Monday, January 16, 2012
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [Applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. [Applause]
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism.
== Text above is taken from the book that is pictured. Frustrating for me, I cannot tell you from which speech this text comes, due to omissions in the preview of the book and unnumbered pages at Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=sOmOA8jgKvwC
[This piece was cross-posted at Sacramento Homeless blog.]
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Today, at age 57, I talk to animals that I see in the wild or pass on the street – usually saying something like this: “How ya doing, Mr. Dog?” “What’s wrong? What are you screeching about, Scrubby?”* “Nice collar, Mr. Cat.”
My evil sister [who, like Mephistopheles, has some good points] named her first pet, a parakeet, Happy. Not a human name, but a wonderful name. She had other non-people-named pets – Pucky, a dog, was one – but began to use human names when she was older. She was very good to her pets, in contrast to her treatment of humans.
* Said to my favorite bird -- or, at least, a species I know well -- California's scrub jay.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
|Graphic from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.|
The aged catch their breath,
For the nonchalant couple go
Waltzing across the tightrope
As if there were no death
Or hope of falling down;*
* Stanza from W.H. Auden's "The Sea and the mirror." (I think)
Monday, January 02, 2012
Unlike Kant, the emblematic modern who claimed that the rightness of our deeds is determined solely by reason, unsullied by need, desire or interest, Aristotle rooted his ethics in human nature, in the habits and practices, the dispositions and tendencies, that make us happy and enable our flourishing. And where Kant believed that morality consists of austere rules, imposing unconditional duties upon us and requiring our most strenuous sacrifice, Aristotle located the ethical life in the virtues. These are qualities or states, somewhere between reason and emotion but combining elements of both, that carry and convey us, by the gentlest and subtlest of means, to the outer hills of good conduct. Once there, we are inspired and equipped to scale these lower heights, whence we move onto the higher reaches. A person who acts virtuously develops a nature that wants and is able to act virtuously and that finds happiness in virtue. That coincidence of thought and feeling, reason and desire, is achieved over a lifetime of virtuous deeds. Virtue, in other words, is less a codex of rules, which must be observed in the face of the self's most violent opposition, than it is the food and fiber, the grease and gasoline, of a properly functioning soul.The words above come from Corey Robin’s new book, The Reactionary Mind, from a chapter about Ayn Rand who claimed herself to have been influenced by no one, save Aristotle – which Robin claims is a wholesale absurdity. Robin is dubious as to whether Rand read or understood Aristotle at all.
Aristotle’s view of virtue and from whence it comes sounds damn good to me in Robin’s depiction of it.