The most degrading of human passions is the fear of death. It tears away the restraints and the conventions which alone make social life possible to man; it reveals the brute in him which underlies them all. In the desperate hand-to-hand struggle for life there is no element of nobility. He who is engaged upon it throws aside honor, he throws aside self-respect, he throws aside all that would make victory worth having - he asks for nothing but bare life.
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We have begun to slam doors, and to throw things. I throw my purse, an ashtray, a package of chocolate chips, which breaks on impact. We are picking up chocolate chips for days. Jon throws a glass of milk, the milk, not the glass: he knows his own strength, as I do not. He throws a box of Cheerios, unopened. The things I throw miss, although they are worse things. The things he throws hit, but are harmless. I begin to see how the line is crossed, between histrionics and murder.
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You can't hang around waiting for somebody else to pull your strings. Destiny's what you make of it. You have to face whatever life throws at you. And if it throws more than you'd like, more than you think you can handle? Well then you just have to find the heroism within yourself and play out the hand you've been dealt. The universe never sets a challenge that can't be met. You just need to believe in yourself in order to find the strength to face it.
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Evolution throws a wonderful light on all the struggles, eccentricities, tortuous developments of the human conscience in the past. It is the only theory of morals that does. And evolution throws just as much light on the ethical and social struggle today; and it is the only theory that does. What a strange age ours is from the religious point of view! What a hopeless age from the philosopher's point of view! Yet it is a very good age, the best that ever was. No evolutionist is a pessimist.
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Bit by bit, I found myself relaxing into the conversation. Kitty had a natural talent for drawing people out of themselves, and it was easy to fall in with her, to feel comfortable in her presence. As Uncle Victor had once told me long ago, a conversation is like having a catch with someone. A good partner tosses the ball directly into your glove, making it almost impossible for you to miss it; when he is on the receiving end, he catches everything sent his way, even the most errant and incompetent throws. That's what Kitty did. She kept lobbing the ball straight into the pocket of my glove, and when I threw the ball back to her, she hauled in everything that was even remotely in her area: jumping up to spear balls that soared above her head, diving nimbly to her left or right, charging in to make tumbling, shoestring catches. More than that, her skill was such that she always made me feel that I had made those bad throws on purpose, as if my only object had been to make the game more amusing. She made me seem better than I was, and that strengthened my confidence, which in turn helped to make my throws less difficult for her to handle. In other words, I started talking to her rather than to myself, and the pleasure of it was greater than anything I had experienced in a long time.
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