The Middle Ages hangs over history’s belt like a beer belly. It is too late now for aerobic dancing or cottage cheese lunches to reduce the Middle Ages. History will have to wear size forty-eight shorts forever.
We already have the statistics for the future: the growth percentages of pollution, overpopulation, desertification. The future is already in place.
Farm policy, although it’s complex, can be explained. What it can’t be is believed. No cheating spouse, no teen with a wrecked family car, no mayor of Washington, D.C., videotaped in flagrante delicto has ever come up with anything as farfetched as U.S. farm policy.
To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true.
I feel so agitated all the time, like a hamster in search of a wheel.
Panic is not an effective, long-term organizing strategy.
Each day a few more lies eat into the seed with which we are born, little institutional lies from the print of newspapers, the shock waves of television, and the sentimental cheats of the movie screen.
Only very lowly and late have men come to realize that unless freedom is universal it is only extended privilege.
Clearly the most unfortunate people are those who must do the same thing over and over again, every minute, or perhaps twenty to the minute. They deserve the shortest hours and the highest pay.
When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.
The notion of following your passion is worth indulging. Your passion is your source of power. To lead a really full life, you need to follow where it leads . . . in defiance of all things conventional, perhaps. And of course it is at a price. You have to know that going in. But the price you pay, in my opinion, is not even worth the time of day to think about. It’s so important not to knee-pad around the world. You should never bow down to anything but those you love and respect. Ever. For anything.
Georges Clemenceau’s contrariness was invaluable in shaking France out of its torpor during World War I, but it was altogether less of an asset during the subsequent peace. This trait emerged even in trivial matters. Going into a grand garden party at Versailles, the bowler-hatted Clemenceau met the British foreign secretary, Lord Balfour, wearing a top hat. “They told me top hats would be worn,” said the British diplomat. “They told me, too,” said Clemenceau.
Just as I was thinking that no century could possibly be dumber than the nineteenth, along comes the twentieth. I swear, the entire planet seemed to be staging some kind of stupidity contest.
Try saying this silently to everyone and everything you see for thirty days . . . : “I wish you happiness now and whatever will bring happiness to you in the future.” If we said it to the sky, we would have to stop polluting; if we said it when we see ponds and lakes and streams, we would have to stop using them as garbage dumps and sewers; if we said it to small children, we would have to stop abusing them, even in the name of training; if we said it to people, we would have to stop stoking the fires of enmity around us. Beauty and human warmth would take root in us like a clear, hot June day. We would change.
One sister told me that, years before, my aunt [Sister Josephine] had summoned the young sisters from their morning prayer, led them to the house of a poor family whose mother lay ill. They cleaned, prepared breakfast, got the children off to school. “This is your prayer” was all she said to the sisters. “None of us ever forgot that,” the sister said.
We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.