I am convinced that most people do not grow up...We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.
There is a world of difference between facts and the truth. You can have so many facts that you don't deal with the truth. You never get to the truth. You have the places where, the people who, the times when, the reasons why, the methods how - blah blah. And never get to the human truth. The human truth is as elusive as the air. And as important as the air.
The truth is very important. No matter how negative it is, it is imperative that you learn the truth, not necessarily the facts. I mean, that, that can come, but facts can stand in front of the truth and almost obscure the truth. It is imperative that students learn the truth of our history.
Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul. It brings you the kind of protection that bodyguards can't give you. So try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity. Take up the battle. Take it up. It's yours. This is your life. This is your world.
Poetry and music are the best at the highest level of the human mind. Out of poetry, out of their need for poetry, human beings have developed the idea of God. And so when we sing, when we dance, when we speak poetry we are speaking out of God's mouth, each other out of the music from God's heart.
Fighting for one's freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good Jew or a good Muslim or good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again.
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In today's climate in our country, which is sickened with the pollution of pollution, threatened with the prominence of AIDS, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of the homeless, we need art and we need art in all forms. We need all methods of art to be present, everywhere present, and all the time present.
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Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom when Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote. We were enlarged by tears of pride as we saw Nelson Mandela's former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.
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I know, that since life is our most precious gift, and as far as we can be absolutely certain, it's given to us to live but once, let us so live we will not regret years of useless virtue, and inertia, and timidity, and ignorance, and in our last moments we can say: 'All my life, all my conscious energies, have been dedicated to the most noble cause in the world, the liberation of the human mind and spirit - beginning with my own'.
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When asked how she knows when her writing is where she wants it to be: "I know when it's the best I can do. It may not be the best there is. Another writer may do it much better. But I know when it's the best I can do. I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, 'No. No, I'm finished. Bye.' And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won't do that."
I thank God that I've lived long enough to see what I have seen, and I pray that people will continue to do better. We are doing better, it may not seem so, but there was a time when people were lynched in the middle of the street and it was not against the law. We are doing better, but we have so much more to do.
'God put the rainbow in the clouds, not just in the sky'... It is wise to realize we already have rainbows in our clouds, or we wouldn't be here. If the rainbow is in the clouds, then in the worst of time, there is the possibility of seeing hope... We can say 'I can be a rainbow in the cloud for someone yet to be.' That may be our calling.
I'm convinced that I'm a child of God. That's wonderful, exhilarating, liberating, full of promise. But the burden which goes along with that is, I'm convinced that everybody is a child of God. . . . I weep a lot. I thank God I laugh a lot, too. The main thing in one's own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.