Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.
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Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies.

-Will Durant

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There have been ample opportunities since 1945 to show that material superiority in war is not enough if the will to fight is lacking. In Algeria, Vietnam and Afghanistan the balance of economic and military strength lay overwhelmingly on the side of France, the United States, and the Soviet Union, but the will to win was slowly eroded. Troops became demoralised and brutalised. Even a political solution was abandoned. In all three cases the greater power withdrew. The Second World War was an altogether different conflict, but the will to win was every bit as important - indeed it was more so. The contest was popularly perceived to be about issues of life and death of whole communities rather than for their fighting forces alone. They were issues, wrote one American observer in 1939, 'worth dying for'. If, he continued, 'the will-to-destruction triumphs, our resolution to preserve civilisation must become more implacable...our courage must mount'.Words like 'will' and 'courage' are difficult for historians to use as instruments of cold analysis. They cannot be quantified; they are elusive of definition; they are products of a moral language that is regarded sceptically today, even tainted by its association with fascist rhetoric. German and Japanese leaders believed that the spiritual strength of their soldiers and workers in some indefinable way compensate for their technical inferiority. When asked after the war why Japan lost, one senior naval officer replied that the Japanese 'were short on spirit, the military spirit was weak...' and put this explanation ahead of any material cause. Within Germany, belief that spiritual strength or willpower was worth more than generous supplies of weapons was not confined to Hitler by any means, though it was certainly a central element in the way he looked at the world.The irony was that Hitler's ambition to impose his will on others did perhaps more than anything to ensure that his enemies' will to win burned brighter still. The Allies were united by nothing so much as a fundamental desire to smash Hitlerism and Japanese militarism and to use any weapon to achieve it. The primal drive for victory at all costs nourished Allied fighting power and assuaged the thirst for vengeance. They fought not only because the sum of their resources added up to victory, but because they wanted to win and were certain that their cause was just.The Allies won the Second World War because they turned their economic strength into effective fighting power, and turned the moral energies of their people into an effective will to win. The mobilisation of national resources in this broad sense never worked perfectly, but worked well enough to prevail. Materially rich, but divided, demoralised, and poorly led, the Allied coalition would have lost the war, however exaggerated Axis ambitions, however flawed their moral outlook. The war made exceptional demands on the Allied peoples. Half a century later the level of cruelty, destruction and sacrifice that it engendered is hard to comprehend, let alone recapture. Fifty years of security and prosperity have opened up a gulf between our own age and the age of crisis and violence that propelled the world into war. Though from today's perspective Allied victory might seem somehow inevitable, the conflict was poised on a knife-edge in the middle years of the war. This period must surely rank as the most significant turning point in the history of the modern age.

-Richard Overy

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{From Luther Burbank's funeral. He was loved until he revealed he was an atheist, then he began to receive death threats. He tried to amiably answer them all, leading to his death}It is impossible to estimate the wealth he has created. It has been generously given to the world. Unlike inventors, in other fields, no patent rights were given him, nor did he seek a monopoly in what he created. Had that been the case, Luther Burbank would have been perhaps the world's richest man. But the world is richer because of him. In this he found joy that no amount of money could give.And so we meet him here today, not in death, but in the only immortal life we positively know--his good deeds, his kindly, simple, life of constructive work and loving service to the whole wide world.These things cannot die. They are cumulative, and the work he has done shall be as nothing to its continuation in the only immortality this brave, unselfish man ever sought, or asked to know.As great as were his contributions to the material wealth of this planet, the ages yet to come, that shall better understand him, will give first place in judging the importance of his work to what he has done for the betterment of human plants and the strength they shall gain, through his courage, to conquer the tares, the thistles and the weeds. Then no more shall we have a mythical God that smells of brimstone and fire; that confuses hate with love; a God that binds up the minds of little children, as other heathen bind up their feet--little children equally helpless to defend their precious right to think and choose and not be chained from the dawn of childhood to the dogmas of the dead.Luther Burbank will rank with the great leaders who have driven heathenish gods back into darkness, forever from this earth.In the orthodox threat of eternal punishment for sin--which he knew was often synonymous with yielding up all liberty and freedom--and in its promise of an immortality, often held out for the sacrifice of all that was dear to life, the right to think, the right to one's mind, the right to choose, he saw nothing but cowardice. He shrank from such ways of thought as a flower from the icy blasts of death. As shown by his work in life, contributing billions of wealth to humanity, with no more return than the maintenance of his own breadline, he was too humble, too unselfish, to be cajoled with dogmatic promises of rewards as a sort of heavenly bribe for righteous conduct here. He knew that the man who fearlessly stands for the right, regardless of the threat of punishment or the promise of reward, was the real man.Rather was he willing to accept eternal sleep, in returning to the elements from whence he came, for in his lexicon change was life. Here he was content to mingle as a part of the whole, as the raindrop from the sea performs its sacred service in watering the land to which it is assigned, that two blades may grow instead of one, and then, its mission ended, goes back to the ocean from whence it came. With such service, with such a life as gardener to the lilies of the field, in his return to the bosoms of infinity, he has not lost himself. There he has found himself, is a part of the cosmic sea of eternal force, eternal energy. And thus he lived and always will live.Thomas Edison, who believes very much as Burbank, once discussed with me immortality. He pointed to the electric light, his invention, saying: 'There lives Tom Edison.' So Luther Burbank lives. He lives forever in the myriad fields of strengthened grain, in the new forms of fruits and flowers, plants, vines, and trees, and above all, the newly watered gardens of the human mind, from whence shall spring human freedom that shall drive out false and brutal gods. The gods are toppling from their thrones. They go before the laughter and the joy of the new childhood of the race, unshackled and unafraid.

-Luther Burbank

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We are afraid of what we will do to others, afraid of the rage that lies in wait somewhere deep in our souls. How many human beings go through the world frozen with rage against life! This deeply hidden inner anger may be the product of hurt pride or of real frustration in office, factory, clinic, or home. Whatever may be the cause of our frozen rage (which is the inevitable mother of depression), the great word of hope today is that this rage can be conquered and drained off into creative channels ……What should we do? We should all learn that a certain amount of aggressive energy is normal and certainly manageable in maturity. Most of us can drain off the excess of our angry feelings and destructive impulses in exercise, in competitive games, or in the vigorous battles against the evils of nature and society. We also must realize that no one will punish us for the legitimate expression of self-assertiveness and creative pugnacity as our parents once punished us for our undisciplined temper tantrums. Furthermore, let us remember that we need not totally repress the angry part of our nature. We can always give it an outlet in the safe realm of fantasy. A classic example of such fantasy is given by Max Beerborn, who made a practice of concocting imaginary letters to people he hated. Sometimes he went so far as to actually write the letters and in the very process of releasing his anger it evaporated. As mature men and women we should regard our minds as a true democracy where all kinds of ideas and emotions should be given freedom of speech. If in political life we are willing to grant civil liberties to all sorts of parties and programs, should we not be equally willing to grant civil liberties to our innermost thoughts and drives, confident that the more dangerous of them will be outvoted by the majority within our minds? Do I mean that we should hit out at our enemy whenever the mood strikes us? No, I repeat that I am suggesting quite the reverse—self-control in action based upon (positive coping mechanisms such as) self expression in fantasy.

-Joshua Loth

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1. Myth: Without God, life has no meaning. There are 1.2 billion Chinese who have no predominant religion, and 1 billion people in India who are predominantly Hindu. And 65% of Japan's 127 million people claim to be non-believers. It is laughable to suggest that none of these billions of people are leading meaningful lives.2. Myth: Prayer works. Studies have now shown that inter-cessionary prayer has no effect whatsoever of the health or well-being of the subject.3. Myth: Atheists are immoral.There are hundreds of millions of non-believers on the planet living normal, decent, moral lives. They love their children, care about others, obey laws, and try to keep from doing harm to others just like everyone else. In fact, in predominantly non-believing countries such as in northern Europe, measures of societal health such as life expectancy at birth, adult literacy, per capita income, education, homicide, suicide, gender equality, and political coercion are better than they are in believing societies.4. Myth: Belief in God is compatible with science. In the past, every supernatural or paranormal explanation of phenomena that humans believed turned out to be mistaken; science has always found a physical explanation that revealed that the supernatural view was a myth. Modern organisms evolved from lower life forms, they weren't created 6,000 years ago in the finished state. Fever is not caused by demon possession. Bad weather is not the wrath of angry gods. Miracle claims have turned out to be mistakes, frauds, or deceptions. We have every reason to conclude that science will continue to undermine the superstitious worldview of religion.5. Myth: We have immortal souls that survive death.We have mountains of evidence that makes it clear that our consciousness, our beliefs, our desires, our thoughts all depend upon the proper functioning of our brains our nervous systems to exist. So when the brain dies, all of these things that we identify with the soul also cease to exist. Despite the fact that billions of people have lived and died on this planet, we do not have a single credible case of someone's soul, or consciousness, or personality continuing to exist despite the demise of their bodies.6. Myth: If there is no God, everything is permitted.Consider the billions of people in China, India, and Japan above. If this claim was true, none of them would be decent moral people. So Ghandi, the Buddha, and Confucius, to name only a few were not moral people on this view.7. Myth: Believing in God is not a cause of evil.The examples of cases where it was someone's belief in God that was the justification for their evils on humankind are too numerous to mention.8. Myth: God explains the origins of the universe.All of the questions that allegedly plague non-God attempts to explain our origins still apply to the faux explanation of God. The suggestion that God created everything does not make it any clearer to us where it all came from, how he created it, why he created it, where it is all going. In fact, it raises even more difficult mysteries: how did God, operating outside the confines of space, time, and natural law 'create' or 'build' a universe that has physical laws? We have no precedent and maybe no hope of answering or understanding such a possibility. What does it mean to say that some disembodied, spiritual being who knows everything and has all power, 'loves' us, or has thoughts, or goals, or plans?9. Myth: There's no harm in believing in God.Religious views inform voting, how they raise their children, what they think is moral and immoral, what laws and legislation they pass, who they are friends and enemies with, what companies they invest in, where they donate to charities, who they approve and disapprove of, who they are willing to kill or tolerate, what crimes they are willing to commit, and which wars they are willing to fight.

-Matt McCormick

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If you do not want to stop the wheels of progress; if you do not want to go back to the Dark Ages; if you do not want to live again under tyranny, then you must guard your liberty, and you must not let the church get control of your government. If you do, you will lose the greatest legacy ever bequeathed to the human race—intellectual freedom.Now let me tell you another thing. If all the energy and wealth wasted upon religion—in all of its varied forms—had been spent to understand life and its problems, we would today be living under conditions that would seem almost like Utopia. Most of our social and domestic problems would have been solved, and equally as important, our understanding and relations with the other peoples of the world would have, by now, brought about universal peace.Man would have a better understanding of his motives and actions, and would have learned to curb his primitive instincts for revenge and retaliation. He would, by now, know that wars of hate, aggression, and aggrandizement are only productive of more hate and more human suffering.The enlightened and completely emancipated man from the fears of a God and the dogma of hate and revenge would make him a brother to his fellow man.He would devote his energies to discoveries and inventions, which theology previously condemned as a defiance of God, but which have proved so beneficial to him. He would no longer be a slave to a God and live in cringing fear!

-Joseph Lewis

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Among this bewildering multiplicity of ideals which shall we choose? The answer is that we shall choose none. For it is clear that each one of these contradictory ideals is the fruit of particular social circumstances. To some extent, of course, this is true of every thought and aspiration that has ever been formulated. Some thoughts and aspirations, however, are manifestly less dependent on particular social circumstances than others. And here a significant fact emerges: all the ideals of human behaviour formulated by those who have been most successful in freeing themselves from the prejudices of their time and place are singularly alike. Liberation from prevailing conventions of thought, feeling and behaviour is accomplished most effectively by the practice of disinterested virtues and through direct insight into the real nature of ultimate reality. (Such insight is a gift, inherent in the individual; but, though inherent, it cannot manifest itself completely except where certain conditions are fulfilled. The principal pre-condition of insight is, precisely, the practice of disinterested virtues.) To some extent critical intellect is also a liberating force. But the way in which intellect is used depends upon the will. Where the will is not disinterested, the intellect tends to be used (outside the non-human fields of technology, science or pure mathematics) merely as an instrument for the rationalization of passion and prejudice, the justification of self-interest. That is why so few even of die acutest philosophers have succeeded in liberating themselves completely from the narrow prison of their age and country. It is seldom indeed that they achieve as much freedom as the mystics and the founders of religion. The most nearly free men have always been those who combined virtue with insight.Now, among these freest of human beings there has been, for the last eighty or ninety generations, substantial agreement in regard to the ideal individual. The enslaved have held up for admiration now this model of a man, now that; but at all times and in all places, the free have spoken with only one voice.It is difficult to find a single word that will adequately describe the ideal man of the free philosophers, the mystics, the founders of religions. 'Non-attached* is perhaps the best. The ideal man is the non-attached man. Non-attached to his bodily sensations and lusts. Non-attached to his craving for power and possessions. Non-attached to the objects of these various desires. Non-attached to his anger and hatred; non-attached to his exclusive loves.Non-attached to wealth, fame, social position. Non-attached even to science, art, speculation, philanthropy. Yes, non-attached even to these. For, like patriotism, in Nurse Cavel's phrase, 'they are not enough, Non-attachment to self and to what are called 'the things of this world' has always been associated in the teachings of the philosophers and the founders of religions with attachment to an ultimate reality greater and more significant than the self. Greater and more significant than even the best things that this world has to offer. Of the nature of this ultimate reality I shall speak in the last chapters of this book. All that I need do in this place is to point out that the ethic of non-attachment has always been correlated with cosmologies that affirm the existence of a spiritual reality underlying the phenomenal world and imparting to it whatever value or significance it possesses.

-Aldous Huxley

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