How many of us are waiting for the opportunity to do some great thing for the betterment of our community, forgetting that the solution of the problem requires only the active intelligent fulfillment of individual civic duty. The only things which are wrong about our Government are the things which are wrong with you and me. Democracy is never a thing done; it is and always will be a goal to be achieved. It means action, not passive acquiescence in things as they are; it requires alertness to duty, a dynamic faith, a willingness to give for the good of all. It can live only as a result of loyalty and devotion to its principles expressed by daily needs.
Action | Character | Democracy | Devotion | Duty | Dynamic | Faith | Fulfillment | Good | Government | Individual | Loyalty | Loyalty | Means | Opportunity | Principles | Waiting | Will | Wrong | Government |
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.
We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticizes us perform a remarkable act of friendship, for to undertake to wound or offend a man for his own good is to have a healthy love for him.
Intellectual and spiritual leaders hailed the cause of civil rights and gave little thought to where the civil disobedience road might end. But defiance of the law, even for the best reasons, opens a tiny hole in the dike and soon a trickle becomes a flood... And while no thinking person denies that social injustice exits, no thinking person can condone any group, for any reason, taking justice into his own hands. Once this is permitted, democracy dies; for democracy is sustained through one great premise: the premise that civil rights are balanced by civil responsibilities.
The exercise of criticism always destroys for a time our sensibility to beauty by leading us to regard the work in relation to certain laws of construction. The eye turns from the charms of nature to fix itself upon the servile dexterity of art.
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.
The fundamental defect in the present state of democracy is the assumption that political and economic freedom can be achieved without first freeing the mind. Freedom of mind is not something that spontaneously happens. It is not achieved by mere absence of obvious restraints. It is a product of constant unremitting nurture of right habits of observation and reflection.
It was the scientists who first made true democracy possible, for not only did they lighten our daily tasks but they made the finest works of art and thought, whose enjoyment was until recently the privilege of the favored classes, accessible to all.