willingness

Our contempt for egoists begins very early in life. Children who fulfill their parents' conscious or unconscious wishes are good, but if they ever refuse to do so or express wishes of their own that go against those of their parents they are called egoistic and inconsiderate. It usually does not occur to the parents that they might need and use the child to fulfill their own egoistic wishes. They often are convinced that they must teach their child how to behave because it is their duty to help him along on the road to socialization. If a child bought up this way does not wish to lose his parents' love (And what child can risk that?), he must learn very early to share, to give, to make sacrifices, and to be willing to do without and forgo gratification-long before he is capable of true sharing or of the real willingness to do without.

I had thought joy to be rather synonymous with happiness, but it seems now to be far less vulnerable than happiness. Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional wish to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there. It has a kind of invincibility that attachment to any particular outcome would deny us. Rather than the warrior who fights towards a specific outcome and therefore is haunted by the specter of failure and disappointment, it is the lover drunk with the opportunity to love despite the possibility of loss, the player for whom playing has become more important than winning or losing. The willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness. From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. Not only pleasant life, or comfortable life, or our idea of life, but all life. Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness.

The willingness to consider possibility requires a tolerance of uncertainty.

The understanding of art depends finally upon one's willingness to extend one's humanity and one's knowledge of human life.

Reverence for nature is compatible with willingness to accept responsibility for a creative stewardship of the earth.

The Washingtonians who watch a President have more to think about than his professional reputation. They also have to think about his standing with the public outside Washington. They have to gauge his popular prestige. Because they think about it, public standing is a source of influence for him, another factor bearing on their willingness to give him what he wants.Prestige, like reputation, is a subjective factor, a matter of judgment. It works on power just as reputation does through the mechanism of anticipated reactions. The same men, Washingtonians, to the judging. In the case of reputation they anticipate reactions from the President. In the instance of prestige they anticipate reactions from the public. Most members of the Washington community depend upon outsiders to support them or their interests. The dependence may be as direct as votes, or it may be as indirect as passive toleration. Dependent men must take account of popular reaction to their actions. What their publics may think of them becomes a factor, therefore, in deciding how to deal with the desires of a President. His prestige enters into that decision; their publics are part of his. Their view from inside Washington of how outsiders view him thus affects his influence with them.

The highest genius is willingness and ability to do hard work. Any other conception of genius makes it a doubtful, if not a dangerous possession.

The struggle to get weapons is continuous, but the United States will aid us, if it finds Israel displaying a willingness for peace.

Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.

My visceral perception of brotherhood harmonizes with our best modern biological knowledge. […] Many people think (or fear) that equality of human races represents a hope of liberal sentimentality probably squashed by the hard realities of history. They are wrong. This essay can be summarized in a single phrase, a motto if you will: Human equality is a contingent fact of history. Equality is not true by definition; it is neither an ethical principle (though equal treatment may be) nor a statement about norms of social action. It just worked out that way. A hundred different and plausible scenarios for human history would have yielded other results (and moral dilemmas of enormous magnitude). They didn't happen.

Obsolescence is a fate devoutly to be wished, lest science stagnate and die.

Am I sure that the meaning of my life is the meaning God intends for it? Does God impose a meaning on my life from the outside, through event, custom, routine, law, system, impact with others in society? Or am I called to create from within, with him, with his grace, a meaning which reflects his truth and makes me his word spoken freely in my personal situation? My true identity lies hidden in God’s call to my freedom and my response to him. This means I must use my freedom in order to love, with full responsibility and authenticity, not merely receiving a form imposed on me by external forces, or forming my own life according to an approved social pattern, but directing my love to the personal reality of my brother, and embracing God’s will in its naked, often impenetrable mystery.

In actual fact, conventions are the death of real tradition as they are of all real life. They are parasites which attach themselves to the living organism of tradition and devour all its reality, turning it into a hollow formality. Tradition is living and active, but convention is passive and dead. Tradition does not form us automatically: we have to work to understand it. Convention is accepted passively, as a matter of routine. Therefore, convention easily becomes an evasion of reality. It offers us only pretended ways of solving the problems of living - a system of gestures and formalities. Tradition really teaches us to live and shows us how to take full responsibility for our own lives. Thus tradition is often flatly opposed to what is ordinary, to what is mere routine. But convention, which is a mere repetition of familiar routines, follows the line of least resistance. One goes through an act, without trying to understand the meaning of it all, merely because everyone else does the same. Tradition, which is always old, is at the same time ever new because it is always reviving - born again in each new generation, to be lived and applied in a new and particular way. Convention is simply the ossification of social customs. The activities of conventional people are merely excuses for NOT acting in a more integrally human way. Tradition nourishes the life of the spirit; convention merely disguises its interior decay.

Paradoxically, I have found peace because I have always been dissatisfied. My moments of depression and despair turn out to be renewals, new beginnings. If I were once to settle down and be satisfied with the surface of life, with its divisions and its cliches, it would be time to call in the undertaker... So, then, this dissatisfaction which sometimes used to worry me and has certainly, I know, worried others, has helped me in fact to move freely and even gaily with the stream of life.

There is a great deal of misery in the world, and many of us could easily spend our lives trying to eradicate it… One advantage of living in a world as bad as this one is that it offers the opportunity for many activities whose importance can’t be questioned. But how could the main point of human life be the elimination of evil? Misery, deprivation, and injustice prevent people from pursuing the positive goods which life is assumed to make possible. If all such goods were pointless and the only thing that really mattered was the elimination of misery, that really would be absurd.

I want my mind to be a sail, susceptible to any breeze that might be blowing across the lake of consciousness.

Who succeeds in forming and leading a Great Group? He or she is almost always a pragmatic dreamer. They are people who get things done, but they are people with immortal longings. Often, they are scientifically minded people with poetry in their souls.

Transformation literally means going beyond your form.

If you know even as little history as I do, it is hard not to doubt the efficacy of modern war as a solution to any problem except that of retribution — the “justice” of exchanging one damage for another.

To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.