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TRUMPET BLAST TRILOGY   (Anthology by Matt Melone)

PREFACE: The Trumpet Blast Trilogy is an Anthology of inspirational world literature, poetry, and artwork. It is inspired by the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who in 1836 suggested that readers create their own personal books of reflection and inspiration, following the Renaissance practice of collecting writings that resonate like the sound of a trumpet. This book is intended as a celebration of the diversity of our world and is dedicated to the best of humanity. Most of the included authors are recipients of international awards, including Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as the highest honors endowed by the many countries spanning the globe.

This Anthology was created to foster the open-minded respect for the many and varied philosophies, religions, and socio-political ideologies around the world. Historically, human intolerance has been the poisonous undertone of our earthly pilgrimage. Intolerance causes discord, hate, and a violent penchant to overcome dissent with brutality. It has been wisely observed that if we would hope to change the world, then perhaps we should begin with ourselves individually. An attitude of genuine humility leads to the mutual respect for the ideas and convictions of others, while still allowing the sincere pursuit of our own individual convictions.

If humankind hopes to overcome the myopic tendency to believe that only one philosophy, religion, or form of government is valid, then we must first learn to embrace diversity of thought and faith. As so many of our enlightened ancestors have observed, humanity will not survive unless we learn to extend our circle of compassion beyond our own family, country, religion, and culture. Our future depends on our willingness to extend our allegiance to all of Humanity, to Life in all its many forms, to all of Nature, and finally to the Earth herself, our collective habitat.

This Anthology is not intended for sale or publication. To the extent that any of the collected materials included in this Anthology are not in the public domain, such materials may be subject to copyright and trademark protection by the writers referenced.

The full version of this Anthology is free for anyone to enjoy:

* Here are only some of the selected excerpts from The Trumpet Blast Trilogy:

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): “Make your own book: select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been like the blast of a trumpet.” Emerson’s words refer to the Renaissance practice of compiling favorite quotes, poems, letters, and passages into a simple book for reflection and inspiration.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion. It is easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps, with perfect sweetness, the independence of solitude.”

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) / Nobel Prize Nominee: “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) / Nobel Prize 1921: “A human being is a part of the whole called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and his feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

James Michener (1907-1997) / Pulitzer Prize (1948): “This is the journey that every human must make: to find himself. If he fails in this, then it doesn’t matter much what else he finds. Money, position, fame, many loves: all of these are of such little consequence. When the tickets are collected at the end of the ride, such things are tossed into the bin marked meaningless. But, if a man happens to find himself – if he knows what he can be depended upon to do, the limits of his courage, the positions from which he will no longer retreat, the degree to which he can surrender his inner life, the secret reservoirs of his determination, the extent of his dedication, the depth of his feeling for beauty, his honest and unpostured goals – then he has found a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.”

“A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course. Ships, like men, do poorly when the wind is directly behind, pushing them sloppily on their way so that no care is required in steering or in the management of sails. The wind seems favorable, for it blows in the direction one is heading, but actually it is destructive because it induces a relaxation in tension and skill. What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then tension can be maintained, and juices can flow and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men, respond to challenge.”

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. Other things being roughly equal, the man who lives most keenly is he who lives in close harmony with nature. To be wholly alive a man must know storms, he must feel the ocean as his home, or the air as his habitation. He must smell the things of earth, hear the sounds of living things, and taste the rich abundance of the soil and sea.”

President Ronald Reagan: “Let me speak plainly: The United States of America is and must remain a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. Our very unity has been strengthened by this pluralism. That’s how we began; this is how we must always be. The ideals of our country leave no room whatsoever for intolerance, anti-Semitism, or bigotry of any kind — none. The unique thing about America is a wall in our Constitution separating church and state. It guarantees there will never be a state religion in this land, but at the same time it makes sure that every single American is free to choose and practice his or her religious beliefs or to choose no religion at all.”

William James (1842-1910): “A great nation is not saved by wars. It is saved by speaking, writing, and voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them over rabid partisans and empty quacks.”

President George Washington (1732-1799): “The common and continual mischief of political parties is sufficient to make it the duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain them. Partisanship serves always to distract public councils and to enfeeble public administration. It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one party against another, and occasionally breeds riots and insurrections. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.” (Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796)

“While political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time to become potent engines by which cunning and unprincipled men are enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government. The alternate domination of one party over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, is itself a frightful despotism. The disorders and miseries which result from party politics gradually incline the minds of men to seek security in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, causing the ruin of public liberty.”

“There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. I assert that knowledge of books is the basis upon which other knowledge is to be built. A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?

“In politics as in philosophy, my tenets are few and simple. The leading one of which, and indeed that which embraces most others, is to be honest and just ourselves and to exact it from others, meddling as little as possible in their affairs where our own are not involved. If this maxim was generally adopted, wars would cease and our swords would soon be converted into reap hooks and our harvests would be more peaceful, abundant, and happy.”

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they merit the enjoyment.”

William Faulkner (1897-1962) / Nobel Prize in Literature 1949: “I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s duty, the writer’s duty, is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man. It should be one of the props and pillars, to help him endure and prevail.

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother trying to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”

Charles Dickens (1812 -1870): “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before – more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) / Nobel Prize 1962: “The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.”

“It has always seemed strange to me: The things we admire in men – kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest – sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second.”

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone. The sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon and darkness crept over the land from the east. There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. And in the eyes of the people, there is the failure. In the eyes of the hungry, there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people, the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know this great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands, it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold, they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. / Nobel Peace Prize (1964): “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular. But, he must do it because conscience tells him it is right. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says to Love Your Enemies, he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies, or else? The chain reaction of hate begetting hate and wars begetting wars must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Thomas Wolfe (1900-38): “It is not only at the outward forms that we must look to find the evidence of a nation’s hurt. We must also look to the heart of guilt that beats in each of us, for there the cause lies. We must look – and with our own eyes see – the central core of defeat and shame and failure which we have wrought in the lives of even the least of these, our brothers. And why must we look? Because we must probe to the bottom of our collective wound. As men, as Americans, we can no longer cringe away and lie. Are we not all warmed by the same sun, frozen by the same cold, shone on by the same lights of time and terror here in America? Yes, and if we do not look and see it, then we shall all be damned together.”

Olga Tokarczuk (1962-) / Nobel Prize 2018: “You know what? Sometimes it seems to me we’re living in a world that we fabricate for ourselves. We decide what’s good and what isn’t. We draw maps of meanings for ourselves – and then we spend our whole lives struggling with what we have invented for ourselves. The problem is that each of us has our own version of it and so we find it hard to understand each other. The best conversations are with yourself. At least there’s no risk of a misunderstanding.”

Cormac McCarthy (1933-) / 2007 Pulitzer Prize: “The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden, lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will, by the decision alone, have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) / Russian Novelist: “A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth either in himself or in anyone else and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love. He yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest form of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying – to others and to yourself.”

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) / A Founding Father of the United States: “Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations most attached to liberty to resort to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they become willing to run the risk of being less free.” (1787)

Dr. Carl Sagan (1934-1996) / Public Welfare Medal (National Academy of Sciences): “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) / African American Statesman: “I am one of those who think the best friend of a nation is he who most faithfully rebukes her for her sins – and he her worst enemy who, under the popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them.” Letter to Horace Greeley (April 15, 1846)

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one – or it may be a physical one – or it may be both moral and physical. But, it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

“I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. In nature, a different kind of right prevails. In her midst, I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. Man is constraint, while Nature is freedom. Man makes me wish for another world. Nature makes me content with this.”

Wendell Berry (1934-) / National Humanities Medal: “As Thoreau so well knew and so painstakingly tried to show us: what a man most needs is not a knowledge of how to get more, but a knowledge of the most he can do without and of how to get along without it. The essential cultural discrimination is not between having and not having, or haves and have-nots, but between the superfluous and the indispensable. Wisdom, it seems to me, is always poised upon the knowledge of minimums; indeed, it might be thought to be the art of minimums.”

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) / Italian Astronomer / Father of Modern Science: “Long experience has taught me this about the status of mankind with regard to matters requiring thought: the less people know and understand, the more positively they attempt to argue. There are those who reason well, but they are greatly outnumbered by those who reason badly. In the sciences of this era, the authority of thousands of opinions is not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man. What shall we say about the principal governors of this Academy, who are filled with the stubbornness of an asp and do not want to look at either the planets or the moon through the telescope, even though I have freely offered them the opportunity a thousand times? Truly, just as the asp stops its ears, so do these governors shut their eyes to the light of truth.”

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) / Italian Astronomer and Philosopher: “It is proof of low mind for one to think with the masses merely because there is a majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people. It is immoral to hold an opinion in order to curry another’s favor; against the dignity of human liberty to yield and submit; supremely stupid to believe as a matter of habit; irrational to decide according to the majority opinion, as if the number of sages exceeded the infinite number of fools.”

Charles Darwin (1809-82) / English Biologist / Royal Medal 1853: “If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter. Picture your wife and your little children being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done by men, who profess to love their neighbors as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his will be done on earth! It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty.”

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) / Nobel Prize 1952: “What really matters is that we should realize that we all are guilty of inhumanity. The horror of this realization should shake us out of our lethargy, so that we can direct our hopes and our intentions to the coming of an era in which war will have no place. Affirmation of Life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live thoughtlessly and begins to devote himself to ‘life with reverence’ in order to give life true value. To affirm life is to deepen and to honor the will to live. At the same time, the man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give to every life the same reverence that he gives to his own life. This is the absolute, fundamental principle of ethics and is a fundamental postulate of thought.”

Noam Chomsky (1928-) / George Orwell Award: “If you look at history, even recent history, you see that there is indeed progress. Over time, the cycle is clearly, generally upwards. It doesn’t happen by natural laws. And it doesn’t happen by social laws. No, it happens as a result of hard work by dedicated people who are willing to look at problems honestly, to look at them without illusions, and to go to work chipping away at them, with no guarantee of success – in fact, with a need for a rather high tolerance for failure along the way, and plenty of disappointments.”

“Responsibility, I believe, accrues through privilege. People like you and me have an unbelievable amount of privilege and therefore we have a huge amount of responsibility. We live in free societies where we have extraordinary wealth available to us by global standards. If you have those things, then you have the kind of responsibility that a person does not have if he or she is slaving seventy hours a week to put food on the table; a responsibility at the very least to inform yourself about power.”

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) / On Liberty (1859): “The only legitimate purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, or because it will make him happier, or because in the opinions of others to do so would be wise, or even right. These may be good reasons for reasoning with him, but not for compelling him. The only conduct of any person that society may control is that conduct which concerns others. But, regarding such conduct which merely concerns himself, his independence is absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) / 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature: “This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and, as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I get to hold for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

James Boswell (1740-1795) / Scottish Philosopher and Biographer: “Every man should keep minutes of whatever he reads. Every circumstance of his studies should be recorded: what books he has consulted; how much of them he has read; at what times; how often the same authors; and what opinions he formed of them, at different periods of his life. Such an account would much illustrate the history of his mind. For general improvement, a man should read whatever his immediate inclination prompts. However, to be sure, if a man has an inclination to learn, then he must regularly and resolutely advance.”

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005): “The only struggle which religions can justify, the only struggle worthy of humans, is the moral struggle against humanity’s own disordered passions, against every kind of selfishness, against attempts to oppress others, against every type of hatred and violence.”

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919): “Man does not live by bread alone. It is the mind that makes the body rich. Money can only be the useful drudge of things immeasurably higher than itself. My aspirations take a higher flight. Mine are to have contributed to the enlightenment and the joys of the mind, to the things of the spirit, to all that tends to bring sweetness and light. I hold this the noblest possible use of wealth.”

Aristotle (384-322 BC): “Excellence is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution. Choice, not chance, determines your destiny. The pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and learn all the more. With truth, all given facts harmonize. But with what is false, the music soon hits a wrong note. There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797): “Would men but generously snap our chains and be content with rational fellowship instead of slavish obedience, they would find us more observant daughters, more affectionate sisters, more faithful wives, more reasonable mothers – in a word, better citizens. All the sacred rights of humanity are violated by insisting on blind obedience. Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it. Let there be an end to blind obedience. But, as blind obedience is always demanded by those with power, tyrants and sensualists endeavor to keep women in the dark: one wants a slave and the other a plaything. I love man as my fellow, but his scepter extends not to me unless his reasoning demands my respect. Even then, the submission is to reason, not to man.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941): “Few people ask from books what books can give us. Most commonly, we come to books with blurred and divided minds, asking of fiction that it shall be true, of poetry that it shall be false, of biography that it shall be flattering, of history that it shall enforce our own prejudices. If we could banish all such preconceptions when we read, that would be an admirable beginning. Communication is truth. Communication is happiness. To share is our duty. To go down boldly and bring to light those hidden thoughts which are the most diseased; to conceal nothing; to pretend nothing; if we are ignorant, say so; if we love our friends, let them know it.”

“Suppose, for instance, that men were only represented in literature as the lovers of women. Literature would be incredibly impoverished, as indeed literature is now impoverished beyond our counting by the doors that have been shut upon women. I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one’s self and to let it find its dimensions, without impediment.”

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) / 1966 Pulitzer Prize: “There seems to be a kind of order in the universe, in the movement of the stars, in the turning of the Earth, and in the changing of the seasons. But, human life is almost pure chaos. Everyone takes his stance, asserts his own right and feelings, mistaking the motives of others and his own.”

“The outright propagandist sets up in me such a fury of opposition that I am not apt to care much whether he has got his facts straight or not. He is like someone standing on your toes between you and an open window, describing the view to you. All I ask of him to do is to open the window, stand out of the way, and let me look at the view for myself!”

Eudora Welty (1909-2001) / 1973 Pulitzer Prize: “It is our inward journey that leads us through time: forward or back, seldom in a straight line, most often spiraling. Each of us is moving, changing, with respect to others. As we discover, we remember. Remembering, we discover. The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily chronological. Time, as we know it subjectively, is the continuous thread of revelation. My continuing passion is to part the curtain – that invisible veil of indifference – that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”

Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014) / Nobel Prize in Literature (1991): “It is not the conscious changes made in their lives by men and women – a new job, a new town, a divorce – which really shape them … but a long, slow mutation of emotion, hidden and all-penetrative; something by which they may be so taken up that the practical outward changes of their lives in the world, noted with surprise or envy by others, pass almost unnoticed by themselves. Your whole life you are really writing one book, which is an attempt to grasp the consciousness of your time and place – a single book written from different stages of your ability. A truly living human being cannot remain neutral. My answer: Recognize yourself in others.”

Wole Soyinka (1934-) / Nobel Prize in Literature (1986): “Peaceful cohabitation on this planet demands that while the upholders of any creed are free to adopt their own existential absolutes, the right of others to do the same is thereby rendered implicit and sacrosanct. Thus, the creed of inquiry, of knowledge, and exchange of ideas, must be upheld as an absolute, as ancient and eternal as any other.”

Edward Osborne Wilson (1929-2021) / Pulitzer Prize: “Humanity is a biological species, living in a biological environment, because like all species, we are exquisitely adapted in everything: from our behavior, to our genetics, to our physiology, to that particular environment in which we live. The earth is our home. Unless we preserve the rest of life, as a sacred duty, we will be endangering ourselves by destroying the home. If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

Dr. Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) / Dean of Yale Medical School: “We are members of a fragile species, still new to the earth, the youngest creatures of any scale, here only a few moments as evolutionary time is measured, a juvenile species, a child of a species. We are only tentatively set in place, error prone, at risk of fumbling, in real danger at the moment of leaving behind only a thin layer of our fossils, radioactive at that. It is illusion to think that there is anything fragile about the life of the earth. We humans are the delicate part, both transient and vulnerable. Nor is it a new thing for Man to invent an existence that he imagines to be above the rest of life. This has been his most consistent intellectual exertion down the millennia. As illusion, it has never worked out to his satisfaction. The oldest, easiest to swallow idea was that the earth was man’s personal property: a combination of garden, zoo, bank vault, and energy source, placed at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled apart as we wished.”

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997) / National Geographic Special Gold Medal:  “For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it. Water and air, the two essential elements on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans. All life is part of a complex relationship in which each is dependent upon the others, taking from, giving to and living with all the rest. If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed. If we are not willing to change, we will disappear from the face of the globe, only to be replaced by the insect. Human beings have polluted the seawater and mechanically destroyed the nearby coasts; all life has paid this price. Often, children and adults alike stop me to ask about the dangers of barracuda, sharks, and killer whales. I believe that the sea’s most monstrous force doesn’t live in the sea. It lives in us.”

“Sometime we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed – discarding the old, embracing the new, and running headlong down an immutable course. It takes generosity to discover the whole picture. If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert. Every explorer I have met has been driven – not coincidentally but quintessentially – by curiosity, by a single-minded, insatiable, and even jubilant need to know. To enlarge the human perspective, to build on knowledge for future generations, to identify dangers, and to chart the course to a better world: If these are the goals of the explorer, then everyone – voyager, scientist and citizen, parent and child – is engaged in humanity’s momentous expedition.”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) / Humanist of the Year (1984): “The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world. Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on meaningless quarrels between each group and all others. There must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike. Can that be done? The question is equivalent to: Can humanity survive?”

“The Earth should not be cut up into hundreds of different sections, each inhabited by a self-defined segment of humanity that considers its own welfare and its own ‘national security’ to be paramount above all other considerations. I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I’m against it if it means that each group despises others and lusts to wipe them out. I’m against arming each little self-defined group with weapons with which to enforce its own prides and prejudices. There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.”

“What’s exciting is the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it. There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it. And while it is inconceivable that anyone can grasp more than a tiny portion of it, at least you can do that much. What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it.”

Pearl Buck (1892-1973) / Nobel Prize (1938): “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.”

“The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members. To shut one’s door while others suffer, to care only for one’s own, disclaiming responsibility for humanity, is to destroy all good impulse and to build up a deadly selfishness which will be a boomerang in its effect upon ourselves.”

“I will spend the rest of my life assembling my own mind and my own soul. I will take care of my body carefully, not that it may any more please a man, but because it houses me and therefore I am dependent upon it.”

Black Elk / Oglala Sioux Holy Man (1863-1950) / Wounded Knee Massacre (December 29, 1890): “When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch, as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud and was buried in the blizzard: A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. Now, the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. Now that I can see it all from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds. Now, it is withered.”

“I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other, if they could. And, there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle and that is because the power of the world always works in circles and everything tries to be round. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn / Nobel Prize (1970): “Justice is conscience. It is not a personal conscience, but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice. You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: The lie may come into the world, perhaps even triumph, but not through me. The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

“It’s an universal law: intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility. The most intense patriotism always flourishes in the rear.”

“Do not pursue what is illusionary: property and position gained at the expense of your nerves, decade after decade, which may be taken in one fell night. Instead, live with a steady superiority over life. Don’t be afraid of misfortune and do not yearn for happiness. The bitter doesn’t last forever and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart.”

“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through nations, nor between classes, nor between political parties either. It passes right through every human heart. This line shifts inside us and oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil. I have come to understand the truth of all the religions of the world: they struggle with the evil inside every human being. It is impossible to expel evil from the world in its entirety, but it is possible to constrict it within each person.”

“Human rights are a fine thing, but how can we make sure that our rights do not expand at the expense of the rights of others. A society with unlimited rights is incapable of standing to adversity. If we do not wish to be ruled by a coercive authority, then each of us must rein himself in. A stable society is achieved by conscious self-limitation: the principle that we are always duty-bound to defer to the sense of moral justice.”

“So in our own poor hides and from our miserable comrades we learn the nature of satiety. Satiety depends not at all on how much we eat, but on how we eat. It’s the same with happiness. Happiness doesn’t depend on how many external blessings we have snatched from life; it depends only on our attitude toward them. There’s a saying about it in the Taoist ethic: Whosoever is capable of contentment will always be satisfied.”

Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) / Nobel Prize 1968: “She had carefully cataloged every novel and short story she had read since she was fifteen or sixteen. Her record already filled ten notebooks. She just wrote down the author and the characters and how they are related to each other. She said it was a complete waste of effort and, for some reason, she wanted to stress that point. But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt the quiet voice of the rain flow over him and he knew well enough that for her it was in fact no waste of effort. To the contrary, somehow it had the effect of distilling and purifying the woman’s existence.”

“Long accustomed to a life of self-indulgent solitude, he began to yearn for the beauty of giving himself to others. The nobility of the word ‘sacrifice’ became clear to him. He took satisfaction in the feeling of his own littleness as a single seed whose purpose was to carry forward the life of the species called humanity. He even sympathized with the thought that the human species, together with the all the other various kinds of minerals and plants, was no more than a small pillar that helped support a single vast organism adrift in the cosmos. Then came the thought that human life was no more precious than the lives of other animals and plants.”

Barry H. Lopez (1945-2020) / National Book Award: “We need to wake up to what humanity has known for longer than 10,000 years: that we can’t direct the play. The play is not directable. You must participate in the play. You must get out of the director’s chair of telling everybody what to do and how to behave and who can be on stage. You must put all that aside and step onto the stage with other men and women and say: we’re in this together and we need to find an arrangement to take care of each other. But we can’t exclude – and we can’t make Nature the banished relative. Our question is no longer how to exploit the natural world for human comfort and gain, but how we can cooperate with one another to ensure we will someday have a fitting, not a dominating, place in it.”

“Conversations are efforts toward good relations. They are an elementary form of reciprocity. They are the exercise of our love for each other. They are the enemies of our loneliness, our doubt, our anxiety, our tendencies to abdicate. To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. If we attend with imagination and devotion to our conversations, we will find what we need and someone among us will act – it does not matter whom – and we will survive.”

“The range of the human mind stands in stunning contrast to the belief that there is only one reality, which is man’s, or even worse: that only one culture among the many on earth possesses the truth. Instead, take a wider view: allow mystery and admit there are things we don’t understand and that there could be more. Permit yourself an extraordinary freedom: realize that someone else does not have to be wrong in order that you may be right.”

“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood and horror inherent in life – – and when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture, but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. So, you must continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.”

“The tendency of some to exaggerate our own importance as a species in the great theater of life on Earth is a sign of excess pride. A more biologically informed or enlightened point of view is that man is better off viewing himself as a flawed rather than an omnipotent creature, an animal with no more of a guaranteed future than any other animal. This perspective, that we are not the be-all and end-all, might eventually lead to better politics and to the development of more equitable social and economic systems worldwide.”

“The horrors – ethnic cleansing, industrial rapine, political corruption, racist lynching, extrajudicial execution – once identified and then denounced, always return wearing different clothes, but with the same obsessive face of indifference. We denounce those who order it, we condemn the people who carry out the policies, calling them inhumane. But the behavior is fully human. We are the darkness, as we are, too, the light.”

“The ability to listen carefully to another person’s perspective, rather than summarily deciding what that person means, is in keeping with the behavior one expects of an elder. The ability to understand what someone else is thinking is the foundation of stable social order. Elders are more often listeners than speakers. And when they speak, they can talk for a long while without using the word I.”

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) / Founder, Wilderness Society: “Do we not already sing our love for and obligation to the Land of the Free? But, are we indeed loving the land? Certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter down river. Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except for commerce and to carry off sewage. Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already exterminated many of the largest and most beautiful species.”

“The ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility. The shallow-minded modern man assumes that he has already discovered what is important: political and economic empires. It is only the scholar who appreciates that all history consists of the search for a durable scale of values. It is only the scholar who understands why the raw wilderness gives definition and meaning to the human enterprise.”

“Then on a still night, when the campfire is low and the Pleiades have climbed over the rimrocks, sit quietly and listen for a wolf to howl. Think hard of everything you have seen and tried to understand. Then you may hear it – a vast pulsing harmony – its score inscribed on a thousand hills, and its notes in the lives and deaths of plants and animals, and its rhythms spanning the seconds and the centuries.”

“I sit in happy mediation on my rock, pondering while my line dries again, upon the ways of trout and men. How like fish we are: ready, even eager, to seize upon whatever new thing shakes down upon the river of time. And, how we regret our haste, finding the gilded morsel contains also the hidden hook. Even so, I think there is some virtue to eagerness, whether its object proves true or false. How utterly dull would be a wholly prudent man, or trout, or world.”

Anchee Min (1957-) / Chinese Writer: “My mother was taught the Ch’an concept of happiness, which was to find satisfaction in small things. I was taught to appreciate the fresh air in the morning, the colour of leaves turning red in autumn, and the water’s smoothness when I soaked my hands in the basin.”

Somerset Maugham (1874-1965): “He was always seeking for a meaning in life – and here it seemed to him that a meaning was offered: It was obscure and vague. He saw what looked like the truth as by flashes of lightning on a dark stormy night. He seemed to see that a man need not leave his life to chance, but that his will was powerful. He seemed to see that the inward life might be just as manifold, varied, and rich with experience as the life of one who conquered realms and explored unknown lands. The secret to life is meaningless unless you discover it yourself.”

“The world can be hard and cruel. We are here, but none know why. We go, but none know whither. We must be very humble. We must see the beauty of quietness. Let us seek the love of simple people. Their ignorance is better than all our knowledge. Let us be silent, content in our little corner, meek and gentle. That is the wisdom of life. The rain fell alike upon the just and upon the unjust – and for nothing was there a why or a wherefore.”

Jane Goodall (1934-) / U.N. Messenger of Peace: “I’m always pushing for human responsibility. Given that chimpanzees and many other animals are sentient and sapient, then we should treat them with due respect. Chimps can do all sorts of things that humans thought that only humans could do, like tool-making and abstraction and generalization. They can learn a language – sign language – and they can use the signs. The chimpanzee study taught us perhaps more than anything else to be humble. We humans are indeed unique primates, but we’re simply not as different from the rest of the animal kingdom as we want to think. The part that always shocked me was the inter-community violence among the chimps. It’s an unfortunate parallel to human behavior : they have a dark side, just as we do. I thought how sad it was that, for all our sophisticated intellect and noble aspirations, our aggressive behavior was not just similar in many ways to that of the chimpanzees, but was even worse. Worse because human beings have the potential to rise above their baser instincts, whereas chimpanzees presently do not.”

“You may not believe in evolution – and that’s all right. How we humans came to be is far less important that how we should act going forward. We must work together to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves. Any little thing that brings us back into communion with the natural world and the spiritual power that permeates all life will help us to move a little further along the path of human moral and spiritual evolution.”

“Cultural pride has been crippling to human moral and spiritual growth. It has limited our thinking and imprisoned us to the cultures into which we have been born. So long as we continue to attach more importance to our own narrow group membership than to the global village, we will propagate prejudice and ignorance.”

John Burroughs (1837-1921) / American Naturalist: “This is the lesson which life is constantly repeating: Look under your feet! You are always nearer to the divine and to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant is deceptive, while the great opportunity is where you are. So, do not despise your own place and your own hour. Every place is under the stars and every place is the center of the world.”

“The universe goes its way with so little thought of man. He is but an incident, not an end. We must adjust our notions to the discovery that things are not shaped to him, rather that he is shaped to them. The air was not made for his lungs, but he has lungs because there is air. The light was not created for his eye, but he has eyes because there is light. All the forces of nature are going their own way. So, Mankind avails himself of them – or catches a ride as best he can. If he keeps his seat, he prospers. But, if he misses his hold and falls, he is crushed.”

“A man is not saved by the truth of the things he believes, but by the sincerity of his belief and by its harmony with his character. The absurdities of the popular religions do not matter – and neither does lukewarm belief, empty forms, or shallow conceptions of life and duty. We are prone to think that if the creed is false, the religion is false. But, religion is an emotion, an inspiration, a feeling of the Infinite. Any creed that ennobles character and opens a door or window upon the deeper meanings of this marvelous universe is good enough to live by – and good enough to die by.”

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) / Presidential Medal of Freedom 1994: “The question is whether any civilization can wage relentless war on life without destroying itself and without losing the right to be called civilized. We stand now where two roads diverge. But, unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road – the one less traveled by – offers our last and only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”

“For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals – from the moment of conception until death. It is simply impossible to predict all the effects of lifetime exposure to chemicals that are not part of the biological experience of man. As Albert Schweitzer has said: Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation. The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery – not over nature, but over ourselves. Humanity is a part of nature. Therefore, our war against nature is inevitably a war against ourselves.”

“I believe natural beauty has a necessary place in the spiritual development of any individual or any society. I believe that whenever we destroy beauty, or whenever we substitute something man-made for a natural feature of the earth, we have retarded some part of mankind’s own spiritual growth. There is symbolic and actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature and the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of life and our habitat. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions. They cannot not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.”

“Until we have courage to see cruelty for what it is – whether its victim is human or animal – we cannot expect things to be much better in this world. We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. With every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing, we set back the progress of humanity.”

Wangarĩ Maathai (1940-2011) / Nobel Prize 2004: “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking. Humanity must stop threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and, in the process, heal our own. We must embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder. We must recognize that sustainable development, democracy, and peace are indivisible. Education should not take people away from the land, but should instill even more respect for the land. The future of the planet concerns all of us and we must do what we can to protect it.”

Richard Bach (1936-) / Jonathan Livingston Seagull: “Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short. In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy choice. He spoke of very simple things: that it is right for a gull to fly and that freedom is the very nature of his being. Whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside – be it ritual, superstition, or custom – and even if it be contrary to the law of the flock. Yes, the only true law is that which leads to freedom. There is no other. Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight: how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it was not the flying that mattered, but simply the eating. For this gull though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.”

“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature: the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don’t turn away from possible futures before you’re certain you don’t have anything to learn from them. Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. We are all learners, doers, and teachers. Your only obligation is to be true to yourself. Your conscience is the measure of your honesty. Listen to it carefully. The simplest questions are the most profound: Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these questions once in awhile – and watch your answers change.”

“We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, with the tools to shape it into sculpture. We can drag it behind us untouched, or we can pound it to gravel, or we can shape it into glory. The works of others sculptors surround us, lifeworks finished and unfinished, guiding and warning us. As our sculpture nears completion, we can go back and polish what we started years before. As we smooth and polish, we can make our progress, but to do so we must see beyond the appearances of age.”

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) / French Philosopher: “Let the teacher make his student pass everything through the filter of doubt – and lodge nothing in his head on mere authority and trust. Let the variety of ideas be set before him. The student will choose, if he can. If not, he will remain in doubt. Only the fools are certain and assured. If the student embraces opinions through his own reasoning, then they become his own opinions. He who simply follows another, finds nothing and seeks nothing. The student must learn the ways of thinking, not just the precepts. Let the student forget who spoke the precepts if he wishes, but let him know how to make the precepts his own. Truth and reason are common to everyone – and precepts no more belong to the teacher who first spoke them than to the student who speaks them later – since they understand and see it the same way. The bees plunder the flowers here and there, but afterward make honey which is for all to enjoy; it is no longer the pollen of the flower. In the same way, with the lessons borrowed from others, the student will transform and blend ideas to make a work of his own. Education, work, and study aim only at forming this: the art of making good judgment.”

“To compose our character, rather than books, is our duty. Composing our character allows us to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things (ruling, hoarding, building) are only little appendages and props. The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

“We must learn to accept the matters which we cannot control. Our life is composed like the harmony of the world, with discords and different tones, sweet and harsh, sharp and flat, soft and loud. If a musician liked only some of the notes, the song would suffer. We must know how to use all the notes and blend them. We must do the same with good and ill, which are of one substance with our life. The beautiful souls are those who are universal: open and ready for all things.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778) / Genevan Philosopher:  “The first person who enclosed a plot of land and claimed it as his own (and found people simple enough to believe him) was the true founder of modern society. What crimes, wars, and horrors would the human race have been spared if only someone had just pulled up those stakes and cried out to his fellow men not listen to this imposter! The fruits of the Earth belong to all and the Earth to none.”

“Teach your student to observe the phenomena of nature. You will soon rouse his curiosity. But if you would have his curiosity increase, then do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy his curiosity. Put the problems before him and let him solve them for himself. Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learned it for himself. Let him not be taught science, let him discover it. Moreover, if ever you substitute authority for reason, then the student will cease to reason and he will become merely a puppet for the thoughts of others. Teach your student to live, rather than to avoid death. Breathing is not living. Action itself is living. Life is to make use of our organs, our senses, our faculties, of all the parts of ourselves which give us the sense of our existence. The man who has lived the most is not he who has counted the most years, but he who has most fully experienced life.”

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) / French Novelist: “I’m no more French than Chinese. The idea of belonging to a native country or the imperative to live on one bit of ground marked red or blue on the map and to hate the other bits in green or black, has always seemed to me narrow-minded, blinkered, and profoundly stupid. I am a soul brother to everything that lives, from giraffe to crocodile, as much as to man.”

“The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of despair you feel the challenge to live for the promise of future accomplishments. We must laugh and cry, enjoy and suffer. and vibrate to our full capacity. That’s what being human means.”

Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954) / American Society for Horticultural Science: “Unlike politics, there are no parties in science. One never makes the quest unless the mind is open from the start. So, the scientist differs from the lawyer who must prove his case, and from the preacher who must defend his dogma, and from the politician who must defend his party.”

“The true purpose of education is to teach a man to carry himself triumphant to the sunset. All subjects may be made the means of developing a man. The name of the subject is not fundamentally important. What we call ‘Culture’ is not the result of a line of study, so much as the result of association with educated and sensitive persons. A well-educated mind has a broad outlook, developing beyond that of the specialist to become the philosopher. No subjects are unclean.”

“This habit of looking first at what we call the beauty of objects is closely associated with the old human conceit of thinking that everything is made to please Man. It is true that we may enjoy everything, but that does not mean everything was made for us. This notion that all things were made for Man’s special pleasure represents colossal self-pride. It has none of the wise humility of the psalmist who asked: who is man that thou art mindful of him? You ask, what is other life good for? They are good for themselves! Each thing lives for itself and its kind. What good are snakes ? It is good for the snake to be a snake. We hope that we are coming nearer to an intrinsic view of animals and plants, yet we are still so intent on discovering what ought to be that we forget to accept what is.”

“To the common mind, common things are not wonderful. Such minds have no desire of inquiry. They never grow. The well-trained mind probes beneath the surface and wonders at everything. This wonder, grown old and wise, is the spirit of science. Thin, like the skin of an apple, the soil layer of the earth has been formed through countless ages of weathering and the accumulation of organic remains. The history of the planet is recorded in the earth itself. Whatever may be at the center of the earth, we know that this thin exterior layer supports the life of the planet and is the arena on which the drama of civilization unfolds.”

“Numberless millions of insects dance for a moment in the sun, then are gone forever – and no account is kept. The millions of men have come into being and forthwith passed away – and nobody knows where they have gone. The legions rise, march their little day, and perish. Others take their place. The pageant never halts. The leaves will die and disappear into the universal mold. The stuff that is in them will pass elsewhere, perhaps to the root of a tree or to a fish in a pool. The energy will be released only to reappear, the ions to act again perhaps in the corn on the plain. The forms resurrect, change and flux. We see the forms and we mourn the change. We think all is lost, yet nothing is lost. The harmony of life is never ending. Every man knows in his heart that this is so. Every man knows in his heart that there is goodness and wholeness in the rain, the wind, the soil, the sea, and the glory of sunrise. The meaning of life is in its beauty.”

Edward Paul Abbey (1927-1989) / Fulbright Scholar: “My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by one nation’s history, or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance only to the human race, my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my worship of glory to the singing stars to the very end of space and time.”

“If the life of natural things, millions of years old, does not seem sacred to us, then what is sacred? Human vanity alone? Contempt for the natural world is contempt for life. The domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature. The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach. It is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see. Wilderness is not a luxury. Water is a necessity of the human spirit and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”

“What we need now are heroes and heroines, about a million of them. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul. Yes, there are plenty of heroes and heroines everywhere you look. They are not famous people. They are generally modest people doing useful work – keeping their families together and improving the health of their communities – while opposing evil and defending all that is good. Heroes do not seek power over others. Humanity has four and a half billion passionate advocates – but how many speak for the gray wolf? It is our duty to speak for the voiceless and our obligation to aid the defenseless. Our lives don’t take priority over other forms of life. We must share this lovely, delicate, vapor-clouded planet with all.”

“Let’s have some precision in language here: terrorism means deadly violence – for a political or economical purpose – carried out against people or other living things. Such terrorism may be conducted by governments against their own citizens or by corporate entities against the land and the creatures that depend upon the land for life and livelihood. A bulldozer ripping up a hillside to strip mine for coal is committing terrorism. The damnation of a flowing river followed by the drowning of Cherokee graves, forest and farmland, is an act of terrorism.”

“A constantly increasing population makes conservation a hopeless battle. Unless a way is found to stabilize the world population, then Nature can not be saved. Wilderness and wildlife preservation will be forgotten under the overwhelming pressure of mere survival and sanity in a completely urbanized, completely industrialized, ever-more crowded environment. For my own part, I would rather not live in such a world. When a man must be afraid to drink freely from his country’s river and streams, that country is no longer fit to live in. ”

“To aid and abet in the destruction of a single species or in the extermination of a single tribe is to commit a crime and mortal sin against Nature. Better we are to sacrifice in some degree the interests of mechanical civilization, curtail our gluttonous appetite for things, learn to moderate our needs, and most importantly learn to control, limit, and gradually reduce our human numbers. We humans swarm over the planet like a plague of locusts, multiplying and devouring. There is no justice or sense or decency in this mindless global breeding spree. This man-centered view of the world is anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, anti-Nature, anti-Life, and anti-Human. I discovered that I was not opposed to mankind, but only to man-centeredness: the opinion that the world exists solely for the sake of man.”

Sir David Attenborough (1926-) / Knight Grand Cross: “Homo sapiens (latin for ‘wise man’) has exploited the environment to feed an exploding human population. Wisdom would suggest that perhaps it’s time we controlled our population to allow the survival of the environment. The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth lays upon us an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.”

“The birth rate falls wherever women have the vote, wherever girls stay in school for longer, wherever women are in charge of their own lives and not dictated to by men, wherever they have access to good healthcare and contraception, wherever they are free to take any job, and their aspirations for life are raised. The reason for this is straightforward – empowerment brings freedom of choice and when life offers more options for women, their choice is often to have fewer children. We have a finite environment: the planet Earth. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite population growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.”

Sylvia Earle (1935-) / Time Magazine Hero of the Planet (1988): “People ask: Why should I care about the ocean? Because the ocean is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system. The ocean holds most of life on earth – and shapes the world’s climate and weather. Indeed, 97% of earth’s water is contained within the oceans. The ocean is the blue heart of the planet. We should take care of our heart. It’s what makes life possible for us. We still have a really good chance to make things better than they are. They won’t get better unless we take the action and inspire others to do the same thing. No one is without power. Everybody has the capacity to do something.”

“One kind of blue-green bacteria, Prochlorococcus, is so abundant that about 100 octillion are alive at any given moment. That alone is responsible for about 20 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere. Put another way, this nearly invisible form of life generates the oxygen in one of every five breaths you take, no matter where on the planet you live. Water alone cannot generate oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, or yield the simple sugars that are the basis of food production powering life on Earth. By itself, water cannot produce the dimethyl sulfide molecules around which water gathers to form vapor, which becomes clouds, which make rain. Microscopic photosynthetic organisms in the sea can do all of these things – and much more. The bottom line answer to the question about why biodiversity matters is fairly simple: The rest of the living world can get along without us, but we can’t get along without them.”

“A report from the National Academy of Sciences documents that over 14 billion pounds of garbage is deliberately dumped into the sea every year. Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.”

“We often talk of saving the planet, but the truth is that we must do these things to save ourselves. With or without us, the wilderness will return. It seems that, however grave our mistakes, nature will be able to overcome them – given the chance. The living world has survived mass extinctions several times before, but we humans cannot assume that we will survive the same. If humans were to disappear overnight, the rest of the nature would get on pretty well. But if non-human life disappears, all of Earth’s ecosystems would collapse.”

“We have come as far as we have because we are the cleverest creatures to have ever lived on Earth. But, if we are to continue to exist, we will require more than intelligence. We will require wisdom. To restore stability to our planet, therefore, we must restore its biodiversity, the very thing we have removed. It is the only way out of this crisis that we ourselves have created. We may have the impression that somehow Man is the ultimate triumph of evolution – that all these millions of years of development have had no purpose other than to put us on earth. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support such a view – or any reason to suppose that our stay here will be any more permanent than that of the dinosaur. The truth: our natural world is changing and we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.”

Saint Augustine (354-430): “Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it lovingly and tranquilly, rather than to hold the bold presumption we already have it discovered and possessed. The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose and it will defend itself. But, it must not be assumed that folly is as powerful as truth, just because it shouts louder and longer than truth. Beware the man of a single book.”

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to run to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and need. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows. Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. Would you plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility. Better to illuminate, than merely to shine. Better to deliver to others contemplated truths, than merely to contemplate.”

Machiavelli (1469-1527) / Italian Diplomat and Philosopher: “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. This is because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

“Minds are of three kinds: one kind is capable of thinking for itself; another kind is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinking of others. The first is of the highest excellence, the second is admirable, and the third is worthless. A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent. Even if he does not attain their greatness, perhaps he will get some flavor of it.”

David Hume (1711-1776) / Scottish Enlightenment Philosopher: “Beauty is not quality of things themselves. Beauty exists merely in the mind which contemplates it. Each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity where another perceives beauty. Every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others. To seek real beauty or real deformity is as fruitless as pretending to ascertain real sweet or real bitter.”

“Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, and the submission with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. The governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is therefore on opinion alone that government is founded, and this maxim extends to the most despotic and military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular.”

“It is not reason which carries the prize, but eloquence. No man needs ever despair of gaining supporters to the most extravagant hypothesis, who has eloquence enough to represent it in favorable colors. The victory is not gained by the men at arms, who manage the pike and the sword; but by the trumpeters, drummers, and musicians of the army.”

“Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of men, the Good and the Bad. But, the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.”

John Dewey (1859-1952) / American Philosopher and Education Reformer: “The intermingling in the school of youth of different races, differing religions, and unlike customs creates for all a new and broader environment. Common subject matter accustoms all to a unity of outlook upon a broader horizon than is visible to the members of any group while it is isolated. The assimilative force of the American public school is eloquent testimony to the efficacy of the common and balanced appeal.”

“Democracy is a working faith in the possibilities of human nature. That belief means faith in the potential in every human being, irrespective of race, color, sex, birth, family, material, or cultural wealth. This faith may be enacted in statutes, but it is only on paper unless it is put in force in the attitudes which human beings display to one another. The democratic faith in human equality is belief that every human being, independent of personal endowment, has the right to equal opportunity for development of whatever gifts he or she has. Faith in the possibilities of rigorous inquiry does not limit truth to any one channel or scheme of things. It does not first say that truth is universal – and then add there is but one road to it.”

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) / Thomas Merton Award (1991): “Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience. Civil disobedience is not our problem. Obedience is our problem. People all over the world have blindly obeyed their rulers in the face of poverty, starvation, and cruelty. Our jails are full of petty thieves, while the grand thieves are running the world. If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, then they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves. The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change. Give people what they need: food, education, medicine, clean air, pure water, trees and grass, safe homes, some hours of work, some hours of leisure. Don’t ask who deserves it. Everyone deserves it.”

“What struck me as I began to study history was how nationalist fervor – engrained from childhood on by pledges of allegiance, national anthems, flags waving, and rhetoric blowing – permeated the educational systems of all countries, including our own. I wonder now how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own.”

Peter Wohlleben (1964-) / German Forester: “Every walk in the forest is like taking a shower in oxygen. Every day in summer, trees release about 29 tons of oxygen into the air per square mile of forest. A person breathes in nearly 2 pounds of oxygen a day, so that’s the daily requirement for about ten thousand people. At night, the trees don’t photosynthesize and so they don’t break down carbon dioxide. In the darkness, it’s all about using carbohydrates, burning sugar in the cells’ power-generating stations, and releasing carbon dioxide. But don’t worry, a steady movement of air through the forest ensures that all the gases are well mixed at all times, and so the drop in oxygen near the ground is not particularly noticeable. The forest is really a gigantic carbon dioxide vacuum.”

Seneca (4 BC-AD 65) / Roman Philosopher: “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious preoccupation with the future. May we not impede ourselves with either wishes or fears, but rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient. He who is satisfied needs nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. Begin at once to live – and count each separate day as a separate life. Examine yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you can improve. The process is mutual, for men learn while they teach.”

Bertrand Russell (1872 -1970) / Nobel Prize in Literature (1950): “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. In the union of love, I have seen the vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which numbers hold sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved. Love and knowledge led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil. This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”

“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. But 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.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) / French Jesuit Priest: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love. At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge. There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe. The most empowering relationships are those in which each partner lifts the other to a higher possession of their own being.”

“Evolution is the general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a curve that all lines must follow. Blessed be you, irresistible march of evolution, constantly shattering our mental categories and forcing us to go ever further in our pursuit of the truth. Evolutionary phenomena (including the phenomenon of mankind) are processes. They can’t be evaluated or even described merely in terms of their historical origins. Indeed, they cannot be fully defined without due consideration for their future direction. The history of the living world can be summarized as the evolution of ever more perfect eyes within the cosmos, where there is always something more to be seen. In the end, only the truth will survive.”

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) / Philosopher & Writer: “Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print. Scholars are those who have read in books, but thinkers and reformers of the human race are those who have read directly in the book of the world. For the man who studies to gain insight, books and studies are merely rungs of the ladder on which he climbs to the summit of knowledge. As soon as a rung has raised him up one step, he leaves it behind. On the other hand, the many who study in order to fill their memory do not use the rungs of the ladder for climbing, but merely overload themselves, rejoicing at the increasing weight of the burden. They remain below forever, unable to climb with the weight of knowledge.”

“The cheapest sort of pride is excessive national pride. Those who have little for which to be personally proud, quickly adopt excess pride in the nation to which they belong. They are always ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus justifying themselves for their own shortcomings. But, the man who is endowed with refined personal qualities will be only too ready to see clearly in what respects his own nation falls short.”

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality. Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character – and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

“Let me advise you to form the habit of taking some of your solitude with you when you interact with society, to learn to be to some extent alone even though you are in company. Do not to say immediately what you think – and do not to attach too precise a meaning to what others say. Strengthen yourself in the feeling of tolerance to their opinions. Thus, while you may appear to move amongst society, your relation will be primarily observational. This precaution will secure you against being tainted or even outraged by general society. In this respect, society is like a fire – and the wise man warms himself at a proper distance from it – rather than coming too close, getting scorched, only to run away and shiver in solitude, loud in his complaint that the fire burns.”

“What a person is for himself, what abides with him in his solitude, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential than everything that he possesses or how he may be seen in the eyes of others.”

“The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions: dispute only with those acquaintances whom you know possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; those who appeal to reason rather than to authority; those who listen and yield to reason; and finally, with those who cherish truth. It is essential to be willing to accept reason, even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him.”

Sir Karl Popper (1902-1994) / 1992 Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy: “The Paradox of Tolerance: Unlimited tolerance will ultimately lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then tolerance and those who are tolerant will be destroyed. I do not imply that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies. So, as long as we can counter intolerant philosophies with rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, then suppression would certainly be unwise. But, we should claim the right to suppress those who urge intolerant philosophies, those who are not prepared to meet with rational argument, or when they begin by denouncing all argument, or forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, or teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law. We should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider as criminal any incitement to murder, kidnapping, or the revival of the slave trade.”

“The secret of intellectual excellence is the spirit of criticism or intellectual independence. This leads to difficulties for any kind of authoritarianism. Thus, the authoritarian will generally select those who obey, who believe, who respond only to his influence. But, in doing so, the authoritarian is bound to select mediocrities. He excludes those who revolt, who doubt, who dare to resist his influence. Never can the authoritarian admit that the intellectually courageous, i.e. those who dare to defy his authority, may be the most valuable type.”

“There is an almost universal tendency to question the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions. This endangers the freedom and the objectivity of our discussion when we attack a person, instead of attacking the opinion or theory. No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude. True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it. So, it is not the possession of knowledge that makes the man of reason, but rather his persistent quest for truth.”

“Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.”

The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory but progress. A rationalist is simply someone who knows that it is more important to learn than to be proved right. He is someone who is willing to learn from others – not by simply taking over another’s opinions, but by gladly allowing others to criticize his ideas and by gladly criticizing the ideas of others. Science is one of the very few human activities – perhaps the only one – in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often corrected with time. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes. A rationalist is a man who attempts to reach decisions by argument and perhaps by compromise, rather than by violence, threats, or even propaganda.”

“We all have a weakness for wanting always to be in the right – and this weakness seems to be particularly common among professional and amateur politicians. But, the only way to apply the scientific method in politics is to proceed on the assumption that all political moves have undesirable consequences. To look out for these mistakes, to find them, to bring them into the open, to analyze and to learn from them – this is what the scientific politician, as well as the political scientist, must do. Applying the scientific method to politics means resisting the great art of convincing ourselves that we have not made any mistakes – or ignoring, hiding, or blaming others for them. This tendency must be replaced by the higher art of accepting the responsibility for mistakes, of trying to learn from them, and of applying this knowledge so that we may avoid them in future. What we need and what we want is to moralize politics, not to politicize morals.”

“All political parties have some sort of vested interest in their opponent’s unpopular moves. They are liable to dwell upon, to emphasize, and even to look forward to them. They may even encourage the political mistakes of their opponents as long as they can do so without becoming involved in the responsibility for them. They are pleased to tell their followers: [See what those people do! That is what they call democracy! That is what they call freedom and equality! Remember it when the day of reckoning comes!] Such conduct amounts to a policy of talking big and doing nothing – in the face of real and increasing danger to democratic institutions. It is a policy that taught fascists the invaluable method of talking peace and acting war.”

“Democracy provides the institutional framework for the reform of political institutions. It makes possible the reform of institutions without using violence, and thereby the use of reason in the designing of new institutions and the adjusting of old ones. Yet, democracy cannot provide reason and, therefore, it is wrong to blame democracy for the political shortcomings of the democratic state. We should rather blame ourselves. It rests with us to improve matters. The democratic institutions cannot improve themselves. It is always a problem of persons rather than of institutions.”

Mother Teresa (1910-1997) / Nobel Peace Prize 1979: “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed to live. Poverty was not created by God. It is we who have caused it, you and I through our selfishness. If I look at the masses, I will never act. If I look at the individual, I will. Jesus came to bring that good news to the poor. It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbor. Saint John says you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live. God makes himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one – the sick one – the one in prison – the lonely one – the unwanted one. If you give what you do not need, it is not giving. Everything that is not given is lost. Live simply so others may simply live. The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.”

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love. If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Peace begins with a smile. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Dalai Lama XIV (1935-) / Nobel Peace Prize 1989: “This is my true religion, my simple faith. There is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine, or dogma. The temple is our own heart, our own mind. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, truth will abide. Love and Compassion are the true religions. The true purpose of all the major religious traditions should not be to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside our hearts. Irrespective of whether we are believers or agnostics, whether we believe in god or karma, the highest moral code should be our pursuit.”

“It seems important to me to distinguish between religion and spirituality. Religion implies a system of beliefs based on metaphysical foundations, along with the teaching of dogmas, rituals, or prayers. Spirituality, however, corresponds to the development of human qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and a sense of responsibility. These inner qualities are independent of any religion. One can do without religion, but not without spirituality.”

“Honor another’s religion, for doing so strengthens both one’s own and that of the other. All major religious traditions carry basically the same message: that is love, compassion, and forgiveness. The important thing is they should be part of our daily lives. Despite all philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1931-2021) / Nobel Peace Prize (1984): “Ubuntu speaks of the very essence of being human. Such people are generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. They share what they have. My humanity is inextricably bound up in your humanity. We belong in a bundle of life. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs to a greater whole. Such a person feels diminished when others are humiliated, diminished, tortured, or oppressed.”

“You are the indispensable agent of change. You should not be daunted by the magnitude of the task before you. Your contribution can inspire others, embolden others who are timid, to stand up for the truth in the midst of a welter of distortion, propaganda, and deceit. Stand up for human rights where they are being violated. Stand up for justice, freedom, and love where they are trampled underfoot by injustice, oppression, hatred, and harsh cruelty. Stand up for human dignity and decency. During this time, such things are in desperately short supply.”

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. My father always said: Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument. Good sense never comes from the loudest shouters and neither is the unruly crowd the best arbiter of what is right.”

Irving Stone (1903-1989) / Golden Plate Award: “First, we think all truth is beautiful, no matter how hideous its face may seem. We accept all of nature, without any repudiation. We believe there is more beauty in a harsh truth than in a pretty lie, more poetry in earthiness than in all worldly salons. We think pain is good because it is the most profound of all human feelings. We put character above ugliness, pain above prettiness, and hard reality above all wealth. We accept life in its entirety without making moral judgments. We think the prostitute is as good as the countess, the concierge as good as the general, the peasant as good as the cabinet minister, for they all fit into the pattern of nature and are woven into the design of life!”

“Who wants to do good in this world must deny oneself. A man does not live on this Earth to be happy or to be honest only – he has to do great things for humanity, achieve the generosity of the spirit and rise above the banality where most people are drowning and wasting their days. Without a free, vigorous, and creative mind, man is but an animal – and he will die like an animal, without any shred of a soul. We must return man to his arts, his literature, his sciences, his independence – to think and feel as an individual, not to be bound to dogma to rot in his chains.”

(Painter Vincent Van Gogh wrote this to fellow artist, Paul Gauguin): “The fields that push up the corn, and the water that rushes down the ravine, the juice of the grape, and the life of a man as it flows past him, are all one and the same thing. The sole unity in life is the unity of rhythm. A rhythm to which we all dance; men, apples, ravines, ploughed fields, carts among the corn, houses, horses, and the sun. The stuff that is in you will pound through a grape tomorrow, because you and the grape are one. When I paint a peasant laboring in the field, I want people to feel the peasant flowing down into the soil, just as the corn does, and the soil flowing up into the peasant. I want them to feel the sun pouring into the peasant, into the field, into the corn, just as they all pour back into the sun. When you begin to feel the universal rhythm in which everything on earth moves, you begin to understand life.” 

E. B. White (1899-1985) / 1978 Pulitzer Prize: “Clubs, fraternities, nations – these act as beloved barriers in the way of a workable world. So, a real fraternity is the antithesis of that. The first is predicated on the idea of exclusion; the second is based on a feeling of total equality. Anyone who remembers back to his fraternity days at college recalls the enthusiasts and rabid members of the club, those who were obsessed with the mystical charm of membership. They were usually men who were incapable of genuine brotherhood or perhaps were unaware of its virtuous implications. But, true Fraternity begins when the exclusion formula is found to be distasteful. The desired effect of any organization of a brotherly nature should be to diminish the lines which divide people into classes. Nations are the same. Eventually these lines must be softened.”

“I am pessimistic about the human race because our approach to Nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively, instead of controllingly. I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature … and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.”

“The sea answers all questions, and always in the same way; for when you read in the papers the interminable discussions and the bickering and the prognostications and the turmoil, the disagreements and the fateful decisions and agreements and the plans and the programs and the threats and the counter threats, then you close your eyes and the sea dispatches one more big roller in the unbroken line, since the beginning of the world, and it rolls and breaks and returns foaming, only to ask: So soon?”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) / National Book Award: “To be a man is to be responsible and to feel shame at the sight of unmerited misery in others. It is to feel, when setting one’s own stone, that one is contributing to the building of the world. Each man must look to himself to learn the meaning of life. It is not something discovered. It is something created. He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me. Our unity is founded on something higher than ourselves: humanity. For no man seeks to hear his own echo or to find his own reflection in the glass. Behind all visible things lies something more vast. Everything is but a portal to something other than itself. That which is essential is invisible to the eye. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.”

Anna Marie Quindlen (1952 -) / 1992 Pulitzer Prize: “Acts of bravery don’t always take place on battle fields. They can take place in your heart, when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclinations, and yes, your soul by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world. So, carry your courage in an easily accessible place, the way you do your cellphone or your wallet. You may still falter or fail, but you will always know that you pushed hard and aimed high. Take a leap of faith. Fear not. Courage is the ultimate career move.”

“One of the greatest glories of growing older is the willingness to ask Why? … and getting no good answer – then deciding to follow your own inclinations and desires. The act of asking Why is the way to wisdom. Why are we supposed to want possessions we don’t need and tight shoes and a fake tan? Why are we supposed to think new is better than old, or that youth and vigor are better than long life and experience? When we were small children, we asked Why constantly. Asking the question now is a matter of testing the limits of what sometimes seems a narrow world. One of the useful things about age is realizing conventional wisdom is often simply inertia with a candy coating conformity.”

“Our love of lockstep is our greatest curse. It is the source of all that bedevils us. It is the source of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, terrorism, bigotry of every variety and hue, because it tells us there is only one right way to do things, to look, to behave, and to feel. The only right way is to feel your heart hammering inside you and to listen to what its timpani is saying.”

Dr. Oliver Wolf Sacks (1933-2015) / American Academy of Arts & Letters: “Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity. Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation. In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of therapy vital for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens.”

Max Planck (1858-1947) / 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics: “Science enhances the moral value of life, because it furthers a love of truth and reverence. The love of truth displays itself in the constant endeavor to arrive at a more exact knowledge of the world of mind and matter around us. The love of reverence displays itself with every advance in knowledge, bringing us face to face with the mystery of our own being. Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of Nature because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of Nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve. An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, while the outcome of the experiment is Nature’s answer.”

Vera Rubin (1928-2016) / National Medal of Science: “I live and work with three basic assumptions: 1) There is no problem in science that can be solved by a man that cannot be solved by a woman; 2) Worldwide, half of all brains are in women; 3) We all need permission to do science, but for reasons that are deeply ingrained in history this permission is more often given to men than to women. In my own life, my science and my religion are separate. I’m Jewish and so religion to me is a kind of moral code and a kind of history. I try to do my science in a moral way and I believe that science should be looked upon as something that helps us understand our role in the universe. We have peered into a new world and have seen that it is more mysterious and more complex than we had imagined. Still more mysteries of the universe remain hidden. Their discovery awaits the adventurous scientists of the future. I like it this way.”

Albert Einstein / Einstein on Cosmic Religion (1931): “What then are the feelings and the needs which have brought mankind to religious thought and to faith in the widest sense? A moment’s consideration shows that the most basic emotions stand at the cradle of religious thought and experience. In primitive people, it is first of all fear that awakens religious ideas – fear of hunger, of wild animals, of illness, and of death. The human being forges a divine Being, more or less like itself, on whose will depends the experiences which he fears. One hopes to win favor by deeds and sacrifices, which according to tradition are supposed to appease the being. I call these the Religions of Fear. This religion is stabilized by the formation of a priestly caste which claims to mediate between the people and the being they fear, and so attains a position of power … A second source of religious development is found in the Religions of Morality: the longing for guidance and for love provides the stimulus for the growth of the moral conception of god. This is the god of providence, who protects, decides, rewards, and punishes. He is the comforter in unhappiness and in unsatisfied longing, the protector of the souls of the dead. The religions of all the civilized peoples are principally religions of morality. All religions are mixed forms, though the moral element predominates in the higher levels of social life. Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic idea of god: where god assumes primarily human form and character.”

“Occasionally, certain individuals are able to rise above the religion of morality and reach a third level of religious experience. I call this the Cosmic Religious Sense. This is hard to make clear to those who do not experience it. The individual feels the vanity of human desires and goals. He senses the beauty and marvelous order revealed in world of nature and in the world of thought. He feels that individual destiny is an imprisonment and seeks to experience the totality of existence, as a unity full of significance. All the enlightened religious teachers throughout history have been distinguished by this cosmic religious sense, refusing to follow dogmas or gods made in man’s image. Consequently, there is no church whose chief doctrines are based on the cosmic religious experience. Among the heretics of our past, we find the men who were inspired by this highest religious experience – and they often appeared to their contemporaries as atheists. It seems to me that the most important function of art and of science is to arouse and keep alive this feeling in those who are receptive.”

“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves. The ideals that have lighted my way have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible. My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates. Force attracts men of low morality. The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life is not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality. It alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling. This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the sounds of a band is enough to make me despise him. This plague of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago, had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the press.”

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) / 1913 Nobel Prize Literature: “Nationalism is a cruel epidemic of evil that is sweeping over the human world of the present age. Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter. Our refuge must be the whole of humanity. Do not buy glass for the price of diamonds. Never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity. I am willing to serve my country, but my worship is reserved for something far greater than my country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it. The fierce self-idolatry of nation-worship must not be the story of human history.”

“All modern civilizations have their walls of brick and mortar. These walls leave their mark deep in the minds of men. They set up a principle of ‘divide and rule’ in our mental outlook, which causes us to secure all our conquests by fortifying them and separating them from one another. We divide nation from nation, knowledge from knowledge, man from nature. It breeds in us a strong suspicion for whatever is beyond our barriers, so that everything must fight hard for our recognition.”

“Man should not fight with other human races, but rather his work should bring about reconciliation and Peace to restore the bonds of friendship and love. We are not like fighting beasts. It is the life of selfishness which is creating seclusion, giving rise to suffering, to jealousy and hatred, to political and commercial competition. By unrighteousness man prospers, gains what appears desirable, and conquers perceived enemies. Consequently, he then perishes at the root.”

“Spirituality is not a fractional thing that can be doled out as one among various subjects in a school curriculum. It is the truth of our complete being, the consciousness of our personal relationship with the infinite. It is the true center of gravity of our life. This we can attain by daily living in a place where the truth of the spiritual world is not obscured by a sea of materialism assuming artificial importance. Spirituality is found where life is simple, surrounded by fullness of leisure, by ample space, and pure air, and profound peace of nature – and where men live with a perfect faith in the eternal life surrounding them. These are what make for success: great calm, generous detachment, selfless love, unbiased service. If you can find peace in yourself, and if you can spread truth around you, happiness will follow you. The touch of an infinite mystery breaks out into ineffable music. The trees, the stars, and the blue hills ache with a meaning which can never be uttered in words. If no one responds to your call, then go your own way alone.”

“There is one straight road. If you open your eyes, you can follow it. There is no need to search for all sorts of clever shortcuts. Happiness and sadness are both on the road and there is no road that can avoid them. Likewise, Peace is found only on this road and nowhere else. Those who wish to sit and shut their eyes and meditate to know the world, may do so. It’s their choice. Meanwhile, my hungry eyes can’t be satisfied and so I shall look at the world in broad daylight. The highest education is that which does not merely give us information. The highest education brings our life in harmony with all existence. The facts are many, but the truth is one.” 

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) / Philosopher & Writer: “When you call yourself an Indian, Muslim, Christian, or European, or anything else, you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by religion, by tradition, it breeds division. A man who is seeking to understand life does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party, or special system. Such a person is concerned only with the total understanding of mankind.”

“Truth is a pathless land. You cannot approach it by any official path whatsoever, by any religion or by any sect. Truth, being limitless, is unapproachable by any set path. It cannot be organized, nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path. The moment you follow a person, you cease to follow Truth. Freedom cannot be found by new religions, new sects, new theories, or new philosophies. The path must be discovered by each individual, by himself, for himself. A belief is purely an individual matter – and you must not try to systemize it. If you try, it dies and becomes a creed, a sect, a religion – only to be imposed on others.”

“To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves. The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine, and it all starts with transforming ourselves. A man who asks another to show him how to change wants an authority outside himself to bring about order. Can authority ever bring about inward order? Order imposed from without will always breed disorder. The following of authority is the denial of your own intelligence. The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end. There is no conclusion. It is an endless river. When tradition becomes our security, then the mind is in decay.” 

“One day I saw a bird dying, shot by a man. It was flying with rhythmic beat, beautifully, and with such freedom and lack of fear. The gun shattered it. It fell to the earth, all the life had gone out of it. A dog fetched it and the man collected the other dead birds. He was chattering with his friends and they seemed so utterly indifferent. They were only interested in bringing down so many birds, nothing more. This kind of killing is occurring all over the world. These marvelous animals of the land and sea, the whales and tigers, and so many other animals are now becoming endangered species. Man is the only animal that is to be dreaded.”

Marjorie Rawlings (1896-1953) / Pulitzer Prize (1939): “We cannot live without the Earth or apart from it. Something is shriveled in a man’s heart when he turns away from the Earth and concerns himself only with the affairs of men. It seems to me that the Earth may be borrowed, but not bought. It may be used, but not owned. It gives itself in response to love and tending, and offers its seasonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers and not masters. The planet belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time.”

Loren Eiseley (1907-1977) / Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology: “It is universal in religious thought, even the most primitive, that the man seeking visions and insight must go apart from his fellows and live for a time in the wilderness. If he is of the proper sort, he will return with a message. It may not be a message from the god he set out to seek, but even if he has failed in that particular, he will have had a vision or seen a marvel worth thinking about. One must seek what only the solitary approach can give: natural revelation.”

“The evolutionists, piercing beneath the show of momentary stability, discovered hidden in rudimentary organs, the discarded rubbish of the past. They detected the reptile under the lifted feathers of the bird, the lost terrestrial limbs dwindling beneath the blubber of the giant whales. They saw life rushing outward from an unknown center, just as today the astronomer senses the galaxies fleeing into the infinity of darkness. As the spinning galactic clouds hurl stars and worlds across the night, so life is equally impelled by the centrifugal powers lurking in a singular cell to scatter the splintered radiance of consciousness, sending it contending through the thickets of the world. The venture into space is meaningless unless it coincides with a certain interior expansion, an ever-growing universe within, to correspond with the far flight of the galaxies our telescopes follow from without. For the first time in four billion years a living creature had contemplated himself and heard with a sudden, unaccountable loneliness, the whisper of the wind in the night reeds. I love forms beyond my own – – and regret the borders between us.”

“Out of the primeval waters emerged sight and sound and the music that rolls invisible through the composer’s brain. They are there still in the tideline, though no one notices. The world is fixed, we say: fish in the sea, birds in the air. But in the mangrove swamps by the Niger, fish climb trees and watch uneasy naturalists who try unsuccessfully to chase them back to the water. There are things still coming ashore. We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests or hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians. We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been men. Our identity is a dream. We are process, not reality, for reality is an illusion of the daylight – the light of our particular day. If it should turn out that we have mishandled our own lives, as several civilizations before us have done, it seems a pity that we should involve the violet and the tree frog in our departure.”

“It is with the coming of Man that a vacuum seems to open in nature, a vast black whirlpool spinning faster and faster, consuming flesh, stones, soil, minerals, sucking down the lightning, wrenching power from the atom, until the ancient sounds of nature are drowned in the cacophony of something which is no longer nature – but something instead which is loose and knocking at the world’s heart, something demonic and no longer planned – escaped, it may be – spewed out of nature, contending in a final giant’s game against its master. Everything is moving from one element to another, wearing uneasily the unique transitional bodies that life adopts in different places. Fish, some of them, come out and breathe air and sit about watching you. Plants take to eating insects, mammals go back to the water and grow elongate like fish, while crabs climb trees. Nothing stays put where it began because everything is constantly climbing in, or climbing out, of its unstable environment. Man walks in his mind from birth to death along the resounding shores of endless disillusionment. But, out of such desolation emerges the awesome freedom to choose – to move beyond the narrowly circumscribed circle that delimits the animal being. In that widening ring of human choice, chaos and order renew their symbolic struggle in the role of titans. They contend for the destiny of a world.”

Bill Nye, The Science Guy (1955-) / 2010 Humanist of the Year: “If you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back. And it’s fine if you want to run around pretending or claiming that you don’t believe in evolution, but if we educate a generation of people not to believe in science, that’s a recipe for disaster. The main idea in all of biology is evolution. To not teach evolution to our young people is wrong. I’ll admit that the discovery of evolution is humbling, but it is also empowering. It transforms our relationship to the life around us. Instead of being outsiders watching the natural world go by, we are insiders. We are part of the process. We are the exquisite result of billions of years of natural research and development. The Earth is not 6,000 or 10,000 years old. It’s impossible. And if that conflicts with your beliefs, then I strongly recommend that you ought to question your beliefs. There is a deep-seated reason why otherwise intelligent, sensible people suddenly recoil from objective evidence when the topic turns to evolution. I think the fear of death has a lot to do with it. They avoid the exploration of evolution, because it reminds us that humankind may not so special in nature’s scheme. What happens to other species also happens to us.”

Elizabeth Kolbert (1961-) / 2015 Pulitzer Prize: “The Nobel Prize-winning Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen wrote that we should no longer think of ourselves as living in the Holocene epoch. Instead, this new age is defined by one creature – man – who had become so dominant that he is capable of altering the planet on a geological scale. He dubbed our epoch: the Anthropocene. So, 100 million years from now, any geologist will be able to tell that something extraordinary happened at this moment in time we call today. All the great works of man – the sculptures and the libraries, the monuments and the museums, the cities and the factories – will be compressed into a layer of sediment not much thicker than a cigarette paper.”

“We can identify the most likely causes for the end of Earth’s prior epochs and they’re highly varied: glaciation, global warming, changes in ocean chemistry, asteroid impact. But, our current extinction has its own novel cause: one weedy species called humans. We’re seeing right now that a mass extinction can be caused by a single species, which is in fact our own. From human-caused global warming, 30% of all reef-building corals, 30% of all freshwater mollusks, 30% of sharks and rays, 25% of all mammals, 20% of all reptiles, and 15% of all birds are headed toward extinction.”

Paul Hawken (1946-) / Green Cross Millennium Award (2013): “When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you see what is happening to the Earth habitat and aren’t pessimistic, then you don’t understand the data. But, if you meet the people who are working to restore this Earth and the lives of the poor and you aren’t optimistic, then you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. I believe this movement will prevail. My hopefulness about the resilience of human nature is matched by the gravity of our environmental and social condition. If we squander all our attention on what is wrong, we will miss the prize. A hopeful future exists because the past is disintegrating before us. It’s not too late for the world’s largest institutions and corporations to join in saving the planet, but cooperation must be on the planet’s terms.”

Jane Addams (1860-1935) / 1931 Nobel Peace Prize: “Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself. Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for Ethics. In his own way, each man must struggle, lest the moral law become a far-off abstraction utterly separated from his active life. Thus, it is well to remind ourselves, from time to time, that Ethics is but another word for Righteousness, after which people of every generation have hungered – and without which life becomes meaningless.”

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression, we must all dig channels as best we may, so that the swelling tide may be channeled to the barren places of life. Perhaps nothing is so fraught with significance as the human hand: this oldest tool with which man has dug his way from savagery, and with which he is constantly groping forward. The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception for oneself.”

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) / Oxford & Cambridge Universities: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself and you will find yourself. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and wishes, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours.”

“You may have noticed that all books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well that there is a common quality that makes you love them, though you can’t put it into words. But, most of your friends do not see it at all – and they often wonder why you should like it. You have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life. Then, you turn to a friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw – only to realize that this landscape means something totally different to him. Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling of that meaning which you have been seeking? Beneath the flux of other desires and in all momentary silences, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking and listening for it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalizing glimpses, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives, or made our friends, or chose our work – and which we shall still desire when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work.”

J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) / Physicist, Army-Navy Excellence Award (1945): “The problem of doing justice to the imponderable and the unknown is not unique in politics. It is always with us in science. It is one of the great problems of writing and of all forms of art. The means by which it is solved is sometimes called style. It is style which complements affirmation with humility. It is style which makes it possible to act effectively, but not absolutely. It is style which enables us to find a harmony between the pursuit of ends essential to us, while respecting the views and aspirations of those to whom the problem may appear in another light. Style is the respect that action pays to uncertainty. Above all, it is style through which power defers to reason.”

“It is with appreciation and gratefulness that I accept from you this scroll for the Los Alamos Laboratory, and for the men and women whose work and whose hearts have made it. It is our hope that in years to come we may look at the scroll and all that it signifies, with pride. Today that pride must be tempered by a profound concern. If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of the nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people of this world must unite or they will perish. This war that has ravaged so much of the earth has written these words. The atomic bomb has spelled them out for all men to understand. Other men have spoken them in other times, and of other wars, of other weapons. They have not prevailed. There are some misled by a false sense of human history. They will not prevail today. With our minds we are committed to a world united, facing our common peril.”

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) / Nobel Peace Prize 1986: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Indifference is a sickness of the soul, more contagious than any other. I’ve been fighting my entire adult life for men and women everywhere to be equal and to be different. But there is one right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be indifferent.”

“As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them; that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours; that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.”

“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong and only racists make them. We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person individually, having their own secrets, treasures, sources of anguish, and measures of triumph.”

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. The Talmud tells us that by saving a single human being, we can save the world. We may be powerless to open all the jails and free all the prisoners, but by declaring our solidarity with one prisoner, we indict all jailers. None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims.”

“Auschwitz is outside of us, but it is all around us, in the air. The plague has died away, but the infection still lingers and it would be foolish to deny it. Rejection of human solidarity, indifference to the suffering of others, abdication of the intellect and morality, and above all, a sweeping tide of cowardice, a colossal cowardice which masks itself as warring virtue, love of country, and ideology. What is that fire? It is we who are burning.”

“Consciences can be seduced and obscured again. Everybody must know and remember that when Hitler and Mussolini spoke in public, they were believed, applauded, admired, and adored like gods. They were charismatic leaders. They possessed a secret power of seduction that did not proceed from rationality, but from a suggestive way of speaking, full of fervor. The ideas they proclaimed were generally aberrant, silly and cruel. Yet, such people and ideas were acclaimed with praise and celebration, only then to be followed to the death by millions of the faithful.”

“Neither Nietzsche, nor Hitler, nor Rosenberg were insane when they intoxicated themselves and their followers by preaching the myth of the superior race. Worthy of reflection is the fact that all of them, teachers and pupils, became progressively removed from reality – as little by little their morality came unglued from the morality common to all times and all civilizations. It is, therefore, necessary to be suspicious of charismatic leaders and those who seek to convince us with means other than reason. We must be cautious about delegating to others our individual judgement and will. Since it is difficult to distinguish true prophets from false, it is as well to regard all prophets with suspicion. It is better to content oneself with such truths that one acquires painfully, little by little, and without shortcuts. With study, discussion, and reasoning, truths can be verified.”

Primo Levi (1919-1987): “We who survived the Camps are not the true witnesses. The true witnesses, those in possession of the unspeakable truth: the drowned, the dead, the disappeared. We, the survivors, are only a tiny minority. We are those who, through skill or luck, never touched bottom. Those who did touch bottom, who saw the face of the Gorgon, did not return – or they returned wordless. Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, those who are ready to believe and to act without asking questions. Compassion and brutality can coexist in the same individual – and in the same moment.”

“Many people – many nations – can find themselves believing that every stranger is an enemy. For the most part, this conviction lies deep down like some latent infection. It betrays itself in random, disconnected acts – not based on reason. In every part of the world, wherever you begin by denying the fundamental liberties of mankind, and equality among people, you move toward the concentration camp system, and it is a road on which it is difficult to halt. For good or evil, we are a single people. The more we become conscious of this fact, the less difficult and long will be humanity’s progress toward justice and peace. It is the duty of righteous men to make war on all undeserved privilege, but one must not forget that this is a war without end. The sea of grief has no shores, no bottom, and no one can sound its depths.”

Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021) / Bronze Cross of Merit: “Read for yourselves, read for the sake of your inspiration, for the sweet turmoil in your lovely head. But also read against yourselves, read for questioning and impotence, for despair and erudition, read the dry sardonic remarks of cynical philosophers. Read newspapers. Read those who despise, dismiss or simply ignore poetry and try to understand why they do it. Read your enemies. Read those who reinforce your sense of what’s evolving in poetry, but also read those whose darkness or malice or madness or greatness you can’t understand. Only in this way will you grow, outlive yourself, and become what you are.”

“Doubt tells malicious truths about the world. Poetry surpasses doubt, pointing to what we cannot know. Doubt is narcissistic, but poetry rips us from the deep-sea diving suits of our singular identities. Poetry believes in the possibility of beauty and its tragedy. The modern great drama contrasts two kinds of intellect: the resigned versus the seeking. Doubt is for the resigned, whereas poetry searches with endless pursuit. Doubt is a tunnel, but poetry is a spiral. Doubt is closed, while poetry opens. Poetry laughs and cries, while doubt chooses irony. Doubt is death’s longest shadow, whereas poetry runs toward the hidden goal. Why does one choose poetry while another chooses doubt?”

Epicurus (341-270 BC) / Greek Philosopher: “Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom. We must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness.”

Mohamed ElBaradei (1942-) / Nobel Peace Prize, 2005: “We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security – and to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use. Similarly, we must abandon the traditional approach of defining security in terms of boundaries – city walls, border patrols, racial and religious groupings. The global community has become irreversibly interdependent, with the constant movement of people, ideas, goods and resources. In such a world, we must combat terrorism with an infectious security culture that crosses borders – an inclusive approach to security based on solidarity and the value of human life. In such a world, weapons of mass destruction have no place. I think the ultimate sense of security will be when we come to recognize that we are all part of one human race. Our primary allegiance is to the human race and not to one particular color or border. I think the sooner we renounce the sanctity of these many identities and try to identify ourselves with the human race the sooner we will get a better world and a safer world.”

“I am an Egyptian Muslim and lest we forget: There is no religion that was founded on intolerance – and no religion that does not value the sanctity of human life. Judaism asks that we value the beauty and joy of human existence. Christianity says we should treat our neighbors as we would be treated. Islam declares that killing one person unjustly is the same as killing all of humanity. Hinduism recognizes the entire universe as one family. Buddhism calls on us to cherish the oneness of all creation. We now have the opportunity, more than at any time before, to give an affirmative answer to one of the oldest questions of all time: Am I my brother’s keeper? What is required is a new mindset and a change of heart, to be able to see the person across the ocean as our neighbor.”

Malala Yousafzai (1997 -) / 2014 Nobel Peace Prize:  I am very proud to be the first Pashtun, the first Pakistani, and the youngest person to receive this award. I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional love. Thank you to my father for not clipping my wings and for letting me fly. Thank you to my mother for inspiring me to be patient and to always speak the truth – which we strongly believe is the true message of Islam. This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change. Have you not learned that in the Holy Quran, Allah says: if you kill one person, it is as if you kill the whole humanity? Do you not know that Mohammad, peace be upon him, the prophet of mercy says, do not harm yourself or others. And do you not know that the very first word of the Holy Quran is the word Iqra, which means to read?

Diane Ackerman (1948-) / Pulitzer Prize Finalist: “Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, then we heat them briefly and exhale them back into the world. There is a furnace in our cells and when we breathe we pass the world through our bodies, brew it lightly, and turn it loose again, gently altered for having known us. I’m an Earth ecstatic – and my creed is simple: All life is sacred, life loves life, and we are capable of improving our behavior toward one another. As basic as that is, for me it’s also tonic and deeply spiritual, glorifying the smallest life-form and embracing the most distant stars. Wonder is the heaviest element on the periodic table. Even a tiny fleck of it stops time.”

“Toward what end do I live my life? A great freedom comes from being able to answer that question. A sleeper can be decoyed out of bed by the sheer beauty of dawn on the open seas. Sleepers like me need at some point to rise and take their turn on morning watch for the sake of the planet, but also for our own sake, for the enrichment of our lives. From the deserts of Namibia to the razor-backed Himalayas, there are wonderful creatures that have roamed the Earth much longer than we, creatures that not only are worthy of our respect but could teach us about ourselves.”

Doris May Lessing (1919-2013) / Nobel Prize (2007): “And all this time the earth was being despoiled. The minerals were being ripped out, the fuels wasted, the soils depleted by an improvident and short-sighted agriculture, the animals and plants slaughtered and destroyed, the seas being filled with filth and poison, the atmosphere was corrupted – and always, all the time, the propaganda machines thumped out: more, more, more, drink more, eat more, consume more, discard more – in a frenzy, a mania. But, the small voices that rose in protest were not enough to halt the processes that had been set in motion and were sustained by greed.”

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag – and never reading anything because you feel you ought or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty may open doors for you when you are forty or fifty – and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”

“We are all regularly presented, day after day, with bad news, and I think our minds are more and more set into attitudes of foreboding and depression. But, is it possible that all the bad things are a reaction, a dragging undertow, to a forward movement in the human social evolution that we can’t yet easily see? Perhaps, looking back in a few centuries, people will say this was a time when extremes battled for supremacy, understanding that the human mind was developing very fast in the direction of self-knowledge and self-command, while also aroused its opposite, the forces of stupidity, brutality, and mob thinking. I think it is possible. Indeed, I think that this is what is happening.”

“Most people cannot stand being alone for long. They are always seeking groups to belong to, and if one group dissolves, they look for another. We are group animals still, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, what is dangerous is not understanding the social laws that govern groups and govern us. When we’re in a group, we tend to think as that group does. We may even have joined the group to find like-minded people. But, we also find our thinking changing because we belong to a group. It is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissent opinion while a member of a group. Think wrongly if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”

Arundhati Roy (1961-) / 1997 Booker Prize:  “The U.S. empire rests on a grisly foundation: the massacre of millions of indigenous people, the stealing of their lands, and the kidnapping and enslavement of millions of black people from Africa to work that land. Thousands died on the seas while they were being shipped, like caged cattle between continents. Speaking for myself, I am fully aware that venality, brutality, and hypocrisy are imprinted on the leaden soul of every nation. But, how has the United States survived its terrible past and emerged smelling so sweet? Not by owning up to it, not by making reparations, not by apologizing to black Americans or native Americans, and certainly not by changing its ways. Like most other countries, the United States has rewritten its history. But what sets the United States apart from other countries, and puts it ahead in the race, is that it has enlisted the services of the most powerful, most successful publicity firm in the world: Hollywood.”

“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead. When independent thinkers begin to rally under flags – when writers, painters, musicians, film makers suspend their judgment and blindly yoke their art to the service of the Nation, it’s time for all of us to sit up and worry. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.”

“The first step towards remaking a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination – an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment. To gain this philosophical space, it is necessary to concede some space for those who may look like the keepers of our past, but who may really be the guides to our future. To do this, we have to ask our rulers: Can you leave the water in the rivers, the trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain?”

“For historical understanding of the Earth’s age, the teacher invited the children to imagine Earth as an Earth Woman. Imagine that the Earth – 4.6 billion years old – is a 46 year old woman. It had taken most of Earth Woman’s life for the oceans to part and for the mountains to rise. She was age 11 when the first single celled organisms appeared. The first animals, creatures like worms and jellyfish, appeared only when she was age 40. She was age 45 when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The whole of human civilization began only 2 hours ago in the Earth Woman’s life. A humbling thought – that the whole of contemporary history, the World Wars, the Man on the Moon, science, literature, philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge – is no more than a blink of the Earth Woman’s eye.”

“Never counted in the costs of war are the dead birds, the charred animals, the murdered fish, the incinerated insects, the poisoned water sources, the destroyed vegetation. Rarely mentioned is the arrogance of the human race toward other living things with which we share this planet. All these are forgotten in the fight for markets and ideologies. This arrogance will probably be the ultimate undoing of the human species.”

“When you live in the United States, with the roar of the free market, the roar of this huge military power, the roar of being at the heart of empire, it’s hard to hear the whispering of the rest of the world. And yet I think many U.S. citizens want to listen. Many Americans are not co-conspirators in this concept of Empire. And those who are not, need to listen to other stories in the world – other voices, other people.”

“Any government’s condemnation of terrorism is only credible if it shows itself to be responsive to persistent, reasonable, closely argued, non-violent dissent. And yet, what’s happening is just the opposite. The world over, non-violent resistance movements are being crushed and broken. If we do not respect and honor the peaceful dissents, then by default we empower those who turn to violence.”

“If you think of the world as a global village, a fight between India and Pakistan is like a fight between the poorest people in the poorest quarters. In the meantime, the wealthy nations are laying the oil pipelines and selling both parties weapons.”

William McGuire Bryson (1951-) / Fellow of the Royal Society: “One of the hardest ideas for humans to accept is that we are not the apex of everything. So, consider that 99.99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth no longer exist. There is nothing inevitable about our existence. It is part of our vanity as humans to think of evolution as a process that was programmed to produce us. But, make no mistake: this is a planet of microbes. We are here at their pleasure. They don’t need us. We would be dead in a day without them. Bacteria are a type of microbe and every human body contains about 100 quadrillion bacterial cells. They are a big part of us. From the bacteria’s point of view, of course, we are a rather small part of them.”

“In breathing, as in everything in life, the numbers are staggering. Every time you breathe, you exhale some 25 sextillion (that’s 2.5 × 1022) molecules of oxygen – so many that with just one day’s breathing you will in all likelihood inhale at least one molecule from the breaths of every person who has ever lived. And, every person who lives from now until the sun burns out will from at some point breathe in a bit of you. So, at the atomic level, we are in a sense eternal.”

“Atoms, in short, are very abundant. They are also fantastically durable. Because they are so long lived, atoms really get around. Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms – up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested – probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven, and any other historical figure you care to name. So, we are all reincarnations – though short-lived ones. When we die, our atoms will disassemble and move off to find new uses elsewhere – as part of a leaf or other human being or drop of dew. The most remarkable part of all is your DNA. You have a metre of it packed into every cell, and so many cells that if you formed all the DNA in your body into a single fine strand it would stretch ten billion miles, to beyond Pluto. Think of it: there is enough of you to leave the solar system. You are in the most literal sense cosmic.”

“Just sitting quietly, doing nothing at all, your brain churns through more information in thirty seconds than the Hubble Space Telescope has processed in thirty years. A morsel of cortex one cubic millimeter in size – about the size of a grain of sand – could hold two thousand terabytes of information, enough to store all the movies ever made, trailers included, or about 1.2 billion books.”

“The great paradox of the brain is that everything you know about the world is provided to you by an organ that has itself never seen that world. The brain exists in silence and darkness. It has no pain receptors, literally no feelings. It has never felt warm sunshine or a soft breeze. To your brain, the world is just a stream of electrical pulses, like taps of Morse code. And out of this bare and neutral information it creates for you – quite literally – a vibrant, three-dimensional, sensually engaging universe. Your brain is you. Everything else is just plumbing and scaffolding. For example, consider our sense of taste: all that is really going in your mouth is texture and chemicals. It is your brain that reads these scentless, flavorless molecules and vivifies them for your pleasure. Your brownie is simply the sheet music. It is your brain that makes it a symphony.”

“You may not feel outstandingly robust, but if you are an average-sized adult you will contain within your modest frame no less than 7 X 10^18 joules of potential energy – enough to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point. Everything has this kind of energy trapped within it. We’re just not very good at getting it out. Even a uranium bomb – the most energetic thing we have produced yet – releases less than 1 percent of the energy it could release if only we were more cunning.”

“When you grow up America, you are indoctrinated from the earliest age with the belief that America is the richest and most powerful nation on earth because God likes us best. It has the most perfect form of government, the most exciting sporting events, the tastiest food and amplest portions, the largest cars, the cheapest gasoline, the most abundant natural resources, the most productive farms, the most devastating nuclear arsenal, and the friendliest, most decent, and most patriotic folks on Earth. The idea that anyone would want to live anywhere else is practically incomprehensible to an American. But, to foreigners, that outlook is puzzling – and to a Native Americans, it is agitating.”

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) / Pulitzer Prize Recipient (twice): “We have learned to call this propaganda: When those in power prevent independent access to events and arrange the news of it to suit their purpose. That the purpose of propaganda is patriotic does not change the fact that it is propaganda. Propaganda is not possible without some form of censorship. In order to conduct propaganda, there must be some barrier between the public and the event being described. By limiting the public from access to the actual event, and then controlling the information given to the public, the propagandist can create a pseudo-environment to control public narrative.”

“The established leaders of any organization have great natural advantages. They often have better sources of information. The books and papers are in their offices. They take part in the important conferences. They meet the important people. They have the responsibility. It is, therefore, easier for them to garner attention and speak in a convincing tone. But, they also have a very great deal of control over the access to the facts. So, every official is in some degree a censor. Our problem is that deception has become organized and strong. Truth is poisoned at its source. The skill of the shrewdest brains is often devoted to misleading a bewildered people. For truly effective thinking, the prime necessity must be to liquidate assumption and regain an innocent eye, disentangle feelings, be curious, and open-hearted.”

“The study of error is not only in the highest form of error prevention, but also it serves as a stimulating introduction to the study of truth. As our minds become more deeply aware of our own subjectivism, we shall find a zest in objectivity, which allows us to vividly see the enormous cruelty of our prejudices. The destruction of a prejudice, though painful at first, gives an immense relief and a fine pride when it is successfully done. As the current prejudices dissolve, our hardened version of the world falls away.”

“We can best understand the furies of war and politics by remembering that almost the whole of each party believes absolutely in its picture of the opposition, thereby accepting error instead of fact.”

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) / 5-Time Nominee for Nobel Peace Prize: “To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) / Hall of Fame for Great Americans: “Yes, your honor, I have many things to say. In your ordered verdict of guilty, you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my political rights, my judicial rights, are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen. All women are doomed by your honor’s verdict under this so-called form of government. Your denial of my citizen’s right to vote is the denial of my right of consent as one of the governed, the denial of my right of representation as one of the taxed, the denial of my right to a trial by a jury of my peers as an offender against law, and thus the denial of my sacred rights to life, liberty, property. All forms of law are made by men, interpreted by men, administered by men, in favor of men, and against women. Your honor’s ordered verdict of guilty against me, a United States citizen, for the exercise of my right to vote, is simply because I am woman and not a man. I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.”

“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these. Forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place. Think your best thoughts, speak your best words, perform your best works, only looking to your own conscience for approval.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) / The Woman’s Bible: “You may go over the world and you will find that every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded woman. I have been traveling over the old world during the last few years and have found new food for thought. What power is it that makes the Hindu woman burn herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband? Her religion. And, what holds the Turkish woman in the harem? Her religion. By what power do the Mormons perpetuate their system of polygamy? Their religion. Man himself could not do this, but when he declares ‘Thus saith the Lord’ then of course he can do it. So long as Ministers stand up and tell us that Christ is the head of the church, and that man is the head of woman, how are we to break the chains which have held women down through the ages?  Can women ever cultivate a proper sense of self-respect with such sentiments coming from the mouths of the priesthood?

“Our religion, laws, customs, are all founded on the belief that woman was made for man. The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling block in the way of women’s emancipation. Therefore, when women understand that governments and religions are male inventions and that Bibles and religious dogma are all creations from the brains of man, then they will no longer be oppressed by the injunctions that come with this claimed divine authority. The Bible teaches that woman brought sin and death into the world, that she precipitated the fall of humanity, and that she was arraigned before the Judgement Seat of Heaven and tried, condemned, and sentenced by God. Marriage was to be a condition of bondage, while maternity was to be a period of suffering and anguish. In silence, she was to play her role, dependent on man’s bounty for all her material wants and for all the information she might desire on the vital questions of the hour, commanded to ask her husband at home to provide her with answers.”

“Religious canon and civil law, both Church and State, priests and legislators, all political parties and religious denominations have alike taught that woman was made after man, of man, for man, and subject to man. Creeds, codes, scriptures and statutes, are all based on this idea. The fashions, forms, ceremonies and customs of society, church ordinances and discipline all grow out of this idea.”

“There is a solitude which each and every one of us carries. It is more inaccessible than the ice-cold mountains and more profound than the midnight sea. This is the Solitude of Self, our inner being, which we call our self and which no eye nor touch of man or angel has ever pierced. The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) / 1954 Prix Goncourt: “The books I enjoyed became a bible from which I drew advice and support. I copied out long passages from them. I memorized new canticles, new litanies, psalms, proverbs, and prophecies. The words, the cadences, the lines, and the verses were not dogma to make me believe, but rather they rescued my spiritual journey from silent oblivion. They created a kind of communion within myself. Instead of living out my small private existence, I was participating in a great spiritual epic.”

“Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, and scientists have endeavored to show that the subordinate position of woman is willed in heaven and advantageous on earth. Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men. They describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth. If so few female geniuses are found in history, it is because society has denied them the means of expression.”

“The concept of Other is as original as consciousness itself. The duality between Self and Other can be found in the most primitive societies, in the most ancient mythologies. The division does not always fall into the category of the division of the sexes. No group ever defines itself without immediately setting up the Other opposite itself. It only takes three travelers brought together by chance in the same train compartment for the rest of the travelers to become vaguely hostile to the Others. Village people view anyone not belonging to the village as suspicious Others. For the native of a country, inhabitants of other countries are viewed as Foreigners. The Jews are the Others for anti-Semites; blacks are Others for racist Americans; indigenous people are Others for colonists, and workers are Others for the privileged classes.”

“The notion of ambiguity must not be confused with that of absurdity. To declare that existence is absurd is to deny that it can ever be given a meaning. In contrast, to say that existence is ambiguous is to assert that it’s meaning is never fixed and that it must be constantly won. Absurdity challenges every system of ethics. Thus, it is because man’s condition is ambiguous that he seeks to save his existence. One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, and compassion.”

Cicero (106 BC-43 BC) / Roman Philosopher: “A multitude of men may be just as tyrannical as a single dictator – and indeed this is the worst of all tyrannies, since no single monster can be more dangerous than an evil mob, which assumes the name and mask of the people. In a Republic, this rule ought to be observed: the majority should not have the predominant power.”

“The essence of Ciceronian philosophy is a sense of wonder at the connections between all life, to one another, and to the universe that encompasses them. They who say that we should love our fellow-citizens, but not foreigners, destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind.”

“Two distinctive traits especially identify good character. One trait is to respect and pursue only what is moral and right. For men should not be enslaved to other men, nor to passion or fortune. The second trait is to perform the kind of services that are most beneficial to others. They should be services that are a challenge to your life and to its comforts. Of these two traits, all the glory are in the second, while the drive and the discipline that make men great are in the former.”

“Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately, rather than wonder whether someone else’s traits might suit him better. The more genuine a man’s character is, the better it fits him. If you have no confidence in yourself, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started. I assure you that there is a medical art for the soul: philosophy. Aid need not be sought from outside ourselves. We must endeavor with all our resources and all our strength to become capable of doctoring ourselves.”

Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) / The Great Agnostic: “As man develops, liberty becomes a grander and diviner thing. As he values his own rights, he begins to value the rights of others. And when all men give to all others all the rights they claim for themselves, this world will be civilized. This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself. Keep your mind open to the influences of nature. Receive new thoughts with hospitality. Let us advance.”

“Every man should stand under the infinite flag of Nature, under the blue sky and the shining stars. I believe in the fireside. I believe in the democracy of home. I believe in the republicanism of the family. I believe in liberty, equality, and love. There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence. The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, a traitor to himself and to his fellow men. There is only one way to be happy – and that is to make somebody else happy.”

“When asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine and with the divine climate of kindness.”

Jack London (1876-1916) / The Call of the Wild: “Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on. He knew not where or why, nor did he wonder where or why. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. The call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest. Especially, he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, seeking for the mysterious something that called – waking and sleeping, at all times – for him to come.”

“Invite inspiration. Light out after it with a club. Study the secrets of the writers who have already arrived. They have mastered the tools with which you are cutting your fingers. Dig it out for yourself. See that your pores are open and your digestion is good. Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. And work: find out about this earth, this universe, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter. By all this, I mean work for a philosophy of life. It does not hurt how wrong your philosophy of life may be, so long as you have one and have it well. The three great things are: good health, work, and philosophy of life. I may add, nay, must add, a fourth: Sincerity. Without this, the other three are without avail; but with it, you may cleave to greatness and sit among the giants.”