teachable.
  • Lord Merton’s family stank like skunks at a garden party. Let that be a lesson. No amount of wealth, status or English peerage can cover that kind of smell.
  • The consistent theme throughout the 6 seasons was, perhaps not even known to the actors, the ability and wisdom of those who know how to face change and make it work for them.
  • Mr. Bates’ first wife could not handle change and became bitter, and diseased with enough revenge to kill herself if it would guarantee her husband be hanged for murder. An inability to change leads to personal decay.

I recommend the series to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of life and personality.


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The Ministry of the Watchman – An observer on the wall sharing a report of what God is seeing and doing in the world at large and also in the congregations of His people. Cornelia Scott Cree, Watchman, Change Agent, Essayist.

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