Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.Margaret Mead
If I am extreme, I am not extreme in the same way as youPeter Weiss, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade
Against Nature’s silence I use action
In the vast indifference I invent a meaning
I don’t watch unmoved I intervene
and say that this and this are wrong
and I work to alter them and improve them
The important thing
is to pull yourself up by your own hair
to turn yourself inside out
and see the whole world with fresh eyes
When will you learn to seePeter Weiss, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade
When will you learn to take sides
Un livre est un suicide différé.Emil Cioran, De l’inconvénient d’être né
But what’s odd about them is that they try to be simple and never clear away a single thing that’s complicated. If they have to choose between beef and pickles, they always abolish the beef. If they have to choose between a meadow and a motor, they forbid the meadow. Shall I tell you the secret? These men only surrender the things that bind them to other men. Go and dine with a temperance millionaire and you won’t find he’s abolished the hors d’oeuvres or the five courses or even the coffee. What he’s abolished is the port and sherry, because poor men like that as well as rich. Go a step farther, and you won’t find he’s abolished the fine silver forks and spoons, but he’s abolished the meat, because poor men like meat—when they can get it. Go a step farther, and you won’t find he goes without gardens or gorgeous rooms, which poor men can’t enjoy at all. But you will find he boasts of early rising, because sleep is a thing poor men can still enjoy. About the only thing they can still enjoy. Nobody ever heard of a modern philanthropist giving up petrol or typewriting or troops of servants. No, no! What he gives up must be some simple and universal thing. He will give up beef or beer or sleep—because these pleasures remind him that he is only a man.G. K. Chesterton, The Flying Inn
If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?Hillel, Pirkei Avot 1:14
It seems to have been an important feature of true moralists that they not only made others feel uneasy, but caused themselves at least equal disquiet too. To be a moralist was to lead an unquiet life—which is precisely what distinguished a moralist from an intellectual, whose public anguish over affairs of ethics or state normally accompanied an easy and confident private conscience.Tony Judt, The Burden of Responsibility
One of my regrets is to have sacrificed too much to objectivity. Objectivity, sometimes, is an accommodation. Today things are clear, and we must call totalitarian those things that are totalitarian, even socialism. In a manner of speaking, I shall never again be polite.Albert Camus
There is something worse in this world than the abuse of force; it is the servile complaisance that such force encounters when it is successful, that obsequious adulation which forgets the crime in order to flatter the success.Léon Blum
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table
In front of No. 40 Viale Gorizia there was a bench: Giulia told me to wait for her there and flew through the street door like a gust of wind. I sat down and waited, battered and sorrowful. I thought that I ought to be less of a gentleman, indeed less inhibited and foolish, and that for the rest of my life I would regret that between myself and her there had been nothing but a few school and company memories; and that maybe it was not too late, that maybe the no of those two musical comedy parents would be adamant, that Giulia would come down in tears and I then could console her; and that these were infamous hopes, a wicked taking advantage of the misfortunes of others. And finally, the way a shipwrecked person tired of struggling lots himself sink straight to the bottom, I fell back on what was my dominant thought during those years: that the existing fiancé and the laws of racial separation were only stupid alibis, and that my inability to approach a woman was a condemnation without appeal which would accompany me to my death, confining me to a life poisoned by envy and by abstract, sterile, and aimless desires.
Giulia came out after two hours, in fact burst through the street door like a shell from a mortar. It was not necessary to question her to find out how things had gone: “I made them look that high,” she said, all red in the face and still gasping. I made an effort to congratulate her in a believable fashion. But it’s impossible to make Giulia believe things you don’t really think, or hide things you do think. Now that she had thrown off that weight, and was shining with victory, she looked me straight in the eye, saw the shadow there, and asked, “What were you thinking about?”
“Phosphorus,” I replied.
Giulia got married a few months later and said goodbye to me, snuffing tears up her nose and giving Varisco detailed alimentary instructions. She has had many hardships and many children; we have remained friends, we see each other every so often in Milan and talk about chemistry and other reasonable matters. We are not dissatisfied with our choices and with what life has given us, but when we meet we both have a curious and not unpleasant impression (which we have both described to each other several times) that a veil, a breath, a throw of the dice deflected us onto two divergent paths, which were not ours.