Amid the ruins which surround me I shall dare to say that revolutions are not what I most fear for coming generations?... It is believed by some that modern society will be always changing its aspect; for myself, I fear that it will ultimately be too invariably fixed in the same institutions, the same prejudices, the same manners, so that mankind will be stopped and circumscribed; that the mind will swing backwards and forwards forever without begetting fresh ideas; that man will waste his strength in bootless and solitary trifling, and, though in continual motion, that humanity will cease to advance.
Of all mankind the great poet is the equable man. Not in him but off from him things are grotesque or eccentric or fail of their sanity.
Perhaps there is no property in which men are more distinguished from each other, than in the various degrees in which they possess the faculty of observation. The great herd of mankind pass their lives in listless inattention and indifference as to what is going on around them, being perfectly content to satisfy the mere cravings of nature, while those who are destined to distinction have lynx-eyed vigilance that nothing can escape.
Who tells me he denies his soul’s immortal, whate’er his boast, has told me he’s a knave; his duty, ‘tis to love himself alone, nor care though mankind perish, if he smiles, who thinks ere long the man shall wholly die, is dead already; nought but brute survives.
All our distinctions are accidental; beauty and deformity, though personal qualities, are neither entitled to praise nor censure; yet it is so happens that they color our opinion of those qualities to which mankind have attached responsibility.
It is a consoling fact that, in the end, the moral independence of mankind remains indestructible. Never has it been possible for a dictatorship to enforce one religion or one philosophy upon the whole world. Nor will it ever be possible, for the spirit always escapes from servitude; refuses to think in accordance with prescribed forms, to become shallow and supine at the word of command, to allow uniformity to be permanently imposed upon it.
More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry.
Mysticism is undoubtedly at the origin of great moral transformations. And mankind seems to be as far away as ever from it. But who knows?
History tells us that the pendulum of time is sweeping to extremes of subjectivism, to cults of selfishness and savage irresponsibility. We must bring it back to balance by taking up the burdens of mankind as our own, with an entirely new vision and confidence. And we must do this perhaps as a condition for continued existence itself.
For mankind as a whole, a possession infinitely more valuable than individual life is our genetic heritage, our link with past and future. Shaped through long eons of evolution, our genes not only make us what we are, but hold in their minute beings the future – be it one of promise or threat. Yet genetic deterioration through manmade [chemical and radioactive] agents is the menace of our time, “the last and greatest danger to our civilization.”
Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning the usefulness of which all mankind are agreed.
The danger of the cult of technological progress lies in its tendency to restrict and confine mankind within the adoring contemplation of his own creative power.
In 1881… “The false and repulsive precept that mankind is perpetually called upon to avenge the sins and errors of the forefathers upon the innocent descendents, has ruled the world far too long, and has blotted the countries of Europe with shameful and abominable deeds, from which we turn away in horror.”
[The] great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
If we believe that mankind has steadily progressed towards ahimsa (i.e., love), it follows that it has to progress towards it still further. Nothing in this world is static, everything is kinetic. If there is not progression, then there is inevitable retrogression. No one can remain without the eternal cycle, unless it be God Himself.
The most ignorant among mankind have some truth in them. We are all sparks of Truth. The sum total of these sparks is indescribable, as-yet-Unknown-Truth, which is God.
The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration; that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated from the earth only by goodness… that there is great security in being gentle, harmless, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth, for the violent, who resort to the sword, are destined to perish with the sword.
The history of mankind is the history of thought – of the gradual ascendancy of mind over matter.
If the instinctual and repressed kindness of mankind were suddenly let loose upon the earth, sooner than we think would we be members one of another, sitting around one family hearth-stone, and singing the song of the new humanity.
It is astonishing with how little wisdom mankind can be governed, when that little wisdom is its own.