Peace is not an eschatological phenomenon but continuous work-in-progress.
We are who we are and ought to be conscious of our identity and heritage, happy to exist as we are. An Aborigine need not desire to be European. A Paraguayan need not aspire to be Brazilian. A German need not wish to be American. It is in our own hands to extend our horizons, learn, build, evolve, modify our opinions as often as necessary, as experience expands our perspectives and, perhaps, wisdom. We should exercise the freedoms we have to continuously push the limits, but always in harmony with our roots and identity. Respecting oneself is not narcissism – but the prerequisite to love others.
Ephemeral encounters, anonymous eye contact, passive observations enter our subconscious and settle in. They dwell imperceptively in us as ghosts and vague impressions that return metamorphosed in dreams.
The archeology of our collective memory reveals broken marbles of faith, ruins of good intentions, fossils of injustice, traces of old animosities, but also archaic torsos of heroism and the granite of our ancestors’ will to live.
Celebrating the myriad good things of life, dwelling on nature’s generous bounty, grasping those transcendental moments of genuine elation is decidedly more gratifying than keeping book on the faults and frailties of others, focusing on imperfections, counting wrinkles or worrying about what might go wrong.
Flesh is weak, but so too is the spirit. We’re still working at the mode d’emploi to strengthen both.
An excess of virtue frustrates the higher virtues of moderation and proportion.
Future generations will surely think of us, because — by thinking too little of them — we have ruined their environment.
Living on the edge is a youthful ideal of glorified danger with attendant adrenaline rushes.
Youth is sometimes wasted on the young (George Bernard Shaw), as history can be wasted on historians, notably politically-correct historians, and ideologies on ideologues– who are notorious for losing all sense for proportion.
Fast-track life is unreal, a form of alienation from nature and from ourselves.
Rhetoric has little to do with truth or sincerity. Rhetoric is the art of seduction through the word, which frequently enough is neither sincere nor truthful.
Beauty has a lot to do with aesthetics, but little to do with goodness. A handsome face does not guarantee a merciful heart.
The capacity for intellectual dishonesty of many “intellectuals” is phenomenal. These virtuosi of sophism indulge in a form of self-deception that deploys its own logic and dynamic, quite impervious to factual evidence.
It is more important to deal with the causes than with the consequences of conflict. Rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic is not an option.
Civilization is the long journey from predator behavior to interdependence, rule of law and caritas.
Neither can we ski as the pros, nor can we sing as Met soloists, but we sense the divine in them and their transcendental humanness. They too, Olympic champions and opera singers, are members of our species, have two eyes, two ears, one mouth — and though their achievements are bound to pass, we prolong them when we celebrate and internalize them.
Irony and cynicism are not siblings. Whereas irony endeavours to understand paradoxes, cynicism takes perverse and destructive pleasure in them.
The pessimist is one who thinks he has been sinned against more than he himself has sinned against others. The optimist does not focus on past injuries but develops strategies how best to duck future injustice.
For as long as the homo sapiens species exists, it is our moral duty to be optimistic.
Taste – as love – is arbitrary.
When society loses the sense for the sacred, it declines.
Laughter is a seasoned pedagogue.
Learning requires observation, distance, comparison and the capacity to laugh at it all.
It is good that youth does not always listen to the older generation – does not always follow their bad habits and patterns of behavior, and remains free to test new ways and learn from personal experiences and mistakes.
Education should teach young people how to think independently, how to put things into context, compare, imagine, invent. Alas, only few teachers bother to instill curiosity in their pupils or teach them how to think outside the box, how to dare, how to create. What is mostly taught in high schools and colleges is how to adjust to the spirit of the times, how to be a loyal fan of a given sports club, how to jump on bandwagons, how to function within a system of political correctness, and how to respect the many red lines imposed by society to maintain the status quo.
There is a vast gulf between scepticism and denial. Whereas skepticism is a useful procedural tool in every investigation, denial is often a form of bigotry: a refusal to question the validity of one’s premises, to consider certain hypotheses, to accept the conclusion of an investigation, or its logical consequences. Skepticism is prior to both affirmation and denial. There is no justification for continued scepticism or stubborn denial, if a methodologically thorough investigation has been conducted.
The artistic terms “nature morte” or “naturaleza muerta” are bizarre oxymorons. Nature may appear motionless on a painting — but it is anything but dead. The English term “still-life” and the German “Stilleben” express far better that special magic of the genre.
Excessive individualism is suicidal for every culture.
Sometimes autism may serve as a survival strategy.
Embarrassment is for adolescents.