Monday, October 10, 2011

War, Peace and Political Manipulation - Quotations

 "War, Peace and Political Manipulation" 
Proposed text for a mandatory, nation-wide, high school civics course.


Love and do what you will. 
St. Augustine

Christian "Just War Principles" Established c. 500 A.D. Vs. America's "just war" Tradition

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
Oz the Omnipotent

We have met the enemy, and he is us.  

Is it progress if a cannibal uses a knife and fork?  
Stanislaw Lec

There is less difference between adoration and research than people think. 
Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


War is a Racket

Major General Smedley Butler
United States Marine Corps Commandant
In his day, Butler was the most decorated Marine - ever.

Major General Smedley Butler: Do Wars Really Defend America’s Freedom?

         A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
         I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns six percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
         I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes, and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
         It may seem off for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
         I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. Thus I helped make Mexico, and especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the raping of half-a-dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers and Co. in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras 'right' for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. "During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotion. Looking back on it, I feel that I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three city districts. The Marines operated on three continents."
Excerpt from 1933 speech.
All five chapters of Butler's "War is a Racket," see:
In his lifetime, Major General Butler was the most decorated Marine ever.
In retirement, General Butler, a life-long Republican, ran for a Pennsylvania Senate seat.

Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris
25 Dec. 1783
Writings 9:138
"The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People's Money out of their Pockets, tho' only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors' Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell'd to pay by some Law.
All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."

Reagan Budget Director, David Stockman, who oversaw the biggest tax cut in the history of humankind: “In 1985, the top five percent of the households – the wealthiest five percent – had net worth of $8 trillion – which is a lot. Today, after serial bubble after serial bubble, the top five per cent have net worth of $40 trillion. The top five percent have gained more wealth than the whole human race had created prior to 1980.” Elsewhere in this same CBS “60 Minutes” interview, Mr. Stockman describes America's obsession with tax cuts as "religion, something embedded in the catechism," "rank demagoguery, we should call it what it is," and "We've demonized taxes. We've created... the idea that they're a metaphysical evil." And finally, this encompassing observation: "The Republican Party, as much as it pains me to say this, should be ashamed of themselves."  -;contentAux   ///^DJI,^GSPC,GLD,DIA,TBT,TLT,UUP   ///  ///;housing  (There is a self-resolving glitch near the beginning of this final clip.)    

Teddy Roosevelt: “Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country." Theodore Roosevelt - February, 1895 - 

Abraham Lincoln: "In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism. It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life. Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."  Read more: State of the Union Address: Abraham Lincoln (December 3, 1861) —  ///,-IN)-had-to-say-about-OccupyWallStreet?via=sidebar

Pat Buchanan (the living American who has spent most time inside the White House): "The Republican philosophy might be summarized thus: To hell with principle; what matters is power, and that we have it, and that they do not.” "Where the Right Went Wrong" -

Thomas Merton: "The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.”  Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander -

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous “class warfare” speech in Madison Square Garden. October 31, 1936. 4 minute audio clip at
Entire text of the 30 minute speech is at

G.K. Chesterton: The merely rich are not rich enough to rule the modern market. The things that change modern history, the big national and international loans, the big educational and philanthropic foundations, the purchase of numberless newspapers, the big prices paid for peerages, the big expenses often incurred in elections - these are getting too big for everybody except the misers; the men with the largest of earthly fortunes and the smallest of earthly aims. There are two other odd and rather important things to be said about them. The first is this: that with this aristocracy we do not have the chance of a lucky variety in types which belongs to larger and looser aristocracies. The moderately rich include all kinds of people even good people. Even priests are sometimes saints; and even soldiers are sometimes heroes. Some doctors have really grown wealthy by curing their patients and not by flattering them; some brewers have been known to sell beer. But among the Very Rich you will never find a really generous man, even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egoistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it.   

G. K. Chesterton, Toronto, 1930:  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. 

Denis de Rougemont: There are two ways of lying, as there are two ways of deceiving customers. If the scale registers 15 ounces, you can say: "It's a pound." Your lie will remain relative to an invariable measure of the true. If customers check it, they can see that they are being robbed, and you know by how much you are robbing them: a truth remains as a judge between you. But if the demon induces you to tamper with the scale itself, it is the criterion of the true which is denatured, there is no longer any possible control. And little by little you will forget that you are cheating.   

Adolf Hitler: "All this was inspired by the principle--which is quite true within itself--that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying." Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X [1]

"I sincerely believe...that banking establishments are more dangerous that standing armies."  Thomas Jefferson

After World War II, the US was in a unique position of power relative to other nations. George Kennan, the leading architect of the Cold War, understood our situation and expressed it with icy plainness in Policy Planning Study #23, released to other members of the State Department in February, 1948: 'We have about 50% of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population... In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and out attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and benefaction.... The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.'"

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.  Thomas Jefferson   

“A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought, within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world.”  Martin Luther King Jr.

"$95 million of the $100 million George W. Bush has raised (for his 2004 election campaign) has come from just 739 people in a nation of 275 million citizens!" - New York Times

Martin Luther King Jr. told us we must take the pain of moral progress upon ourselves, rather than inflict it upon others--what an amazing and ethical concept! And more amazing still, is the fact that it works better than any other method of social change (Our representatives) are all running on high-speed treadmills of fund-raising that give them time to listen only to big money lobbyists, and latitude to do only their bidding or do them no harm.  Granny D. Haddock, a 93 year old woman who walked 3000 miles across the United States to address Congress on the evils of "big money."

"We hang the petty thieves, but appoint the great ones to public office."  Aesop

As a priest for more than 40 years, I have yet to encounter the God who counsels, with certitude, pre-emptive slaughter in the name of peace. If President Bush's God is the real God, I'm not sure I want to go where God is." William J. O'Malley S.J. Bronx, NY (Many of Father O'Malley's books are available at Amazon:

I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.  George W. Bush - reported in the Washington Post

"Maybe it's part of our national character, you know, we like to have these problems nice and neatly wrapped up, put a ribbon around it. You deploy a force, you win the war, and the problem goes away, and it doesn't work that way in the Middle East; it never has and isn't likely to in my lifetime."  Dick Cheney, 1996

"People sometimes simplify this. 'You could have just marched to Baghdad and gotten Hussein.' Really? What if he hadn't been there? Think he would be standing at the gate waiting? It's somewhat simplistic to suggest that all it would have taken was for the American army to march to Baghdad and call for general elections and lots of little Jeffersonian democrats would have popped up to run for office." Colin Powell, Christian Science Monitor, September 1991

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf:

"We should not forget how Saddam tried to characterize the entire war. He was quick to proclaim that this was not a war against Iraq's aggression in Kuwait, but rather the Western colonialist nations embarking as lackeys of the Israelis on the desctruction of the only Arab state willing to destroy the state of Israel. Had the United States and the United Kingdom attacked Iraq and occupied Baghdad, every citizen of the Arab world today would be convinced that what Saddam said was true."

"Despite what we may see in Rambo films, catching and bringing to justice someone like Saddam is not a simple task... I'm not sure that even with a full-scale invasion we would have ever found Saddam in the large armed camp that is Iraq."

"What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That's a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan."

"I would hope that we have in place the adequate resources to become an army of occupation, because you're going to walk into chaos."

"I think it is very important for us to wait and see what the inspectors come up with."


"I think the important thing for us is not to be overly fixated on Saddam Hussein… How many American lives is toppling Saddam Hussein worth? My answer to that is not very damn many."  Dick Cheney, on Face the Nation, January 1992

"The American, British and French would have been presented as foreign invaders of Iraq and we would have undermined the prestige we had earned around the world for helping Arabs resolve a major threat to the Middle East. The whole Desert Storm would have been seen as an operation to further Western interests in the Middle East. Saddam Hussein would have slipped away. We would then have found ourselves with the task of trying to run a country shattered by war, which at the best of times is deeply split into factions. Either we would have to set up a puppet government or withdraw without a proper regime in power. In other words, to have gone to Baghdad would have achieved nothing except to create even wider problems."  Gen. Sir Peter de La Billiere, Commander of British Forces in the Gulf War, 1992

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."
- Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright, in response to question in 60 Minutes interview: "A half million children have died [as a result of sanctions against Iraq]...more children than died in Hiroshima. And is the price worth it?"

"Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil." Paul Wolfowitz, April, 2003

'The president has the right to crush the testicles of terrorists' children.'  John Yu, Cal Berkeley Law Professor and legal counsel to George W. Bush -

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and thus clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."  H. L. Mencken

The genius of you Americans is that you never make any clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves that leave us scratching our heads wondering if we might possibly have missed something. Gamel Abdel Nasser

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them."  Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

"I sincerely believe...that banking establishments are more dangerous that standing armies."  Thomas Jefferson

"News is what it is. What we need to be reminded of is that things of first importance cannot be made into news."  C. John Sommerville

"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."  General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951

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

You will not die until you embody the vices of those you disdain. Islamic saying

When fighting a monster, be very careful you don't become one. Nietsczhe

All we need is the right major crisis and the nation will accept the New World Order. David Rockefeller

In politics.... you need two things: friends, but above all an enemy.   Brian Mulroney

In the 1980s capitalism triumphed over communism. In the l990s it triumphed over democracy.  David Korten, The Post-Corporate World

"The chief object of education is not to learn things but to unlearn things." G. K. Chesterton

"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things." Plato 

The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground. Chesterton

"The computer revolution is essentially telling us that the further away we get from the material world into the abstract world, the more dignity, more power, more knowledge we have. So the person with the highest status is now the person who touches nothing material. We point out with pride that, in our country now, 2% of the population produces the food for 98%. Nobody has to get dirty. Well, I think that's the wrong direction." Sam Keen

"It gives us a very special, secret pleasure to see how unaware the people around us are of what is really happening to them." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

"Only he who is conservative can afford to be liberal." Lao Tzu

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." Voltaire

"Where is there dignity unless there is honesty?" Cicero

Lord Acton

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Almost always, great men are bad men."  Lord Acton

"Far from being the product of a democratic revolution and of an opposition to English institutions, the constitution of the United States was the result of a powerful reaction against democracy, and in favor of the traditions of the mother country."  Acton

"Liberty is the condition of duty, the guardian of conscience. It grows as conscience grows. The domains of both grow together. Liberty is safety from all hindrances, even sin. So that Liberty ends by being Free Will."   Acton

"Liberty is the prevention of control by others."  Acton

"By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes is his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion."  Acton

"Definition of Liberty: (1) Security for minorities; (2) Reason reigning over reason, not will over will; (3) Duty to God unhindered by man; (4) Reason before will; (5) Right above might."  Acton

"The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities." Acton

"Save for the wild force of Nature, nothing moves in this world that is not Greek in its origin."  Acton

"Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you." Y'eshua of Nazareth

Symeon the New Theologian – Christ’s Body

We awaken in Christ’s body
as Christ awakens our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ, He enters
my foot, and is infinitely me.
I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly
whole, seamless in His Godhood).
I move my foot, and at once
He appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous? — Then
open your heart to Him
and let yourself receive the one
who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
we wake up inside Christ’s body
where all our body, all over,
every most hidden part of it,
is realized in joy as Him,
and He makes us, utterly, real,
and everything that is hurt, everything
that seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably
damaged, is in Him transformed
and recognized as whole, as lovely,
and radiant in His light
he awakens as the Beloved
in every last part of our body.

Symeon the New Theologian, (949-1022), published in The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, edited by Stephen Mitchel  -

St. Isaac of Nineveh, Patron Saint of Peace

"Anima naturaliter Christiana."  Tertullian  ("The soul is, by nature, Christian.")

"People generally quarrel because they cannot argue." Gilbert Keith Chesterton  
Chesterton Anthology

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power."  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"The only thing we have is fear itself." GOP Motto for the New Millennium (as discerned by Alan Archibald)

Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter, and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men.   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Without the inner beauty of a free and harmonious life, (fine food) and eau de cologne can become merely forms of barbarism. Without tolerance and broad spiritual understanding, hygiene will only make for clean animals, very clean and very healthy, but also very animal. External riches will merely smother us, if we do not cultivate inner riches. Miguel de Unamuno

      In the sixties, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Somalia, I lived in a so-called third-world country. In those years and since, I have traveled in Asia and Africa through much of the so-called under-developed world. In the sixties and seventies I worked as a legal services lawyer on Chicago's West Side, representing primarily poor people in criminal and civil actions. Nothing I saw as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa or as a traveler in Africa and Asia comes close to matching the despair and misery that today strangles the American underclass. What was beginning to happen in the inner city in the sixties and early seventies was mild compared to what occurs now
        I consider myself a liberal. And I'm proud to be a liberal, though I dread the direction in which many so-called liberals have gone. Actually I view the liberal left as reactionary -- conservative -- because they refuse to question any of their cherished opinions or even consider countervailing evidence....
        ... By criticizing liberals I do not inferentially suggest that the right holds the answer. If the left is ideologically bankrupt, the right is intellectually dead."
        "Wasted: The Plight of America's Unwanted Children" (1997) by Patrick T. Murphy, Public Guardian of Cook County, Illinois

"Until we go through it ourselves, until our people cower in the shelters of New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere while the buildings collapse overhead and burst into flames, and dead bodies hurtle about and, when it is over for the day or the night, emerge in the rubble to find some of their dear ones mangled, their homes gone, their hospitals, churches, schools demolished - only after that gruesome experience will we realize what we are inflicting on the people of Indochina ..."  William Shirer, The Making of the Third Reich, 1973

"War is delightful to those who have not experienced it."  Erasmus

It is easy to be brave from a distance.  Aesop

"Never has there been a good war or a bad peace."  Benjamin Franklin

Dwight Eisenhower

         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 are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.  Dwight Eisenhower

         This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
         In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. 
         We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.  Dwight Eisenhower

         I think that people want peace so much that one of these days the government had better get out of their way and let them have it.  Dwight Eisenhower

         The problem in defense is how far you can go [in military spending] without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without. "  Dwight Eisenhower

"Why We Fight" trailer, starting with Ike's "Farewell Address" -

"Why We Fight" - the entire movie online:


It seems to me there are very dangerous ambiguities about our democracy in its actual present condition. I wonder to what extent our ideals are now a front for organized selfishness and irresponsibility. If our affluent society ever breaks down and the facade is taken away, what are we going to have left?   
Trappist monk, Thomas Merton

When we were told that by freedom we understood free enterprise, we did very little to dispel this monstrous falsehood. Wealth and economic well-being, we have asserted, are the fruits of freedom, while we should have been the first to know that this kind of "happiness" has been an unmixed blessing only in this country, and it is a minor blessing compared with the truly political freedoms, such as freedom of speech and thought, of assembly and association, even under the best conditions.  Hannah Arendt

I was really too honest a human to be a politician and live.  Socrates, upon drinking hemlock

One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.   May Sarton

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasioin of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.   Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought."  Simon Cameron (Lincoln's Secretary of War)

In this country we encourage "creativity" among the mediocre, but real bursting creativity appalls us. We put it down as undisciplined, as somehow "too much." Pauline Kael

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.  Alexis de Tocqueville 

Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.  Noam Chomsky

Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.  Winston Churchill

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 question becomes: what is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What is the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?  Leonard Cohen

Yesterday, nine weeks into the NATO bombing of Kosovo/Serbia, an ongoing NPR report on the life of a young Kosovar, had this to say: "The war has gotten to the point where there's nothing to do but stay inside all day and watch television."

"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley (on-line) ---

"1984" by George Orwell (on-line) ---

The compulsion to do good is an innate American trait. Only North Americans seem to believe that they always should, may, and actually can choose somebody with whom to share their blessings. Ultimately this attitude leads to bombing people into the acceptance of gifts. Ivan Illich

Americans see history as a straight line and themselves standing at the cutting edge of it as representatives for all mankind.  Frances FitzGerald     

White people seem tone deaf to the total orchestration of humanity. Malcolm X 

"Su Excelencia," a Mexican film starring (Mario Moreno) Cantinflas, is an insightful examination of humanity's erosion by both "right" and "left." By my lights, it is the best political film ever made. It is also a rollickingly good comedy.
"I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda. Propaganda in the West is carried out by experts who have had the best training in the world -- in the field of advertising -- and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency ... Yours are subtle and persuasive; ours are crude and obvious ... I think that the fundamental difference between our worlds, with respect to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours ... and we tend to disbelieve ours." Soviet correspondent based five years in the U.S.

"Not only do rulers keep many millions of men whose only trade is war, but these must be supported in worse than useless idleness by the labor of the poor. Still other millions are trained to war and are ever ready to answer to their master's call, to desert their homes and trades and offer up their lives to satisfy the vain ambitions of the ruler of the state. Millions more must give their strength and lives to build forts and ships, make guns and cannon and all the modern implements of war. Apart from any moral question of the right of man to slay his fellow man, all this great burden rests upon the poor. The vast expense of war comes from the production of the land and must serve to weaken and impair its industrial strength." Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell heaven...The great masses of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one."   Adolf Hitler

"Why of course the people don't want war... Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought along to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief and Luftwaffe Commander, at the Nuremberg trials, 1946.

"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.  Mein Kampf, Hitler

        The loud little handful--as usual--will shout for the war. The pulpit will--warily and cautiously--object--at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, 'It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.'
        Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will out-shout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity.
        Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers--as earlier--but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation--pulpit and all--will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open.
       Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger," 1910

In Shakespeare's Henry IV, the dying king confesses to his son (who will inherit the throne) that his foreign war in the Holy Land has been completely unnecessary and has been carried out for a particular political purpose. He created this foreign war to increase and concentrate power, and to silence his critics. Henry's advice to his son is that he too should "busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels."

O my son,
God put it in thy mind to take it hence,
That thou mightst win the more thy father's love,
Pleading so wisely in excuse of it!
Come hither, Harry, sit thou by my bed;
And hear, I think, the very latest counsel
That ever I shall breathe. God knows, my son,
By what by-paths and indirect crook'd ways
I met this crown; and I myself know well
How troublesome it sat upon my head.
To thee it shall descend with bitter quiet,
Better opinion, better confirmation;
For all the soil of the achievement goes
With me into the earth. It seem'd in me
But as an honour snatch'd with boisterous hand,
And I had many living to upbraid
My gain of it by their assistances;
Which daily grew to quarrel and to bloodshed,
Wounding supposed peace: all these bold fears
Thou see'st with peril I have answered;
For all my reign hath been but as a scene
Acting that argument: and now my death
Changes the mode; for what in me was purchased,
Falls upon thee in a more fairer sort;
So thou the garland wear'st successively.
Yet, though thou stand'st more sure than I could do,
Thou art not firm enough, since griefs are green;
And all my friends, which thou must make thy friends,
Have but their stings and teeth newly ta'en out;
By whose fell working I was first advanced
And by whose power I well might lodge a fear
To be again displaced: which to avoid,
I cut them off; and had a purpose now
To lead out many to the Holy Land,
Lest rest and lying still might make them look
Too near unto my state. Therefore, my Harry,
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days.
More would I, but my lungs are wasted so
That strength of speech is utterly denied me.
How I came by the crown, O God forgive;
And grant it may with thee in true peace live!

"Whether the mask is labeled Fascism, Democracy, or Dictatorship of the Proletariat, our great adversary remains the Apparatus, the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brother's enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."  Simone Weil, Politics, Spring 1945

"The great error of nearly all studies of war, an error into which all socialists have fallen, has been to consider war as an episode in foreign politics when it is especially an act of internal politics and the most atrocious act of all . . . Since the directing apparatus hqs no other way of fighting the enemy than by sending its own soldiers, under compulsion, to their deaththe war of one state against another state resolves itself into a war of the state and the military apparatus against its own people." Simone Weil, Politics, 1945

"The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy."  Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General, Carter Administration

"The crimes of the U.S. throughout the world have been systematic, constant, clinical, remorseless, and fully documented but nobody talks about them." Harold Pinter

What has come to an end is the distinction between the sensual and the supersensual, together with the notion, at least as old as Parmenides, that whatever is not given to the senses... is more real, more truthful, more meaningful than what appears; that it is not just beyond sense perception but above the world of the senses... In increasingly strident voices, the few defenders of metaphysics have warned us of the danger of nihilism inherent in this development. The sensual... cannot survive the death of the supersensual. Hannah Arendt

         The impasse contained in the scientific viewpoint itself can only be broken through by the attainment of a view of nothingness which goes further than, which transcends the nihil of nihilism.  The basic Buddhist insight of Sunyata, usually translated as "emptiness," "the void," or "no-Thingness," that transcends this nihil, offers a viewpoint that has no equivalent in Western thought.
         The consciousness of the scientist, in his mechanized, dead and dumb universe, logically reaches the point where --- if he practices his science existentially and not merely intellectually -- the meaning of his own existence becomes an absurdity and he stands on the rim of the abyss of nihil face to face with his own nothingness.  People are not aware of this dilemma.  That it does not cause great concern is in itself a symptom of the sub-marine earthquake of which our most desperate world-problems are merely symptomatic.
         ... It is becoming ever clearer that the terrors of war, hunger and despoliation are neither economic, nor technolgical problems for which there are economic or technological solutions. They are primarily spiritual problems..."   Frederick Franck
Frederick Franck was born into a non-observant Jewish family in Holland. He was subsequently baptized a Protestant. After graduating as a dentist, Franck began the first dental clinic at Albert Schweitzer's hospital in West Africa.  Later, having embarked a career as writer and artist, Mr. Franck heeded Pope John XXIII's call to build a society of peace on earth (Pacem in Terris.)  Franck became the official artist of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and, as a tribute to Pope John, has created a temple of all faiths called Pacem in Terris on his property in Warwick, New York.

The present position which we, the educated and well-to-do classes occupy, is that of the Old Man of the Sea, riding on the poor man's back; only, unlike the Old Man of the Sea, we are very sorry for the poor man, very sorry; and we will do almost anything for the poor man's relief. We will not only supply him with food sufficient to keep him on his legs, but we will teach and instruct him and point out to him the beauties of the landscape; we will discourse sweet music to him and give him abundance of good advice. Yes, we will do almost anything for the poor man, anything but get off his back. Tolstoy

The need for financial security was too deeply engrained. That singular fear is probably the greatest obstacle to moral action in today's society. There are arguments that one can live simply on a large salary while using the excess for good works, but we have never seen them lived out.
       Janet and Rob Aldridge who quit Lockheed after 25 years. Prior to his resignation, Aldridge was in charge of designing the Maneuvering Re-entry Vehicle (MARV) for the Trident missile.

"In helping us to confront, understand, and oppose the global economy, the old political alignments have become virtually useless (The global economy) persists because ... multinational corporations (have) discovered a terrifying truth: If you can control a people's economy, you don't need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant In a totalitarian economy, any political liberties that people might retain simply cease to matter." Another Turn of the Crank, by Wendell Berry

The problem is not bad politics. The problem is a bad way of life." Wendell Berry        

The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.    Hannah Arendt

In the spirit of Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem," John Conroy (author of "Ordinary People, Unspeakable Acts") interviews victims of torture as well as the torturers themselves. Conroy observes that the latter have a remarkable ability for rationalization, and describes most of them as cordial, likeable people.

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be either good or evil.    Hannah Arendt

Man's chief moral deficiency appears to be not his indiscretions but his reticence.   Hannah Arendt    
"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

It is no easy matter to reduce to obedience a man who does not wish to command.  Rousseau      
The destiny of man is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world ... we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. 
                                       Winston Churchill
                                        Radio broadcast to America
                                        Receiving an honorary degree from the University of Rochester
                                        June 16, 1941

There is a pervasive form of contemporary 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

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held... But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another, slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"... Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally opposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision no Big Brother is required... As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared is those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted to read one... Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with the equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy... In 1984, Huxley added people who are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.   Neil Postman  "Amusing Ourselves to Death," 1985

In living in the world by his own will and skill, the stupidest peasant or tribesman is more competent than the most intelligent worker or technician or intellectual in a society of specialists.     Wendell Berry

The victors will not be asked if they told the truth.   Adolf Hitler

Generally, it is states that make war, and larger states make larger and longer war with greater casualties, despite the fact that they sell themselves as offering greater security and peace.     Kirkpatrick Sale

The essential contribution Gandhi made to the 20th century thought was his insistence on the need for a lower standard of living... He maintained that the essence of civilization consists not in the multiplication of wants but in their deliberate and voluntary renunciation. He preached a higher standard of living and maintained that a lower level of material well-being was a necessary pre-requisite.  Ronald Duncan

Beyond the point of satisfying need, redundant capacity becomes a burden and not a gain. Greed, the attempt to fill an empty spirit with possessions, is a great producer of depersonalization. Our preoccupation with labor saving, beyond the elimination of soul-destroying drudgery, is no less counterproductive. To have without doing corrodes the soul: it is precisely in investing life, love and labor that we constitute the world as personal... Generosity of the spirit personalizes as greed depersonalizes.  Erazim Kohak

It is a strange thing to see with what sort of feverish ardor Americans pursue well-being and how they show themselves constantly tormented by a vague fear of not having chosen the shortest route that can lead to it... In addition to the goods that (the American) possesses...he imagines a thousand others that death will prevent him from enjoying if he does not hasten.  Alexis de Tocqueville  (Even though the population of the United States was only 13 million when 25 year old Tocqueville visited in 1830, he observed that democratic values often encouraged conformity. Tocqueville was especially concerned that the American obsession with individuality would transmute into destructive selfishness: if people thought only of themselves and their families, they could become so disengaged from political practice as to be vulnerable to a kind of "democratic despotism." In Tocqueville's view, American democracy made it possible to devolve into majoritarian tyranny mediated by an enveloping central government which would blanket the populace in a set of complicated rules. Those who mediated these complicated rules would treat citizens like children or blindly industrious animals. A.A.)

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 (in terms of) what they could do for themselves.  Jimmy Breslin

I just wish they'd give me one speck of proof that this world of theirs couldn't have been set up and handled better by a half dozen idiots bound hand and foot at the bottom of a ten mile well. Kenneth Patchen

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse.  Washington Irving

The first thing you do when you want to be elected is to prostitute yourself. You show me a man with courage and conviction and I'll show you a loser.  Ray Kroc, founder of MacDonald's

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important.  Henry Kissinger

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.  C. G. Jung

I wasn't yet aware that most of the world's population would rather go hungry than deny food to a stranger. Brian M. Schwartz, "A World of Villages"

Perhaps it would be possible for the Negro to become reconciled to his plight if he could be made to believe that his sufferings were for some remote, high sacrificial end; but sharing the culture that condemns him and seeing that a lust for trash is what blinds the nation to his claims, is what sets storms rolling in his soul.   Richard Wright

If we do not do the impossible, we shall be faced with the unthinkable.  Murray Bookchin

People are as you see them on the streets. The other thing is a lie.    Albert Camus

The white man seems tone-deaf to the total orchestration of humanity.     Malcolm X

You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor man. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given ... for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself.                                           St. Ambrose   340 - 397 A.D.  Bishop of Milan

He who has more than he needs has stolen it from his brother.  St. Francis of Assisi

Las cosas no son del dueno. Son de el que las necesite.
(Things don't belong to their owner. They belong to the person who needs them.)                                                          
Conny Pena Vado's version of a Nicaraguan saying

"Arguing against those who said that natural philosophy was contrary to the Christian faith, (Aquinas) writes in his treatise "Faith, Reason and Theology that "even though the natural light of the human mind is inadequate to make known what is revealed by faith, nevertheless what is divinely taught to us by faith cannot be contrary to what we are endowed with by nature. One or the other would have to be false, and since we have both of them from God, he would be the cause of our error, which is impossible." "Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World" by John Freely

Human law has the true nature of law only insofar as it corresponds to right reason, and therefore is derived from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason, a law is said to be a wicked law; and so, lacking the true nature of law, it is rather a kind of violence.   Thomas Aquinas

What are nations without justice but large bands of thieves? John XXIII

In an avalanche, no single snowflake accepts responsibility.

The truth is we are all caught in an economic system which is heartless.  Woodrow Wilson
Under capitalism man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.   J. K. Galbraith

A full stomach does not believe in hunger. Italian proverb

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.   J. K. Galbraith

The greater the wealth, the thicker the dirt. This indubitably describes a tendency of our time.                     J. K. Galbraith

...that process, already so destructive in our fashion-following super-civilization, by which everything is turned into a vogue -- even art which should be the great destroyer of all fashions, not their pimp. Everyone reads James. Then everyone switches to Eliot, to Proust, to Kafka -- to the communists in one decade -- to the homosexuals in another -- until the new writing begins to sound like the advertising patter in the smart magazines which echoes the changing chatter of the chic. It sometimes seems as though only Robert Frost were old enough and cantankerous enough and magnificent enough to be himself and remain himself and thus be disrespectfully and entirely new in this age of stylish novelties.  Archibald McLeish

Every one of us is like a man who sees things in a dream and thinks that he knows them perfectly and then wakes up to find that he knows nothing.  Plato

I often hear that right and wrong are up to the individual. Of course, that is nonsense. Right and wrong are not up to us. If right and wrong were up to us, that would make Hitler right because he thought he was right. And he was not right. Right and wrong exist. They are invisible realities that we discover. We do not invent them.   Barbara Ward

We have met the enemy and he is us.   Pogo

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.   Joseph Campbell

Tell the truth but tell it slant -
The truth must dazzle gradually -
Or every man be blind.                      
Emily Dickinson

Where your heart is, there also will your treasure be.  Y'eshua the Nazarene

You have heard that (our forefathers) were told, "Love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But what I tell you is this: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors; only so can you be children of your heavenly Father, who causes the sun to rise on good and bad alike, and sends the rain on the innocent and the wicked. If you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect? Even the tax-collectors do as much...   Y'eshua the Nazarene
I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
Ballad of the White Horse, G. K.Chesterton, 1911

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.  C.S. Lewis

Love means loving the unlovable - or it is no virtue at all. G. K. Chesterton - Heretics, 1905

Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute If someone steals your cloak, give him your underwear as well. Y'eshua the Nazarene

The accumulation of vast wealth while so many are languishing in misery is a grave transgression of God's law, with the consequence that the greedy, avaricious man is never at ease in his mind: he is in fact a most unhappy creature. Pope John XXIII

Our patience will achieve more than our force.  Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

Genius is eternal patience.  Michelangelo

In your patience, you shall possess your souls.  Y'eshua the Nazarene

Patriotism means being loyal to your country all the time and to its government when it deserves it.        Mark Twain

I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.  George W. Bush - reported in the Washington Post

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.  George Washington

It's what the American public doesn't know that makes them the American public.  Dan Aykroyd

"As the growing emphasis on feelings crowds out reason, facts will play a smaller role in public discourse."  Paul Craig Roberts

You can not reason a man out of a position he didn't reason himself into in the first place.  Jonathan Swift

Consensus means that lots of people say collectively what nobody believes individually.  Abba Eban

If man will only realize that it is unmanly to obey laws that are unjust, no man's tyranny will enslave him.  Mahatma Gandhi

What if you were an idiot, and what if you were a member of Congress? But I repeat myself.  Mark Twain

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and the common vulnerability of this planet.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy

If you're happy and you know it, clank your chains.  Anonymous

From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency;
From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage. 
Alexander Fraser Tyler, Scottish economist, 1776

"If I told you what I really know it would be very dangerous to the country. Our whole political system could be disrupted."  J. Edgar Hoover (Plus, he'd have to kill you...)

"No truly sophisticated proponent of repression would be stupid enough to shatter the facade of democratic institutions."  Murray B. Levin

"Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed." I. F. Stone

"Governments lie." I. F. Stone

Live free or die. New Hampshire license plate

"I sincerely believe...that banking establishments are more dangerous that standing armies."  Thomas Jefferson

"There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains."  Theodore Roosevelt

"We can have a democratic society or we can have a concentration of great wealth in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."  Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

"War is as much a punishment to the punisher as it is to the sufferer." Thomas Jefferson

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." James Madison

"The need for control and the addictive quest for dominance is a universal quest aimed at avoiding the inner void."  Philip Kavanaugh, "Magnificent Addiction"

Shopping and buying - and getting and having - comprise the Great American Addiction. No one is immune. When the underclass riots in this country, they don't kill policemen and politicians, they steal merchandise. How embarrassing. George Carlin

In a consumer society, there are inevitably two kinds of slaves: the prisoners of addiction and the prisoners of envy. 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

He deserves paradise who makes his companions laugh.   Koran/Q'uran

Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen.  Mort Sahl

Americans are fucked. They've been bought off. And they come real cheap: a few million dirt bikes, camcorders, microwaves, cordless phones, digital watches, answering machines, jet skis and sneakers with lights in 'em. You say you want a few items back from the Bill of Rights? Just promise the doofuses new gizmos." George Carlin

They debated the NAFTA trade bill for a long time: should we sign it or not? Either way the people get fucked. Trade always exists for the traders. Any time you hear businessmen debating "which policy is better for Americans" don't bend over.George Carlin
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

"One of the amusing by-products of war is its pricking of the fundamental democratic delusion. For years Homo Boobus stalks the earth vaingloriously, flapping his wings over his God given rights, his inalienable freedom, his sublime equality to his masters. Then of a sudden he is thrust into a training camp and discovers that he is a slave, after all - that even his life is not his own."  H. L. Mencken, "Minority Report"

"Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."  Frederick Douglass

"Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair."  George Burns

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  Edmund Burke

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."  Dante (also attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.)

"Justice is incidental to law and order." J. Edgar Hoover

"The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer." Henry Kissinger

“There are two ways of lying, as there are two ways of deceiving customers. If the scale registers 15 ounces, you can say: "It's a pound." Your lie will remain relative to an invariable measure of the true. If customers check it, they can see that they are being robbed, and you know by how much you are robbing them: a truth remains as a judge between you. But if the demon induces you to tamper with the scale itself, it is the criterion of the true which is denatured, there is no longer any possible control. And little by little you will forget that you are cheating.”  Denis de Rougemont

"Democracy used to be a good thing, but now it has gotten into the hands of the wrong people."          Jesse Helms

"It is not a sign of good health to be well-adjusted to a sick society."  J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence. Charles A. Beard

An election is a sort of advance auction on the sale of stolen goods.  H.L. Mencken

The most popular man under a democracy is not the most democratic man, but the most despotic man. The common folk delight in the exactions of such a man. They like him to boss them. Their natural gait is the goosestep.  H.L. Mencken

Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters ... but they mean to be masters.  Daniel Webster

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.      Winston Churchill

I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state ... I had to learn the facts, and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was even to try to make contact with a mind which had become warped and for whom the facts of life had become what Hitler and Goebbels, with their cynical disregard for truth, said they were. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer

I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway. I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past, people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that "the facts" existed and were more or less discoverable. And in practice there was always a considerable body of fact which would have been agreed to by almost anyone. If you look up the history of the last war in, for instance, the Encyclopedia Britannica, you will find that a respectable amount of the material is drawn from German sources. A British and a German historian would disagree deeply on many things, even on fundamentals, but there would still be a body of, as it were, neutral fact on which neither would seriously challenge the other. It is just this common basis of agreement with its implication that human beings are all one species of animal, that totalitarianism destroys. Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as "the truth" exists. There is, for instance, no such thing as "Science". There is only "German Science," "Jewish Science," etc. The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, "It never happened" -- well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five -- well two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs -- and after our experiences of the last few years that is not such a frivolous statement. -- Looking Back on the Spanish War, George Orwell (1943)

"The pretense of objectivity conceals the fact that all history, while recalling the past, serves some present interest."  Howard Zinn
"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."  George Orwell

"There is, of course, in the feeling toward the State a large element of pure filial mysticism. The sense of insecurity, the desire for protection, sends one's desire back to the father and mother, with whom is associated the earliest feeling of protection. It is not for nothing that one's State is still thought of as Fatherland or Motherland, that one's relations towards it is conceived in terms of family affection. The war [World War I] has shown that nowhere under the shock of danger have these primitive childlike attitudes failed to assert themselves again, as much in this country as anywhere. If we have not the intense father-sense of the German who worships his Vaterland, at least in Uncle Sam we have a symbol of protecting, kindly authority . . . A people at war have become in the most literal sense obedient, respectful, trustful children again, full of that naive faith in the all-wisdom and all-power of the adult who takes care of them, imposes his mild but necessary rule upon them and to whom they lose their responsibility and anxieties. In this recrudescence of the child, there is great comfort, and a certain influx of power. On most people the strain of being an independent adult weighs heavily . . ."  Randolph Bourne, The State

"To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace." Calgacus

"War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other."  Thomas Carlyle 

"Common experience shows how much rarer is moral courage than physical bravery. A thousand men will march to the mouth of the cannon where one man will dare espouse an unpopular cause . . . True courage and manhood come from the consciousness of the right attitude toward the world, the faith in one's purpose, and the sufficiency of one's own approval as a justification for one's own acts."                 Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The lowest standards of ethics of which a right-thinking man can possibly conceive is taught to the common soldier whose trade is to shoot his fellow men. In youth he may have learned the command, 'Thou shalt not kill,' but the ruler takes the boy just as he enters manhood and teaches him that his highest duty is to shoot a bullet through his neighbor's heart and this, unmoved by passion or feeling or hatred, and without the least regard to right or wrong, but simply because his ruler gives the word."                   Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."  Albert Einstein

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.  how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."  Einstein

"Nor do I take into account a danger of starting a chain reaction of a scope great enough to destroy part or all of the planet ... But it is not necessary to imagine the earth being destroyed like a nova by a stellar explosion to understand vividly the growing scope of atomic war and to recognize that unless another war is prevented it is likely to bring destruction on a scale never before held possible, and even now hardly conceived, and that little civilization would survive it."  Einstein, 1947

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.  Albert Einstein

"Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace. Perhaps it is well that it should be. It may intimidate the human race into bringing order into its international affairs, which without the pressure of fear, it would not do."  Einstein

"The discovery of nuclear chain reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than did the discovery of matches. We only must do everything in our power to safeguard against its abuse. Only a supranational organization, equipped with a sufficiently strong executive power, can protect us."  Einstein, 1953

"The ideal weapons system is built in 435 congressional districts and it doesn't matter whether it works or not." Alain C. Enthoven (economist and former Pentagon official)

How is a military drilled and trained to defend freedom, peace and happiness? This is what Major General O'Ryan has to say of an efficiently trained generation: 'The soldier must be so trained that he becomes a mere automoton; he must be so trained that it will destroy his initiative; he must be so trained that he is turned into a machine. The soldier must be forced into the military noose; he must be jacked up; he must be ruled by his superiors with pistol in hand." This was not said by a Prussian Junker; not by a German barbarian . . . but by an American major general. And he is right. You cannot conduct war with equals; you cannot have militarism with free born men; you must have slaves, automotons, machines, obedient disciplined creatures, who will move, act, shoot and kill at the command of their superiors. That is preparedness, and nothing else.  Emma Goldman, Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter

"YOUNG MEN: The lowest aim in your life is to become a soldier. The good soldier never tries to distinguish right from wrong. He never thinks; never reasons; he only obeys. If he is ordered to fire on his fellow citizens, on his friends, on his neighbors, on his relatives, he obeys without hesitation. If he is ordered to fire down a crowded street when the poor are clamoring for bread, he obeys and see the grey hairs of age stained with red and the life tide gushing from the breasts of women, feeling neither remorse nor sympathy. If he is ordered off as a firing squad to execute a hero or benefactor, he fires without hesitation, though he knows the bullet will pierce the noblest heart that ever beat in human breast. "A good soldier is a blind, heartless, soulless, murderous machine. He is not a man. His is not a brute, for brutes kill only in self defense. All that is human in him, all that is divine in him, all that constitutes the man has been sworn away when he took the enlistment roll. His mind, his conscience, aye, his very soul, are in the keeping of his officer. No man can fall lower than a soldier; it is a depth beneath which we cannot go." Jack London

"You will always find that those are most apt to boast of national merit, who have little or no merit of their own to depend on "   Oliver Goldsmith

"Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority."  Arthur Schopenhauer, Aphorisms

"The first casualty when war comes is the truth." Sen. Hiram Johnson

"War! When I but think of this word, I feel bewildered, as though they were speaking to me of sorcery, of the Inquisition, of a distant, finished, abominable, monstrous, unnatural thing. "When they speak to us of cannibals, we smile proudly, as we proclaim our superiority to these savages. Who are the real savages? Those who struggle in order to eat those whom they vanquish, or those who struggle merely to kill?"  Guy de Maupassant, Sur l'Eau

Is it progress when a cannibal uses a knife and a fork?  Stanislaw Lec

I believe in compulsory cannibalism. You should be obliged to eat anyone you kill.  Abby Hoffman

"Is a young man bound to serve his country in war? In addition to his legal duty there is perhaps also a moral duty, but it is very obscure. What is called his country is only its government and that government consists merely of professional politicians, a parasitical and anti-social class of men. They never sacrifice themselves for their country. They make all wars, but very few of them ever die in one. If it is the duty of a young man to serve his country under all circumstances then it is equally the duty of an enemy young man to serve his. Thus we come to a moral contradiction and absurdity so obvious that even clergymen and editorial writers sometimes notice it." H.L. Mencken, Minority Report

"Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?" Blaise Pascal, quoted by Tolstoy in Bethink Yourselves

"Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In World War I it was the munitions industrialists; in World War II it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck. The responsibility for wars falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these same masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anyone else. To stress this guilt on the part of the masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously. On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom fighters; the latter that attitude held by power-thirsty politicians." Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism 

"A modern gentleman [rich person] is necessarily the enemy of his country. Even in war he does not fight to defend it, but to prevent his power of preying on it from passing to a foreigner." George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists

"The very existence of armaments and great armies psychologically accustoms us to accept the philosophy of militarism. They inevitably increase fear and hate in the world." Norman Thomas, Address to the League for Industrial Democracy 

"Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable meaning is nothing but an instrument for the attainment of the government's ambitious and mercenary aims, and a renunciation of human dignity, common sense, and conscience by the governed, and a slavish submission to those who hold power. That is what is really preached wherever patriotism is championed. Patriotism is slavery." Leo Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism

"Men who can undertake to fulfill with unquestioning submission all that is decreed by men they do not know . . . cannot be rational; and the governments that is, the men wielding such power can still less be reasonable. They cannot but misuse such insensate and terrible power and cannot but be crazed by wielding it. For this reason peace between nations cannot be attained by this reasonable method of conventions and arbitrations so long as that submission of the peoples to governments, which is always irrational and pernicious, still continues. But the subjection of men to government will always continue as long as patriotism exists, for every ruling power rests on patriotism, on the readiness of men to submit to power . . ."  Leo Tolstoy, Christianity and Patriotism

"To destroy governmental violence only one thing is needed: it is that people should understand that the feeling of patriotism which alone supports that instrument of violence is a rude, harmful, disgraceful, and bad feeling, and above all is immoral. It is a rude feeling because it is natural only to people standing on the lowest level of morality and expecting from other nations such outrages as they themselves are ready to inflict. It is a harmful feeling because it disturbs advantageous and joyous peaceful relations with other peoples, and above all produces that governmental organization under which power may fall and does fall into the hands of the worst men. It is a disgraceful feeling because it turns man not merely into a slave but into a fighting cock, a bull, or a gladiator, who wastes his strength and his life for objects which are not his own, but his government's. It is an immoral feeling because, instead of confessing himself a song of God . . . or even a free man guided by his own reason, each man under the influence of patriotism confesses himself the son of his fatherland and the slave of his government, and commits actions contrary to his reason and conscience." Leo Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government

"Discipline consists in this, that the men who undergo the instruction and have followed it for a certain time are completely deprived of everything which is precious to a man of the chief human property, rational freedom and become submissive, machine-like implements of murder in the hands of their organized hierarchic authorities." Leo Tolstoy, Patriotism and Government

"It is because peaceful agitation and passive resistance are effective that I uphold them, and it is because force strengthens tyranny that I condemn it. War and Authority are companions; Peace and Liberty are companions. It is foolish in the extreme not only to resort to force before necessity compels, but especially to madly create the conditions that will lead to this necessity." Benjamin Tucker, Liberty, May 22, 1886

"Once lead this people into war and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless and the spirit of ruthlessness will enter into the very fiber of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street." Woodrow Wilson (five days prior to asking Congress to declare war on Germany in 1917)

"These stupid (commoners), who, throughout the world, hold potentates on their thrones, make statesmen illustrious, provide generals with lasting victories, all with ignorance, indifference, or half-witted hatred, moving the world with the strength of their arms, and getting their heads knocked together in the name of God, the king, or the stock exchange immortal, dreaming, hopeless asses, who surrender their reason to the care of a shining puppet, and persuade some toy to carry their lives in his purse."  Stephen Crane, quoted by Jack London in People of the Abyss

The War Prayer

Mark Twain

         It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
         Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams -- visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!
         Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory --
         An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!" The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
         "I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.
         "God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
         "You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
         "O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen. [After a pause.] "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! - The messenger of the Most High waits!"

       It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.


Albert Bigelow Paine first published extracts from "The War Prayer" in his 1912 biography of Mark Twain with the comment that the author said he had been urged not to publish it. According to Paine, Mark Twain acceded to its suppression by stating, "I have told the whole truth in that, and only dead mean can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead." A full text was collected in Europe and Elsewhere (1923).

Just pray. God knows what to do with it.

There are two kinds of people in the world; those who say to God "They will be done," and those to whom God says, "Go ahead, then, have it your way."  C. S. Lewis                                                                             
"If it's natural to kill, why do men have to go into training to learn to do it?" Joan Baez (attributed)

"The lowest standards of ethics of which a right-thinking man can possibly conceive is taught to the common soldier whose trade is to shoot his fellow men. In youth he may have learned the command, 'Thou shalt not kill,' but the ruler takes the boy just as he enters manhood and teaches him that his highest duty is to shoot a bullet through his neighbor's heart  and this, unmoved by passion or feeling or hatred, and without the least regard to right or wrong, but simply because his ruler gives the word."  Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"Bourgeois patriotism, as I view it, is a very shabby, very narrow, very mercenary, and deeply antihuman passion, having for its object the preservation and maintenance of the power of the national state that is, the mainstay of all the privileges of the exploiters throughout the nation."  Mikhail Bakunin, Letters to a Frenchman

"The man who can face vilification and disgrace, who can stand up against the popular current, even against his friends and his country when he know he is right, who can defy those in authority over him, who can take punishment and prison and remain steadfast that is a man of courage. The fellow whom you taunt as a 'slacker' because he refuses to turn murderer, he needs courage. But do you need much courage just to obey orders, to do as you are told and to fall in line with thousands of others to the tune of general approval and the Star Spangled Banner?"  Alexander Berkmanar

"War is the health of the state."  Randolph Bourne, The State 

"PATRIOT, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors." Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary 

"Not only do . . . rulers keep many millions of men whose only trade is war, but these must be supported in worse than useless idleness by the labor of the poor. Still other millions are trained to war and are ever ready to answer to their master's call, to desert their homes and trades and offer up their lives to satisfy the vain ambitions of the ruler of the state. Millions more must give their strength and lives to build forts and ships, make guns and cannon and all the modern implements of war. Apart from any moral question of the right of man to slay his fellow man, all this great burden rests upon the poor. The vast expense of war comes from the production of the land and must serve to weaken and impair its industrial strength." Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"Common experience shows how much rarer is moral courage than physical bravery. A thousand men will march to the mouth of the cannon where one man will dare espouse an unpopular cause . . . True courage and manhood come from the consciousness of the right attitude toward the world, the faith in one's purpose, and the sufficiency of one's own approval as a justification for one's own acts." Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifices of themselves by the generation of '76 to acquire self-government and happiness for their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be that I shall not live to see it.  Thomas Jefferson

"News is what it is. What we need to be reminded of is that things of first importance cannot be made into news." C. John Sommerville

Until "The Enlightenment," philosophers held that human goodness could only manifest when guided by sound first principles. Similarly, evil would manifest in the presence of erroneous principles. Notably, the Spanish word "principio" means both "principle" and "beginning." Everything hinges on the course we set. Tragically, the modern world has shifted its allegiance from wisdom to information, from principle to pragmatism and from the primacy of Being to the derivativeness of Utility. Unless we acknowledge the light of traditional wisdom, the modern experiment will not end well. We have no philosophical underpinnings - just a vague belief that uncharted drift constitutes "progress." And if not, consolation can be found in the consumption of purchaseable pleasures and the accumulation of amusements. Pioneer ecologist E. F. Schumacher observed:  "The modern experiment to live without religion has failed. When we realize this, we will know what our post-modern tasks really are."

.... Information has become a form of garbage, and ourselves garbage collectors....  Like the sorcerer's apprentice, we are awash with information without even a broom to help us get rid of it. Information comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular....  And there is no loom to weave it all into fabric. No transcendent narratives to provide us with moral guidance, social purpose, intellectual economy. No stories to tell us what we need to know and what we do not need to know.   Neil Postman

"What thou art doing is dangerous. Religion is not a tax thou payest to get rid of the woman's image for this image is indispensable. Woe to those who use religion as a substitute for the other side of the soul's life. They are in error and they shall be cursed. Religion is no substitute, but it is the ultimate accomplishment added to every other activity of the soul. Out of the fullness of life thou shalt give birth to religion and only then shalt thou be blessed."  A pronouncement within a dream by a patient of Carl Gustav Jung

Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of to-day) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight:  he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there was such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand... The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious and everything else becomes lucid... A symbol from physical nature will express sufficiently well the real place of mysticism before mankind. The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything.  G. K. Chesterton

Can the liberties of a nation be secure, when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?  Thomas Jefferson

If there is no God, nothing matters. If there is a God, nothing else matters. H.G. Wells

Increasingly, the fate of humankind is a race between education and oblivion. H.G. Wells

Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. Thomas Jefferson

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions...upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God. 
James Madison

Only as children of God are we equal; all other claims to equality -- social, economic, racial, intellectual, sexual -- only serve in practice to intensify inequality.  Malcolm Muggeridge

The efforts that men make to bring about their own happiness, their own ease of life, their own self-indulgence, will in due course produce the opposite, leading me to the absolutely inescapable conclusion that human beings cannot live and operate in this world without some concept of a being greater than themselves, and of a purpuse which transcends their own egotistic or greedy desires. Once you eliminate the notion of a God, once you eliminate the notion that the creator has a purpose for us, and that life consists essentially in fulfilling that purpose, then you are bound, as Pascal points out, to induce the megalomania of which we've seen so many manifestations in our time.  Malcolm Muggeridge 

All political power comes from the barrel of a gun.  Mao Tse Tung

"It is not enough merely to exist. It's not enough to say, "I'm earning enough to support my family. I do my work well. I'm a good father, husband, church-goer." That's all very well. But you must do something more. Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For remember, you don't live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too." Albert Schweitzer

"inasmuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People.  We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!  It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.... I do by this proclamation designate and set apart the 30th day of April, 1863 as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer."  Abraham Lincoln

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

"First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win."

"All truth passes through three stages - First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." Arthur Schopenhauer

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nuremberg Charter

"Practically speaking, no government knows any limits to its power except the endurance of the people." Lysander Spooner

"You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid."  Franz Kafka

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."   James Madison

"We can have a democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."   Justice Louis D. Brandeis

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will...become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we are separated...I believe the states can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones."  Thomas Jefferson

"who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." George Orwell

"The pretense of objectivity conceals the fact that all history, while recalling the past, serves some present interest."   Howard Zinn

"There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains."  Theodore Roosevelt

"What I want to see above all is that this remains a country where someone can always get rich." Ronald Reagan

"No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."   Thomas Jefferson

"The more complete the despotism, the more smoothly all the things move on the surface."  Elizabeth Cady Stanton

"Professional scholars tend to think of themselves as part of the established order, not as critics of it, let alone creators of something better."  David Orr

"You never change the existing reality by fighting it. Instead, create a new model that makes the old one obsolete."  Buckminster Fuller

"The most idealistic is the realistically most practical." Buckminster Fuller

"Not to dream boldly may turn out to be simply irresponsible."  John Leonard
"Realistic" people who pursue "practical" aims are rarely as realistic or practical in the long run of life as the dreamers who pursue their dreams.  Hans Selye

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."  Noam Chomsky

"We pretend not to understand the linkages between our comfortable standard of living and the dictatorships we impose and protect through an international military presence." Jerry Fresia, author of Toward an American Revolution

"Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims, principally the victims of U.S. fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms-military, strategic, and economic-is the greatest source of terrorism on Earth.... People are neither still nor stupid. They see their independence compromised, their resources and land and the lives of their children taken away, and their accusing fingers increasingly point north: to the great enclaves of plunder and privilege. Inevitably, terror breeds terror and more fanaticism. But how patient the oppressed have been. Their distant voices of rage are now heard; the daily horrors in faraway brutalized places have at last come home." John Pilger, author - Hidden Agendas

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith, economist and author

"Rogue states that are internally free - and the U.S. is at the outer limits in this respect - must rely on the willingness of the educated classes to produce accolades and tolerate or deny terrible crimes." Noam Chomsky, Rogue States

"The most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the 'best' sources." Walter Karp, Harpers magazine

"It would be easy for us, if we do not learn to understand the world and appreciate the rights, privileges and duties of all other countries and peoples, to represent in our power the same danger to the world that Fascism did."  Ernest Hemingway

"Leaders symbolize what the country stands for. As corruption becomes routine in Washington in both parties, it trickles down as a corrupting influence in everyone's lives... Democracy is the ultimate casualty, and the sapping of democratic life is the most serious contribution of corporate ascendancy to our spiritual decline. As democracy ebbs, Americans retreat into private cocoons, feeling helpless to make a difference... In a democracy, civic participation and the belief in one's ability to contribute to the common good is the most important guarantor of public morality. When that belief fades, so too does the vision of the common good itself." Charles Derber, Corporation Nation

"Multi-billion-dollar multinational corporations view the exploitation of the world's sick and dying as a sacred duty to their shareholders." John le Carre'

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power."  Benito Mussolini , Fascist Dictator of Italy - 1883-1945

"The United States is not only number one in military power but also in the effectiveness of its propaganda system." Edward S. Herman, political economist and author

"If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting and newspaper offices of the world. It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realization that the New World Order means we are all to be managed and not represented."  Tony Benn, British Labour Party Member of Parliament

"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."   Howard Zinn, historian and author

"Americans are the best entertained and the least informed people in the world."  Neil Postman

" The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity - much less dissent."  Gore Vidal, novelist and critic

"The corporation is not a person and it does not live. It is a lifeless bundle of legally protected financial rights and relationships brilliantly designed to serve money and its imperatives. It is money that flows in its veins, not blood. The corporation has neither soul nor conscience."  David Korten, The Post-Corporate World

"Those in power are blind devotees to private enterprise. They accept that degree of socialism implicit in the vast subsidies to the military-industrial-complex, but not that type of socialism which maintains public projects for the disemployed and the unemployed alike."  William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1969

"Our leaders are cruel because only those willing to be inordinately cruel and remorseless can hold positions of leadership in the foreign policy establishment ... People capable of expressing a full human measure of compassion and empathy toward faraway powerless strangers ... do not become president of the United States, or vice president, or secretary of state, or national security adviser or secretary of the treasury. Nor do they want to."  William Blum, Rogue State

"The greatest threats to U.S. society are not coming from "terrorists" or "rogue nations" abroad. They are coming from the words and actions of elected officials here at home. Actions of the Department of Justice - emboldened by the USA-Patriot Act passed by Congress last fall - threaten to turn the U.S. into a permanent security state. Likewise, the greatest threats to global peace - and to human development and security worldwide - are coming from U.S. policymakers carrying out their lawful duties."  Friends Committee on National Legislation

"Terrorism has replaced Communism as the rationale for the militarization of the country, for military adventures abroad, and for the suppression of civil liberties at home. It serves the same purpose, serving to create hysteria."  Howard Zinn, historian

"The U.S. ranks last among developed countries in the percentage of its GNP (0.11%) given in aid. On average, governments in the European Union contribute three times as much of their GNP (0.33%) in non-military foreign aid."  Friends Committee on National Legislation

Abundance breeds waste.   Ivan Illich

The wealthy make of poverty a vice.   Plato

The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.  Anatole France                    

What government has succeeded in doing is to make it almost illegal to be poor.  Martin Sheen

Aymará 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 embroidering 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 takes out a cloth filled with something she brought for the noon meal and places her contribution on a large 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 quinoa, a high-protein grain.  The women discuss events in their villages as they eat.  Not long ago a food aid program offering milk powder, flour, and oil began in their region.  Some women have stopped coming to the cooperative gatherings so they can attend 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 women 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 Esperanza, Honduras. Excerpted from: "Extending the Table... A World Community Cookbook" by Joetta Handrich Schlabach. (See: Ladakh: A Study in Globalization)
It was wants that made man poor.    E. F. Schumacher

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. I found it invariably true, the poorer I am the richer I am.   Thoreau 

He who dies wealthy dies shamed.   Andrew Carnegie

Poverty is not the problem.
Wealth is the problem.
Poverty is the solution.    Satish Kumar, former Jain monk and editor of Resurgence Magazine
Not he who has little, but he who wishes for more is poor. Latin Proverb
A full stomach doesn't believe in hunger.   Italian Proverb

More than you need is never enough.   Alan Archibald

We become what we perceive.  Alan Archibald

No man should praise poverty but he who is poor.  St. Bernard of Clairvaux
"Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied."  Arthur Miller, playwright

"The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology."  Michael Parenti

"You don't need a totalitarian dictatorship like Hitler's to get by with murder ... you can do it in a democracy as long as the Congress - and the people Congress is supposed to represent - don't give a damn"  William Shirer, author, 1973

"America, like Britain before her, is now the great defender of the Status Quo. She has committed herself against revolution and radical change in the underdeveloped world because independent governments would destroy the world economic and political system, which assures the United States its disproportionate share of economic and political power"  Richard Barnet, Intervention and Revolution

"The U.S. government leaders ... have created an idol, the military machine. They require the people of this country to sacrifice to this idol. Not only tax dollars, but the lives and futures of the nation's young people, the health of communities and society, and the well-being of natural resources and the environment are all offered up at the altar of military might."  Friends Committee on National Legislation

U.S. leaders commit war crimes as a matter of institutional necessity, as their imperial role calls for keeping subordinate peoples in their proper place and assuring a "favorable climate of investment" everywhere. They do this by using their economic power, but also ... by supporting Diem, Mobutu, Pinochet, Suharto, Savimbi, Marcos, Fujimori, Salinas, and scores (more). War crimes also come easily because U.S. leaders consider themselves to be the vehicles of a higher morality and truth and can operate in violation of law without cost. It is also immensely helpful that their mainstream media agree that their country is above the law and will support and rationalize each and every venture and the commission of war crimes. " Edward Herman, political economist

The United States supports right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East ... because these are the rulers who have tied their personal political destiny to the fortunes of the American corporations in their countries... Revolutionary or nationalist leaders have radically different political constituencies and interests. For them creating "a good investment climate" for the United States and developing their own country are fundamentally conflicting goals. Therefore, the United States has a strong economic interest in keeping such men from coming to power or arranging for their removal if they do. 
Richard Barnet, Intervention and Revolution 

The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet. We can hardly begin to consider this problem unless it is clear that the craving for security is itself a pain and a contradiction, and that the more we pursue it, the more painful it becomes. This is true in whatever form security may be conceived.  Alan Watts, "The Wisdom of Insecurity" (1951)

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

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 judgmental. Not being judgmental 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

We are not debating the right issues.   Jeremy Rifkin

The formulation of the problem is more important than the solution.  Einstein

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"

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."  Charles Dickens

The modern world is a culture of death.   Pope John Paul II

Necrophilia grows as the development of biophilia is stunted.   Erich Fromm

We have sunk to such a depth that the restatement of the obvious has become the first duty of intelligent men.    George Orwell

Genius is having a profound grasp of the obvious.   Albert Camus

It is a greater work to educate a child... than to rule a state.   William Emery Channing

Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.   Krishnamurti      
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.  Daniel J. Boorstin

Most of our problems arise from the human inability to sit still in a room.  Blaise Pascal

You can learn a lot from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.    Dr. Seuss

He will get to the goal first who stands stillest. Thoreau

The profoundest truths are paradoxical.  Lao Tzu

Learning makes one fit company for oneself.   Thomas Fuller

To be happy at home is the end of all human activity.  Samuel Johnson

Sins become more subtle as you grow older: you commit sins of despair rather than sins of lust.  Piers Paul Reid

(Hitler) hated Christianity and showed a justified contempt for its German practitioners. Shortly after assuming power, he told Hermann Rauschning that he intended to stamp out Christianity in Germany "root and branch." "One is either a Christian or a German. You can't be both." ... "Do you really believe the masses will ever be Christian again? Nonsense. Never again. The tale is finished..."  Paul Johnson

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.  Gandhi

Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.   Jerry Garcia

Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Tom Lehrer

Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.   John  Adams

There is a marvelous story of a man who once stood before God, his heart breaking form the pain and injustice in the world. "Dear God," he cried out, "look at all the suffering, the anguish and distress in the world. Why don't you send help?" God responded, "I did send help. I sent you." David J. Wolpe

Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promises only; pain we obey.    Marcel Proust

I have never been anywhere but sick. In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it's always a place where there's no company, where nobody can follow. Sickness before death is a very appropriate thing and I think those who don't have it miss one of God's mercies.   Flannery O'Connor

Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.  An English journalist observing the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta. (Quoted by Annie Dillard)

Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell. Walter Bagehot

A full belly does not believe in hunger.   Italian proverb

Charity is no substitute for justice witheld.  Augustine of Hippo

We know to the extent that we love.  Augustine of Hippo

What are nations without justice but large bands of thieves?   Augustine of Hippo

Perhaps the most radical act we can commit is to stay home.  Terry Tempest Williams

True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.  Clarence Darrow

It may be a sign of our times that everyone talks openly about sex, but we seem to be embarrassed to talk about love.  Thomas Sowell

I had only one stock and I figured out that if the stock hit a certain point, I was going to be a billionaire. I was still in the tiny office where I was when I was worth a few million. I couldn't tell anyone at the office. All of my friends were working at the company --- the highest-paid person made about $100,000.00 -- and I was so much richer than my other friends in Atlanta that I couldn't tell them, because they'd think I was bragging. So I went home and told my wife, and she said, "I don't care, I've got to help the kids with their homework." No one even cared. I thought bells and whistles would go off. Nothing happened at all. Having great wealth is one of the most disappointing things. It's overrated, I can tell you that. It's not as good as average sex. Average sex is better than being a billionaire. Ted Turner

For an anthropologist, the widespread failure to marry is a sign of impending disaster In Africa there is a saying: "They are our enemies, and so we marry them." Marriage helps families multiply their economic capital --- and, perhaps even more important, their social capital. You and your wife's uncle may not like each other, but marriage imposes a set of reciprocal obligations; you are at least partly responsible for each other's well-being.  David Murray

This association of poverty with progress is the great enigma of our times. It is the central fact from which spring industrial, social, and political difficulties that perplex the world, and with which statesmanship and philanthropy and education grapple in vain. From it come the clouds that overhang the future of the most progressive and self-reliant nations. It is the riddle that the Sphinx of Fate puts to our civilization, which not to answer is to be destroyed. So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent.  Henry George, "Progress and Poverty," 1879

We must be the change we want to see in the world. Gandhi

Yet for all their wild profusion... the essential promise at the heart of the world's wisdom traditions is often moribund today in a way that it never was before. Real wisdom - the kind that once held individuals together and told them who they were and what they might become - seems to be retreating from us at precisely the speed that so many people suggest it is approaching... Wisdom... It is we who must commit ourselves to it and not the other way around. It is that call to unqualified investment -- commitment to the full course of the wisdom-getting project -- that has been lost in the modern wisdom smorgasbord.  "Wisdom for Dummies."  Ptolemy Tompkin, Utne Reader, January - February, 2000

Baudrillard:  "we live in a universe where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning."

Only 68 of 200 Anglican priests polled could name all Ten Commandments, but half said they believed in space aliens.

"Freiheit stirbt in kleinen Teilen."  "Freedom dies in small pieces."

'In his farewell address to the General Assembly of the United Nations in October 1971, the retiring Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Mr. Paul Hoffman, summed up the situation thus:  "Far too much of our technological wizardry has been needlessly employed for exploiting the earth's resources, rather than for rationally using and continually replenishing them. And far too much of our technology has been applied without due consideration for its impact on the human spirit, on our cultures and on our ways of life. As a result, while technology has made it possible for hundreds of millions of people to improve their material conditions, our planet is in many ways becoming a more dangerous and less humanly satisfying home-site for the entire race of man." There is not enough evidence to prove that Mr. Hoffman is too pessimistic.'  Lester Pearson

Hobbes, Kant, Locke and Mill believed "virtues are necessary to the origin of liberalism. Liberalism lives off the inheritance of pre-modern virtue without having the resources to replenish it."  "Virtue and the Making of Modern Liberalism" by Peter Berkowitz, Princeton U. Press

In the 21st century, our children will rise up and punish us for our neglect.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Everyone is entitled to his own opinions but not his own facts.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan

"It's your life. Why should other people decide how you live?" Air Force advertisement

"An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, stays bought."  Simon Cameron (Lincoln's Secretary of War)

Albert Camus said future historians would summarize modern man: "He fornicated and read newspapers."

The lives of our ancestors, when we look back to them, appear to have been infinitely less troubled and momentous than our own - it is rather as if fate had designed us for the denouement of the drama in which we are acting." Andre Breton

I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. Anne Frank

The more you complain the longer God lets you live.

It is time we steered by the stars, not by the light of each passing ship.  General Omar Bradley

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.   Jonathan Swift

The world looks as if it has been left in the custody of trolls.  Father Robert F. Capon

We gotta throw our televisions away. It's all trash. It's like talking about how cocaine might have some vitamins. David Mamet

If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks' vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days. 
                                            Dorothy Canfield Fisher, American author and essayist (1879-1958)

Why do people crave eternal life when they can't imagine what to do with themselves on a Sunday afternoon?

Love... is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.  Iris Murdoch

There is no greater illusion than fear,                                     
  no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,                         
  no greater misfortune than having an enemy.                                 
  Whoever can see through all fear                                            
  will always be safe.                             Lao-Tsu, "Tao Te Ching" 

"Yet woe betide those who fail to speak, while the chatterboxes go on saying nothing." St. Augustine, Confessions 1, 5 (Catholic Peace Fellowship, Mike Baxter, editor.

"Thomas Jefferson once wrote that 'laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind;'

"Did you ever notice that those who would try to take Social Security apart are the people that will never need Social Security?" Mr. Dorgan said.
Mr. Durbin said, "Let me tell you the motto of the 'ownership society': "We're all in this alone.""

"Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation.  We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy…"
Shakespeare - The Merchant of Venice

We are, each one of us, responsible for every war because of the aggressiveness of our own lives, because of our nationalism, our selfishness, our gods, our prejudices, our ideals, all of which divide us. And only when we realize, not intellectually, but actually, as actually as we would recognize that we are hungry or in pain, that you and I are responsible for all this existing chaos, for all the misery throughout the entire world, because we have contributed to it in our daily lives, and as a part of this monstrous society with its wars, divisions, its ugliness, brutality and greed—only then will we act. Krishnamurti

To live with the conscious knowledge of the shadow of uncertainty, with the knowledge that disaster or tragedy could strike at any time; to be afraid and to know and acknowledge your fear, and still to live creatively and with unstinting love: that is to live with grace. Peter Abrahams

Unfortunately, in seeing ourselves as we truly are, not all that we see is beautiful and attractive. This is undoubtedly part of the reason we flee silence. We do not want to be confronted with our hypocrisy, our phoniness. We see how false and fragile is the false self we project. We have to go through this painful experience to come to our true self. It is a harrowing journey, a death to self—the false self—and no one wants to die. But it is the only path to life, to freedom, to peace, to true love. And it begins with silence. We cannot give ourselves in love if we do not know and possess ourselves. This is the great value of silence. It is the pathway to all we truly want.
Basil Penninngton, monk

Humankind's habituation to "noise in the system"  transforms peace into threat - the "roaring silence" into panicky din.   Alan Archibald

“In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’  Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so.  Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside.  We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves. Sanctity in such an age means, no doubt, traveling from the area of anxiety to the area in which there is no anxiety or perhaps it may mean learning, from God, to be without anxiety in the midst of anxiety. Fundamentally, as Max Picard points out, it probably comes to this: living in a silence which so reconciles the contradictions within us that, although they remain within us, they cease to be a problem. Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man.  But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem.  We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.” Thomas Merton, monk.

“Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else.  They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea.  They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness.  The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose.  The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality  of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength.  The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone.  The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart.  It is the silence of the world that is real.  Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.”  Thomas Merton, monk

“Perhaps peace is not, after all, something you work for, or ‘fight for.’  It is indeed ‘fighting for peace’ that starts all the wars.  What, after all, are the pretexts of all these Cold War crises, but ‘fighting for peace?’  Peace is something you have or do not have.  If you are yourself at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.   Then share your peace with everyone, and everyone will be at peace.”   "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander," Thomas Merton.

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 the meaning be there again by magic. Going through this kind of reaction helps you to guard against this. Your system is complaining of too much verbalizing, and it is right... The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important. Thomas Merton, monk

"A humble man can do great things with an uncommon perfection because he is no longer concerned about incidentals, like his own interests and his own reputation, and therefore he no longer needs to waste his efforts in defending them. For a humble man is not afraid of failure.  In fact, he is not afraid of anything, even of himself, since perfect humility implies perfect confidence in the power of God before Whom no other power has any meaning and for Whom there is no such thing as an obstacle. Humility is the surest sign of strength.” Thomas Merton, monk

The Power of Pride comes before the fall.  Alan Archibald

"The terrible thing about our time is precisely the ease with which theories can be put into practice.  The more perfect, the more idealistic the theories, the more dreadful is their realization.  We are at last beginning to rediscover what perhaps men knew better in very ancient times, in primitive times before utopias were thought of: that liberty is bound up with imperfection, and that limitations, imperfections, errors are not only unavoidable but also salutary. The best is not the ideal.  Where what is theoretically best is imposed on everyone as the norm, then there is no longer any room even to be good.  The best, imposed as a norm, becomes evil.” Thomas Merton, monk

A rabbi asked his students, “When is it at dawn that one can tell the light from the darkness?”
One student replied, “When I can tell a goat from a donkey.”
“No,” answered the rabbi.
Another said, “When I can tell a palm tree from a fig.”
“No,” answered the rabbi again.
“Well, then what is the answer?” his students pressed him.
“Only when you look into the face of every man and every woman and see your brother and your sister,” said the rabbi. “Only then have you seen the light. All else is still darkness.”

The instinct to even the score feels so intrinsic, so basic, that it’s hard to conceive of any other way of responding to acts of injustice, be they towards oneself or toward others. Revenge is powerful, and sweet. It makes its opposite, forgiveness, seem infantile — some kind of religious trick.  Charles Moore

"Gotta Serve Somebody," Bob Dylan
You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
You may be the head of some big TV network,
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
You may be living in another country under another name
You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side,
You may be in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody's mistress, may be somebody's heir
Might like to wear cotton... might like to wear silk,
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk,
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread,
You may be sleeping on the floor, or in a king-sized bed

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody.
It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

        The merely rich are not rich enough to rule the modern market. The things that change modern history, the big national and international loans, the big educational and philanthropic foundations, the purchase of numberless newspapers, the big prices paid for peerages, the big expenses often incurred in elections - these are getting too big for everybody except the misers; the men with the largest of earthly fortunes and the smallest of earthly aims.

         There are two other odd and rather important things to be said about them. The first is this: that with this aristocracy we do not have the chance of a lucky variety in types which belongs to larger and looser aristocracies. The moderately rich include all kinds of people even good people. Even priests are sometimes saints; and even soldiers are sometimes heroes. Some doctors have really grown wealthy by curing their patients and not by flattering them; some brewers have been known to sell beer. But among the Very Rich you will never find a really generous man, even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egoistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it. G.K. Chesterton

The typical modern man is the insane millionaire who has drudged to get money, and then finds he cannot enjoy even money. There is danger that the social reformer may silently and occultly develop some of the madness of the millionaire whom he denounces. He may find that he has learnt how to build playgrounds but forgotten how to play. He may agitate for peace and quiet, but only propagate his own mental agitation. In his long fight to get a slave a half-holiday he may angrily deny those ancient and natural things, the zest of being, the divinity of man, the sacredness of simple things, the health and humour of the earth, which alone make a half-holiday even half a holiday or a slave even half a man. Chesterton - 

For at present we all tend to one mistake; we tend to make politics too important. We tend to forget how huge a part of a man's life is the same under a Sultan and a Senate, under Nero or St Louis. Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance; food and friends will be welcomed; work and strangers must be accepted and endured; birds will go bedwards and children won't, to the end of the last evening. And the worst peril is that in our just modern revolt against intolerable accidents we may have unsettled those things that alone make daily life tolerable. It will be an ironic tragedy if, when we have toiled to find rest, we find we are incurably restless. It will be sad if, when we have worked for our holiday, we find we have unlearnt everything but work. Chesterton

"Mysticism keeps men sane.  As long as you have mystery, you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.  The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic.  He has permitted the twilight.  He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairyland." G. K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy

There is but an inch of difference between a cushioned chamber and a padded cell. GKC

"History is not a toboggan slide, but a road to be reconsidered and even retraced This book ("What's Wrong with the World") deals with what is wrong, wrong in our root of argument and effort. This wrong is, I say, that we will go forward because we dare not go Back. Thus the Socialist says that property is already concentrated into Trusts and Stores: the only hope is to concentrate it further in the State. I say the only hope is to unconcentrate it; that is, to repent and return; the only step forward is the step backward." G. K. Chesterton    

Robert Burns' ... instinctive consideration of men as men came from an ancestry which still cared more for religion than education. The moment men begin to care more for education than for religion they begin to care more for ambition than for education. It is no longer a world in which the souls of all are equal before heaven, but a world in which the mind of each is bent on achieving unequal advantage over the other. There begins to be a mere vanity in being educated...  Education ought to be a searchlight given to a man to explore everything, but very specially the things most distant from himself. Education tends to be a spotlight; which is centred entirely on himself...  The only final cure is to turn off the limelight and let him realize the stars.   G. K. Chesterton works on the web

We are convinced that theories do not matter... Never has there been so little discussion about the nature of men as now, when, for the first time, anyone can discuss it...  Good taste, the last and vilest of human superstitions, has succeeded in silencing us where all the rest have failed. Sixty years ago it was bad taste to be an avowed atheist... now it is equally bad taste to be an avowed Christian. But there are some people nevertheless - and I am one of them - who think that the most important thing about man is still his view of the universe... We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them.   G. K. Chesterton

Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the extraordinary use which is made nowadays of the word "orthodox." In former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic. It was kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox... All the tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he was heretical... The word "heresy" not only means no longer "being wrong"; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word "orthodoxy" not only no longer means being right, it practically means being wrong... (This) means that people care less for whether they are philosophically right... The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to insist that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox... General theories are everywhere contemned... We will have no generalizations... We are more and more to discuss art, politics, literature. A man's opinion on tramcars matters; his opinion on Botticelli matters; his opinion on all things does not matter. He may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe, for if he does, he will have a religion and be lost. Everything matters, except everything.   G. K. Chesterton  

To be merely modern is to condemn oneself to an ultimate narrowness. G. K. Chesterton

Men who lose traditions abandon themselves to conventions.  G. K. Chesterton

When humans stop believing in God, they do not then believe in nothing. They believe in anything. G.K.C.

The history of the 20th century proves the view that as the vision of God fades, we first become clever monkeys; then we exterminate one another.  Paul Johnson (arguably the most intellectually-gifted of all contemporary Right-wing thinkers.)

"In helping us to confront, understand, and oppose the global economy, the old political alignments have become virtually useless. (The global economy) persists because ... multinational corporations (have) discovered a terrifying truth: If you can control a people's economy, you don't need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant. In a totalitarian economy, any political liberties that people might retain simply cease to matter." Another Turn of the Crank, by Wendell Berry  (Alan here The political irrelevance highlighted by Berry lies at the heart of our plight. And it is this supreme irrelevance that Republicans accelerate even faster than Democrats.)

"Industrial innovation breaks up the household economy. But if you don't have a home economy in the old sense, then you wouldn't notice this. The number of people with households is diminishing. The number of people who are willing to give priority to raising their children over their careers is diminishing. A lot of people look upon the school as a convenient babysitter. My cousin, for instance, started teaching school and I said to her, "Well, do you get any complaints from the parents?"  And she said, "Only when we let school out early." The schools have become detached from the communities. The schools aren't educating children to serve the community to return to the community better able to serve it because of their education. They're educating the children in order to help them escape from the community. The reference of the schools is the future, the world of tomorrow as they put it. To show you the difference, they used to let school out early if the harvest was late, so that the children could go home and work. It was a graceful acknowledgment on the part of the school staff, who were members of the community, that the community had other concerns that were vital. Twenty years later, my neighbor's son missed a band practice and the school band director asked him why. He said he was helping his daddy get in his crop. And the band director said, "Which is most important? This band or your daddy's crop?"  The school, in other words, is acting as an instrument of community disintegration.  Nobody is served by the disintegration of communities There is no conservative leadership. People who would like to conserve something look at the "conservatives" and they get this line of political conservatism, which doesn't necessarily have to do with conserving anything at all. Except large blocks of power and money, which are abstractions. So-called materialists are really destroying the world, not for material things, but for the sake of abstract values and ideas. Like money. The conservations of values is fine, but you've got to get quickly on to the question  of the conservation of things, of people, children, childhood, trees, woodlands, waterways, topsoil, rainfall, air, sexuality  all these things  that are being torn down and exploited by these so-called conservatives. If your conservation stops  at principles and values, then I think you lose your way and you become doctrinaire and dogmatic and you begin to do damage to things. If you were really a conscientious, thorough materialist, you would take care of material things. You would immediately be very close to being spiritual." Wendell Berry (Here's fine Wendell Berry video clip -

An excellent socio-economic argument on behalf of conservatism is set forth in "To Raze a Village: The Modernization of a Thousand Year Old Culture" by Helena Norberg-Hodge. It can be accessed at

In an ever-changing incomprehensible world, the masses had reached the point where they would... think that everything was possible and that nothing was true... Totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself.    Hannah Arendt

"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 (Get ready! Here come the "useless people." What shall we do with them? Kill them off? Castrate the men and tube-tie the women?)

There are others whose state of mind is still more extraordinary. They not only do not need the landscape to corroborate their history, but they do not care if the landscape contradicts their history If the map marks the place as a waterless desert, they will declare it as dry as a bone, though the whole valley resound with the rushing river. A whole huge rock will be invisible if a little book on geology says it is impossible. This is the opposite extreme to the irrational credulity of the rustic, but it is infinitely more irrational This great delusion of the prior claim of printed matter, as something anterior to experience and capable of contradicting it, is the main weakness of modern urban society. The chief mark of the modern man has been that he has gone through a landscape with his eyes glued to a guidebook, and could actually deny in the one, anything that he could not find in the other. One man, however, happened to look up form the book and see things for himself: he was a man of too impatient a temper, and later he showed too hasty a disposition to tear the book up or toss the book away. But there had been granted to him a strange and high and heroic sort of faith. He could believe his eyes.  "William Cobbett," by G. K. Chesterton

Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around. GKC

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated. GKC

The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. GKC

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things. GKC (George W. Bush is such a Puritan, and thus appeals to the abiding Puritanical root of the American character. When the horror of indignant dedication to "the wrong things" begins to outweigh the "purity of righteous indignation," their will be a sudden, sea-sick shift in the tide of events. I trust we are approaching that moment.)

All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. GKC  

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 

I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean. GKC

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
G.K. Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse, 1911

The fundamental task of education in a democracy is what Tocqueville once called the apprenticeship of liberty: learning to be free. I wonder whether Americans still believe liberty has to be learned and that its skills are worth learning. Or have they been deluded by two centuries of rhetoric into thinking that freedom is "natural" and can be taken for granted?

        The claim that men are born free, upon which America was founded, is at best a promising fiction. In real life, as every parent knows, children are born fragile, born needy, born ignorant, born unformed, born weak, born foolish, born dependent --- born in chains. We acquire our freedom over time, if at all Liberal-arts education actually means education in the arts of liberty; the "servile arts" were the trades learned by unfree men in the Middle Ages, the vocational education of their day...
        Jefferson and Adams both understood that the Bill of Rights offered little protection in a nation without informed citizens. However, once educated (and not merely instructed in the performance of a trade) a people was safe from even the subtlest tyrannies. Jefferson's democratic proclivities rested on his conviction that education could turn a people into a safe refuge -- indeed "the only safe depository" for the ultimate powers of society. "Cherish therefore the spirit of our people," he wrote to Edward Carrington in 1787, "and keep alive their attention. Do not be severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to public affairs, you and I and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors, shall all become wolves."
         We have been nominally democratic for so long that we presume it is our natural condition rather than the product of persistent effort and tenacious responsibility. We have de-coupled rights from civic responsibilities and severed citizenship from education on the false assumption that citizens just happen. We have forgotten that the "public" in public schools means not just paid for by the public but procreative of the very idea of a public....   Benjamin Barber

.... in a world where doing nothing has such dire consequences, complacency has become a greater sin than malevolence...  Benjamin Barber

Martin Luther King Junior

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. April, 1967
Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?." Vanity asks the question, "Is it popular?." But, conscience asks the question, "Is it right?." And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiples it.

Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate, In fact violence merely increases hate.

So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.

When we look at modern man we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance. We've learned to fly the air like birds, we've learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven't learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters.

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

The Negro's great stumbling block in the drive toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice.

Call It Democracy - Bruce Cockburn

                                                           Padded with power here they come
                                                           International loan sharks backed by the guns
                                                           Of market-hungry military profiteers
                                                           Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
                                                           With the blood of the poor

                                                           Who rob life of its quality
                                                           Who render rage a necessity
                                                           By turning countries into labor camps
                                                           Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

                                                           Sinister cynical instrument
                                                           Who makes the gun into a sacrament --
                                                           The only response to the deification
                                                           Of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations
                                                           Idolatry of ideology

                                                           North South East West
                                                           Kill the best and buy the rest
                                                           It's just spend a buck to make a buck
                                                           You don't really give a flying fuck
                                                           About the people in misery

                                                           IMF dirty MF
                                                           Takes away everything it can get
                                                           Always making certain that there's one thing left
                                                           Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

                                                           See the paid-off local bottom feeders
                                                           Passing themselves off as leaders
                                                           Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
                                                           Open for business like a cheap bordello

                                                           And they call it democracy
                                                           And they call it democracy
                                                           And they call it democracy
                                                           And they call it democracy

                                                           See the loaded eyes of the children too
                                                           Trying to make the best of it the way kids do
                                                           One day you're going to rise from your habitual feast
                                                           To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
                                                           They call the revolution

                                                           IMF dirty MF
                                                           Takes away everything it can get
                                                           Always making certain that there's one thing left
                                                           Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

                                                                                                             Toronto, November, 1985

Going Down Slow

Bruce Cockburn

God, damn the hands of glory
That hold the bloody firebrand high
Close the book and end the story
Of how so many men have died
Let the world retain in memory
That mighty tongues tell mighty lies
And if mankind must have an enemy
Let it be his warlike pride
Let it be his warlike pride        1971

The Trouble with Normal

Bruce Cockburn

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it's repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs -- "Security comes first"
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the Third World trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local Third World's kept on reservations you don't see
"It'll all get back to normal if we put our nation first"
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When the ends don't meet it's easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

                                                           Toronto, June 6, 1981

People See Through You

Bruce Cockburn

You've got covert action
Prejudice to extremes
You've got primitive cunning
And high tech means
You've got eyes everywhere
But people see through you

You've got good manipulators
Got your store of dupes
You've got the idiot clamour
Of your lobby groups
You like to play on fears
But people see through you

You've got instant communication
Instant data tabulation
You got the forces of occupation
But you don't get capitulation
Cause people see through you

You've got the sounding brass
You've got the triumph of the will
You do what you want to
And we pay the bills
you hype the need for sacrifice
but people see through you

You've got anti-matter language
Contrived to conceal
You've been lying so long
You don't know what's real
You're a figment of your own imagination
And people see through you

You've got lip service tributaries
You've got death fetish mercenaries
You hold the tickets to the cemeteries
You're big and bad and scary
But people see through you

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