Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty-four hours and too little on the last six thousand years.
It is not enough to be busy: so are the ants. The question is, What are we busy about?
History is a child building a sand castle by the sea, and that child is the whole majesty of man’s power in the world.
Today every invention is received with a cry of triumph which soon turns into a cry of fear.
The unrecorded past is none other than our old friend, the tree in the primeval forest which fell without being heard.
The notion of progress in a single line without goal or limit seems perhaps the most parochial notion of a very parochial century.
You can’t say that civilization don’t advance . . . for in every war they kill you a new way.
Utopias are presented for our inspection as a critique of the human state. If they are to be treated as anything but trivial exercises of the imagination, I suggest there is a simple test we can apply. . . . We have to say to ourselves, “How would I myself live in this proposed society? How long would it be before I went stark staring mad?”
For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.
We pass the word around; we ponder how the case is put by different people; we read the poetry; we meditate over the literature; we play the music; we change our minds; we reach an understanding. Society evolves this way, not by shouting each other down, but by the unique capacity of unique, individual human beings to comprehend each other.
The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.
Ever since I could remember, I’d wished I’d been lucky enough to be alive at a great time — when something big was going on, like a crucifixion. And suddenly I realized I was.
Ideology, politics, and journalism, which luxuriate in failure, are impotent in the face of hope and joy.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.
Saint Teresa of Avila described our life in this world as like a night at a second-class hotel.
Why do you hasten to remove anything which hurts your eye, while if something affects your soul you postpone the cure until next year?
Self-knowledge and self-improvement are very difficult for most people. It usually needs great courage and long struggle.
It is easy to detect the bullshit in a jingle or an official euphemism for murder, but . . . I must keep my bullshit detector on when I say or write that I’m a good person who only wants peace and justice. Bullshit. I’m also a greedy person who wants a snazzy computer and a place in the country. I’m a demanding person who wants a clean environment, safe streets, and lower taxes. I’m an impossible person who wants instant nirvana, heaven on the cheap, sainthood in ten easy lessons. Perhaps you know people like me.
No man consciously chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for the happiness that he seeks.
Once, an old woman at my church said the secret is that God loves us exactly the way we are and that he loves us too much to let us stay like this — and I’m just trying to trust that.