I get sick of listening to straight people complain about, “Well, hey, we don’t have a heterosexual-pride day, why do you need a gay-pride day?” I remember when I was a kid I’d always ask my mom: “Why don’t we have a Kid’s Day? We have a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but why don’t we have a Kid’s Day?” My mom would always say, “Every day is Kid’s Day.” To all those heterosexuals that bitch about gay pride, I say the same thing: Every day is heterosexual-pride day! Can’t you people enjoy your banquet and not piss on those of us enjoying our crumbs over here in the corner?
People avoid action. Often because they are afraid of the consequences, for action means risk and danger. Danger seems terrible from a distance; it is not so bad if you have a close look at it.
You start dying slowly
if you do not travel,
if you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.
You start dying slowly
When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.
You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.
You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…
Real transformation within families, groups of friends, communities, corporations, institutions, governments, and communities of faith is an inside job. It requires each of us to transform our ideas and behaviors first. Change is found in the smallest choices we make every day about how we treat each other.
— What the Hell Happened to Traditional Values Like Love?
It seems possible to move from “What the hell!” to the possible heaven of safety and respect, if we honor people for the contribution they make to their families, communities and the world — not in spite of, but because of who they are. We’ve got the opportunity to embrace real “traditional values” — like love — and move beyond condescending terms such as “acceptance” and “tolerance,” in order to celebrate our brothers and sisters in all of their infinitely varied and complex gender expression and humanity.
— What the Hell Happened to Traditional Values Like Love?
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.
Pastor Martin Niemoller
First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me.
Anti-oppression can’t happen without the presence of spirit. Dehumanization, soul loss, and alienation are not states of mind, so it is not a change of mind that’s needed. They are states of being. We need to help each other find balance that involves more than our minds – that engages all of our being. Our job as anti-oppression educators is to be released as we release the other person, to create an exchange that will make it possible for that person to shift. This is the rhythm of liberation.
— from “Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment: a Developmental Strategy to Liberate Everyone (2010) with Margot Boyer, Liz Goodwin, Garth Johnson, and Laurel C Smith
One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
Without music, life would be a mistake…. I would only believe in a God who knew how to dance.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Become who you are.
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
Richard M. Nixon
I reject the cynical view that politics is a dirty business.
Thought without practice is empty, action without thought is blind.
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief or bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
— Out of Solitude
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
May it please the court – I am Patricia Novotny – on behalf of the Northwest Women’s Law Center, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU – representing the 38 individuals present in court today who wish to marry their beloved partners.
We are here to ask merely that Washington fulfill the promise of liberty and equality made to all its citizens. In your assessment of our challenge, I ask the court to look forward, not merely backwards. And to remember that both liberty and equality were and are radical and experimental ideas. That WE as a people embraced democracy not because a study showed us how well it works, but because of our faith in these principles and our trust in the future they would help us to build.
There have been efforts in this case to exploit fear – fear of change, fear of difference. I ask you to consider fear of failure: fear of failing our own promise and destiny. That promise requires vindication of our clients’ right to marry.
— 3/8/05 opening statement on for the Washington State Supreme Court Marriage Equality Hearing
… faith is not just something you have, it’s something you do.
— as a Senator in his Race Against Time World AIDS Day Speech at the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church, December 1, 2006
We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, or how they pray or who they love.
— National Prayer Breakfast – February 6, 2014
Those who oppose recognition of same-sex families are engaging in magical thinking, believing somehow that if they wish us away, we will actually go away. But same-sex couples have already created families, and we have done so in large numbers. Many of us already have children. We are not asking for permission to exist. We are asking that others acknowledge what already is. When we insist on equal recognition, support and protection from our government and from our fellow citizens, we do not ask as outsiders seeking admission. We are pointing out that we are already here, we have been here for a long time, and we ask that our presence as citizens be recognized legally, culturally, and interpersonally.
One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.
— Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Sir Laurence Olivier
I believe that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village, a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture.
Love and intimacy are the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. People who feel lonely and isolated have a 300-500 percent greater risk of premature death and physical illness.
— Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy
War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.
— in 1984
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
It’s not so much staying alive, it’s staying human that’s important. What counts is that we don’t betray each other.
Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.
Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.
The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it is not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person – without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.
The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.
The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.
If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character…Would you slow down? Or speed up?
All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.
We’ll never be as young as we are tonight.
I don’t want to die without any scars.
Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.
We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.
It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.
Parker J. Palmer
By surviving passages of doubt and depression on the vocational journey, I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.
— Let Your Life Speak
Good work is done with heart as well as knowledge and skill, done with a depth of commitment that brings integrity and courage to the workplace. But workplace culture can make it risky to reveal our hearts. So we hide them – and sometimes lose them. So, I’m concerned in this book [Healing the Heart of Democracy] and in the work of the Center for Courage & Renewal to ask how might we help people develop these habits of the heart, learning that we’re all in it together. Learning that the stranger is not a threat but an opportunity to grow in my view of reality, to grow in my own sense of possibility.
I believe that movements start when individuals who feel very isolated and very alone in the midst of an alien culture, come in touch with something life-giving in the midst of a death-dealing situation. They make one of the most basic decisions a human being can make, which I have come to call the decision to live “divided no more,” the decision to no longer act differently on the outside than one knows one’s truth to be on the inside.
I call it the Rosa Parks decision …
And as soon as we made that decision, amazing things happen. For one thing, the enemy stops being the enemy. When Rosa Parks sat down that day, it was partly an acknowledgment that by conspiring with racism, she had helped create racism. By conspiring with death-dealing education, we help to create death-dealing education. But by deciding to live divided no more, we help change all of that.
When the police came on the bus that day, they said to Rosa Parks, “You know if you continue to sit there, we’re going to have to throw you in jail.” And her answer is historic. She said, “You may do that.” An enormously polite way of saying, “What could your jail possibly mean compared to the imprisonment I’ve had myself in for the last 43 years, which I break out of today?”
— The Grace of Great Things – Recovering the Sacred in Knowing, Teaching, and Learning (Please read the whole essay.)
… the stranger is not a threat but an opportunity to grow in my view of reality, to grow in my own sense of possibility.
In a true community we will not choose our companions, for our choices are so often limited by self-serving motives. Instead, our companions will be given to us by grace. Often they will be persons who will upset our settled view of self and world. In fact, we might define true community as the place where the person you least want to live with always lives.
Storytelling has always been at the heart of being human because it serves some of our most basic needs: passing along our traditions, confessing failings, healing wounds, engendering hope, strengthening our sense of community.
The more you know about another person’s story, the less possible it is to see that person as your enemy.
― Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
I cannot imagine a spiritual pain deeper than dying with the thought that during my sojourn on earth, I had rarely, if ever, shown up as my true self. And I cannot imagine a spiritual comfort deeper than dying with the knowledge that I had spent my brief time on this planet doing the best I could to be present as myself to my family, my friends, my community, and my world.
― Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
Corporate sickness is never sudden.
There is always a slow, deliberate, almost imperceptible pattern:
The metamorphosis of a people begins with an opportunistic leader who understands the power of weaponized fear, who feeds them a steady diet of the things that terrify them: misinformation, fake emergencies, and abject lies all designed to create an urgency in them and to make them feel hopelessly assailed.
He or she creates for these emotionally-vulnerable people a necessary enemy; an encroaching threat to tangibly embody the nightmares they have made in their heads—someone to go to war against, to take back their country from—someone he or she can save them from.
The manipulator begins to dehumanize and vilify this group with otherizing language, with ever more caricatured stereotypes, with phony statistics and manufactured stories and edited news; painting the picture of human beings they begin to see as less than human.
— “This is How Holocausts Happen, How Nations Lose Their Humanity” August 30, 2019
Do not fear to dream big dreams. Bring your whole self to everything you do. Face the world with dignity and integrity. I promise you, the pain is worth the reward.
— Houston TX mayor in her inaugural address
Each generation improves the world
for the next.
My grandparents willed me strength.
My parents willed me pride.
I will to you rage.
I give you a world incomplete
a world where
are property and chattel
sexual choice still
but I give you
of people who take risks
to chisel the crack wider.
Take strength that you may
wage a long battle.
Take the pride that you can
never stand small.
Take the rage that you can
never settle for less.
— from “Legacy”
People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that is not true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of the day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.
Glenn C. Paris
It is with a very heavy heart that we make this decision (But) we believe theater teaches us to act.
— Ion Theatre’s producing artistic director in article: “Theater company leaves in protest” re: Prop. 8 Boycotts
What have we done that we are blessèd?
What have we damned that we are blinded?
— Irkalla’s White Caves
I think people need a little joy and humor as well as commitment in their lives
Why shouldn’t you be afraid? Why shouldn’t you think it’s crazy to believe in a green deer? All your life you have been taught to believe in only what you can use—to set on the table, to put in the bank, to build a house with. What possible use would a green deer be to anyone? Who would believe in a man with a blazing bush in his cart? Then let me tell you that it is beliefs just such as these that are the only hope of the world. Let me tell you that until men are ready to believe in the green deer and the strange carter, we shall not lift our noses above the bloody mess we have made of our living.
— The Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer: An Amusement
Take the useful events
For your tall.
To hell with power and hate and war
The mouth of a pretty girl…
The weather in the highest soul…
Put the tips of your fingers
On a baby man;
Teach him to be beautiful.
To hell with power and hate and war
Tell God that we like
The rain, and snow, and flowers,
And trees, and all things gentle and clean
That have growth on the earth.
To hell with power and hate and war.
— Instructions for Angels
Does anyone think it’s easy
To be a creature in this world?
To ask for reasons
When all reasons serve only
To make the darkness darker,
And to break the heart?
—Not only of man,
But of all breathing things?
Perhaps, friends, it is time
To take a stand
Against all this senseless hurt.
Pope John Paul II
Opting for peace does not mean a passive acquiescence to evil or compromise of principle. It demands an active struggle against hatred, oppression and disunity, but not by using methods of violence. Building peace requires creative and courageous action.
It’s been said “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
That may be true, but I’m all for giving it a good nudge.
Friends, we are not passive victims of these days, we are bold participants in them.
We are the arc-benders.
Your children learn what you believe is important, not by what you say, but by how you live.
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity.
But silence is impossible.
Silence is a message,
just as doing nothing is an act.
Let who you are ring out & resonate
in every word & every deed.
Yes, become who you are.
There’s no sidestepping your own being
or your own responsibility.
What you do is who you are.
You are your own comeuppance.
You become your own message.
You are the message.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
[signed] Leonard Peltier
— Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
Change does not change tradition, it strengthens it. Change is a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat.
— Duke of Edinburgh
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
— A Shadow Passes
Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.
I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
Words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder.
I will choose what enters me, what becomes flesh of my flesh. Without choice, no politics, no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield, not your uranium mine, not your calf for fattening, not your cow for milking. You may not use me as your factory. Priests and legislators do not hold shares in my womb or my mind. This is my body. If I give it to you, I want it back. My life is a non-negotiable demand.
What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.
Angie (Angelina Jolie) and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able.
— “My List” 10/06 Esquire magazine
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.
Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.
The durability of prejudice is no reason to go slow in pushing for full equality. Speak up for fairness, and trust that the nation will catch up.
— Quest for equal rights is arduous, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Aug. 10, 2006
Don’t let fear choose your path.
— These were the last words in her last column, “One Very Gay Time”
That, in the simplest terms, is the root of the obesity epidemic for the poor — because the obesity epidemic is really a class-based problem. It’s not an epidemic, really. The biggest prediction of obesity is income.
— America’s Eating Disorder
The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
Pump Up the Volume
Feeling screwed up in a screwed up place, in a screwed up time, does not mean that you are screwed up.
— line spoken by Mark Hunter character, in movie written by Allan Moyle
Peace is not made with friends. Peace is made with enemies.
Mary Anne Radmacher
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.
The more I protested about this ambiguity, the more Joanna pointed out to me that it was both a terrible and wonderful part of life: terrible because you can’t count on anything for sure–like certain good health and no possibility of cancer; wonderful because no human being knows when another is going to die–no doctor can absolutely predict the outcome of a disease. The only thing that is certain is change. Joanna calls all of this ‘delicious ambiguity.’ ‘Couldn’t there be comfort and freedom in no one knowing the outcome of anything and all things being possible?’ she asked. Was I convinced? Not completely. I still wanted to believe in magic thinking. But I was intrigued.
― It’s Always Something
While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.
There is no real security except for whatever you build inside yourself.
We are healing but we must not forget those left behind in the rubble of misunderstanding, hate, and intolerance.
You can’t be striving to please. You have to strive to get to the heart of the matter.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
So you see I write these editorials for a lot of reasons. Mostly I write them to stir the embers of hope. I write them so that people read them today and act tomorrow. Change takes place one heart at a time. A revolution starts with a single word or action. Perhaps it will not be my words that create the change, but if my words stir the embers of hope in the hearts of those who read them. If my words create the desire to alter the social evils of our society that tell us there is nothing wrong with a queer child killing him or herself, or that there is nothing wrong with a street drunk being killed over a bottle of cheap whiskey, or that there is nothing wrong with child exploitation then I shall pound away on these keys until the final day of my life.
— 11/26/04 in Why even Bother
Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.
Depression is oppression driven inward. We have to put it back out in the world where it belongs, and transform it through art and collective action.
When someone with the authority of a teacher, say, describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing. Yet you know you exist and others like you, that this is a game with mirrors. It takes some strength of soul–and not just individual strength, but collective understanding–to resist this void, this nonbeing, into which are thrust, and to stand up, demanding to be seen and heard.
Art is the highest form of hope.
— 1982, in the catalogue text for the Documenta 7 exhibition
Silence kills the soul, it diminishes its possibility to rise and fly and explore. Silence withers what makes you human. The soul shrinks, until it’s nothing.
Rainer Maria Rilke
You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can. dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
— Letters to a Young Poet
(I had read this quote many times but I read the whole letter and saw it in context for the first time. It’s worth reading. Not what I expected.)
Bernice Johnson Reagon
If you’re in a coalition and you’re comfortable, you know it’s not a broad enough coalition.
— one of the founders of Sweet Honey in the Rock
I like walking in the cemetery
it’s so beautiful there in the fall
the changing leaves fall from the trees
like they do from us all
I appreciate the company of the dead
I went and read the page where Don Juan said
keep death upon your shoulder
it will remind you to love
— from the song “Cemetery”
Its not about keeping silent
When you know there’s something wrong
No one wants to start a confrontation
But it doesn’t help to simply walk away
You might not be heard;
that’s a chance that you take
Somethings got to give
or else its going to break
— from the song “Gentle Rebellion”
Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.
Bishop Gene Robinson
We love to talk about justice. It’s the doing of justice that’s hard…I believe it is work we are called to do.
Luis J. Rodriguez
It is not enough to prepare our children for the world; we also must prepare the world for our children.
Art is the heart’s explosion on the world. Music. Dance. Poetry. Art on cars, on the walls, on our skins. There is probably no more powerful force for change in this uncertain and crisis-ridden world than young people and their art. It is the consciousness of the world breaking away from the strangle grip of an archaic social order.
The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.
At the center of the Universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything that we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service.
— (a.k.a., “Mister Rogers”) 1928-2003
None of us gets to be competent, mature people without the help of others… people who have loved us all along the way. I’d like to give you a minute to think of those who have believed in you… those who have helped you live your life knowing what was good and real. A minute of silence to remember those who have cared about us through our lives..in our being who we are right now.
Whomever you’ve been thinking about, whether they’re here or far away or even in heaven, imagine how pleased they’d be to know that you recognize what a difference they’ve made in your becoming.
The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.
When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.
The values we care about the deepest, and the movements within society that support those values, command our love. When those things that we care about so deeply become endangered, we become enraged. And what a healthy thing that is! Without it, we would never stand up and speak out for what we believe.
Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
I don’t care how little your country is, you got a right to run it like you want to. When the big nations quit meddling then the world will have peace.
Rodgers and Hammerstein
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed In your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a different shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
— in the musical “South Pacific”
It’s very hard to be anti-something beautiful.
Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
The trouble is that not enough people have come together with the firm determination to live the things which they say they believe.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
— 1918, following Woodrow Wilson’s sweeping crackdown against dissent after the American entry into WWI
The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership. All our great Presidents were leaders of thought at times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified.
— September 11, 1932, The New York Times Magazine
Leo C. Rosten
The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it.
Courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined.
If at first you don’t succeed, before you try again, stop to figure out what you did wrong.
I never cease being dumbfounded by the unbelievable things people believe.
I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.
All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.
Once we stop thinking of ourselves as oppressed by what we do in bed and start thinking of ourselves as oppressed because we occupy a space between genders, the sexual differences between us will fade into unimportance, and our common humanity will emerge into the light. If that’s not a higher form of liberation. I don’t know what is.
— in Transgendered Like Me
It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.
The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.
— Power Politics
To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
— The Cost of Living
The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.
Writers imagine that they cull stories from the world. I’m beginning to believe that vanity makes them think so. That it’s actually the other way around. Stories cull writers from the world. Stories reveal themselves to us. The public narrative, the private narrative – they colonize us. They commission us. They insist on being told. Fiction and nonfiction are only different techniques of story telling. For reasons that I don’t fully understand, fiction dances out of me, and nonfiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning.
— The God of Small Things
Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness—and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
Don Miguel Ruiz
You cannot change other people. You love them they way they are or you don’t. You accept them they way they are or you don’t. To try to change them to fit what you want them to be is like trying to change a dog for a cat, or a cat for a horse. That is a fact. They are what they are; You are what you are. You dance or you don’t dance. You need to be completely honest with yourself – to say what you want, and see if you are willing to dance or not. You must understand this point, because it is very important when you truly understand. You are likely to find out what is true about others, and not just what you see.
Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.
Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.
To find the Beloved, you must become the Beloved.
You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
If you wake up and you’re not in pain, you know you’re dead
Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people are so full of doubts.
Most men would rather die than think. Many do.
We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers. Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable.
I would advise those who think that self-help is the answer to familiarize themselves with the long history of such efforts in the Negro community, and to consider why so many foundered on the shoals of ghetto life. It goes without saying that any effort to combat demoralization and apathy is desirable, but we must understand that demoralization in the Negro community is largely a common-sense response to an objective reality. Negro youths have no need of statistics to perceive, fairly accurately, what their odds are in American society. Indeed, from the point of view of motivation, some of the healthiest Negro youngsters I know are juvenile delinquents: vigorously pursuing the American Dream of material acquisition and status, yet finding the conventional means of attaining it blocked off, they do not yield to defeatism but resort to illegal (and often ingenious) methods. They are not alien to American culture. They are, in Gunnar Myrdal’s phrase, “exaggerated Americans.” To want a Cadillac is not un-American; to push a cart in the garment center is. If Negroes are to be persuaded that the conventional path (school, work, etc.) is superior, we had better provide evidence which is now sorely lacking. It is a double cruelty to harangue Negro youth about education and training when we do not know what jobs will be available for them. When a Negro youth can reasonably foresee a future free of slums, when the prospect of gainful employment is realistic, we will see motivation and self-help in abundant enough quantities.
— Protest to Politics, Commentary Magazine, February 1965
Bigotry’s birthplace is the sinister back room of the mind where plots and schemes are hatched for the persecution and oppression of other human beings.
When I say I love Eastland, it sounds preposterous — a man who brutalizes people. But you love him or you wouldn’t be here. You’re going to Mississippi to create social change — and you love Eastland in your desire to create conditions which will redeem his children. Loving your enemy is manifest in putting your arms not around the man but around the social situation, to take power from those who misuse it — at which point they can become human too.
— Regarding Senator James Eastland – senator for Mississippi
When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.
The job of the gay community is not to deal with extremists who would castigate us or put us on an island and drop an H-bomb on us. The fact of the matter is that there is a small percentage of people in America who understand the true nature of the homosexual community. There is another small percentage who will never understand us. Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate. That’s our job today: to control the extent to which people can publicly manifest antigay sentiment.
— From Montgomery to Stonewall – 1986
The proof that one truly believes is in action.
I admit my share of guilt for having participated in the institutions and ways of life which helped bring fascism and war. Nonetheless, guilty as I am, I now see as did the Prodigal Son that it is never too late to refuse longer to remain in a non-creative situation. It is always timely and virtuous to change—to take in all humility a new path.
— in “I must resist” – Bayard Rustin’s letter to the draft board, 1943
TODAY, BLACKS ARE NO LONGER THE LITMUS PAPER or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new [n**] are gays. No person who hopes to get politically elected, even in the deep South, not even Governor Wallace, would dare to stand in the schoolhouse door to keep blacks out. Nobody would dare openly and publicly to argue that blacks should not have the right to use public accommodations. Nobody would dare to say any number of things about blacks that they are perfectly prepared to say about gay people. It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change.
Indeed, if you want to know whether today people believe in democracy, if you want to know whether they are true democrats, if you want to know whether they are human rights activists, the question to ask is, “What about gay people?” Because that is now the litmus paper by which this democracy is to be judged. The barometer for social change is measured by selecting the group which is most mistreated. To determine where society is with respect to change, one does not ask, “What do you think about the education of children?” Nor does one ask, “Do you believe the aged should have Social Security?” The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.
Therefore, I would like to be very hard with the gay community, not for the sake of being hard, but to make clear that, because we stand in the center of progress toward democracy, we have a terrifying responsibility to the whole society.
There are four aspects to this responsibility.
First, the gay community cannot work for justice for itself alone. Unless the community fights for all, it is fighting for nobody, least of all for itself.
Second, gay people should not practice prejudice. It is inconsistent for gay people to be anti-semitic or racist. These gay people do not understand human rights.
Third, gay people should look not only at what people are doing to us but also what we are doing to each other.
Fourth, gay people should recognize that we cannot fight for the rights of gays unless we are ready to fight for a new mood in the United States, unless we are ready to fight for a radicalization of this society. You will not feed people a la the philosophy of the Reagan administration. Imagine a society that takes lunches from school children. Do you really think it’s possible for gays to get civil rights in that kind of society? Do you really think that a society that deprives students of food will confer rights to gay people? And what about people my age who don’t have my vigor at seventy-five, who are not provided with adequate Social Security? These economic concerns must go hand-in-hand and, to a degree, precede the possibility of dealing with the most grievous problem-which is sexual prejudice.
— April 9, 1986 transcript of a speech to a gay student group at the University of Pennsylvania
It occurred to me shortly after that that it was an absolute necessity for me to declare homosexuality, because if I didn’t I was a part of the prejudice. I was aiding and abetting the prejudice that was a part of the effort to destroy me.
You have to join every other movement for the freedom of people.
Here we are young and we gotta just live life bold and make the most of it.
founder of Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict, killed in Iraq on 4/16/05
Joelle Ruby Ryan
The interruption of silence is a radical political act.
Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world will be better for this.
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Love opens the doors into everything.
When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.
You can’t disobey the rules every time you disapprove. However, when you’re considering something that constitutes an extreme abridgement of your rights, conscience is the court of last resort.
There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even tacitly take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
— speech for Free Speech Movement on 12/02/64 in Berkeley, CA
John H. Schaar
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created-created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.
Someday if I lose this fight to carry on please send me someplace gently out to sea. Then listen as I whisper softly in your ear. Connected to each other. We will always be connected each other.
— from his song “Connected”
There is room for privacy in everyone’s life. Each of us have things that we don’t wish to share with the world. But for the most part, for one’s identity, the closet itself is evil, in my experience. Nothing destroys the human spirit more than the shame of having to live a lie.
If you strike him, he will then have to strike you. Right now, look at the world. Everyone is striking back at everyone else. You have to stop the abuse with this generation. And it’s an act of will on your part because your default button is to be like your father. He unfortunately taught you fatherhood.
— The Emergent Sea, Vol. 4 Book 6 of Living In The Bonus Round http://bonusroundblog.blogspot.com
Tolerance has to be a two way street or it’s not tolerance.
One of the purposes of “Big Voice” is to let people see what a real gay marriage looks like, warts and all. We’re just people, folks. You can lay down your weapons now. We promise we won’t invade your homes the way you’re invading ours.
— September 25, 2006 Some Random Photos from Norwich
Asking for the right to marry does not change society except in one way: It makes it more just.
Perhaps the greatest impact was on the neighborhood children who saw both the ugliness of the graffiti as well as the beauty of an affirming community response.
While the criminal justice system will deal with the juvenile(s) who committed this graffiti, it is up to the community to help repair the social fabric that is torn when hate speech or other hate activity occurs. Graffiti can be erased, the fear that it causes takes more time to heal. Our presence and our compassion are essential to rebuilding faith that our community honors and celebrates diversity.
— after hate graffiti was painted in an Olympia, Washington neighborhood on April 10, 2007
Again and again we come to recognize that the most essential, joyful mystery of Christianity is the mystery of the person, of what makes each human being valuable to God, of what we can and must love in him or her. It is precisely this mystery which the world and its ruling ideologies have repudiated. To them, a human being is defined by externals: class, race nationality, utilitarian value, what he or she gives to the country or, on the contrary, their mistakes and crimes. Our people vs. strangers, allies vs. enemies, us vs. them… Yet it seems that everyone is talking about liberation for human society, happiness for the world, prescriptions for humanity, the struggle for a bright, happy and liberated life. But in reality, all are united against someone else and everything is motivated by fear, suspicion and hatred. And it will be this way until people understand that to love humanity in general, to serve humanity in general, is not only a deception; it is also impossible if this love is not rooted in love for the person, for each person, a love which goes beyond any of our earthy, ‘human, all too human’ standards and categories which we use to classify and evaluate people.
— Celebration of Faith, Sermons Vol 2: The Church Year
Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.
Welcome out of the closet to life. It is a war zone, a furnace, an overgrown secret garden, a thunderstorm, a snowy morning, a bloody scalpel, and moonlit laughter. No one escapes unbloodied, except those who don’t play, and they are the saddest of all, by far.
I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print, experience is what you get when you don’t.
Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.
Technology will save us if it doesn’t wipe us out first.
I like to say I’m more conservative than Goldwater. He just wanted to turn the clock back to when there was no income tax. I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.
Education is what you get if you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.
Be wary of great leaders. Hope that there are many, many small leaders.
I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American.
I feel most spiritual when I’m out in the woods. I feel part of nature. Or looking up at the stars. [I used to say] I was an atheist. Now I say, it’s all according to your definition of God. According to my definition of God, I’m not an atheist. Because I think God is everything. Whenever I open my eyes I’m looking at God. Whenever I’m listening to something I’m listening to God.
Be who you are and say what you feel, cause those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.
We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.
Why fit in when you were born to stand out?
There is a terrible lack of silence in our world.
Only when properly imbued with space can any sound be truly heard, appreciated and understood. Yet we are accosted with an incessant need to fill that silence with our words, as if, somehow, in so doing, we might be able to fill each other up, to convince others that we ourselves are full. Yet after everything, very rarely is anything truly said.
This too was foreshadowed. Upon the landing of the colonial Europeans onto the vast and then unspoiled stretch of land known as the Algonquians, it is said that the natives were quick to recognize this infection. Wendigo, it is called, and it is marked by an inability to experience stillness.
We must let ourselves go, we must relinquish what we think we know. For only then will we learn the soft art of speaking lightly, of speaking rightly, of coming to carry ourselves into the minds and hearts of others with the dignity we’ve developed inside.
Out of this state of grace will arrive many things:
An immense understanding of ourselves and our co-existence here on earth;
A deep reverie for nature and all of the wonders it holds;
The clear knowledge of a nearly unfathomable potential within the mystery of consciousness as we experience it.
And out of this will flow the actions from which the new world will flower.
— creator of Metanoia, a blog focused solely on the experience of awakening
Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
— Twelfth Night, Act III, Scene I
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy
Reverend Al Sharpton
Unless you are prepared to say that gays and lesbians are not human beings, they should have the same constitutional rights of any other human being.
George Bernard Shaw
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
Such poverty as we have today in our great cities degrades the poor, and infects with its degradation the whole neighborhood in which they live. And whatever can degrade a neighborhood can degrade a country and a continent and finally the whole civilized world, which is only a large neighborhood… The old notion that people can “Keep themselves to themselves” and not be touched by what is happening to their neighbors or even to people who live a hundred miles off, is a most dangerous mistake, The saying that we are members of one another is not a mere pious formula to be repeated in church without any meaning; it is a literal truth, for though the rich end of town can avoid living with the poor end, it cannot avoid dying with it when the plague comes.
— The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism – 1928
Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.
You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?’
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on the future generations.
This is the true joy in life – being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining 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 whatever 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 have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations.
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish 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 whatever 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 sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.
Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
I am a Christian. That obliges me to be a Communist.
Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.
Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.
Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
— Man and Superman
War is good for the economy like cannibalism is nutritious.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
A ‘normal’ person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee. You know, each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray.
If Matthew were alive today, I know he would tell you to register and to vote, reminding you that “if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch” about those who were elected or the actions they take as your representatives. He would beg you to let your voice be heard and to use your precious right to vote.
No journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin, real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
Bishop John Shelby Spong
When the dust settles and the pages of history are written, it will not be the angry defenders of intolerance who have made the difference. That reward will go to those who dared to step outside the safety of their privacy in order to expose and rout the prevailing prejudices.
We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a “mobocracy,” which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.
— Retired Episcopal Bishop, Diocese of Newark, NJ
The theater is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.
— Once There Was a War
I lived in a place with a good climate and it bored the hell out of me.
— Travels with Charley
The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.
One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
There’s a fine line between audacity and hubris.
One can either curse the darkness or light a candle to find the way out.
“I have a feeling that all New Yorkers, no matter what they’re doing, are in their own TV series with their own theme music, and you are merely a guest on their show,” he said.
Slipping into a raconteurish American accent, he said: “Hey, I’ve got Sting on my show tonight, folks.”
Returning to his natural voice, he added: “We’re all celebrities in this town. I find it very comfortable.”
— From the Police to the Met: A Renaissance Man
Ralph W. Stockman
The test of courage comes when we are in the minority; the test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.
Every exit is an entry somewhere else.
You think because you understand one, you must understand two, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand and.
I gave a talk to the Human Rights Campaign Fund in Washington two years ago. It was just after we lost the military issue and there were 800 people in the Washington Hilton in black tie and I said, “I just want to ask all of you who are out to your employers to put your hands up, and all of you who are out to your parents to put your hands up.” And there was a scattering of hands, and I said, “Will all the rest of you please leave now and come back when you’ve done that because I don’t know what the fuck you’re doing here at a dinner for gay rights when you haven’t done the first thing that’s necessary.
— editor of The New Republic, in POZ magazine
You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
— when she was 12 years old, speaking at the Plenary Session of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1992
At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share – not be greedy: then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?
— when she was 12 years old, speaking at the Plenary Session of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1992
You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “everything’s going to be alright” “we’re doing the best we can” and “it’s not the end of the world”. But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says “You are what you do, not what you say. “Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words.
— when she was 12 years old, speaking at the Plenary Session of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in 1992
Over the last few years, after Rio, I was invited to many, many different conferences. Over time I’ve realized: this is not where we’re going to see change. We’ve seen positive activism happening in the last ten years at the grassroots level, in small communities. It’s about the individuals that make up the statistics about consumption and pollution, as well as the people who feel the negative impact, who are actually going to be the change. [Interviewer Julia Scott: “That’s a powerful revelation.”] It is powerful, because you realize that each individual really does count. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that each person is a role model to all the people around us. Not only the children, but everybody. That’s how cultures evolve and things become cool–the influence of a few individuals that catches on.
— Severn Cullis-Suzuki at 23 years old when she was interviewed in the article Earth Pioneer in 2003
If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.
Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.
If you shut the door to all errors, truth will be shut out.
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.
I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being — to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame.
The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.
At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’ Hungry not only for bread — but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing — but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks — but homeless because of rejection.
People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest person with the smallest mind. Think big anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack if you help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush; anxious for greater developments and greater wishes and so on; so that children have very little time for their parents; parents have very little time for each other; and the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.
Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better. Interweave all these communities and you really have an America that is back on its feet again. I really think we are gonna have to reassess what constitutes a ‘hero’.
No birth certificate is issued when friendship is born. There is nothing tangible. There is just a feeling that your life is different and that your capacity to love and care has miraculously been enlarged without any effort on your part. It’s like having a tiny apartment and somebody moves in with you. But instead of becoming cramped and crowded, the space expands, and you discover rooms you never knew you had until your friend moved in with you.
the thin red line
You live inside me now. I’ll carry you with me wherever I go.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Peace is impossible in a world dominated by imperialism. Peace is impossible in a world guided by the ideology and practice of racism. Hence the struggle for peace in the world must be a concerted struggle against racism and imperialism.
— Kenyan writer of Gikuyu descent
I’ve always felt like an outsider. I believe that actors and anyone in the arts should be outsiders, so that we can say whatever we want and hold a mirror up, as Shakespeare says, to what’s really going on in the world. We shouldn’t be within the pale of polite society. It’s a disaster that actors have become so respectable.
Henry David Thoreau
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
Things do not change, we change.
Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed — a, to me, equally mysterious origin for it. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.
Not all those who wander are lost.
Galadriel: Mithrandir… Why the hafling?
Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? I don’t know. Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.
— The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
When will justice come? When those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.
I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.
We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company
Towards a Quaker View of Sex, 1964
One should no more deplore homosexuality than left-handedness.
Protect your spirit, because you are in a the place where the spirit get eaten.
Don’t trust anyone who isn’t angry.
I’m just a human being trying to make it in a world that is very rapidly losing it’s understanding of being human.
Historically speaking, we went from being Indians to pagans to savages to hostiles to militants to activists to Native Americans. Its five hundred years later and they still cant see us. We are still invisible.
Sometimes when it rains, it’s not that simple, when the sky has reasons to cry.
Every human being is a raindrop. And when enough of the raindrops become clear and coherent they then become the power of the storm.
We have power… Our power isn’t in a political system, or a religious system, or in an economic system, or in a military system; these are authoritarian systems… they have power… but it’s not reality. The power of our intelligence, individually or collectively IS the power; this is the power that any industrial ruling class truly fears: clear coherent human beings.
We’re not Indians and we’re not Native Americans. We’re older than both concepts. We’re the people, we’re the human beings.
We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights. We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights. We must step into the reality of natural rights because all of the natural world has a right to existence and we are only a small part of it. There can be no trade-off.
The great lie is that it is civilization. It’s not civilized. It has been literally the most blood thirsty brutalizing system ever imposed upon this planet. That is not civilization. That’s the great lie, is that it represents civilization.
Harry S. Truman
Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.
— 33rd president of the U.S.
When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten.
I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.
I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.
Quakers almost as good as colored. They call themselves friends and you can trust them every time.
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
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.
If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.
Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
It’s not just about having a seat at the table, it’s about setting the menu.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
Traveling Jewish Theater
Listen, stories move in circles. They don’t go in straight lines. So it helps if you listen in circles because there are stories inside and stories between stories and finding your way through them is as easy and as hard as finding your way home. And part of the finding is the getting lost. And when you’re lost, you really start to open up and listen.
— “Coming from a Great Distance”
A Turtle Creek Chorale member
When you come to the edge of all that you have known, there will be two possibilities awaiting you: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.
— in After Goodbye: an AIDS Story, PBS
Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
There has been only one Christian. They caught and crucified him–early.
Our Country, right or wrong… Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?
Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.
The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out… and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel…. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man – with his mouth.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. Your story is still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things: Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories aren’t finished yet. There is still time, for things to heal and change and grow. There is still time to be surprised. We are still going, you and I. We are stories still going.
— We Are Stories Still Going
…the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.
A leader is best when people barely know he exists.
Not so good when people obey and acclaim him.
Worse when they despise him.
Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you.
But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done,
his aim fulfilled the people say ‘we did this ourselves’.
Care about what others think and you will always be their prisoner.
New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
Why should we all use our creative power? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.
… inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we really listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that homosexuality ‘is a lifestyle I don’t agree with.’ This is a trope you hear from the religious right a good deal, and it seems to have entered the conservative mainstream, rolling easily off the tongue. But it is a very odd thing to say. No one (speaking rationally) says, ‘I don’t agree with the Pacific Ocean’ or ‘I don’t agree with the Grand Canyon.’ Facts are not things you agree or disagree with. You can agree or disagree with viewpoints, thoughts or ideas, but homosexuality is not a viewpoint or an idea. It is a thing, an attribute, a nature, a fact.
The gay rights movement is not a party. It is not lifestyle. It is not a hair style. It is not a fad or a fringe or a sickness. It is not about sin or salvation. The gay rights movement is an integral part of the American promise of freedom.
Vincent van Gogh
The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
Beware of artists – they mix with all classes of society and are therefore most dangerous.
God is a comedian playing to an audience that’s afraid to laugh.
Steve von Till
… breathe in, breathe deep. A lifetime is too long to sleep.
People say there are no atheists in foxholes. A lot of people think this is a good argument against atheism. Personally, I think it’s a much better argument against foxholes.
Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.
— in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.
Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.
— in Timequake
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
— in Mother Night
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
Here is a lesson in creative writing.
First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.
And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I’m kidding.
For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I’m kidding.
We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I’m kidding.
— A Man Without a Country
If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
Dignity is something we give each other.
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
For some reason the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But often, with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
— A Man Without a Country
I realized I can make a choice to be a passive observer or I can become involved to diminish the harm that they’re doing.
— Children of Hate – Fighting Back Against Racist Parents – SPLC Intelligence Report, Winter 2009 – by Sonia Scherr
I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?
No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended. Or who belittles in any fashion the gifts you labor so to bring into the world.
Wherever I have knocked, a door has opened. Wherever I have wandered, a path has appeared. ~,
— In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any
Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you’ve got a pretty neck.
They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Booker T. Washington
You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.
No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.
Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. And the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would “lief” or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.
The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
Technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe.
Saints need sinners.
Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.
Anne C. Weisberg
We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes mismatches between old expectations and current realities.
A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
Senator Paul Wellstone
Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.
A politics that is not sensitive to the concerns and circumstances of people’s lives, a politics that does not speak to and include people, is an intellectually arrogant politics that deserves to fail.
If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.
The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Sometimes, the only realists are the dreamers.
Dr. Cornel West
Justice is what love looks like in public. Tenderness is what love feels like in private.
We must always 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 and sensitivities become irrelevant.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art 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. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and do nothing, that’s being dead.
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.
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.
No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.
Peace is our gift to each other.
When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.
Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.
Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
— Movie quote (2002)
I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.
Dr. Cornel West
To be human, at the most profound level, is to encounter honestly the inescapable circumstances that constrain us, yet muster the courage to struggle compassionately for our own unique individualities and for more democratic and free societies.
To be modern is to have the courage to use one’s critical intelligence to question and challenge the prevailing authorities, powers, and hierarchies of the world, also to live dangerously and courageously in the face of relentless self-criticism, and inescapable fallibilism.
The country is in deep trouble. We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.
We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.
I cannot be an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope.
Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.
Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it. In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope.
We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions.
I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
Morris L. West
It cost so much to be a full human being, that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
— The Shoes Of The Fisherman
I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.
The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies. You may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins. You may miss your only love. You may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it, then: To learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.
— Merlin to young Arthur in “The Once and Future King”
“Dear me, you are silly,” she [a goose] said. “There are no boundaries among the geese.”
“What are boundaries, please?”
“Imaginary lines on the earth, I suppose. How can you have boundaries if you fly? Those ants of yours – and the humans too – would have to stop fighting in the end, if they took to the air.”
— “The Once and Future King”
Prejudice is a definitely a learned behavior. You aren’t born hating a black person or an obese person or a gay person – Growing into myself, I realized that different is good, and different sets you apart.
— Miss Teen USA 2002, who is biracial
The Whole Earth Catalog, Final Edition
Stay hungry, stay foolish.
— and then quoted by Steve Jobs
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 and sensitivities 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.
— in his Nobel Prize speech on 10/10/86
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art 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.
There is so much to be done, there is so much that can be done. One person – a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, Jr. – one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death.
— in his Nobel Prize speech on 10/10/86
Willie Houston, a 38-year-old African-American bus driver, was shot dead in Nashville while celebrating his engagement. His killer allegedly became enraged at seeing him holding the arm of a blind friend with one arm and his fiancÃ©e’s purse with the other while she used the rest room. Because his death wasn’t about his sexual orientation, gender identity, or even race, it largely fell off the public’s radar screen…. From classrooms to boardrooms, from reservations to city streets, transcending common gender stereotypes can still get you, your loved ones, or your children harassed, assaulted, or even killed right here at home…. Because if you scratch homophobia, you always find gender: the prejudice that men who love men are unmanly and women who love women are necessarily unfeminine.
Executive Director, GenderPAC, “Homophobia’s Gender Roots,” The Advocate, March 19, 2002
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.
The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.
All that we know about those we have loved and lost is that they would wish us to remember them with a more intensified realization of their reality. What is essential does not die but clarifies. The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.
Childhood is that state which ends the moment a puddle is first viewed as an obstacle instead of an opportunity.
Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard and no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.
What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.
— A Streetcar Named Desire, 1947
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in ALL of us. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.
The greatest force of personal liberation is the decision to widen our circle of compassion, moving from focus on self to focus on service.
You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.
Turn your wounds into wisdom.
“You’ll get over it…” It’s the cliché that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it’ is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to? I’ve thought a lot about death recently, the finality of it, the argument ending in mid-air. One of us hadn’t finished, why did the other one go? And why without warning? Even death after long illness is without warning. The moment you had prepared for so carefully took you by storm. The troops broke through the window and snatched the body and the body is gone. The day before the Wednesday last, this time a year ago, you were here and now you’re not. Why not? Death reduces us to the baffled logic of a child. If yesterday why not today? And where are you? Fragile creatures of a small blue planet, surrounded by light years of silent space. Do the dead find peace beyond the rattle of the world? What peace is there for us whose best love cannot return them even for a day? I raise my head to the door and think I will see you in the frame. I know it is your voice in the corridor but when I run outside the corridor is empty. There is nothing I can do that will make any difference. The last word is yours. The fluttering in the stomach goes away and the dull waking pain. Sometimes I think of you and I feel giddy. Memory makes me lightheaded, drunk on champagne. All the things we did. And if anyone had said this was the price I would have agreed to pay it. That surprises me; that with the hurt and the mess comes a shaft of recognition. It was worth it. Love is worth it.
— Written on the Body
THINGS HAD CHANGED, what an arsehole comment, I had changed things. Things don’t change, they’re not like the seasons moving on a diurnal round. People change things. There are victims of change, but not victims of things.
— Written on the Body
What you risk reveals what you value.
— Written on the Body
The Buddhists say there are 149 ways to God. I’m not looking for God, only for myself, and that is far more complicated. God has had a great deal written about Him; nothing has been written about me. God is bigger, like my mother, easier to find, even in the dark. I could be anywhere, and since I can’t describe myself I can’t ask for help.
— Written on the Body
I thought how easy it is to destroy the past and how difficult to forget it.
— Written on the Body
Every moment you steal from the present is a moment you’ve lost forever. There is only now.
There it is; the light across the water. Your story. Mine. His. It has to be seen to be believed. And it has to be heard. In the endless babble of narrative, in spite of the daily noise, the story waits to be heard.
I have a theory that every time you make an important choice, the part of you left behind continues the other life you could have had.
— Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently. Some people say there are true things to be found, some people say all kinds of things can be proved. I don’t believe them. The only thing for certain is how complicated it all is, like string full of knots. It’s all there but hard to find the beginning and impossible to fathom the end. The best you can do is admire the cat’s cradle, and maybe knot it up a bit more.
— Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
It is not possible to control the outside of yourself until you have mastered your breathing space. It is not possible to change anything until you understand the substance you wish to change.
— Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
The body shuts down when it has too much to bear; goes its own way quietly inside, waiting for a better time, leaving you numb and half alive.
— The Passion
If we had the courage to love we would not so value these acts of war.
— The Passion
But not all dark places need light, I have to remember that.
— The Passion
A bridge is a meeting place . . . a possibility, a metaphor.
— The Passion
It’s hard to remember that this day will never come again. That the time is now and the place is here and that there are no second chances at a single moment.
They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?
Walk with me, hand in hand through the neon and styrofoam. Walk the razor blades and the broken hearts. Walk the fortune and the fortune hunted. Walk the chop suey bars and the tract of stars.
I know I am a fool, hoping dirt and glory are both a kind of luminous paint; the humiliations and exaltations that light us up. I see like a bug, everything too large, the pressure of infinity hammering at my head. But how else to live, vertical that I am, pressed down and pressing up simultaneously? I cannot assume you will understand me. It is just as likely that as I invent what I want to say, you will invent what you want to hear. Some story we must have. Stray words on crumpled paper. A weak signal into the outer space of each other.
The probability of separate worlds meeting is very small. The lure of it is immense. We send starships. We fall in love.
— Gut Symmetries
To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.
He wrote on a piece of paper with his pencil.
Psychosis: out of touch with reality.
Since then, I have been trying to find out what reality is, so that I can touch it.
Any measurement must take into account the position of the observer. There is no such thing as measurement absolute, there is only measurement relative.
The journey is not linear, it is always back and forth, denying the calendar, the wrinkles and lines of the body.
— Sexing the Cherry
Curiously, the further I have pursued my voyages the more distant they have become. For Tradescant, voyages can be completed. They occupy time comfortably. With some leeway, they are predictable. I have set off and found that there is no end to even the simplest journey of the mind. I begin, and straight away a hundred alternative routes present themselves. I choose one, no sooner begin, than a hundred more appear. Every time I try to narrow down my intent I expand it, and yet those straits and canals still lead me to the open sea, and then I realize how vast it all is, this matter of the mind. I am confounded by the shining water and the size of the world.”
— Sexing the Cherry
Thinking about time is to acknowledge two contradictory certainties: that our outward lives are governed by the seasons and the clock; that our inward lives are governed by something much less regular-an imaginative impulse cutting through the dictates of daily time, and leaving us free to ignore the boundaries of here and now and pass like lightning along the coil of pure time, that is, the circle of the universe and whatever it does or does not contain.
— Sexing the Cherry
Lies 1: There is only the present and nothing to remember.
Lies 2: Time is a straight line.
Lies 3: The difference between the past and the futures is that one has happened while the other has not.
Lies 4: We can only be in one place at a time.
Lies 5: Any proposition that contains the word ‘finite’ (the world, the universe, experience, ourselves…)
Lies 6: Reality as something which can be agreed upon.
Lies 7: Reality is truth.
— Sexing the Cherry
We’re here, there, not here, not there, swirling like specks of dust, claiming for ourselves the rights of the universe. Being important, being nothing, being caught in lives of our own making that we never wanted. Breaking out, trying again, wondering why the past comes with us, wondering how to talk about the past at all.
What it means to be human… is to bring up your children in safety, educate them, keep them healthy, teach them how to care for themselves and others, allow them to develop in their own way among adults who are sane and responsible, who know the value of the world and not its economic potential. It means art, it means time, it means all the invisibles never counted by the GDP and census figures. It means knowing that life has an inside as well as an outside.
— The Stone Gods
The ancients believed in fate because they recognized how hard it is for anyone to change anything. The pull of past and future is so strong that the present is crushed by it. We lie helpless in the force of patterns inherited and patterns re-enacted by our own behavior. The burden is intolerable…
— The Myth of Atlas and Heracles
Breathe in, breath out. Oxygen is carcinogenic and likely puts a limit on our life span. It would be unwise though, to try to extend life by not breathing at all.
Which of us doesn’t do it? Either we loll in anaerobic stupor, too afraid to fill our lungs with risky beauty, or we roll out fire like dragons, destroying the world we love.
I try not to burn up my world with rage.
It is so hard.
— The Myth of Atlas and Heracles
The continuous narrative of existence is a lie. There is no continuous narrative, there are lit-up moments, and the rest is dark.
In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.
The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious you might never come home.
— The World and Other Places: Stories
Winnie the Pooh
You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
And let’s just be honest, there is no such place called ‘justice,’ if by that we envision a finish line, or a point at which the battle is won and the need to continue the struggle over with. After all, even when you succeed in obtaining a measure of justice, you’re always forced to mobilize to defend that which you’ve won. There is no looming vacation. But there is redemption in struggle.
— White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
May we look upon our Treasures, and the furniture of our Houses, and the Garments in which we array ourselves, and try whether the seeds of war have any nourishment in these possessions or not.
… outreach, for an always broken and always blessed community, can be so hard. Beyond the details – the intrinsic heartfelt known invitation that you are welcomed as you are to the table can be tricky. And also – I guess clearly define the table. Whose table? Why not lawn chairs around the perimeter? What is at the center?
If we don’t stand for something, we may fall for anything.
You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.
You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it.
Early in life I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.
You’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok.
I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone, and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t believe it will be based on the color of the skin…
Death, freedom, and isolation must be grappled with directly. Yet when it comes to meaninglessness, the effective therapist must help patients to look away from the question: to embrace the solution of engagement rather than to plunge in and through the problem of meaninglessness. The question of meaning in life is as the Buddha taught, not edifying. One must immerse oneself in the river of life and let the question drift away.
— Existential Psychotherapy
William Butler Yeats
Teaching is not filling up a pail, it is lighting a fire.
— Nobel Prize winning poet
Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try.
— to Luke Skywalker in StarWars
If we agree that war is only justified when the people and participants know exactly why they are killing, then we must also agree that there is no such thing as a just war. A thorough look at history proves that governments never tell their people exactly why they must kill; the rhetoric never matches the record. I believe, and I think most people do as well, that forcing one man to take another’s life without telling him the whole story is unjust.
— The Case for Conscientious Objection
Live your life so that your children can tell their children that you not only stand for something wonderful–you acted upon it.
The illusion of freedom in America will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.
Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is not truth. Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love. Love is not music. Music is the best.
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.
Prejudice rarely survives experience.
We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.
You do things again and again, and nothing happens. You have to do things, do things, do things,. You have to light that match, light that match, light that match, not knowing how often it’s going to sputter and go out and at what point it’s going to take hold. Things take a long time. It requires patience, but not a passive patience — the patience of activism.
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
— A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.
If I had found that the FBI didn’t have a file on me, it would have been tremendously embarrassing and I wouldn’t have been able to face my friends.
There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.
As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
— The Problem is Civil Obedience, 1970 – The Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press
If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.
It seems that however moral is the cause that initiates a war (in the minds of the public, in the mouths of the politicians), it is in the nature of war to corrupt that morality until the rule becomes “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” and soon it is not a matter of equivalence, but indiscriminate revenge.
— Just and Unjust War in his book Declarations of Independence
It remains to be seen how many people in our time will make that journey from war to nonviolent action against war. It is the great challenge or our time: How to achieve justice, with struggle, but without war.
— Just and Unjust War in his book Declarations of Independence
Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.
Politics is pointless if it does nothing to enhance the beauty of our lives.
— You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times
I would encourage people to look around them in their community and find an organization that is doing something that they believe in, even if that organization has only five people, or ten people, or twenty people, or a hundred people. And to look at history and understand that when change takes place it takes place as a result of large, large numbers of people doing little things unbeknownst to one another. And that history is very important for people to not get discouraged. Because if you look at history you see the way the labor movement was able to achieve things when it stuck to its guns, when it organized, when it resisted. Black people were able to change their condition when they fought back and when they organized. Same thing with the movement against the war in Vietnam, and the women’s movement. History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.
— 2005 Rawstory.com interview comparing U.S. wars in Iraq and Vietnam
If the gods had intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates.
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
— 2002 autobiography: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train
Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it binds the universe together.