Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? T. S. Eliot
Growth has become addictive. Like heroin addiction, the habit distorts basic value judgments. Addicts of any kind are willing to pay increasing amounts for declining satisfactions. They are blind to deeper frustrations because they are absorbed in playing for always mounting stakes. Products that are new and improved promise the concept of being 'better', but leave the concept of 'whether or not good' for the individual or society completely unaddressed. Often new and better products create more wants, dependency, and dissatisfaction for most, and constantly renovate poverty for the poor. Ivan Illich
We Americans are an unprincipled nation, when you come down to it. Not that we're bad or anything. It's just that it's hard for us to pay attention to abstract matters when we have so many concrete matters -- cellular phones, ski boats, salad shooters, trail bikes, StairMasters, snow boards, pasta-making machines, four-door sport utility vehicles, palmcorders, rollerblade skates and CD players for our cars -- to occupy us. No wonder all the great intellectual concepts ... come from pastoral societies... P.J. O'Rourke
Everything is so relativized. I think we've got ourselves into a terrible jam there, with all kinds of ideologies that have taught us not to be judgemental. Not being judgemental also, in a way, means not thinking. Salman Rushdie, Mother Jones, July-August, 1999
Things are already going on in a very strict way. Wherever there is something, there is some rule or truth behind it that is always strictly controlling it, without any exceptions. We think we care for freedom, but the other side of freedom is strict rule. Within this strict rule there is complete freedom. Freedom and strict rule are not two separate things. Originally we are supported by strict rules of truth. That is the other side of absolute freedom. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, "Zen Talks on the Sandokai," University of California Press, 1999
Entertainment executives eagerly support "progressive" political causes, but are unwilling to even consider that they might be just as responsible for the Columbine slaughter as Smith and Wesson and the NRA. Terry Teachout
Governments mostly don't do much. And you've also got to understand the level of incompetence out there. Nobody knows what they're doing. They just pose and act as if they know and walk through life and get away with it. And so, attack government. Get at them and you find they know nothing Most politicians are half people. Talk to them. They don't have anything on their minds but themselves. They don't have any real knowledge of anything. They're untrustworthy and they see everything as what they could do for themselves. Jimmy Breslin
We have a culture of a ratcheted-up bombardment of everyone, a great wash of talk, blather, chatter. And it's all sending the same message: 'You have to pay attention to this right now. The zeitgeist is changing from what it was two minutes ago, and you don't want to miss it.' (The Atlantic should be an) antidote to the absurd topicality of everything Michael Kelly, editor of The Atlantic (co-founded by poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, 142 years ago.)
The coming peril is the intellectual, educational, psychological and artistic overproduction, which, equally with economic overproduction, threatens the wellbeing of contemporary civilisation. People are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralysed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves. G. K. Chesterton, Toronto, 1930 www.chesterton.org
"Data Smog" --- book by David Shenk, 1997
'You are not responsible' sang the sirens of Liberation. 'Whatever you do that does not bring you joy --- from living in the suburbs and having babies to hanging out in bars and being promiscuous to spending your days in a job that bores you --- is not your fault. They -- men, society, your mothers, your fathers -- made you do it.' What can be more tempting than the notion that no decision taken in your life for which you may harbor some regret was a decision actually taken by you for yourself? And thus the whining began, cast, to be sure, in the language of social justice, and revolutionary determination, but whining all the same. So it went -- and went with flying success -- in those early years. Now it's three decades later. Young women are being as mercilessly exploited as young men in the white-shoe law firms, girl marines slog through the mud at Parris Island, and females train for the attempt to land airplanes on aircraft carriers.... Successful careers turn out to be a source not of liberation but of unending worry and demand.
From "Liberating Germaine Greer," a review by Midge Decter "First Things," #96, October, 1999
Modern culture discourages meaningful work. Even occupations that appear meaningful are infected with fear, compulsiveness and wasteful haste. This Dark Trinity conspires to pre-empt peace, both personal and corporate. We have deified "The Good Job," and are too busy cultivating career to ponder the detrimental context in which we work. There is never time nor energy to mount meaningful resistance. We have become willing agents of organizations animated by invidious obsession with mere survival. Once survival is insured, these same organizations strategize metastatic expansion. Occasionally, "modern work" supplies a sense of real accomplishment. However, the "driven" nature of modern accomplishment creates a neo-caste culture comprised of "the overworked" and "the under-employed." Our lives are intrinsically out of balance and we are determined to exacerbate the disharmony. We have sanctified market forces that define money and material standard-of-living as meaningful measures of human value. Property is more highly prized than human life. It is our common lot to serve an essentially heartless System, collaborating in progressive dehumanization, accelerated resource consumption and ominous erosion of biospheric integrity. We are all clients in the brothel of modernity. Denial of collusion is widespread, especially among university-trained professionals who benefit most from the rising valuation of intellectual skills at the expense of The Sacred Heart. Inability to perceive the meretriciousness of our alliances is a measure of The Machine's dominance. Alan Archibald It is the great triumph of compulsory government monopoly mass-schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best of my students' parents, only a small number can imagine a different way to do things. John Taylor Gatto
Thomas Merton was once asked to write a chapter for a book entitled "Secrets of Success." He replied: "If it so happened that I had once written a best-seller, this was a pure accident, due to inattention and naivete, and I would take very good care never to do the same again. If I had a message for my contemporaries, I said, it was surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success."
There is a pervasive form of contempory violence to which the idealist fighting for peace by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful. Thomas Merton, "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander," 1964
Our society is dedicated almost entirely to the celebration of the ego, with all its sad fantasies about success and power, and it celebrates those very forces of greed and ignorance that are destroying the planet. Sogyal Rinpoche
The grudge against God is the keystone to all one's unhappiness. Follow all your petty, middling, and major grudges back to this keystone grudge, and then ask yourself the question, "Is it more likely that God was wrong to make the world this way, or that I am somehow wrong in the way I'm looking at it?" If you decide that God is wrong --- or that there is no God, just a faceless, mechanical universe that cares nothing about the human drama --- then there isn't much you can do. But if you realize that you can always adjust your perceptions of the world, you can start learning and contributing again. This seems to be the way to both humility and power.
D. Patrick Miller, A Primer on Forgiveness, "The Sun", 9/94
To shine truly, learn to dull your brilliance. Lao Tzu
The profoundest truths are paradoxical. Lao Tzu
The social and psychological destruction inherent in obligatory schooling is merely an illustration of the destruction implicit in all international institutions which now dictate the kinds of goods, services, and welfare available to satisfy basic human needs. Only a cultural and institutional revolution which reestablishes man's control over his environment can arrest the violence by which development of institutions is now imposed by a few for their own interest. Maybe Marx has said it better, criticizing Ricardo and his school: "They want production to be limited to 'useful things,' but they forget that the production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.'' Ivan Illich: Celebration of Awareness, 1971
You are fed up with words and I don't blame you. I am nauseated by them sometimes. I am also, to tell the truth, nauseated by ideals and with causes. This sounds like heresy, but I think you will understand what I mean. It is so easy to get engrossed with ideas and slogans and myths that in the end one is left holding the bag, empty, with no trace of meaning left in it. And then the temptation is to yell louder than ever in order to make meaning be there again by magic... Thomas Merton
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut
We are not debating the right issues. Jeremy Rifkin
I'm impressed with the reluctance of society to confront certain issues, and the ingenuity people show in developing a rhetorical defense against certain controversial concerns. Garrett Hardin
The formulation of the problem is more important than the solution. Einstein
The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. Louis Brandeis
Scrooge trembled... "But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge. "Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business."
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the houses of its children. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953
We have encouraged our best thinkers to concentrate their talents not on understanding the whole but on analyzing smaller and smaller parts... Means become ends. Tactics prevail over principles. Al Gore, "Earth in the Balance"
Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear - kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor - with the cry of grave national emergency... Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.
General Douglas MacArthur, 1957
It is time we steered by the stars, not by the light of each passing ship. General Omar Bradley
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Thomas Jefferson
We must be the change that we wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its life-style. Pope John Paul II
We have met the enemy and he is us. Pogo
It is impossible to give the whole planet the kind of life-style you have here, that the Germans have, that the Dutch have ... and we must face this reality.
Jose Lutzenberger, Brazil's Secretary of State for Environment
To believe that exponential growth may last eternally in a limited world, you must be crazy, or, an economist. Kenneth Boulding
Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. Winston Churchill
Sometimes I suspect that we are already on this 'other side of the looking glass,' where the images are inverted and the faster we run the 'behinder' we get. Herman Daly
He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. Tolkien
The term clinical depression finds its way into too many conversation these days. One has a sense that a catastrophe has occurred in the psychic landscape. Leonard Cohen
The fact that we are totally unable to imagine a form of existence without space and time by no means proves that such an existence is itself impossible. Carl Jung
The causes we know everything about depend on causes we know very little about, which depend on causes we know absolutely nothing about. Tom Stoppard
We are like flies crawling across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel: we cannot see what angels and gods lie underneath the threshold of our perceptions. We do not live in reality; we live in our paradigms, our habituated perceptions, our illusions; the illusions we share through culture we call reality, but the true historical reality of our condition is invisible to us. William Irwin Thompson
The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry. Simone Weil
Aymara Indian women from Peruvian highland villages near Juli gather once a week to talk and work. They have formed an artisans' association that enables them to increase their earnings by directly marketing their own products. Two women sit side by side embroidiering a large wall hanging. Others spin thread and work on smaller projects. The same cooperative spirit that fills the air as they work prevails at lunch. Each woman taks out a cloth filled with somehting she brought for the noon meal and places her contributrion on a lartge colorful cloth known as an aguayo. Then the women seat themselves on the ground in a circle around the cloth and share the food: chunno (freeze dried potatoes), puffed corn, and patties made from quinua, a high-protein grain. Thew women discuss events in their villages as they eat. Not long ago a food aid program offering milk powder, flowur, and iol began in their region. Some women have stopped coming to the cooperative gatherings so they can atteedn the day-long meetings that are required to receive the food aid. The women gathered around the aguayo spread with traditional foods lament the absence of these weomen and quickly agree they do not want these new foods. "We're happy with the food we and our ancestors have always eaten," comments one. "We do not want aid," concludes another. "All we want are markets in which to sell our embroidery so we can keep growing our own food."
Linda Shelly, La Esperanze, Honduras - "Extending the Table... A World Community Cookbook" by Joetta Handrich Schlabach
Pascal was right in noting that 'humans sink lower than beasts when we aspire to become like angels.' It is also true, however, that humankind must aspire to some spiritual destiny if it is to avoid zoological calamity. The notion that humans are children of God - whether or not God exists - is a mantle that wears well, and which, at minimum, offers more protection to humankind as members of the animal kingdom than turning clever humans loose as mere animals. Alan Archibald
There are people for whom killing a whale is not very different from killing a human being. In fact, for some people killing a whale is worse than killing a human.
Animal rights spokesperson quoted in an NPR documentary reviewing a recently approved Native American whale hunt. 6/1999
To recognize conflicting parties, we must have the ability to understand the suffering of both sides. If we take sides, it is impossible to do the work of reconciliation. And humans want to take sides. That is why the situation gets worse and worse. Are there people who are still available to both sides? They need not do much. They need do only one thing: Go to one side and tell all about the suffering endured by the other side, and go to the other side and tell all about the suffering endured by this side. That is our chance for peace. That can change the situation, but how many of us are able to do that? Thich Nhat Hanh
What we see in the Heaven's Gate tragedy is a movement as old as the first-century Gnostics, who mixed pseudo-Christianity with a hatred of the body, urging their followers to focus only on their spiritual selves. As millennialists come creeping out of the woodwork during the next few years, we will discover anew the truth of G. K. Chesterton's admonition that when a man stops believing in God, he will not believe in nothing: he will believe in anything. T. J. Howard
(The) final Victory of Capitalism has rendered obsolete most of the questions of justice --- indeed, all the moral questions. Susan Sontag, New York Times, 1999
One day in 1892, a teenage American girl sat down with her diary and made a list of her latest plans for self-improvement. "Resolved, not to talk about myself or feelings," she wrote. "To work seriously. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others." Nearly a century later another girl sat down with her diary and resolved to better herself, but she took a rather different view of the enterprise. "I will lose weight," she wrote. "Get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories."
What transpired in American history and culture to turn the first girl into the second is the subject of Joan Jacobs Brumberg's fascinating and important new book, "The Body Project" (Random House, $25.00), which tracks girls and their bodies from the era of repression to the culture of obsession. "Before the twentieth century, girls simply did not organize their thinking about themselves around their bodies," she writes. "Today... they believe that the body is the ultimate expression of the self."
Brumberg, a Cornell professor of history and women's studies, draws on 150 years of girls' diaries as she traces the rise of Clearasil, training bras and junior-high sex. Many of these changes came about because girls have been reaching puberty at ever younger ages - just over 12 today, compared with 15 or 16 two centuries ago. But a major spur was commerce. Until the 1950s, for instance girls simply waited to wear a bra until their breasts grew big enough to fit the adult sizes. But new synthetic, stretchable fabrics, developed during the war, needed a civilian market. Hence the era of what department stores called "junior figure control." Magazines like Seventeen advertised "Bobbie" bras and girdles, which came in sizes small enough to fit the skinniest preteen, and home-ec teaches showed their classes such films as "Figure Forum," supplied by the Warner Brassiere Co.
Perfect breasts, flawless skin, gleaming hair, slim legs - one after another these fetishes accumulated until, as Brumberg writes, the chief mantra for American girlhood was "I hate my body." Even her students, whom Brumberg describes as very savvy about the way they're targeted by commercial and pop culture, admit to living with a nonstop voice-over criticizing what they eat and how they look. Pathological insecurity has become a feminine reflex.
Laura Shapiro, "Ideas," Newsweek, Sept. 22, 1999
Loneliness is the most terrible poverty. Mother Teresa
There is nothing so powerful in the whole world as feeling that one is not liked.
Sei Shonagon 966 B.C.- 1013 B.C.
One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it.
Vincent van Gogh
Over increasingly large areas.... the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.... No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves. R. Carson
Nature is not human-hearted. Lao Tzu
The wealthy make of poverty a vice. Plato
The man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest. Thoreau
Tell the truth but tell it slant -
The truth must dazzle gradually -
Or every man be blind. Emily Dickinson
Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. Paulo Freire
Charity is an ugly trick. It is a virtue grown by the rich on the graves of the poor. Unless it is accompanied by sincere revolt against the present social system, it is cheap moral swagger. In former times it was used as fire insurance by the rich, but now that the fear of Hell has gone... it is used either to gild mean lives with nobility or as a political instrument. Rebecca West
Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irreponsible. John Leonard
I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. Thomas Jefferson
If God doesn't strike down this generation's Sodom and Gomorah, he owes the first ones an apology.