Wise Words on Human Nature

"One Another Before Ourselves"
The real problem of our existence lies in the fact that we ought to love one another, but do not.
Reinhold Niebuhr

"Remove Your Subjective Glasses"
Without our knowing it, we see reality through glasses colored by the subconscious memory of previous experiences.
Thomas Merton

"Looking For An Out"
Many people today don't want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety. They want answers that are, in effect, escapes.
Louis Kronenberger

“Can a Stream Rise Higher Than Its Own Source?”
Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata-of creatures that worked like machines-would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free. Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.
C.S. Lewis

"He Himself is the Fuel of Our Spirits"
The better stuff a creature is made of—the cleverer and stronger and freer it is—then the better it will be if it goes right but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong. A cow cannot be very good or very bad; a dog can be both better and worse; a child better and worse still; an ordinary man, still more so; a man of genius, still more so; a superhuman spirit best—or worst—of all...What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy...God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
C.S. Lewis

"Give Of Your Best To The Master"
Our very defects, are shadows of our virtues.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Always Be, Yourself, In Favor"
Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.
Robert Frost

"The Intellectual Fake Out"
How many people are abstract as a way of appearing profound!
Joseph Jourbert, 1754-1824

“Maybe Your Misery Is The Weapon You Brandish”
Before you help someone, you should find out why that person is in trouble. You shouldn't merely assume that he or she is a noble victim of unjust circumstances and exploitation. It's the most unlikely explanation, not the most probable. It's never been that simple... It is far more likely that a given individual has just decided to reject the path upward, because of its difficulty. Perhaps that should even be your default assumption, when faced with such a situation. It's easier to put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today, and drown the upcoming months and years in today's cheap pleasures... how do I know that you're suffering is not the demand of martyrdom for my resources, so that you can oh - - momentarily stave off the inevitable?.... Maybe my help... does keep that too terrible, too personal realization temporarily at bay. Maybe your misery is a demand placed on me so that I can fail too, so that the gap you so painfully feel between us can be reduced, while you degenerate and sink...

Maybe your misery is the weapon you brandish in your hatred for those who rose upward while you waited and sank. Maybe your misery is your attempt to prove the world’s injustice, instead of the evidence of your own sin, your own missing of the mark, your conscious refusal to strive and to live. Maybe your willingness to suffer in failure is inexhaustible, given what you use that suffering to prove. Maybe it’s your revenge on being. How exactly should I befriend you when you’re in such a place? How exactly could I?

To fail, you merely have to cultivate a few bad habits. You just have to bide your time. And once someone has spent enough time cultivating bad habits and biding their time, they are much diminished. Much of what they could have been has dissipated, and much of the less that they have become is now real. Things fall apart of their own accord, but the sins of men speed their degeneration. And then comes the flood.

I am not saying that there is no hope of redemption. But it is much harder to extract someone from a chasm than to lift him from a ditch. And some chasms are very deep. And there’s not much left of the body at the bottom.

You are not morally obligated to support someone who is making the world a worse place. Quite the opposite. You should choose people who want things to be better, not worse…
Jordan Peterson

"Acknowledge It All":
Everybody complains of his memory, but nobody of his judgment.
La Rochefoucauld

"Rise Above"
Nature...is what we are put into this world to rise above.
James Agee

"Trendy Opinions"
The greatest part of mankind have no other reason for their opinions than that they are in fashion.
Samuel Johnson

"As If"
Men, in attempting to avoid fear themselves, give others cause to fear; and the injuries which they ward off from themselves they inflict on others, as though there was a necessity either to oppress or be oppressed.

"Remember Your Destiny"
We are a journey that has forgotten its destination.

"Those people!"
Men who are out of humor with themselves often see their own condition reflected in the world outside them, and everything seems amiss because it is not well with themselves.
James Anthony Froude

"The Color of Circumstance"
The same objects appear pleasing or displeasing, as the circumstances in which we see them are comfortable or uncomfortable.
Fulke Greville

"Unchain Your Heart"
We are but fettered by chains of our own forging, and which ourselves also can rend asunder. This deep, paralyzed subjection to physical objects comes not from Nature, but from our own unwise mode of viewing Nature.
Thomas Carlyle

"Concealed Admiration"
There is no Man so bad but he secretly respects the Good.
Benjamin Franklin

"A Dinner Plate of Carrots"
There are people who so arrange their lives that they feed themselves only on side dishes.
Jose Ortega y Gasset

"The Worth Of Water"
When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin

"Licking The Boot"
People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.
Eric Hoffer

"The Foundation of All Clear Thinking"
...the human idea of decent behaviour was obvious to everyone. And I believe they were right. If they were not, then all the things we said about the war were nonsense. What was the sense in saying the enemy were in the wrong unless Right is a real thing which the Nazis at bottom knew as well as we did and ought to have practised. If they had had no notion of what we mean by right, then, though we might still have had to fight them, we could no more have blamed them for that than for the colour of their hair...It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table...If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently...These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in...The laws of nature, as applied to stones or trees, may only mean "what Nature, in fact, does." But if you turn to the Law of Human Nature, the Law of Decent Behaviour, it is a different matter. That law certainly does not mean "what human beings, in fact, do"; for as I said before, many of them do not obey this law at all, and none of them obey it completely. The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do...
C.S. Lewis

"Senseless Death"
Vanity has made more martyrs than truth.

"Run After The Inner Stir"
We, undisciplined in discernment of the inward, knowing nothing of it, run after the outer, never understanding that it is the inner which stirs us; we are [like] one who sees his own reflection but not realizing whence it comes goes in pursuit of it.

"You Will Know Them By Their Fruit"
Why are we surprised when fig trees bear figs?
Margaret Titzel

"Luxurious Self Reproach"
There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.
Oscar Wilde

The world is full of pots jeering at kettles.
La Rochfoucauld

"Human Philosophy Defined"
Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
Ambrose Bierce

"Blending In With The Crowd"
There are multitudes of men and women who ...attempt to get rid of the sense of moral failure by identifying themselves with groups which condone or approve the indulgences which they are either unable or unwilling to give up.
Anton T. Boisen

"Rejoice In The Strengths Of Others"
The defects of great men are the consolation of dunces.
Issac D'Israeli

"Wanted: Nurses"
The world is divided into two classes – invalids and nurses.
James McNeill Whistler

"Lovers Of Pleasure Rather Than Lovers Of God"
What has always made a hell on earth has been that man has tried to make it his heaven."
Friedrich Holderin

"Spare Tire Conscience"
I think middle age is the best time, if we can escape the fatty degeneration of the conscience which often sets in at about fifty.
Dean William Ralph Inge

"Enjoy The Chase; Then Be Content"
An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.
Pliny the Younger

"Double Trouble"
If a man could have Half his Wishes, he would double his Troubles
Benjamin Franklin

"Ulterior Motives"
It's a foolish sheep that makes the wolf his counselor.
John Ray

"And The Spiritual Application? ..."
To keep people buying, you need first to make them dissatisfied with what they have...Advertising is nothing more than a technique to keep people in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction with what they possess and in a permanent state of itchy acquisitiveness.
Felix Greene

"God's Plan: Regret, Repentance, Relief, Rejoice"
I have talked to some who felt guilt when they jolly well ought to have felt it; they have behaved like brutes and know it. I've also met others who felt guilty and weren't guilty by any standard I can apply. And thirdly, I've met people who were guilty and didn't seem to feel guilt. And isn't this what we should expect? People can be malades imaginaires who are well and think they are ill; and others, especially consumptives, are ill and think they are well; and thirdly - far the largest class - people are ill and know they are ill. It would be very odd if there were any region in which all mistakes were in one direction.
C.S. Lewis

The prompter the refusal, the less the disappointment.
Publius Syrus

"Expensive Garbage"
Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.
Hosea Ballou

"Talkin Bout My Generation"
"The self-aware, or self-absorbed, feel less self-fulfilled and thus are racked with self-pity...So, then, to those who once never trusted anyone over 30: Raise that bowl of high-fiber granola, antioxidant-rich blueberries and skim milk and give yourself... a happy birthday toast...Here's a simple explanation of how: Previous generations were raised to...speak only when spoken to and to endure in self-denying silence. But baby boomers were raised on the more nurturing, child-as-individual teachings of Dr. Benjamin Spock, and then placed under the spell of television, whose advertisers marked their wares directly to children. Parents were cut out of the sale — except, of course, for the actual purchase of that coonskin cap or Barbie doll...It created a sense of entitlement that had not existed before..."
Dan Barry

"'Tis Easier"
How may observe Christ's Birth-day; How few His Precepts! O, 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.
Benjamin Franklin

"Check Your Motives"
No man does anything from single motive
Samuel Taylor

"Trust Me."
No one who deserves confidence ever solicits it.
John Churton Collins

"Sometimes It Takes One To Know One"
The awareness of their individual blemishes and shortcomings inclines the frustrated to detect ill will and meanness in their fellow men. Self-contempt, however vague, sharpens our eyes for the imperfections of others. We usually strive to reveal in others the blemishes we hide in ourselves.
Eric Hoffer

"To The Intimidator"
Those who love to be feared, fear to be loved.
St. Francis de Sales

"The Wise Man Builds His House Upon The Rock"
If you build your house on a crack in the earth, it's your own fault.

"Walk A Wide Circle"
There are three kinds of deceivers: fools, those who deceive themselves but not others; knaves, those who deceive others but not themselves, and philosophers, those who deceive both themselves and others.

"Valiantly Hold The Helm"
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.
Publius Syrus

"Perpetual Puberty"
Hollywood is high school with money.
Martin Mull