Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.
Jules could have sworn there was a devilish glint in the shopkeepers eye. 'I find today I am in need of a bonnet.' Mr. Postlethwaite was silent. And then his eyes crept toward the marquess's hairline. 'It will be a gift for a woman, Mr. Postlethwaite.' 'Of course, sir.' The marquess wished the 'of course' sounded a bit more sincere. He'd scarcely been in the shop for more than three minutes and already his dignity was fraying.
Julie Anne Long
May I strike my heart's keys clearly, and may none fail because of slack, uncertain, or fraying strings. May the tears that stream down my face make me more radiant: may my hidden weeping bloom.... How we waste our afflictions!... [T]hey're really our wintering foliage, our dark greens of meaning, one of the seasons of the clandestine year""; not only a season"": they're site, settlement, shelter, soil, abode.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Archbishop Mannix was possessed of the clearest intellect I have ever encountered. He prayed regularly for five hours and more each day, this in the midst of a life of intense activity. When he was well over ninety, I once asked him about the precise quality of the Faith which had sustained him. His answer? 'My Faith has always been like a thin silken thread, fraying perpetually at the brink of a precipice over which I hang. Yet the thread has never snapped.
Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria
My vision of the gathered church that had come to me... had been replaced by a vision of the gathered community. What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection. There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody, who had been loved by somebody else, and so on and on... It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointing its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, always failing and yet always preserving a sort of will toward goodwill. I knew that, in the midst of all the ignorance and error, this was a membership; it was the membership of Port William and of no other place on earth. My vision gathered the community as it never has been and never will be gathered in this world of time, for the community must always be marred by members who are indifferent to it or against it, who are nonetheless its members and maybe nonetheless essential to it. And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another's love, compassion, and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfected by grace.
I am not a Buddhist. Yet there is a Buddhist story that I hold dear. A monk walks in a forest, and chances upon a tiger. The tiger chases him, and the monk runs until he comes to a cliff. With the tiger on his heels, the man grasps a vine and clambers down. Another tiger appears at the bottom. As the man hangs there, a mouse crawls from a crevice just beyond his reach and begins to gnaw the vine. Death above, death below, and death in between. He sees a big ripe strawberry near his mouth. It is delicious. In this moment, flying miles above the strawberry fields of California's San Joachin Valley, I think that I would change the ending of this story. Instead of giving the doomed man a strawberry, what if we leave him alone with the two tigers, the mouse, and the fraying vine? For the last time, his arms grow tired, he feels a familiar ache deep in his muscles. For the last time he catches his breath, feels a rasping in his throat and lungs. He feels this, and a thousand other things. It is all delicious.