I cannot teach you the ten principles of service. But a little child and a thief can show you what they are. From the child you can learn three things: He is merry for no particular reason; never for a moment is he idle; when he needs something, he demands it vigorously. The thief can instruct you in seven things: He does his service by night; if he does not finish what he has set out to do, in one night, he devotes the next night to it; he and those who work with him love one another; he risks his life for small gains; what he takes has so little value for him that he gives it up for a very small coin; he endures blows and hardship, and it matters nothing to him; he likes his trade and would not exchange it for any other.
Great ideals and principles do not live from generation to generation just because they are right, nor even because they have been carefully legislated. Ideals and principles continue from generation to generation only when they are built into the hearts of the children as they grow up.
When Americans are morally divided, it is appropriate that our laws reflect that fact... Our popular institutions, the legislative and executive branches, were structured to provide safety to achieve compromise when we are divided, to slow change, to dilute absolutisms... They are designed, in short, to do the very things that abstract generalizations about moral principles and the just society tend to bring into contempt.
In the wildest anarchy of man’s insurgent appetites and sins there is still a reclaiming voice, a voice which, even when in practice disregarded, it is impossible not to own; and to which, at the very moment that we refuse our obedience, we find that we cannot refuse the homage of what ourselves do feel and acknowledge to be the best, the highest principles of our nature.
How many of us are waiting for the opportunity to do some great thing for the betterment of our community, forgetting that the solution of the problem requires only the active intelligent fulfillment of individual civic duty. The only things which are wrong about our Government are the things which are wrong with you and me. Democracy is never a thing done; it is and always will be a goal to be achieved. It means action, not passive acquiescence in things as they are; it requires alertness to duty, a dynamic faith, a willingness to give for the good of all. It can live only as a result of loyalty and devotion to its principles expressed by daily needs.
Action | Character | Democracy | Devotion | Duty | Dynamic | Faith | Fulfillment | Good | Government | Individual | Loyalty | Loyalty | Means | Opportunity | Principles | Waiting | Will | Wrong | Government |
Scientific principles and laws do not lie on the surface of nature. They are hidden, and must be wrested from nature by an active, and elaborate technique of inquiry... Pure reasoning as a means of arriving at truth is like the spider who spins a web out of himself. The web is orderly and elaborate, but is s only a trap.
There is no more dangerous illusion than the fancies by which people try to avoid illusion. It is imagination which leads us astray; and the certainty which we seek through imagination, feeling, and taste, is one of the most dangerous sources from which fanaticism springs.
Two principles govern the moral and intellectual world. One is perpetual progress, the other the necessary limitations to that progress. If the former alone prevailed, there would be nothing steadfast and durable on earth, and the whole of social life would be the sport of winds and waves. If the alter had exclusive sway, or even if it obtained a mischievous preponderancy, every thing would petrify or rot. The best ages of the world are those in which these two principles are the most equally balanced. In such ages every enlightened man ought to adopt both principles, and with one hand develop what he can, with the other restrain and uphold what he ought.