Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.
Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Eavesdrop a lot and take notes. It’s a way to begin to think about how the world around you is made of stories.
Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket.
I agree. Great ideas are all around us, even in the most unexpected places. We have only to pay close attention to them.
A novel worth reading is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.
Susan Sontag (via aruariandance)
When a dead body is rotting, it does not diminish; it swells. Ignorance of this elementary truth is at the back of nearly all our political blindness. When we speak of a decaying people or a dying institution, we always have somehow the notion of their dwindling; of sparser and sparser tribes gathering on their mountains, of meaner and meaner buildings arising in their skies. But it is not so that social bodies really rot. They rot like physical bodies, being horribly distended from within by revolting gases demanding egress. Institutions, like corpses, grow larger and larger as they grow more and more shapeless. A dying monarchy is always one that has too much power, not too little; a dying religion always interferes more than it ought, not less. Our own country is really in this state of swollen decay, and the test of it is this: that every function of the State has grown more formless and more vast. Every power, public and private, has been stretched long past all sane definition and we live under a government of entangled exaggerations. It is a government that has all the practical effects of anarchy. Indeed, it is something worse than chaos; a warring polytheism. It is a conflict of incalculable autocracies, under any of which at the moment we may fall.
G.K. Chesterton, Daily News, March 11th, 1911.
Some things never change.
I would say the same of any of the fine arts for that matter.
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
The intellectual thing I should want to say to them is this: When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts. That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say.
The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple: I should say, love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way — and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.
Bertrand Russell (via nec-plus-ultra)
An admirable and vital endeavor, but difficult to apply. Hence, it requires constant practice and willpower.
Until my dying day I will look back with pride that I found the courage to come face to face in battle against the specter, which for time immemorial, has been injecting poison into me and into men of my nature. Many have been driven to suicide because all their happiness in life was tainted. Indeed, I am proud that I found the courage to deal the initial blow to the hydra of public contempt.
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a 19th century German writer and jurist who is perhaps the first gay man to “come out” and speak publicly in support for LGBT rights.
I particularly enjoy how he characterized intolerance and oppression as a hydra, against which he struck but the first blow. Like his contemporaries today, Ulrichs had no delusions about this fight needing to be continued by many others for generations.
Sarah Dessen, Someone Like You
Even then, you’d probably still get criticized, so you might as get flak for doing something meaningful to you.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
We hear much talk these days, as we did during the Vietnam War, of “supporting our troops.” Like most Americans, I have always supported our troops, and I have always believed we had the best fighting forces in the world…But I believed then as I do now that the best way to support our troops is to avoid sending them on mistaken military campaigns that needlessly endanger their lives and limbs. That is what went on in Vietnam for nearly thirty years….During the long years of my opposition to that war, including a Presidential campaign dedicated to ending the American involvement, I said in a moment of disgust: “I’m sick and tired of old men dreaming up wars in which young men do the dying.” That terrible American blunder, in which 58,000 of our bravest young men died, and many times that number were crippled physically or psychologically, also cost the lives of some 2 million Vietnamese as well as a similar number of Cambodians and Laotians…I had thought after that horrible tragedy—sold to the American people by our policy-makers as a mission of freedom and mercy—that we never again would carry out a needless, ill-conceived invasion of another country that has done us no harm and posed no threat to our security. I was wrong in that assumption.
George McGovern, former US presidential candidate, congressman, and senator, speaking about the Iraq War in 2003.