Nations

Discontent is the source of all trouble, but also of all progress in individuals and in nations.

You who are so wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things. You will not therefore take it amiss if our ideas of the white man’s kind of education happens not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience with it. Several of our young people were brought up in your colleges. They were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger. They didn’t know how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy. They spoke our language imperfectly. They were therefore unfit to be hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were good for nothing. We are, however, not less obliged for your kind offer, though we decline accepting it. To show our gratefulness, if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care with their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.

The silent influence of books, is a mighty power in the world; and there is a joy in reading them known only to those who read them with desire and enthusiasm. Silent, passive, and noiseless though they be, they yet set in action countless multitudes and change the order of nations.

Enthusiasm is an evil much less to be dreaded than superstition. Superstition is the disease of nations; enthusiasm that of individuals; the former grows inveterate by time; the latter is cured by it.

Nirvana is interpreted by Western nations as the actual annihilation of human desire or passion; but this is a mistake. Nirvana is nothing else than universal reason.

It is universally acknowledged that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the same, in its principles and operations. The same motives always produce the same actions: the same events follow the same causes. Ambition, avarice, self-love, vanity, friendship, generosity, public spirit: these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society, have been from the beginning of the world, and still are, the source of all the actions and enterprises, which have ever been observed among mankind.

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphans - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.

The metaphysical comfort - with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us - that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable - this comfort appears in the incarnate clarity in the chorus of satyrs, a chorus of natural being who live ineradicably, as it were behind all civilization and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations.

If adversity purifies men, why not nations?

The wise men of old have sent most of their morality down to the stream of time in the light skiff of apothegm or epigram; and the proverbs of nations, which embody the common sense of nations, have the brisk concussion of the most sparkling wit.

They shall beat their swords into plough shares and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up a sword against nations, neither shall they learn war any more.

Do not grieve. Misfortunes will happen to the wisest and best of men. Death will come, always out of season. It is the command of the Great Spirit, and all nations and people must obey. What is past and what cannot be prevented should not be grieved for... Misfortunes do not flourish particularly in our lives - they grow everywhere.

The destiny of countries (nations) depends on the way they feed themselves.

Ambition is a spirit in the world that causes all the ebbs and flows of nations, keeps mankind sweet by action; without that, the world would be a filthy, settled mud.

History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable.

Nations... borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

Wars can never cease so long as nations live under such widely differing conditions, so long as the value of individual life is in each nation so variously computed, and so long as the animosities which divide them represent such powerful instinctual forces in the mind.

Nations like men, can be healthy and happy, though comparatively poor... Wealth is a means to an end, not the end itself. As a synonym for health and happiness, it has had a fair trial and failed dismally.