Our kids have to face enough threats at home without sending (them) overseas to a place where terrorism has happened.
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Our kids have to face enough threats at home without sending (them) overseas to a place where terrorism has happened.

-Richard Purcell

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I have no idea how long Quisser was gone from the table. My attention became fully absorbed by the other faces in the club and the deep anxiety they betrayed to me, an anxiety that was not of the natural, existential sort but one that was caused by peculiar concerns of an uncanny nature. What a season is upon us, these faces seemed to say. And no doubt their voices would have spoken directly of certain peculiar concerns had they not been intimidated into weird equivocations and double entendres by the fear of falling victim to the same kind of unnatural affliction that had made so much trouble in the mind of the art critic Stuart Quisser. Who would be next? What could a person say these days, or even think, without feeling the dread of repercussion from powerfully connected groups and individuals? I could almost hear their voices asking, "Why here, why now?" But of course they could have just as easily been asking, "Why not here, why not now?" It would not occur to this crowd that there were no special rules involved; it would not occur to them, even though they were a crowd of imaginative artists, that the whole thing was simply a matter of random, purposeless terror that converged upon a particular place at a particular time for no particular reason. On the other hand, it would also not have occurred to them that they might have wished it all upon themselves, that they might have had a hand in bringing certain powerful forces and connections into our district simply by wishing them to come. They might have wished and wished for an unnatural evil to fall upon them but, for a while at least, nothing happened. Then the wishing stopped, the old wishes were forgotten yet at the same time gathered in strength, distilling themselves into a potent formula (who can say!), until one day the terrible season began. Because had they really told the truth, this artistic crowd might also have expressed what a sense of meaning (although of a negative sort), not to mention the vigorous thrill (although of an excruciating type), this season of unnatural evil had brought to their lives.("Gas Station Carnivals")

-Thomas Ligotti

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LADY LAZARUSI have done it again.One year in every tenI manage it--A sort of walking miracle, my skinBright as a Nazi lampshade,My right footA paperweight,My face a featureless, fineJew linen.Peel off the napkinO my enemy.Do I terrify?--The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?The sour breathWill vanish in a day.Soon, soon the fleshThe grave cave ate will beAt home on meAnd I a smiling woman.I am only thirty.And like the cat I have nine times to die.This is Number Three.What a trashTo annihilate each decade.What a million filaments.The peanut-crunching crowdShoves in to seeThem unwrap me hand and foot--The big strip tease.Gentlemen, ladiesThese are my handsMy knees.I may be skin and bone,Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.The first time it happened I was ten.It was an accident.The second time I meantTo last it out and not come back at all.I rocked shutAs a seashell.They had to call and callAnd pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.DyingIs an art, like everything else.I do it exceptionally well.I do it so it feels like hell.I do it so it feels real.I guess you could say I've a call.It's easy enough to do it in a cell.It's easy enough to do it and stay put.It's the theatricalComeback in broad dayTo the same place, the same face, the same bruteAmused shout:'A miracle!'That knocks me out.There is a chargeFor the eyeing of my scars, there is a chargeFor the hearing of my heart--It really goes.And there is a charge, a very large chargeFor a word or a touchOr a bit of bloodOr a piece of my hair or my clothes.So, so, Herr Doktor.So, Herr Enemy.I am your opus,I am your valuable,The pure gold babyThat melts to a shriek.I turn and burn.Do not think I underestimate your great concern.Ash, ash--You poke and stir.Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--A cake of soap, A wedding ring,A gold filling.Herr God, Herr LuciferBewareBeware.Out of the ashI rise with my red hairAnd I eat men like air.

-Sylvia Plath

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A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own even if she never wants to or needs to... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ... a youth she's content to leave behind.... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age.... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ..... a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... one friend who always makes her laugh... and one who lets her cry... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored... A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE .... a feeling of control over her destiny... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... how to fall in love without losing herself.. EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... HOW TO QUIT A JOB, BREAK UP WITH A LOVER, AND CONFRONT A FRIEND WITHOUT RUINING THE FRIENDSHIP... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... when to try harder... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents.. EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... that her childhood may not have been perfect...but it's over... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... what she would and wouldn't do for love or more... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... how to live alone... even if she doesn't like it... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... where to go... be it to her best friend's kitchen table... or a charming inn in the woods... when her soul needs soothing... EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW... what she can and can't accomplish in a day... a month...and a year...

-Pamela Redmond

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I had ceased to be a writer of tolerably poor tales and essays, and had become a tolerably good Surveyor of the Customs. That was all. But, nevertheless, it is any thing but agreeable to be haunted by a suspicion that one's intellect is dwindling away; or exhaling, without your consciousness, like ether out of a phial; so that, at every glance, you find a smaller and less volatile residuum. Of the fact, there could be no doubt; and, examining myself and others, I was led to conclusions in reference to the effect of public office on the character, not very favorable to the mode of life in question. In some other form, perhaps, I may hereafter develop these effects. Suffice it here to say, that a Custom-House officer, of long continuance, can hardly be a very praiseworthy or respectable personage, for many reasons; one of them, the tenure by which he holds his situation, and another, the very nature of his business, which—though, I trust, an honest one—is of such a sort that he does not share in the united effort of mankind.An effect—which I believe to be observable, more or less, in every individual who has occupied the position—is, that, while he leans on the mighty arm of the Republic, his own proper strength departs from him. He loses, in an extent proportioned to the weakness or force of his original nature, the capability of self-support. If he possess an unusual share of native energy, or the enervating magic of place do not operate too long upon him, his forfeited powers may be redeemable. The ejected officer—fortunate in the unkindly shove that sends him forth betimes, to struggle amid a struggling world—may return to himself, and become all that he has ever been. But this seldom happens. He usually keeps his ground just long enough for his own ruin, and is then thrust out, with sinews all unstrung, to totter along the difficult footpath of life as he best may. Conscious of his own infirmity,—that his tempered steel and elasticity are lost,—he for ever afterwards looks wistfully about him in quest of support external to himself. His pervading and continual hope—a hallucination, which, in the face of all discouragement, and making light of impossibilities, haunts him while he lives, and, I fancy, like the convulsive throes of the cholera, torments him for a brief space after death—is, that, finally, and in no long time, by some happy coincidence of circumstances, he shall be restored to office. This faith, more than any thing else, steals the pith and availability out of whatever enterprise he may dream of undertaking. Why should he toil and moil, and be at so much trouble to pick himself up out of the mud, when, in a little while hence, the strong arm of his Uncle will raise and support him? Why should he work for his living here, or go to dig gold in California, when he is so soon to be made happy, at monthly intervals, with a little pile of glittering coin out of his Uncle's pocket? It is sadly curious to observe how slight a taste of office suffices to infect a poor fellow with this singular disease. Uncle Sam's gold—meaning no disrespect to the worthy old gentleman—has, in this respect, a quality of enchantment like that of the Devil's wages. Whoever touches it should look well to himself, or he may find the bargain to go hard against him, involving, if not his soul, yet many of its better attributes; its sturdy force, its courage and constancy, its truth, its self-reliance, and all that gives the emphasis to manly character.

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

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It doesn't matter what the manifest problem was in our childhood family. In a home where a child is emotionally deprived for one reason or another that child will take some personal emotional confusion into his or her adult life. We may spin our spiritual wheels in trying to make up for childhood's personal losses, looking for compensation in the wrong places and despairing that we can find it. But the significance of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ is that we can mature spiritually under His parenting and receive healing compensation for these childhood deprivations. Three emotions that often grow all out of proportion in the emotionally deprived child are fear, guilt, and anger. The fear grows out of the child's awareness of the uncontrollable nature of her fearful environment, of overwhelming negative forces around her. Her guilt, her profound feelings of inadequacy, intensify when she is unable to put right what is wrong, either in the environment or in another person, no matter how hard she tries to be good. If only she could try harder or be better, she could correct what is wrong, she thinks. She may carry this guilt all her life, not knowing where it comes from, but just always feeling guilty. She often feels too sorry for something she has done that was really not all that serious. Her anger comes from her frustration, perceived deprivation, and the resultant self-pity. She has picked up an anger habit and doesn't know how much trouble it is causing her. A fourth problem often follows in the wake of the big three: the need to control others and manipulate events in order to feel secure in her own world, to hold her world together- to make happen what she wants to happen. She thinks she has to run everything. She may enter adulthood with an illusion of power and a sense of authority to put other people right, though she has had little success with it. She thinks that all she has to do is try harder, be worthier, and then she can change, perfect, and save other people. But she is in the dark about what really needs changing."I thought I would drown in guilt and wanted to fix all the people that I had affected so negatively. But I learned that I had to focus on getting well and leave off trying to cure anyone around me." Many of those around - might indeed get better too, since we seldom see how much we are a key part of a negative relationship pattern. I have learned it is a true principle that I need to fix myself before I can begin to be truly helpful to anyone else. I used to think that if I were worthy enough and worked hard enough, and exercised enough anxiety (which is not the same thing as faith), I could change anything. My power and my control are illusions. To survive emotionally, I have to turn my life over to the care of that tender Heavenly Father who was really in charge. It is my own spiritual superficiality that makes me sick, and that only profound repentance, that real change of heart, would ultimately heal me. My Savior is much closer than I imagine and is willing to take over the direction of my life: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing." (John 15:5). As old foundations crumble, we feel terribly vulnerable. Humility, prayer and flexibility are the keys to passing through this corridor of healthy change while we experiment with truer ways of dealing with life. Godly knowledge, lovingly imparted, begins deep healing, gives tools to live by and new ways to understand the gospel.

-M. Catherine

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Some sleepers have intelligent faces even in sleep, while other faces, even intelligent ones, become very stupid in sleep and therefore ridiculous. I don't know what makes that happen; I only want to say that a laughing man, like a sleeping one, most often knows nothing about his face. A great many people don't know how to laugh at all. However, there's nothing to know here: it's a gift, and it can't be fabricated. It can only be fabricated by re-educating oneself, developing oneself for the better, and overcoming the bad instincts of one's character; then the laughter of such a person might quite possibly change for the better. A man can give himself away completely by his laughter, so that you suddenly learn all of his innermost secrets. Even indisputably intelligent laughter is sometimes repulsive. Laughter calls first of all for sincerity, and where does one find sincerity? Laughter calls for lack of spite, but people most often laugh spitefully. Sincere and unspiteful laughter is mirth. A man's mirth is a feature that gives away the whole man, from head to foot. Someone's character won't be cracked for a long time, then the man bursts out laughing somehow quite sincerely, and his whole character suddenly opens up as if on the flat of your hand. Only a man of the loftiest and happiest development knows how to be mirthful infectiously, that is, irresistibly and goodheartedly. I'm not speaking of his mental development, but of his character, of the whole man. And so, if you want to discern a man and know his soul, you must look, not at how he keeps silent, or how he speaks, or how he weeps, or even how he is stirred by the noblest ideas, but you had better look at him when he laughs. If a man has a good laugh, it means he's a good man. Note at the same time all the nuances: for instance, a man's laughter must in no case seem stupid to you, however merry and simplehearted it may be. The moment you notice the slightest trace of stupidity in someone's laughter, it undoubtedly means that the man is of limited intelligence, though he may do nothing but pour out ideas. Or if his laughter isn't stupid, but the man himself, when he laughs, for some reason suddenly seems ridiculous to you, even just slightly—know, then, that the man has no real sense of dignity, not fully in any case. Or finally, if his laughter is infectious, but for some reason still seems banal to you, know, then, that the man's nature is on the banal side as well, and all the noble and lofty that you noticed in him before is either deliberately affected or unconsciously borrowed, and later on the man is certain to change for the worse, to take up what's 'useful' and throw his noble ideas away without regret, as the errors and infatuations of youth.

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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