node created 2012/06/17
last changed 2013/02/04
A person can become free through acts of disobedience by learning to say no to power. But not only is the capacity for disobedience the condition for freedom; freedom is also the condition for disobedience. If I am afraid of freedom, I cannot dare to say "no," I cannot have the courage to be disobedient. Indeed, freedom and the capacity for disobedience are inseparable; hence any social, political, and religious system which proclaims freedom, yet stamps out disobedience, cannot speak the truth.
Truth is something so noble that if God could turn aside from it, I could keep the truth and let God go.
When daily life requires turning a blind eye to the falsity of countless things we’re told, it weakens the power of language to sort truth from fiction.
The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits 'atrocities' but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future.
All good things have something casual about them and lie like cows in the meadow.
So, never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed. If you, not just you in this room tonight, but in all the thousands of other rooms like this one about the world today and tomorrow and next week, will do this, not as a class or classes, but as individuals, men and women, you will change the earth; in one generation all the Napoleons and Hitlers and Caesars and Mussolinis and Stalins and all the other tyrants who want power and aggrandizement, and the simple politicians and time-servers who themselves are merely baffled or ignorant or afraid, who have used, or are using, or hope to use, man’s fear and greed for man’s enslavement, will have vanished from the face of it.
address to the the graduating class at University High School, Oxford, Mississippi on May 28, 1951
The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.
The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
Behind the technological veil, behind the political veil of democracy reality shows itself: the universal servitude, the loss of human dignity with prefabricated freedom of choice. And the power structure does not appear 'sublimated' anymore in the style of a liberalist culture, not even hypocritical (so that it at least retains the 'formality', the husk of dignity), but brutal, in that it abandons all claim to truth and justice.
"Konterrevolution & Revolte" (1973)
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

Blight

Give me truths;
For I am weary of the surfaces,
And die of inanition. If I knew
Only the herbs and simples of the wood,
Rue, cinquefoil, gill, vervain and agrimony,
Blue-vetch and trillium, hawkweed, sassafras,
Milkweeds and murky brakes, quaint pipes and sun-dew,
And rare and virtuous roots, which in these woods
Draw untold juices from the common earth,
Untold, unknown, and I could surely spell
Their fragrance, and their chemistry apply
By sweet affinities to human flesh,
Driving the foe and stablishing the friend,--
O, that were much, and I could be a part
Of the round day, related to the sun
And planted world, and full executor
Of their imperfect functions.
But these young scholars, who invade our hills,
Bold as the engineer who fells the wood,
And traveling often in the cut he makes, 
Love not the flower they pluck, and know it not,
And all their botany is Latin names.
The old men studied magic in the flowers,
And human fortunes in astronomy,
And an omnipotence in chemistry,
Preferring things to names, for these were men,
Were unitarians of the united world,
And, wheresoever their clear eye-beams fell,
They caught the footsteps of the SAME. Our eyes
And strangers to the mystic beast and bird,
And strangers to the plant and to the mine.
The injured elements say, 'Not in us;'
And haughtily return us stare for stare.
For we invade them impiously for gain;
We devastate them unreligiously,
And coldly ask their pottage, not their love.
Therefore they shove us from them, yield to us
Only what to our griping toil is due;
But the sweet affluence of love and song,
The rich results of the divine consents
Of man and earth, of world beloved and lover,
The nectar and ambrosia, are withheld;
And in the midst of spoils and slaves, we thieves
And pirates of the universe, shut out
Daily to a more thin and outward rind,
Turn pale and starve. Therefore, to our sick eyes,
The stunted trees look sick, the summer short,
Clouds shade the sun, which will not tan our hay,
And nothing thrives to reach its natural term;
And life, shorn of its venerable length,
Even at its greatest space is a defeat,
And dies in anger that it was a dupe;
And, in its highest noon and wantonness,
Is early frugal, like a beggar's child;
Even in the hot pursuit of the best aims
And prizes of ambition, checks its hand,
Like Alpine cataracts frozen as they leaped,
Chilled with a miserly comparison
Of the toy's purchase with the length of life.
[..]

The horseman serves the horse,
The neatherd serves the neat,
The merchant serves the purse, 
The eater serves his meat;
'T is the day of the chattel,
Web to weave, and corn to grind;
Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind.

There are two laws discrete,
Not reconciled,--
Law for man, and law for thing;
The last builds town and fleet,
But it runs wild,
And doth the man unking.
'T is fit the forest fall,
The steep be graded,
The mountain tunnelled,
The sand shaded,
The orchard planted,
The glebe tilled,
The prairie granted,
The steamer built.

Let man serve law for man;
Live for friendship, live for love,
For truth's and harmony's behoof;
The state may follow how it can,
As Olympus follows Jove.

[..]
"Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing"
Words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details.
What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life always spills over the rim of every cup.
Tagstruth
On truth's path, wise is mad, insane is wise.
In love's way, self and other are the same.
Having drunk the wine, my love, of being one with you,
I find the way to Mecca and Bodhgaya are the same.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
Tagstruth
There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.
"War and Peace"
If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.
These aliens, these made-up worlds
of ours, are ways of making
mysteries mundane.
We see beauty and think
it truth.
Man's measure grips the world,
chokes meaning from it.

But you can't escape cages by studying their bars.
Laws prison licence
in slow spaces, snagged time.
So the best of science or of crafty fictive lies
presses us into true darkness,
away from the lamppost.
Beware of the snaky swoop of integrals.
Math's mad arabesques can conceal far
more than they reveal.
It's strangeness we must seek, not
more urns so Greek,
with their Pythagorean certainties.
We must live in the jagged outlands,
knowing truth may not fit snugly,
can be ugly,
and all our own.
"Bleak Velocities"
Tagstruth
Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it's from Neptune.
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
Only the free have disposition to be truthful, 

Only the truthful have the interest to be just,
Only the just possess the will-power to be free.
There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.
Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four. If granted, all else follows.
Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.
True words aren't charming,
Charming words aren't true.
People who know aren't learned,
Learned people don't know.