Of all ennobling sentiments, patriotism may be the most easily manipulated. On the one hand, it gives powerful expression to what is best in a nation’s character: a commitment to principle, a willingness to sacrifice, a devotion to the community by the choice of the individual. But among its toxic fruits are intolerance, belligerence and blind obedience, perhaps because it blooms most luxuriantly during times of war.
Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.
Reading and what it can contribute to one's life is not something that pertains only to the ego and its conscious mind; it is also deeply rooted in the unconsciousness. Those who retain all through life a deep commitment to the literary harbor in their consciousness some residue of their earlier conviction that reading is an art permitting access to magic worlds, although very few of them are aware that they subconsciously believe this to be so.
We are each a cell in the common body. When we choose to create, to activate the Godness within us, our movements affect and influence the whole. But until we really know this at a cellular level, our commitment to our own awakening remains an act of faith.
I believe that, for the rest of the world, contemporary America is an almost symbolic concentration of all the best and the worst of our civilization. On the one hand, there are its profound commitment to enhancing civil liberty and to maintaining the strength of its democratic institutions, and the fantastic developments in science and technology which have contributed so much to our well-being; on the other, there is the blind worship of perpetual economic growth and consumption, regardless of their destructive impact on the environment, or how subject they are to the dictates of materialism and consumerism, or how they, through the omnipresence of television and advertising, promote uniformity, and banality instead of a respect for human uniqueness.
There is not even one single thing we value when we restrict the question to ethical values. Instead, there is a plurality of different things we value, but in ethics and in life in general. In life we value pleasure, human interaction, achievement and contact with reality. In ethics we value human flourishing but also commitment and justice per se… No single set of rules seems adequate to the irreducible plurality of incommensurable things that we value.
Most of the inmates of mental hospitals have been committed as the result of a petition by a family member. Psychiatric commitment is often the result of an acute or prolonged family disruption, which results in the exclusion and isolation of one member (usually the least powerful). Psychiatric commitment therefore serves to relieve intolerable family conflicts by removing one member from the group.
What the schools can teach is what we value as a community… love, empathy, caring, cooperation, commitment to others, spiritual and ethical sensitivity, respect for difference, self-discipline, tolerance and honesty.
The quality of a person’s life is directly proportional to the degree of responsibility he takes for his own life and the commitment he makes to change for the better. Don’t be afraid of pains and sufferings. They are divine gifts for our growth.
The true problems of living – in politics, economics, education, marriage, etc. – are always problems of overcoming or reconciling opposites. They are divergent problems and have no solution in the ordinary sense of the word. They demand of man not merely the employment of his reasoning powers but the commitment of his whole personality.
National leaders who find themselves wilting under the withering criticisms by members of the media, would do well not to take such criticism personally but to regard the media as their allies in keeping the government clean and honest, its services efficient and timely, and its commitment to democracy strong and unwavering.