What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My companion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be seen many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.
What I don't understand about you is this, she said. You hold to your old belief in goodness with a tenacity that is virtually unshakable. Yet you are so good at being what you are! You hunt your victims like a dark angel. You kill ruthlessly. You feast all the night long on victims when you choose.So? I looked at her coldly. I don't know how to be bad at being bad.She laughed. I was a good marksman when I was a young man, I said, a good actor on the stage. And now I am a good vampire. So much for our understanding of the word 'good.'
Until thy feet have trod the RoadAdvise not wayside folk,Nor till thy back has borne the LoadBreak in upon the broke.Chase not with undesired largesseOf sympathy the heartWhich, knowing her own bitterness,Presumes to dwell apart.Employ not that glad hand to raiseThe God-forgotten headTo Heaven and all the neighbours' gaze --Cover thy mouth instead.The quivering chin, the bitten lip,The cold and sweating brow,Later may yearn for fellowship --Not now, you ass, not now!Time, not thy ne'er so timely speech,Life, not thy views thereon,Shall furnish or deny to eachHis consolation.Or, if impelled to interfere,Exhort, uplift, advise,Lend not a base, betraying earTo all the victim's cries.Only the Lord can understand,When those first pangs begin,How much is reflex action andHow much is really sin.E'en from good words thyself refrain,And tremblingly admitThere is no anodyne for painExcept the shock of it.So, when thine own dark hour shall fall,Unchallenged canst thou say:I never worried you at all,For God's sake go away!
Virtue depends partly upon training and partly upon practice; you must learn first, and then strengthen your learning by action. If this be true, not only do the doctrines of wisdom help us but the precepts also, which check and banish our emotions by a sort of official decree.
The moral authority of our most cherished institutions comes from their voluntary nature: the value of advice from a priest, a teacher or a loved one depends in large part on the fact that we are free to ignore it. But judges' pieces of 'advice' are court orders, enforceable ultimately by the raw physical power of imprisonment. It is precisely because of the awesomely enforceable nature of our powers that we must be so circumspect in exercising them. It is one thing for a co-worker, family member, doctor, or clergyman to confront someone about a perceived drug problem; it is quite another thing for a judge to compel drug treatment. Drug courts not only fail to recognize this important institutional distinction, but their very purpose is to obliterate it.
He always looked forward to the evening drives through the centre of Shanghai, this electric and lurid city, more exciting than any other in the world. As they reached the Bubbling Well Road he pressed his face to the windshield and gazed at the pavements lined with night-clubs and gambling dens, crowded with bar-girls and gangsters and rich beggars with their bodyguards. Crowds of gamblers pushed their way into the jai alai stadiums, blocking the traffic in the Bubbling Well Road. An armoured police van with two Thompson guns mounted in a steel turret above the driver swung in front of the Packard and cleared the pavement. A party of young Chinese women in sequinned dresses tripped over a child's coffin decked with paper flowers. Arms linked together, they lurched against the radiator grille of the Packard and swayed past Jim's window, slapping the windshield with their small hands and screaming obscenities. Nearby, along the windows of the Sun Sun department store in the Nanking Road, a party of young European jews were fighting in and out of the strolling crowds with a gang of older German boys in the swastika armbands of the Graf Zeppelin Club. Chased by the police sirens, they ran through the entrance of the Cathay Theatre, the world's largest cinema, where a crowd of Chinese shopgirls and typists, beggars and pickpockets spilled in the street to watch people arriving for the evening performance. As they stepped from their limousines the women steered their long skirts through the honour guard of fifty hunchbacks in mediaeval costume. Three months earlier, when his parents had taken Jim to the premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there had been two hundred hunchbacks, recruited by the management of the theatre from every back alley in Shanghai. As always, the spectacle outside the theatre for exceeded anything shown on its screen.
People nowadays like to be together not in the old-fashioned way of, say, mingling on the piazza of an Italian Renaissance city, but, instead, huddled together in traffic jams, bus queues, on escalators and so on. It's a new kind of togetherness which may seem totally alien, but it's the togetherness of modern technology.