I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endured suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
— Elie Wiesel, acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sometimes in a man or a woman an awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable. There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness. The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness. In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplainable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and if the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through.
— John Steinbeck, Journals of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters
This is another installment from Steinbeck’s journals written as he was giving birth to East of Eden. It has echos from my Julian Schnabel quote when he said “That is true about all art. The conflict is to try and take what is inside of you and put it inside somebody else.”
Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick a weapon and stand a post.
— Aaron Sorkin, monologue by Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men.
No apologies. This quote is simply a guilty pleasure.
We don’t have one big advantage so we have to weave a rope of many small advantages.
— Jeff Bezos
When you live in times of authoritarian rule one of the first things that end up in the cross hairs is culture. We believe firmly that artists and writers and dramatists and actors and musicians play a vital role in defending the integrity of who we are as human beings.
— Jeremy Scahill, on the Trump’s Cabinet of Killers and Why Orange is the New Anti-Black episode of The Intercepted.
I have never been more grateful for organizations like the ACLU and the plethora of lawyers we have in this country. Likewise, I am inspired by the power of our marches and protests as we stand up for our values. But, in addition to the direct tangible actions we can take, we also need a 100 million voices writing and singing and laughing and, in general, sounding our barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world.
A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
— Sir Francis Bacon