I want to dedicate this quote to my friends and colleagues Gregorio Dionis, Antonia Macías and Graciela Lois – among many others. Working in the human rights movement has given me the unequaled opportunity to work with people who have dedicated their whole lives to the good of others. They humble me with their dedication.
There are men who struggle for a day and they are good.
There are men who struggle for a year and they are better.
There are men who struggle many years, and they are better still.
But there are those who struggle all their lives:
These are the indispensable ones.
One of my favorite lines from any tango goes like this:
…yo comprendo que en la vida
se cuidan los zapatos
andando de rodillas
Which means “I understand that in life, you take care of your shoes by walking on your knees.”
I think few things are more true than that, and I see that I often walk on my knees as well. Not who I want to be. I rather be the person from “My Way”. So I’m going to stand up.
The Week, a magazine that summarizes news and stories from the world media, is one of my favorite readings. It brings me up to date on what happened around the world during the previous week, and it gives me an idea of what issues are reverberating worldwide. But not everything in the magazine is serious. They have gossip, recipes, the “bargain house of the week” (I could sell my house and buy a huge mansion outright if I was only willing to move away) and a section of quotes. I always mean to copy some of these here, but I always forget. Today will be the exception.
I particularly liked the following quote by Edmund Burke, an 18th century parlamentarian and political philosopher. It spoke to me because lately I’ve been feeling quite impotent. We are heading towards a global state of exception, the US government with its policies of killing and torturing has shown its own lack of respect for liberty and life, and there is very, very little I can do to stop any of the abuses worldwide. The quote gives me, if not hope, at least a reason to keep going:
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
While I don’t agree with much of Burke’s political (and in particular religious) philosophy, I did find a number of quotes that I think are worthwhile to keep in mind given our present circumstances.
One that is similar to the one above and that I used to use as a signature line says:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do
and along those same lines:
“Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.”
Some of his quotes are useful in understanding the Bush administration and American’s reaction to it. This one could be interpreted as describing both the administration and the American people, depending on how you define “confound”
“One that confounds good and evil is an enemy to good. ”
And this might explain why Americans have been supporting Bush on his democidal policies:
“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. ”
This quote is the flip side of the one before:
“Tyrants seldom want pretexts.”
This one, if true, is a bad omen as to what we can expect from the Bush team:
“Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolument from it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the midst of all their power; but they will never look to anything but power for their relief.”
But I hope this one is true:
“I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people. ”
Finally, some recent experiences made me reflect on the validity of this particular quote:
“I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inferior in understanding to the person who took the lead in the business. ”
Good judgement comes from experience, and experience – well, that comes from poor judgement.