18 March 2011

Freethought Friday #12: The Measure of Wealth

(Robert G. Ingersoll, 1833 - 1890)

Some people tell me, "Your doctrine about loving, and wives, and all that, is splendid for the rich, but it won't do for the poor." I tell you to-night there is more love in the homes of the poor than in the palaces of the rich. The meanest hut with love in it is a palace fit for the gods, and a palace without love is a den only fit for wild beasts. That is my doctrine! You cannot be so poor that you cannot help somebody. Good nature is the cheapest commodity in the world; and love is the only thing that will pay ten per cent to borrower and lender both. Do not tell me that you have got to be rich! We have a false standard of greatness in the United States. We think here that a man must be great, that he must be notorious; that he must be extremely wealthy, or that his name must be upon the putrid lips of rumor. It is all a mistake. It is not necessary to be rich or to be great, or to be powerful, to be happy. The happy man is the successful man.

Happiness is the legal tender of the soul. Joy is wealth.

04 March 2011

Freethought Friday #11: Church and State

(Thomas Jefferson, 1743 - 1826.)
From "Report on the Commissioners for the University of Virginia", quoted in The Portable Thomas Jefferson.

This doctrine ['that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must tread with awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers'] is the genuine fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of honors, wealth and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold." 

I paused before including Jefferson here: though certainly one of history's more commendable figures and notable for rejecting orthodoxy, I don't know much of a 'freethinker' he was.  It seems he's worthy of honorary membership at the very least. He's one of my two favorite founding fathers, the other being Benjamin Franklin.