Men who profess a state of neutrality in times of public danger, desert the common interest of their fellow subjects; and act with independence to that constitution into which they are incorporated. The safety of the whole requires our joint endeavours. When this is at stake, the indifferent are not properly a part of the community; or rather are like dead limbs, which are an encumbrance to the body, instead of being of use to it.
Like children, the elders are a burden. But unlike children, they offer no hope or promise. They are a weight and an encumbrance and a mirror of our own mortality. It takes a person of great heart to see past this fact and to see the wisdom the elders have to offer, and so serve them out of gratitude for the life they have passed on to us.
It [the scientific revolution] outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements, within the system of medieval Christendom. . . . It looms so large as the real origin of the modern world and of the modern mentality that our customary periodization of European history has become an anachronism and an encumbrance.
That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God - when they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure-instead of an aid, become an encumbrance and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way.
We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us while they afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge or in doing good to our fellow-creatures, is a kind of benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure, instead of an aid become an encumbrance and answer none of these intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we get rid of them. Death is that way.
Louie found the raft offered an unlikely intellectual refuge. He had never recognized how noisy the civilized world was. Here, drifting in almost total silence, with no scents other than the singed odor of the raft, no flavors on his tongue, nothing moving but the slow porcession of shark fins, every vista empty save water and sky, his time unvaried and unbroken, his mind was freed of an encumbrance that civilization had imposed on it. In his head, he could roam anywhere, and he found that his mind was quick and clear, his imagination unfettered and supple. He could stay with a thought for hours, turning it about.
It could be said that a liberal education has the nature of a bequest, in that it looks upon the student as the potential heir of a cultural birthright, whereas a practical education has the nature of a commodity to be exchanged for position, status, wealth, etc., in the future. A liberal education rests on the assumption that nature and human nature do not change very much or very fast and that one therefore needs to understand the past. The practical educators assume that human society itself is the only significant context, that change is therefore fundamental, constant, and necessary, that the future will be wholly unlike the past, that the past is outmoded, irrelevant, and an encumbrance upon the future - the present being only a time for dividing past from future, for getting ready. But these definitions, based on division and opposition, are too simple. It is easy, accepting the viewpoint of either side, to find fault with the other. But the wrong is on neither side; it is in their division... Without the balance of historic value, practical education gives us that most absurd of standards: "relevance, " based upon the suppositional needs of a theoretical future. But liberal education, divorced from practicality, gives something no less absurd: the specialist professor of one or another of the liberal arts, the custodian of an inheritance he has learned much about, but nothing from.
Stop that Stuart, " Patty said as Stuart struggled with the suitcases, which were too heavy for him, she thought. (Almost everything was way too heavy for Stuart.)" Just put those down. Besides, " Patty said, "where will you go? You don't have anyplace to go." But Stuart took her hand and held it for a moment against his closed eyes, and despite the many occasions when Patty had wanted him to go, and the several occasions when she had tried to make him go, despite the fact that he was at his most enragingly pathetic, for once she could think of nothing, nothing at all that he could be trying to shame her into or shame her out of, and so it occurred to her that this he would really leave-that he was simply saying good-bye. All along, Patty had been unaware that time is as adhesive as love, and that the more time you spend with someone the greater the likelihood of finding yourself with a permanent sort of thing to deal with that people casually refer to as "friendship, " as if that were the end of the matter, when the truth is that even if "your friend" does something annoying, or if you and "your friend" decided that you hate each other, or if "your friend" moves away and you lose each other's address, you still have a friendship, and although it can change shape, look different in different lights, become an embarrassment or an encumbrance or a sorrow, it can't simply cease to have existed, no matter how far into the past it sinks, so attempts to disavow or destroy it will not merely constitute betrayals of friendship but, more practically, are bound to be fruitless, causing damage only to the humans involved rather than to that gummy jungle(friendship)in which those humans have entrapped themselves, so if sometime in the future you're not going to want to have been a particular person's friend, or if you're not going to want to have had that particular friendship you and that person can make with one another, then don't be friends with that person at all, don't talk to that person, don't go anywhere near that person, because as soon as you start to see something from that person's point of view (which, inevitably, will be as soon as you stand next to that person) common ground is sure to slide under your feet.