America now is stumbling through the darkness of hatred and divisiveness. Our values, our principles, and our determination to succeed as a free and democratic people will give us a torch to light the way. And we will survive and become the strongernot only because of a patriotism that stands for love of country, but a patriotism that stands for love of people.
People read the papers not in the hopes of learning something new, but in the expectation of being told what they already know. This is a form of living death. Its apotheosis is the daily poll in USA Today, which informs us what percentage of a small number of unscientifically selected people called a toll number to vote on questions that cannot possibly be responded to with a yes or no.
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. Wouldn't you say, she asked, that killings like this are influenced by violent movies? No, I said, I wouldn't say that. But what about 'Basketball Diaries'? She asked. Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun? The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office, and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. Events like this, I said, if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; These two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory.
I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson - the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
The thing about being at home versus being out in the world working is, it's a whole different vibe. When I'm home with my kids and partner, I will cook - even though she's a very good cook. She's learned over the years. We started with basics, you know, how to saute onions, how to saute mushrooms.
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.published in the collection The Wind Among the Reeds and quoted in the movie Equilibrium (2002)
As the mind learns to understand more complicated combinations of ideas, simpler formulae soon reduce their complexity; so truths that were discovered only by great effort, that could at first only be understood by men capable of profound thought, are soon developed and proved by methods that are not beyond the reach of common intelligence. The strength and the limits of man
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,When two strong men stand face to face,tho' they come from the ends of the earth!
It cannot suffice to invent new machines, new regulations, new institutions. It is necessary to change and improve our understanding of the true purpose of what we are and what we do in the world. Only such a new understanding will allow us to develop new models of behavior, new scales of values and goals, and thereby invest the global regulations, treaties and institutions with a new spirit and meaning.
It is reported of that prodigy of parts, Monsieur Pascal, that till the decay of his health had impaired his memory, he forgot nothing of what he had done, read, or thought, in any part of his rational age. This is a privilege so little known to most men, that it seems almost incredible to those who, after the ordinary way, measure all others by themselves; but yet, when considered, may help us to enlarge our thoughts towards greater perfections of it, in superior ranks of spirits.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
Without poets, without artists, men would soon weary of nature's monotony. The sublime idea men have of the universe would collapse with dizzying speed. The order which we find in nature, and which is only an effect of art, would at once vanish. Everything would break up in chaos. There would be no seasons, no civilization, no thought, no humanity; even life would give way, and the impotent void would reign everywhere.