Samplings from FACING REALITY
by William A. Cook
Sayings and Observations
Following is a selective sampling from Facing Reality. Visistors who wish to receive the complete work in electronic format may do so by contacting me.
Diogenes, the Athenian cynic, walked the streets of the Agora commenting on the state of the city. He was one of many ancients, from the second and third millennia through the middle ages, whose sayings were remembered, collected, and used for teaching. These commentaries expressed a search for true knowledge (gnosticism) or provided understanding as useful sayings (chreiai).
Facing Reality returns to that tradition offering sayings and observations on our society, our economic system, our beliefs, our understanding of self, on education, justice, love, and marriage.
Words are sounds that capsulize our thoughts and capture our experiences. They make possible the illusion that we understand. Each of us receives a word uniquely, as we are unique. Yet we desire compatibility in understanding that we might communicate our thoughts and experiences to others. We desire that our illusion be shared, perhaps to counter the loneliness of the reality.
The observations offered in this book reflect a unique perception on the world even as they appear redundant in thought. They evolved over time, responses to events and ideas, some indifferent and implacable, some considered and compassionate, all relevant in time and space, all irrelevant to another's time and space except as a prod to further perception.
Critics might question "sayings" from an unknown voice, but renown has never been a guarantee of wisdom. I can only respond that I bring to the effort sixty years of learning and forty years of teaching. We know that much wisdom has gone to the grave heard only by the ears of children..
Many of the observations in this book are direct quotes or adaptations of statements from another book of mine, "A Time To Know."
"We have lost our way by following the way of others."
"Most havoc wrought in this life results from a presumption of reason that gives purpose to existence beyond existence itself."
"There are two kinds of reality: What humans understand and what is. The two may never be the same. The human perception is multitudinous, the actual only one."
"Freedom means aloneness, self-dependency, ambiguity, vigilance, and judgment; each a disturbing characteristic that puts final responsibility for determination of behavior on the individual, not the group."
"Human dignity is dynamic, not static; it requires constant diligence, understanding, judgment, and action."
"We earn dignity by virtue of our acts and be we peasant, slave, pauper, or king, we are dignified only in the choice we make toward the greater perfectibility of our nature."
“Each of us lives a fable; unfortunately, we are rarely the narrators of it.”
"Pursuit and possession of life's goods is not the end for which nature made us. Rather, how we use our intellect and talents in the exercise of the art of living, reaching a perfectibility achievable only by the human animal, is the end for which we were made."
"Comprehension and assertion of the value of self must in reflection give value to each and every being."
"Only tolerance and respect need propel our lives; tolerance for all we know nothing about, and respect for all existing things."
"How impossible to purify the mind once polluted."
"When anger rises in the soul, love leaves."
"Perception is frequently the stepchild of ignorance."
"The person who judges in ignorance is a fool, blinded by bigotry, dogmatism, and opinionatedness."
"Righteousness once exercised is its own reward and its own justification."
"Caring Capitalism is a necessity; but it is as well an oxymoron."
"Unbridled capitalism, like a horse unbridled, knows neither its power nor its consequences."
"Capitalism has made measurement the sole determiner of success; consequently, we see success in the monies one has in his wallet before we look to see the intent he has in his heart."
"Transnational corporations are rogue nation-states who wander the world like whores seeking to bed with whoever will offer the most breaks for the bang."
"Corporations desiring maximization of profits, like untamed rivers, seek the weakest spots to overflow their banks."
"Riding in splendor through the streets of want is pleasurable if the windows are sufficiently tinted."
"The true meaning of "Gatt" is 'Giving All To Transnationals'."
"Whoever said it is the natural right of man to possess more than he needs if all peoples have not been provided for?"
"Uncontrolled marketing to every human desire is not only insidious, it is unethical and destructive of the future of our children."
"To give homage to rugged individualism is to give license to ruthless might and power, personal advancement at the expense of others, and uncontrolled greed."
"Ingrained in every mind are the virtues of capitalism: Its promise of prosperity, its lure of luxury, its temptation for thievery, it’s prompting to power, its incitement to influence, its fascination with force, its seductiveness toward security, and its solicitation to solipsism."
"Capitalism has fulfilled the promise of the Christian faith, that it is in life after death that the bread of heaven shall be made manifest, but it offers that bread in this life."
"How comfortable for the masses that their faith guarantees them life after death while capitalism provides the bread of life in the here and now."
"Doesn't it follow, then, that the avenue of control for the betterment of the whole, the government, would become the avenue to control by those with the most to gain and the wealth to attain it?"
"The consensus of American unity is and must be built on economics."
“I do not elect another man’s conscience when I vote on election day.”
“Ignorance, either of issues or of solutions to problems, resides as often in the elected and appointed as it does in the people themselves.”
“Democracy that respects the rights of the individual, that recognizes the value of the voice of the governed, that responds openly and honestly to the queries of the people, that form of democracy deserves to live.”
“Inefficiency is at times a virtue.”
“Those who know how I should be governed without asking my opinion are not virtuous.”
“The promise of America has been sold to the highest bidder.”
“People deserve that form of government which they allow to exist.”
“It is the people of the country that constitute its virtues, not the government that acts in their name.”
“A government that does not face the people does not have to account to the people. Under this sinister reality lies interred individual rights.”
“I will know the reasons for my acts even when they are perpetrated by my elected representative.”
“We assume erroneously that having stated our beliefs at the outset of the nation, they are secured forever. It is not so."
“Efficiency is not always a virtue; indeed, it is often an expedient to an illicit or unethical end.”
“Our Government is no longer people; it is a functioning thing. It operates within the construct of its own system.”
“Democracy is a feeble form of government. It is afflicted by apathy; it becomes ill with ignorance; it succumbs to silence."
“Constant vigilance tempered with conscience keeps democracy alive.”
"Submission to authority subdues intellect and begets a blissful happiness free of confrontation and fear."
"Our society operates on the premise that we must do things right not on the principle that we must do the right thing."
"Science's need to find causes begets only a realm of conscious uncertainty; what if we assumed there were no causes but only undetermined interactions?"
"Confucius' wisdom depended on dynasties and fiefdoms; the world is now the dynasties and fiefdoms."
"Science is a progression of additions not a body of conclusions."
"Rights that determine practice do not emanate from some external force; they are innate in the conditions in which humankind finds itself."
"Adaptation and acceptance of our oneness with the living universe would result in harmony and peace both for ourselves and the environment."
"Neither truth nor what is right in principle responds to simplistic answers."
"I have always marveled at those who express compassion for the homeless as long as they are not visible from their backyards."
"Peacemakers are helpless before the militant."
"Technology often liberates us to achieve, to accept, and to fall victim to anti-social behavior."
"Power resides in the raiment."
"We are free when the mind is free; when recognition of individual rights is recognition of a neighbor's rights; and when respect for the individual is fundamental in thought and action."
"Our prisons are the antithesis of the conditions we hope to correct."
"Education should be exploration."
"Belief in an afterlife does not help affirm value in this."
"The very attributes with which we understand God -- omniscience, immutability, omnipresence, omnipotence -- contain by definition the reason we cannot."
"If God looks after the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, why do they not seek life in the hereafter?"
"Contrast the joy of the child who lives in a world of uncertainty with the anger of the Christian right whose faith provides a world of absolutes."
"The very existence of the thousands of religions that exist in the world cries not for acceptance of what they believe but tolerance of what they believe."
"There are those who took the words of Jesus and made them in their own image."
"The unquestioned acceptance of absolute right drives the masses to acts of unspeakable horror."
"To talk of free will in a body composed of genes, hormones, and the chemical interactions of the body is to assert a desire not a reality."
"We have no difficulty accepting the reality that our eyes cannot see all that exists, yet we assume that our minds have reached the ultimate reality in accepting the need for a first cause."
"Did Jesus say 'the poor you will have with you always' to comment on a fact of life only or did he presume that the hearts of his listeners would demand that their churches and their governments would provide for those who had not?"
"There exists two guideposts to lead us to correct behavior: Our understanding of how we wish to be treated, and our willing acceptance of how love propels us to act. One does not need a faith to understand these truths. Indeed, a faith brings with it so many collateral commitments that it obfuscates the simplicity of this reality."
"Dictated beliefs fashion the conscious mind to respond to no other, and obedience follows, for it is tethered to the rites and rituals that proclaim its truth."
"God himself has never intervened to tell us which of the religions is true, which is false, or, indeed, if religion itself is but a dream or a reality never to be known."
"Righteousness is a two-edged sword: The blade that slashes the victim of its wrath and the one that cuts the soul of the righteous."
"Beliefs that fashion the behavior of youth have not weathered the storm of scrutiny."
"If moral virtue exists it is because each of us bears responsibility to act as the arbiter for the state of our soul."
"We are responsible to ourselves if we bear responsibility to meaning and truth."
"We cannot seek recourse from guilt by cloaking our actions in the mantle of the law, or in the dictates of a creed or catechism, or in obeisance to duty imposed by a position."
"We have a moral obligation to ourselves first and to our society second."
"The dignity of humankind emerges in action; it does not exist by virtue of being."
"Precedent in law becomes dogma for the future."
"Justice without impartiality is no justice at all."
"The world is not bound by borders ultimately, it is bound by a moral order."
"If we do not lead by moral force, we are by acquiescence the followers of those who fail to act and subjects of those who impose their will."
"Mad men cannot be appeased nor can appeasement alter the decadent perception of those who view others as less than human."
"Justice waged by those with power in protection of their own negates justice for the innocent and leaves them naked before that will."
"Justice is a concept fabricated by those who would inflict their definition on those to be subjugated. It is in concept as in reality non-existent."
"Love is a transference of spirit that happens between individuals."
"Love revels in the presence of the spirit of the loved one sustained silently, silently sustaining, in an atmosphere of quiet joy and gentle promise."
"Love knows happiness in the lover's happiness and finds joy in their presence."
"Love knows no guile, seeks no advantage, inflicts no pain, entreats no gain, displays no deceit, harbors no ill will, utters no venom, levels no recrimination, executes no retribution."
"Love glories in growth and grows in respect; it gives of itself and is sustained by giving; it thrives in the lover's presence and in absence is sustained by their spirit."
"Love is a sharing of self-concern with another and, in that sharing, love enlarges self by responding to the immediacy of the moment and the necessities of the future through that extension of concern for both."
"America's soul is a wandering, searching, never-contented, restless, unsatisfied one. It left its roots in Europe or Asia or South America because it found the roots infected and diseased. It does not look to the past except as a mark to move away from."
"Education, shorn of values and disassociated from the realization that an inter-dependence of all humankind alone can bring stability and felicity to the human condition, is no education at all."
"We live in a time when seizure of the opportune moment -- resulting in wealth and power -- has become the greatest good."
"We live in a time when the pragmatic rules: when the end of education is practical application to doing, not the unceasing quest to know that has no end; when the consequence of education is pride, profit, and power, not humility, wisdom and truth."
"Education can no longer be confined within the boundaries of a state or nation, nor controlled by the doctrine of one peoples philosophy, nor dictated to by the tenets of a religious creed."
"The paradox of education is this: We study the differences in peoples to learn that we all are brothers and sisters."
"We need to rekindle a new dignity about humankind by asserting the common essence of all and thus share in the brotherhood of our global community and see in its sustenance the true value of life."
"Education can be the leavening power that liberates the social condition by liberating the mind."
© Copyright 1999 Dr. William A. Cook. All rights reserved.