“Life itself is an exile. The way home is not the way back.”
Colin Wilson (1931 – 2013)
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors’, but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant. While we are thus unconstrained in our private business, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having a particular regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured as well as those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment.
Thucydides 460 – 400 BC), Pericles’ Funeral Oration
Let us not despair but act. Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past – let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963), Speech at Loyola College Alumni Banquet, Baltimore, Maryland, 18 February, 1958
When you’ve decided that you ought to do something and are doing it, never try to avoid being seen to do it, even if most people will probably view it with disapproval; for if it isn’t right to do it, avoid doing it in the first place, but if it is, why be afraid of those who’ll reproach you without justification.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (35)
In your conversation, avoid talking at length or overmuch about your own exploits or the dangers that you’ve faced; for pleasant though it may be for you to recall your perils, it is not as for others to listen to everything that has happened to you.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (14)
He who dies merely because of pain is weak and lazy; he who lives merely for pain is a fool.
Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (58.36)
Lay down from this moment a certain character and pattern of behaviour for yourself, which you are to preserve both when you’re alone and when you’re with others.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (33.1)
Men seek for seclusion in the wilderness, by the seashore, or in the mountains – a dream you have cherished only too fondly yourself. But such fancies are wholly unworthy of a philosopher, since at any moment you can choose to retire within yourself. Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul; above all, he who possesses resources in himself, which he need only contemplate to secure immediate ease of mind – the ease that is but another word for a well-ordered spirit. Avail yourself often, then, of this retirement, and so continually renew yourself.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (4.3)
Give your heart to the trade you have learnt, and draw refreshment from it. Let the rest of your days be spent as one who has wholeheartedly committed his all to the gods, and is thenceforth no man’s master or slave.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (4.31)
Leave another’s wrongdoing where it lies.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (9.20)