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Obligation and resistance

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The Declaration of Independence
But our present State is a dictatorship of Evil. “We’ve known that for a long time,” I can hear you say, “and it is not necessary for you to remind us of it once again.” So I ask you: If you are aware of this, why do you not stir yourselves? Why do you permit this autocrat to rob you of one sphere of your rights after another, little by little, both overtly and in secret? One day there will be nothing left, nothing at all, except for a mechanized national engine that has been commandeered by criminals and drunks. Has your spirit been so devastated by rape that you forget that it is not only your right, but your moral duty to put an end to this system?

If a person cannot even summon the strength to demand his rights, then there is nothing left for him but destruction. We will have deserved to be scattered to all corners of the globe, as dust before the wind, if we do not pull ourselves together in this eleventh hour and finally summon the courage that we have been lacking till now. Do not hide your cowardice under the cloak of cleverness! Because every day that you delay, every day that you do not resist this spawn of hell, your guilt is steadily increasing, like a parabolic curve.
Of course, the terrible things I heard from the Nuremberg Trials, about the six million Jews and the people from other races who were killed, were facts that shocked me deeply. But I wasn't able to see the connection with my own past. I was satisfied that I wasn't personally to blame and that I hadn't known about those things. I wasn't aware of the extent. But one day I went past the memorial plaque which had been put up for Sophie Scholl in Franz Josef Strasse, and I saw that she was born the same year as me, and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young, and that it would have been possible to find things out.
Courage is indispensible because in politics not life but the world is at stake.
"Between Past and Future"
The principle that human nature, in its psychological aspects, is nothing more than a product of history and given social relations removes all barriers to coercion and manipulation by the powerful.
As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.
"The Life of the Mind"
What is to be done? The answer is easy. It has always been easy. Stop saying "not in my name" and start saying "over my dead body". That's what we did. It works. Do it.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
You don’t know what order with freedom means! You only know what revolt against oppression is! You don’t know that the rod, discipline, violence, the state and government can only be sustained because of you and because of your lack of socially creative powers that develop order within liberty!
You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid... You refuse to do it because you want to live longer... You're afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you're afraid someone will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you're just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love.
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
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria [Government limo] sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If... if... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more — we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure!
We've changed. And we've become contemptuous of the idea that we're all in this together. This is about sharing. And about, you know... when you say sharing, there is a percentage of the population, and it's the moneyed percent of our population, that hears "socialism" or "communism" or any of the other -isms they wanna put on it, but ultimately, we are all a part of the same society, and it's either gonna be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people, or it's not.
When I was asked to make this address I wondered what I had to say to you boys who are graduating. And I think I have one thing to say. If you wish to be useful, never take a course that will silence you. Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose. If you can take this course, and in so far as you take it, you will bless this country. In so far as you depart from this course, you become dampers, mutes, and hooded executioners.

As a practical matter, a mere failure to speak out upon occassions where no statement is asked or expected from you, and when the utterance of an uncalled for suspicion is odious, will often hold you to a concurrence in palpable iniquity. Try to raise a voice that will be heard from here to Albany and watch what comes forward to shut off the sound. It is not a German sergeant, nor a Russian officer of the precinct. It is a note from a friend of your father's, offering you a place at his office. This is your warning from the secret police. Why, if you any of young gentleman have a mind to make himself heard a mile off, you must make a bonfire of your reputations, and a close enemy of most men who would wish you well.

I have seen ten years of young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find how deaf the world is, they think they must save their strength and wait. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little eminence from which they can make themselves heard. "In a few years," reasons one of them, "I shall have gained a standing, and then I shall use my powers for good." Next year comes and with it a strange discovery. The man has lost his horizon of thought, his ambition has evaporated; he has nothing to say. I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.
Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of Hobart College, 1900
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You

Don't compromise yourself. It's all you've got.
Stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone.
Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
The greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.
"On Evil"
Don't depend too much on anyone in this world because even your own shadow leaves you when you are in darkness.
As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.
"The Life of the Mind"
Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.
One must not always think so much about what one should do, but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us; but we must ennoble our works.
If the teacher, if anyone, is to be an example of a whole person to others, he must first strive to be a whole person. Without the courage to confront one's inner as well as one's outer worlds, such wholeness is impossible to achieve. Instrumental reason alone cannot lead to it.
We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and – in spite of True Romance magazines – we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely – at least, not all the time – but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.
The salvation of the world depends only on the individual whose world it is. At least, every individual must act as if the whole future of the world, of humanity itself, depends on him. Anything less is a shirking of responsibility and is itself a dehumanizing force, for anything less encourages the individual to look upon himself as a mere actor in a drama written by anonymous agents, as less than a whole person, and that is the beginning of passivity and aimlessness.
If, in Récoltes et Semailles I'm addressing anyone besides myself, it isn't what's called a "public". Rather I'm addressing that someone who is prepared to read me as a person, and as a solitary person. It's to that being inside of you who knows how to be alone, it is to this infant that I wish to speak, and no-one else. I'm well aware that this infant has been considerably estranged. It's been through some hard times, and more than once over a long period. It's been dropped off Lord knows where, and it can be very difficult to reach. One swears that it died ages ago, or that it never existed - and yet I am certain it's always there, and very much alive.
"The Life of a Mathematician - Reflections and Bearing Witness" (1986)
To state it in slightly different terms: in those critical years [roughly from age 17 to 20] I learned how to be alone.

This formulation doesn't really capture my meaning. I didn't, in any literal sense learn to be alone, for the simple reason that this knowledge had never been unlearned during my childhood. It is a basic capacity in all of us from the day of our birth. However these 3 years of work in isolation, when I was thrown onto my own resources, following guidelines which I myself had spontaneously invented, instilled in me a strong degree of confidence, unassuming yet enduring, in my ability to do mathematics, which owes nothing to any consensus or to the fashions which pass as law.

[..]

By this I mean to say: to reach out in my own way to the things I wished to learn, rather than relying on the notions of the consensus, overt or tacit, coming from a more or less extended clan of which I found myself a member, or which for any other reason laid claim to be taken as an authority. This silent consensus had informed me, both at the lyé and at the university, that one shouldn't bother worrying about what was really meant when using a term like "volume", which was "obviously self-evident", "generally known", "unproblematic", etc. I'd gone over their heads, almost as a matter of course, even as Lesbesgue himself had, several decades before, gone over their heads. It is in this gesture of "going beyond", to be something in oneself rather than the pawn of a consensus, the refusal to stay within a rigid circle that others have drawn around one - it is in this solitary act that one finds true creativity. All others things follow as a matter of course.
"The Life of a Mathematician - Reflections and Bearing Witness" (1986)
When I was asked to make this address I wondered what I had to say to you boys who are graduating. And I think I have one thing to say. If you wish to be useful, never take a course that will silence you. Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose. If you can take this course, and in so far as you take it, you will bless this country. In so far as you depart from this course, you become dampers, mutes, and hooded executioners.

As a practical matter, a mere failure to speak out upon occassions where no statement is asked or expected from you, and when the utterance of an uncalled for suspicion is odious, will often hold you to a concurrence in palpable iniquity. Try to raise a voice that will be heard from here to Albany and watch what comes forward to shut off the sound. It is not a German sergeant, nor a Russian officer of the precinct. It is a note from a friend of your father's, offering you a place at his office. This is your warning from the secret police. Why, if you any of young gentleman have a mind to make himself heard a mile off, you must make a bonfire of your reputations, and a close enemy of most men who would wish you well.

I have seen ten years of young men who rush out into the world with their messages, and when they find how deaf the world is, they think they must save their strength and wait. They believe that after a while they will be able to get up on some little eminence from which they can make themselves heard. "In a few years," reasons one of them, "I shall have gained a standing, and then I shall use my powers for good." Next year comes and with it a strange discovery. The man has lost his horizon of thought, his ambition has evaporated; he has nothing to say. I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don't be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.
Commencement Address to the Graduating Class of Hobart College, 1900
 2 m ago in Meta Collection

You and Others

I have expressed my strong interest in the mass of the people; and this is founded, not on their usefulness to the community, so much as on what they are in themselves. Indeed every man, in every condition, is great. It is only our own diseased sight which makes him little. A man is great as a man, be he where or what he may. The grandeur of his nature turns to insignificance all outward distinctions.
Is it only when the flowers are in full bloom and when the moon is shining in spotless perfection that we ought to gaze at them?
You can not, without guilt and disgrace, stop where you are. The past and the present call on you to advance. Let what you have gained be an impulse to something higher. Your nature is too great to be crushed. You were not created what you are, merely to toil, eat, drink, and sleep, like the inferior animals. If you will, you can rise.
In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
When you stand before me and look at me, what do you know of the pain in me, and what I do I know of yours. And if I threw myself to the ground before you and cried and told you, what would you know more of me than of hell, if somebody told you that it is hot and terrible. For that reason alone we humans should should face each other so reverend, so thoughtful, so loving as if facing the gates of hell.
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don't want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets
the bone.
"The Ways We Touch"
The forest would be pretty quiet if only the best birds sang.
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Extinction

in Stuff

David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon

Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C scientists advise, according to the UN.
in Stuff

The Insect Apocalypse Is Here

The fecund abundance that is insects’ singular trait should enable them to recover, but only if they are given the space and the opportunity to do so.

“It’s a debate we need to have urgently,” Goulson says. “If we lose insects, life on earth will. ...” He trailed off, pausing for what felt like a long time.
in Stuff

The Amphibians in U.S. Declining at "Alarming and Rapid Rate"

A new study finds that frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians in the U.S. are dying off so quickly that they could disappear from half of their habitats in the next 20 years. For some of the more endangered species, they could lose half of their habitats in as little as six years.
in Stuff

WWF Report Reveals Staggering Extent of Human Impact on Planet

Tracking 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species, the LPI finds that global populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have declined, on average, by 60 percent between 1970 and 2014, the most recent year with available data.
in Stuff

Protect the last of the wild

Numerous studies are revealing that Earth’s remaining wilderness areas are increasingly important buffers against the effects of climate change and other human impacts. But, so far, the contribution of intact ecosystems has not been an explicit target in any international policy framework, such as the United Nations’ Strategic Plan for Biodiversity or the Paris climate agreement.

This must change if we are to prevent Earth’s intact ecosystems from disappearing completely.
in Stuff

Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN

The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.

Ahead of a key international conference to discuss the collapse of ecosystems, Cristiana Pașca Palmer said people in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.
One mistake people make is pretending that every choice we make is a hard one with no good answers. Sometimes there are good decisions and bad ones, and we end up making bad ones even when the good ones are obvious. We often see this happen with individuals, it shouldn't be too surprising that this happens with societies as well.

A few years back when I looked at solutions to "cooking this planet" that didn't involve anything that would cause much disruption to most people's lives. The reason we're not solving the problem isn't because of the hard choices we have to make. It's because a few industries that might make less money if we fight climate change try to stop efforts to combat it, politicians who get money from these industries say climate change is a hoax, the public at large is largely too apathetic to remove politicians who don't act, people who oppose all collective action oppose collective action to fight climate change, the media doesn't report on it because it doesn't get ratings, etc.

Could we have everyone's standards are close to the current standards enjoyed by developed countries without destroying the planet? Maybe, maybe not. It's insanely premature to pretend that we know it's impossible. Not only have we not seriously tried to solve the problem, but a large part of the U.S. is actively opposed to even stopping the problem. "There's no solution" is an easy way to absolve us from our failures.
In the Hoover/FBI days, we had a chance - the Operation Snow Whites' and so on. Now, however, there is no such chance: the NSA has far, far too many safe-guards in place to protect itself, and has infiltrated - and controls, directly - too many so-called 'peace movements' and other groups that might have a chance at awakening the sheeple. We must be more diligent, and with greater resolve to fight back now, than ever before in history - because we are at the cusp of allowing a seriously evil influence over the world to have its will - whereas in the 60's and 70's, people were willing to stand up and fight, now hardly anyone will. At all.
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(Drunken Master)

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