Let it never be said by future generations that indifference, cynicism or selfishness made us fail to live up to the ideals of humanism which the Nobel Peace Prize encapsulates. Let the strivings of us all, prove Martin Luther King Jr. to have been correct, when he said that humanity can no longer be tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war.
There were once two sisters who were not afriad of the dark because the dark was full of the other's voice across the room, because even when the night was thick and starless they walked home together from the river seeing who could last the longest without turning on her flashlight, not afraid because sometimes in the pitch of night they'd lie on their backs in the middle of the path and look up until the stars came back and when they did, they'd reach their arms up to touch them and did.
I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
There sighs, lamentations and loud wailings resounded through the starless air, so that at first it made me weep; strange tongues, horrible language, words of pain, tones of anger, voices loud and hoarse, and with these the sound of hands, made a tumult which is whirling through that air forever dark, and sand eddies in a whirlwind.
And when he had put his hand on mine with a cheerful look, wherefrom I took courage, he brought me within to the secret things. Here sighs, laments, and deep wailings were resounding through the starless air; wherefore at first I wept thereat. Strange tongues, horrible utterances, words of woe, accents of anger, voices high and faint, and sounds of hands with them, were making a tumult which whirls always in that air forever dark, like the sand when the whirlwind breathes.
She glanced up at him, and in that moment he pulled his wet shirt over his head. She forced her mind blank. Blank as a new sheet of paper, blank as a starless sky. He came to the fire and crouched before it. He rubbed the water from his bare arms and flicked it in the flames. She stared at the goose and sliced his drumstick carefully and thought of the blankest expression on the blankest face she could possibly imagine. It was a chilly evening; she thought about that. The goose would be delicious, they must eat as much of it as possible, they must not waste it; she thought about that.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
Martin Luther King Jr.
At the very moment that humans discovered the scale of the universe and found that their most unconstrained fancies were in fact dwarfed by the true dimensions of even the Milky Way Galaxy, they took steps that ensured that their descendants would be unable to see the stars at all. For a million years humans had grown up with a personal daily knowledge of the vault of heaven. In the last few thousand years they began building and emigrating to the cities. In the last few decades, a major fraction of the human population has abandoned a rustic way of life. As technology developed and the cities were polluted, the nights became starless. New generations grew to maturity wholly ignorant of the sky that had transfixed their ancestors and that had stimulated the modern age of science and technology. Without even noticing, just as astronomy entered a golden age most people cut themselves off from the sky, a cosmic isolationism that ended only with the dawn of space exploration.
Here sighs and cries and shrieks of lamentation echoed throughout the starless air of Hell; at first these sounds resounding made me weep: tongues confused, a language strained in anguish with cadences of anger, shrill outcries and raucous groans that joined with sounds of hands, raising a whirling storm that turns itself forever through that air of endless black, like grains of sand swirling when a whirlwind blows. And I, in the midst of all this circling horror, began, "Teacher, what are these sounds I hear? What souls are these so overwhelmed by grief?" And he to me: "This wretched state of being is the fate of those sad souls who lived a life but lived it with no blame and with no praise. They are mixed with that repulsive choir of angels neither faithful nor unfaithful to their God, who undecided stood but for themselves. Heaven, to keep its beauty, cast them out, but even Hell itself would not receive them, for fear the damned might glory over them." And I. "Master, what torments do they suffer that force them to lament so bitterly?" He answered: "I will tell you in few words: these wretches have no hope of truly dying, and this blind life they lead is so abject it makes them envy every other fate. The world will not record their having been there; Heaven's mercy and its justice turn from them. Let's not discuss them; look and pass them by...
What makes you come alive? What keeps you going ? Is there hope in your heart still or has the weariness of the world attached itself to you like a limpet leaving you afraid and passionless? Do you wake up with a smile and stars in your eyes after restless, feverish soul-searching in the night? Do you dream, dream beyond what is possible and beyond the narrow confines of your jaded existence? How old do you feel? How much in love can you fall? How much step is there in your dance, o how many notes left in your song ? Have you decided to sit by and watch others dance or weep at the dying notes of your own swan song? Shake your lethargy. Come alive to innocence once more. Believe past your own jaded cynicism. Pretend you are young once more. Jump up with a spring in your feet, fall breathlessly in love again. Let the colors of the world wash over your walls, brushing the greys away. Let the sunlight of hope flood through your doubting self, o let the music play. Dance till you ache and drop, laugh till you cry. Sing till your lungs burst, and journey till the very road ends and dream by the moonless starless nights. Sleep with a secret smile on your lips, your body flush with the imprints of lips. Come alive, my dearest... reclaim yourself from the living dead. Life beckons
Suppose after all that death does end all. Next to eternal joy, next to being forever with those we love and those who have loved us, next to that, is to be wrapt in the dreamless drapery of eternal peace. Next to eternal life is eternal sleep. Upon the shadowy shore of death the sea of trouble casts no wave. Eyes that have been curtained by the everlasting dark, will never know again the burning touch of tears. Lips touched by eternal silence will never speak again the broken words of grief. Hearts of dust do not break. The dead do not weep. Within the tomb no veiled and weeping sorrow sits, and in the rayless gloom is crouched no shuddering fear. I had rather think of those I have loved, and lost, as having returned to earth, as having become a part of the elemental wealth of the world - I would rather think of them as unconscious dust, I would rather dream of them as gurgling in the streams, floating in the clouds, bursting in the foam of light upon the shores of worlds, I would rather think of them as the lost visions of a forgotten night, than to have even the faintest fear that their naked souls have been clutched by an orthodox god. I will leave my dead where nature leaves them. Whatever flower of hope springs up in my heart I will cherish, I will give it breath of sighs and rain of tears. But I cannot believe that there is any being in this universe who has created a human soul for eternal pain. I would rather that every god would destroy himself; I would rather that we all should go to eternal chaos, to black and starless night, than that just one soul should suffer eternal agony. I have made up my mind that if there is a God, he will be merciful to the merciful. Upon that rock I stand. - That he will not torture the forgiving. - Upon that rock I stand. - That every man should be true to himself, and that there is no world, no star, in which honesty is a crime. Upon that rock I stand. The honest man, the good woman, the happy child, have nothing to fear, either in this world or the world to come. Upon that rock I stand.
Robert G. Ingersoll