Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Alienation

"Whoever undertakes a long Journey, if he be wise, makes it his Business to find out an agreeable Companion. How cautious then should He be, who is to take a Journey for Life, whose Fellow-Traveler must not part with him but at the Grave; his Companion at Bed and Board and Sharer of all the Pleasures and Fatigues of his Journey; as the Wife must be to the Husband! She is no such Sort of Ware, that a Man can be rid of when he pleases: When once that’s purchas’d, no Exchange, no Sale, no Alienation can be made: She is an inseparable Accident to Man: Marriage is a Noose, which, fasten’d about the Neck, runs the closer, and fits more uneasy by our struggling to get loose: ‘Tis a Gordian Knot which none can unty, and being twisted with our Thread of Life, nothing but the Schyth of Death can cut it." - Miguel de Cervantes, fully Miguel de Cervantes Saaversa

"Speaking generally, punishment hardens and numbs, it produces concentration, it sharpens the consciousness of alienation, it strengthens the power of resistance." -

"Man's alienation from the earth... was the beginning of all trouble and misery that have plagued him ever since" -

"Describes the professional artist as a morally suspect, even socially dangerous, conman, who from a deliberately chosen position of spiritual alienation, yet offers the ambiguous, self-serving products of his art, in expectation not only of support and remuneration, but also of social approval and even adoration as genius. [Paraphrased]" - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space free from outside pressure which is the incubator of the spirit." - Marya Mannes

"Modern secularity has offered another way of dealing with religious pluralism. As religious traditions lose their importance as means of self-understanding and community identification, their differences and mutual exclusiveness diminish in importance. Alienation from any particular religious faith tends to move the question of religious particularity into the realm of indifference, as life is determined by nonreligious values and institutions. Yet secularity has been no more successful in establishing human community than has the religious vision. The competing claims of nationalism, economic imperialism, and ideological triumphalism are also demonic forms of particularity that have not been able to establish a new universality in human community." - Donald G. Dawe

"Alienation is a form of living death. It is the acid of despair that dissolves society." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The condition of alienation, or being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of normal man." -

"We are born into a world where alienation awaits us… Alienation as our present destiny is achieved only by outrageous violence perpetuated by human beings on human beings." -

"Sin is not exhausted in describing individual acts which aren’t very nice. “Sin” is fundamentally a description of our entire situation, one of separation from God, alienation from him, arising out of our rebellion, our refusal to do his will, our insistence upon the following of our wills." - James A. Martin, Jr.

"The seduction of war is insidious because so much of what we are told about it is true; It does create a sense of comradeship, which obliterates our alienation and makes us, for perhaps the only time of our life, feel we belong. War allows us to rise above our small stations in life. We find nobility in a cause and feelings of selflessness and even bliss. And at a time of soaring deficits and financial scandals and the very deterioration of our domestic fabric, war is a fine diversion. War, for those who enter into combat, has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it the "lust of the eye" and warns believers against it. War gives us a distorted sense of self; it gives us meaning." - Chris Hedges

"In the absence of discriminating thoughts, the mind as we know it ceases to exist. Our suffering - our feeling of discomfort, alienation, loneliness - arises because we create a dualistic way of perceiving everything that separates us from the external. When we view the so-called external phenomenal world as distinct from ourselves, then fear arises, fear that we will lose our lives, that we may not continue to exist. Out of that fear come anger, jealousy, greed, hatred, aversion, attachment - all kinds of clinging. All our problems arise out of seeing ourselves as separate entities. We cling to what we perceive as me; my physical body and my ideas, my mind, my thoughts, my understanding, my beliefs, my concepts, my opinions." - Dennis Genpo Merzel, aka Genpo Merzel Roshi

"There is no alienation that a little power will not cure." - Eric Hoffer

"[Paraphrase] The professional artist is morally suspect, even socially dangerous, conman, who from a deliberately chosen position of spiritual alienation, yet offers the ambiguous, self-serving products of his art, in expectation not only of support and remuneration, but also of social approval and even adoration as genius." - Horace Mann

"I do not believe that children should have to pay for the shortcoming and inequities of the society into which they were born. I do not think that children should have to pay for the real or supposed sins of their parents. And I think it would be shortsighted of a society to produce, by its neglect, a group of future citizens very likely to be unproductive and characterized by bitterness ands alienation." - John W. Gardner, fully John William Gardner

"Infants instinctively resist enculturation because they intuitively sense in it a denial of life that robs us of our spirit and our loving, willing, thinking, being. Resistance is futile. Without exception, these cultural techniques involve carefully masked threats that prey upon the child’s rapidly learned fear of pain, harm, or deprivation, and more primal anxiety over separation or alienation from parent, caregiver, or society. “Do this or you will suffer the consequences.” This threat, in fact, underlies every facet of our life from our first potty training through university exams." - Joseph Chilton Pearce, aka Joe

"Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is ours only when we have it - when it exists for us as capital, or when it is directly possessed... In the place of all physical and mental senses there has therefore come to be the sheer alienation of all these senses, the sense of having. The human being has been reduced to this absolute poverty in order that he might yield his inner wealth to the outer world." - Karl Marx

"We in the contemporary west may wake up each morning to cast out our sleep and dream experience like so much rubbish. But that is an almost freakish act of alienation. Only western society - and especially in the modern era - has been quite so prodigal in dealing with what is, even by the fictitious measure of our mechanical clocks, a major portion of our lives." -

"Rewarding the unworthy causes alienation; punishing the innocent causes resentment. Those whose appreciation or anger are unpredictable perish." - Zhuge Liang, courtesy name Kongming

"One single gift acknowledged in gratefulness has the power to dissolve the ties of our alienation" - David Steindl-Rast

"By alienation is meant a mode of experience in which the person experiences himself as an alien. He has become, one might say, estranged from himself. He does not experience himself as the center of his world, as the creator of his own acts — but his acts and their consequences have become his masters, whom he obeys, or whom he may even worship. The alienated person is out of touch with himself as he is out of touch with any other person. He, like the others, are experienced as things are experienced; with the senses and with common sense, but at the same time without being related to oneself and to the world outside positively." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"In the development of both capitalism and communism, as we visualize them in the next fifty or a hundred years, the processes that encourage human alienation will continue. Both systems are developing into managerial societies, their inhabitants well fed, well clad, having their wishes satisfied, and not having wishes that cannot be satisfied. Men are increasingly automatons, who make machines which act like men and produce men who act like machines; there reason deteriorates while their intelligence rises, thus creating the dangerous situation of equipping man with the greatest material power without the wisdom to use it." - Erich Fromm, fully Erich Seligmann Fromm

"Both education and religion need to ground themselves within the story of the universe as we now understand this story through empirical knowledge. Within this functional cosmology, we can overcome our alienation and begin the renewal of life on a sustainable basis. Th is story is a numinous revelatory story that could evoke the vision and the energy required to bring not only ourselves but the entire planet into a new order of magnificence." -

"Both education and religion need to ground themselves within the story of the universe as we now understand this story through empirical knowledge. Within this functional cosmology, we can overcome our alienation and begin the renewal of life on a sustainable basis. This story is a numinous revelatory story that could evoke the vision and the energy required to bring not only ourselves but the entire planet into a new order of magnificence." -

"In general, kids have very little tolerance for humiliation or failure. One of a student's most important goals is to make it through the day without embarrassment. Imagine then, the frustration of children with differences in learning, who are at risk of growing up deprived of experiencing success. Naturally, they compare themselves to their peers and siblings. While some may see themselves as "different," many will feel inferior. Unfortunately, these feelings are likely to endure. When they do, serious complications can develop including plummeting self- esteem, behavior problems, excessive dependence on peers, alienation from family, deep anxiety, and a loss of motivation. The sad reality is that a difference in learning, not addressed as such, can lead to anti-social behavior, substance abuse, dropping out, and other serious forms of maladjustment." - Mel Levine, formally Melvin D Levine

"Loneliness is caused by an alienation from life. It is a loneliness from your real self." - Maxwell Maltz

"We have to heal our wounded world. The chaos, despair, and senseless destruction we see today are a result of the alienation that people feel from each other and their environment." - Michael Jackson, fully Michael Joseph Jackson, aka MJ or King of Pop

"The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency." - Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, aka Saint John Paul the Great NULL

"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength." - Rachel Carson, fully Rachel Louise Carson

"The organization controlling the material equipment of our everyday life is such that what in itself would enable us to construct it richly plunges us instead into a poverty of abundance, making alienation all the more intolerable as each convenience promises liberation and turns out to be only one more burden. We are condemned to slavery to the means of liberation. " - Raoul Vaneigem

"I am breathing in and liberating my mind. I am breathing out and liberating my mind. One practices like this." - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Diversity is the magic. It is the first manifestation, the first beginning of the differentiation of a thing and of simple identity. The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection." - Thomas Berry

"The basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the Earth. If the dynamics of the Universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the Sun, and formed the Earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the Universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture." - Thomas Berry

"The Universe story is the quintessence of reality. We perceive the story. We put it in our language, the birds put it in theirs, and the trees put it in theirs. We can read the story of the Universe in the trees. Everything tells the story of the Universe. The winds tell the story, literally, not just imaginatively. The story has its imprint everywhere, and that is why it is so important to know the story. If you do not know the story, in a sense you do not know yourself; you do not know anything." - Thomas Berry

"Help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to master us. Help us to use our science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction. Save us from the compulsion to follow our adversaries in all that we most hate, confirming them in their hatred and suspicion of us." - Thomas Merton

"In the end, it's the reality of personal relationships that save everything." - Thomas Merton

"Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own—be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid." - Thomas Merton

"Now one of the things we must cast out first of all is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as an inexorable judge, we would not confidently await His mercy, or approach Him trustfully in prayer." - Thomas Merton

"The more I am able to affirm others, to say “yes” to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone." - Thomas Merton

"Though there is no use in placing our hopes on a totally utopian new world in which everyone is sublimely merciful, we are obliged to seek some way of giving the mercy and compassion a social, even a political, dimension. The eschatological function of mercy, we repeat, is to prepare the transformation of the world, and to usher in the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is manifestly “not of this world”, but it demands to be typified and prepared by such forms of heroic social witness that makes mercy plain and evident in the world… mercy must discover, in faith, in the Spirit, a power strong enough to initiate the transformation of the world into a realm of understanding, unity and relative peace, where mankind, nations and societies are willing to make the enormous sacrifices required if they are to communicate intelligibly with one another, understand one another, cooperate with one another in feeding the hungry millions and in building a world of peace." - Thomas Merton

"It is the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God." - Walter Brueggemann

"Try to imagine a culture in which no one has ever "looked up" anything. In a primary oral culture, the expression "to look up something" is an empty phrase: it would have no conceivable meaning." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"Knowing that his audiences are capable of forming bad impressions of him, the individual may come to feel ashamed of a well-intentioned honest act merely because the context of its performance provides false impressions that are bad. Feeling this unwarranted shame, he may feel that his feelings can be seen; feeling that he is thus seen, he may feel that his appearance confirms these false conclusions concerning him. He may then add to the precariousness of his position by engaging in just those defensive maneuvers that he would employ were he really guilty. In this way it is possible for all of us to become fleetingly for ourselves the worst person we can imagine that others might imagine us to be." - Erving Goffman