A witty saying proves nothing.
It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don't regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn't save: Marines, soldiers, buddies. I'm not naive, and I don't romanticize war. The worst moments of my life have come as a SEAL. But I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job.
Let me tell you what a writer is. A writer takes comprehensive views, holds large convictions, makes wide generalizations. A writer's not English, Mexican, or American. A writer's not a woman nor a man. A writer's not Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, nor snake worshipper. To local standards of right and wrong a writer's civilly indifferent. In the virtues, a writer's concerned only with general expediency. A writer doesn't waste time focusing on fixed moral principles that aren't yet before the court of conscience. Happiness discloses itself to a writer as the end and purpose of life, and art and love are the only means to a writer's happiness. A writer is free of all doctrines, theories, etiquettes, and politics. To a writer, a continent doesn't seem long, nor a century wide. And a writer has ever present consciousness that this is a world of...fools and rogues, blind with superstition, tormented with envy, consumed with vanity, selfish, false, cruel, cursed with illusions, and frothing mad.
From every book invisible threads reach out to other books; and as the mind comes to use and control those threads the whole panorama of the world's life, past and present, becomes constantly more varied and interesting, while at the same time the mind's own powers of reflection and judgment are exercised and strengthened.
The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, What is the use of climbing Mount Everest? and my answer must at once be, It is no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
Here is the same clock that walked quietly Through those enormous years I half recall,When between one blue summer and anotherTime seemed as many miles as round the world,And world a day, a moment or a mile,Or a sweet slope of grass edged with the sea,Or a new song to sing, or a tree dressed in gold
I had been playing with matches and burned a small rug. I was in the process of covering up my crime when suddenly God saw me. I felt His gaze inside my head and on my hands....I flew into a rage against so crude an indiscretion, I blasphemed....He never looked at me again....I had the more difficulty getting rid of Him the Holy Ghost in that He had installed Himself at the back of my head....I collared the Holy Ghost in the cellar and threw Him out.
What else is there to make life tolerable? We stand on the shore of an ocean, crying to the night and to emptiness. Sometimes a voice of one drowning, and in a moment the silence returns. The world seems to me quite dreadful, the unhappiness of many people is very great, and I often wonder how they all endure it. It is usually the central thing around which their lives are built, and I suppose if they did not live most of their lives in the things of the moment, they would not be able to go on.
One and all, religions have their original prophets, their sacred books, their traditions of ages gone. One and all require us to accept without question what other people long dead have said or written; to obey without question the commands of those behind us.... No matter what the belief, if it had modestly said, This is our best thought, go on, think farther! then we could have smoothly outgrown our early errors and long since have developed a religion such as would have kept pace with an advancing world. But we were made to believe and not allowed to think. We were told to obey, rather than to experiment and investigate.
Have you heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, I seek God! I seek God! As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter...Whither is God, he cried. I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. All of us are murderers.... God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him...