11 December 2008

This I Believe

Recently I read This I Believe, a collection of some eighty essays sharing the personal philosophies of average men and women. In the interests of promoting it, I decided to share a few quotations I particularly liked. Many of the essays have a value that cannot be communicated in one quotation, however.

"I believe in people. I feel, love, need, and respect people above all else, including the arts, natural scenery, organized piety, or nationalistic superstructures. One human figure on the slope of a mountain can make the whole mountain disappear for me. One person fighting for truth can disqualify for me the platitudes of centuries. And one person who meets with injustice can render invalidate the entire system which has dispensed it. I believe that man's noblest endowment is his capacity to change. Armed with reason, he can see two sides and choose: He can be divinely wrong. [...] We must encourage thought, free and creative. We must respect privacy. We must observe taste by not exploiting our sorrows, successes, or passions. We must learn to know ourselves better through art. [...] We must not enslave ourselves to dogma. We must believe in the attainability of good. We must believe, without fear, in people." - Leonard Bernstein

"Good can be just as communicable as evil." - Norman Corwin

"If I were to discover that there is no afterlife, my motive for moral living would not be destroyed. I have enough of the philosopher in me to love righteousness for its own sake." - Elizabeth Deutsch (Earle)

"I believe that it's important to recognize and appreciate joy when you feel it. Every once in a while, and not just on special occasions, I've suddenly realized that I am truly happy right now. This is a precious experience, one to savor." - Elizabeth Deutsch (Earle)

"I believe in the connection between strangers when they reach out to one another." - Miles Goodwin

"I don't believe anyone can enjoy living in this world unless he can accept its imperfection. He must know and admit that he is imperfect, that all other mortals are imperfect, that it is childish to allow these imperfections to destroy all his hope and all his desire to live." - Oscar Hammerstein II

"I have often longed for peace and tranquility -- looked into the lives of others and envied a kind of calmness -- and yet I don't know if this tranquility is what I truly would have wished for myself. One is, after all, only really acquainted with one's own temperament and way of going through life. It is best to acknowledge this, to accept it, and to admire the diversity of temperaments Nature has dealt us." - Kay Redfield Jamison

"I believe in the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading. I believe in wandering through the stacks and picking out the first thing that strikes me. I believe in choosing books based on the dust jacket. I believe in reading books because others dislike them for find them dangerous. I believe in choosing the hardest book imaginable. I believe in reading up on what others have to say about this difficult book, and then making up my own mind." - Rick Moody

"We are each other's business; we are each other's harvest; we are each other's magnitude and bond." Gwendolyn Brooks

"I believe in the human race. I believe in the warm heart. I believe in man's integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it -- and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist." - Jackie Robinson

"I believe in life. I believe in treasuring it as a mystery that will never be fully understood, as a sanctity that should never be destroyed, as an invitation to experience now what can only be remembered tomorrow." - Andrew Sullivan

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