At times … I wish I could meet in a duel the man who killed my father and razed our home, expelling me into a narrow country. And if he killed me, I’d rest at last, and if I were ready — I would take my revenge!
But if it came to light, when my rival appeared, that he had a mother waiting for him, or a father who’d put his right hand over the heart’s place in his chest whenever his son was late even by just a quarter-hour for a meeting they’d set — then I would not kill him, even if I could.
Likewise … I would not murder him if it were soon made clear that he had a brother or sisters who loved him and constantly longed to see him. Or if he had a wife to greet him and children who couldn’t bear his absence and whom his gifts would thrill. Or if he had friends or companions, neighbours he knew or allies from prison or a hospital room, or classmates from his school … asking about him and sending him regards.
But if he turned out to be on his own — cut off like a branch from a tree — without a mother or father, with neither a brother nor sister, wifeless, without a child, and without kin or neighbours or friends, colleagues or companions, then I’d add not a thing to his pain within that aloneness — not the torment of death, and not the sorrow of passing away. Instead I’d be content to ignore him when I passed him by on the street — as I convinced myself that paying him no attention in itself was a kind of revenge.
– Taha Muhammad Ali, Palestinian poet
His poem Revenge is beautifully read by himself in Arabic and by Peter Cole in English here. Thank you Diti Ronen for sharing this deeply touching poem.
“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”
– Greta Thunberg, 16 year old environmental activist, her poignant speech at the World Economic Forum can be found here.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
– Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot from 1994, read by the wonderful Neil deGrasse Tyson
“We need to treat other people the way they want to be treated. Which means we have to ask.”
– Kim Katrin Milan
So much wisdom in this TED talk by Tiq Milan and Kim Katrin Milan. So much to learn from.
“Anger is naturally triggered when we feel an obstacle to meeting our needs. How do we honor the intelligence within anger, but not get hijacked into emotional reactivity that creates suffering in our individual and collective lives? This talk explores the U-turn that enables us to offer a healing attention to the feelings and unmet needs under anger. Once present with our inner life, we are able to respond to those around us with wisdom, empathy and true strength.”
Awakening through anger – the U-turn to freedom: podcast by Tara Brach
Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University, June 2005:
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.