Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won’t save us any more than love did.
“Can I help you?” she inquired, in a manner that said she hoped she wouldn’t have to.
Lots of people think they’re charitable if they give away their old clothes and things they don’t want. It isn’t charity to give away things you want to get rid of and it isn’t a sacrifice to do things you don’t mind doing.
An assumption deeply integral to capitalism . . . [is that there’s] not enough to go around: not enough love, not enough time, not enough appointments at the food-stamps office, not enough food stamps, not enough money, not enough seats on the subway. It’s pervasive. We learn mistrust of each other, bone deep: everything is skin off somebody’s nose.
“A cigar,” said the altruist, “a cigar, my good man, I cannot give you. But any time you need a light, just come around; mine is always lit.”
This is our mammalian conflict — what to give to the others, and what to keep for yourself. Treading that line, keeping the others in check, and being kept in check by them, is what we call morality.
Love . . . is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real.
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But . . . the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.
There is incredible value in being of service to others. I think if many of the people in therapy offices were dragged out to put their finger in a dike, or take up their place in a working line, they would be relieved of terrible burdens.
She is such a good friend that she would throw all her acquaintances into the water for the pleasure of fishing them out again.
Saving someone’s life is like falling in love, the best drug in the world.
My feeling is that there is nothing in life but refraining from hurting others, and comforting those who are sad.
When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.
One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we’ll never even meet.
I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine.
One could laugh at the world better if it didn’t mix tender kindliness with its brutality.
If those who owe us nothing gave us nothing, how poor we would be.