The great mistake of contemporary life is that we have made such a virtue of intellectual growth while almost totally ignoring the necessity of conscience growth. We have failed to understand that individual evolution can take place not only in mental but in moral power. The earth tragically today is full of people who remain fixated on a childish level of conscience. What an illusion has blinded the human race: that our conscience is given to us once and for all at birth and we ourselves have to do little or nothing about it... The truth is that our moral capacity is purely potential and needs strenuous training, education and development. It is certainly not an organic power that comes to us at birth, like breathing, which demands little attention from us as long as we live... A revolution has to take place in our thinking about morality. We have to become as sensitive about being moral morons as we are now anxious about being intellectual idiots.
Joshua Loth Liebman
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A love of neighbor manifests itself in the tolerance not only of opinions of others but, what is more important, of the essence and uniqueness of others, when we subscribe to that religious philosophy of life that insists that God has made each man and woman an individual sacred personality endowed with a specific temperament, created with differing needs, hungers, dreams. This is a variegated, pluralistic world where no two stars are the same and every snowflake has its own distinctive pattern. God apparently did not want a regimented world of sameness. That is why creation is so manifold. So it is with us human beings. Some are born dynamic and restless; others placid and contemplative... One man's temperament is full throated with laughter; another's tinkles with the sad chimes of gentle melancholy. Our physiques are different, and that simple difference oftentimes drives us into conflicting fulfillment of our natures, to action or to thought, to passion or to denial, to conquest or to submission. There is here no fatalism of endowment. We can change and prune and shape the hedges of our being, but we must rebel against the sharp shears being wielded by other hands, cutting off the living branches of our spirits in order to make our personalities adornments for their dwellings.
Joshua Loth Liebman
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Tolerance, which is one form of love of neighbor, must manifest itself not only in our personal relations, but also in the arena of society as well. In the world of opinion and politics, tolerance is that virtue by which liberated minds conquer the evils of bigotry and hatred. Tolerance implies more than forbearance or the passive enduring of ideas different from our own. Properly conceived, tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another's beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them. Tolerance quickens our appreciation and increases our respect for our neighbor's point of view. It goes even further; it assumes a militant aspect when the rights of an opponent are assailed. Voltaire's dictum, 'I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, ' is for all ages and places the perfect utterance of the tolerant ideal.
Joshua Loth Liebman
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There has been among us, particularly in America, an adolescent competitiveness-a feeling that life is a race in which the victory of one must mean the defeat of the other. No one can measure how much personal unhappiness and inner cowardice have come from this immaturity of our social outlook, this childlike comparison, this absurd rivalry in every area of life. As our democracy becomes more mature, men have a chance of growing up and of realizing that every person is needed and has some contribution to make.
Joshua Loth Liebman
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We are afraid of what we will do to others, afraid of the rage that lies in wait somewhere deep in our souls. How many human beings go through the world frozen with rage against life! This deeply hidden inner anger may be the product of hurt pride or of real frustration in office, factory, clinic, or home. Whatever may be the cause of our frozen rage (which is the inevitable mother of depression), the great word of hope today is that this rage can be conquered and drained off into creative channels ... What should we do? We should all learn that a certain amount of aggressive energy is normal and certainly manageable in maturity. Most of us can drain off the excess of our angry feelings and destructive impulses in exercise, in competitive games, or in the vigorous battles against the evils of nature and society. We also must realize that no one will punish us for the legitimate expression of self-assertiveness and creative pugnacity as our parents once punished us for our undisciplined temper tantrums. Furthermore, let us remember that we need not totally repress the angry part of our nature. We can always give it an outlet in the safe realm of fantasy. A classic example of such fantasy is given by Max Beerborn, who made a practice of concocting imaginary letters to people he hated. Sometimes he went so far as to actually write the letters and in the very process of releasing his anger it evaporated. As mature men and women we should regard our minds as a true democracy where all kinds of ideas and emotions should be given freedom of speech. If in political life we are willing to grant civil liberties to all sorts of parties and programs, should we not be equally willing to grant civil liberties to our innermost thoughts and drives, confident that the more dangerous of them will be outvoted by the majority within our minds? Do I mean that we should hit out at our enemy whenever the mood strikes us? No, I repeat that I am suggesting quite the reverse-self-control in action based upon (positive coping mechanisms such as) self expression in fantasy.
Joshua Loth Liebman
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The quest for this unwearied inner peace is constant and universal. Probe deeply into the teachings of Buddha, Maimonides, or a Kempis, and you will discover that they base their diverse doctrines on the foundations of a large spiritual serenity. Analyze the prayers of troubled, overborne mankind of all creeds, in every age-and their petitions come down to the irreducible common denominators of daily bread and inward peace. Grown men do not pray for vain trifles. When they lift up their hearts and voices in this valley of tears they ask for strength and courage and understanding.
Joshua Loth Liebman
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