Saturday, January 20, 2018
I'm really convinced that our descendants a century or two from now will look back at us with the same pity that we have toward the people in the field of science two centuries ago.
Saw this quote while looking for something else, but thought, "Ah, an excuse to re-play (again) one of my favorite cartoons":
In a democratic society, such as the United States, where wealth is the ultimate determinant of status, there lingers a constant fear of being left behind materially. We may say that the guiding principle of American society is not to grow richer in absolute terms, but to avoid becoming poorer in relative terms. And nothing makes a man feel poorer than being a passive bystander during a bull market. Therefore, the fiercest struggle for the preservation and restitution of economic equality in the United States takes place in the stock market, where everyone is seeking to discover what others are doing and anticipate what they intend to do. As Keynes observed with all the cultural disdain of the Old World for the New: "Even outside the field of finance, Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering what average opinion believes average opinion to be; and this national weakness finds its nemesis in the stock market."
-Edward Chancellor, Devil Take The Hindmost: A History Of Financial Speculation
Although the desire of acquiring the good things of this world is the prevailing passion of the American people, certain momentary outbreaks occur when their souls seem suddenly to burst the bonds of matter by which they are restrained and to soar impetuously towards heaven. ...
Here and there in the midst of American society you meet with men full of a fanatical and almost wild spiritualism which hardly exists in Europe. From time to time strange sects arise which endeavor to strike out extraordinary paths to eternal happiness. Religious insanity is very common in the United States. ...
The soul has wants which must be satisfied; and whatever pains are taken to divert it from itself, it soon grows weary, restless, and disquieted amid the enjoyments of sense.
-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy In America, Volume II, Chapter XII, 1840
Friday, January 19, 2018
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Monday, January 15, 2018
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "An unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. To use the words of Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher, segregation substitutes an "I - it" relationship for the "I - thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. So segregation is not only politically, economically, and sociologically unsound, but it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Isn't segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, an expression of his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? So I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court because it is morally right, and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances because they are morally wrong.
-Martin Luther King, Jr., as excerpted from his timeless Letter From Birmingham Jail
Sunday, January 14, 2018
There must certainly be a vast Fund of Stupidity in Human Nature, else Men would not be caught as they are, a thousand times over, by the same Snare; and while they yet remember their past Misfortune, go on to court and encourage the Causes to which they were owing, and which will again produce them.
-Cato's Letters, January 1721
To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.
-Robert Louis Stevenson