Inspirational Quotations by Jewish Authors #2
Religious Inspirational Quotations
TOPICS: Commandments of God; Conscience; Faith; Holiness; Humility; Obedience; Perfection.
COMMANDMENTS OF GOD
To take upon oneself “the yoke of the kingdom of heaven” [is] the highest duty … and it mean[s] undertaking to help bring about a better, purer and happier world. Can a higher ideal, for a nation or an individual, be conceived of? Working for God’s kingdom means working for a better world and a nobler humanity. Is it not this that the best men and women have spent and are spending their lives to accomplish? Is it not to make this world a fit place for God and those created in His image to live in?
For those of us who are engaged in a just and righteous cause, it is comforting to know that after all it is God who will be our judge, and with Him will rest the final decision. It is comforting to know that all our sacrifices of life and treasure will not go for naught but will ultimately receive their due reward and compensation from a just God. Therefore do we look into the future without fear; for we believe that God being mindful and all-seeing is also just, and therefore in His hands our cause and destiny are safe.
God has laid down certain laws for human conduct which we can defy only at our own peril. Love is indeed a beautiful sentiment, but the love that is unguided and unchecked by law is liable to degenerate into a weak sentimentalism, or worse, into downright wickedness and immorality. Much of the world’s misery is due to the disobedience of the laws that God has laid down for our guidance. As individuals, recognizing God as our Lawgiver, we must confess that much that we have suffered in life is but the result of our own wrongdoing, the evil consequence of our breaking God’s laws and infringing on His commandments. Human nature cannot grow morally strong and robust by feeding merely on beautiful sentiments, fine theories and plausible preachments that are too vague to mean anything. It must first learn to obey the laws of “Thou shalt, and thou shalt not” of the religious discipline, before it can develop into true moral character. For it is only the recognition of God as our Lawgiver that can give us a moral world. It is only universal obedience to the laws he has set down for our being that can be the truest safeguard of our lives and liberties.
---Herman Abramowitz, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 13, 1918.
The Ten Commandments are, according to Jewish tradition, not detailed commandments but, rather, general principles of righteousness, to be interpreted and applied to the conditions of every age and clime. In fact, they are not called the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. They are termed the Ten Words, and this expression has come down to us by the word Decalogue, which is derived from the Greek meaning ten words. These great pronunciations cover, in a condensed form, practically all the principles of ethics and religion. They are absolutely fundamental, in their spirit, and are as necessary today as they were in the day and age when they were gone. With them the world begins to study them, and accept them, when the people learn them, not only by heart, but in their hearts, then will the world be safe for democracy, and democracy will be made safe for the world.
—E.F. Magnin, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Calif., Jan. 14, 1924.
Conscience is that inexorable judge expounding the law of humanitarianism and universal brotherhood. It is that persisting, protesting sensation which makes the strongest of us pause when flirting with moral dynamite. It qualms and twinges, its torments and prickings and pangs are the thorn stings and the danger signs and the storm signals reading “KEEP OFF!” “STOP! LOOK! LISTEN.”
Ambition may temporarily overshadow ethics. The voice of the charmer lures for a while. But the voice of conscience eventually makes itself heard above the tempests and passions of battle and cries out the snags and reefs ahead.
You can’t shake your conscience—you can only quench it—by doing its dictates.
Without conscience there could be no integrity; no honor; no fair play; no justice. There would be only inequality and iniquity; unprincipled inconsideration of your rights and of my rights; corruption and disruption of all private and public enterprise.
---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., April 30, 1919.
There is a tremendous power in faith. Study the man of faith whom you know; see how he works. There is calm; there is vigor; there is case in all he does. You perceive the reserve force which is in him, and you wonder how he accomplishes as much as he does. You say to yourself, it is marvelous how he does things. Yet, all goers back to method and purpose. Both go back to faith. For faith essentially means working in harmony with a Being Supreme and Universal. Once we form the habit of working in harmony with God, we find it easier to work in harmony with man. Such harmony is bound to place us in a frame of mind which spells cheer, joy, hope, kindness and happiness. It is at such harmony Isaiah aimed when he said: “The mind stay on Thee. Thou keepest in perfect peace, because it trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3.)
One of the manifestations of our trust in God in prayer. Prayer which comes from the innermost recesses of our heart is a tonic to our mind. Indeed, it would be well if we should open our eyes with a prayer of thankfulness for the bright sunshine, and for the glorious opportunities, each day. That would be beginning the day right; that would be helping ourselves to happiness from within—for that would assist us in looking for the sun, even though clouds obscure it for the moment.
In this way, our frame of mind would be such that would give us power, that would give us vitality, that would give us a kind of reserve force, that would guard us from falling into a mood of sadness, depression, and anger. Our mind is truly an inner sanctuary. Let us keep it clean and pure and wholesome; let us not allow any impurities or contamination enter therein.
---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, March 29, 1929.
We need men of faith to arouse the finer instincts of religion and humanity in us. Believe in the goodness of people, in their spiritual capacity, and see the wonders that can be accomplished.
---Sadie J. Volansky, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 30, 1921.
We must have faith. I do not mean that credulity which maintains an open mind for the belief of anything that is needful or promising. Such faith is spiritually enervating. It shifts human duty to the shoulders of God’s responsibility. The faith I plead for is that which justly maintains that neither the universe nor ourselves as part of it are ever bankrupt. We are always surrounded by an immeasurable reservoir of power upon which we may draw and are gifted by Providential foresight with the ability to apply and convert that power into progressive realizations of blessing. As we look back over the past we find numerous instances, national and individual, where we faced trials that appeared frowning and forbidden, before which we suffered more or less discouragement and depression. And yet with the freighted potency of time which has its ever-flowing spring in heaven as it runs its course to the ocean of eternity we find ourselves in proportion to our effort carried to new havens of outlook and attainment. So today we must face forward hopefully, expectantly and with that self-application to the utmost of our several powers, that with adequate time will reap a harvest appropriate to our sowing.
The faith for which I plead as essential to our objective recovery is synonymous with that piety which constitutes real religion. Man is so constituted that he must have religion, which means the supplementing of his weakness with the addition of draughts of Divine strength. Unfortunately this increase of power has been hampered and hindered by substitutes of substantial piety by what I call superficial pietine. There is a culturine that poses as culture. And so there is a pietine that maintains certain objective customs, practices and beliefs which are merely gestures without a proportionate fundamental subjective spiritual significance. Let us have a truce to much of which we have subsumed under the caption of religion. We may have our churches, our creeds, our ceremonies, our rationalism and our varied and multitudinous so-called religious engagements, but we must be on our guard constantly to check these up and keep them at their proper evaluation. I regret that through my many years of intimate observation of multitudes of people, I have found few who could be credited with a real piety. Much of our religious life has been a spiritless mechanism, a technique of priestly propriety, or a mental pride in a particular and peculiar form of belief. This is why we have such a vast number of separative and mutually antagonistic denominations in place of a fundamental united aspiration of the human soul to come increasingly into social association.
The piety that we need in facing forward is a reassertion of the spirit of the Prophets of the Old Testament and of Jesus in the New, that takes its cue from Heaven and courageously, persistently and hopefully aspires and attempts to install God’s Kingdom of Righteousness in association with loving kindness upon earth. Too many churches have concerned themselves with trying to keep mankind out of hell. Too many others have concentrated upon an effort to get men into Heaven. I want a forward piety that shall compel every human being to regard life as an altar consecrated to the activating ambition to reduce the hell of earth and to increase its Heaven. Let us not lower God to our human level. Too many of us conceive of Him in terms of human limitation and weakness, oftentimes with an exaggeration of our weakness. To a proper piety God should be a magnificent pattern to the highest conceivable degree of what we in our noblest moments and with our noblest powers conceive to be beautiful and good. Such a conception should counsel and compel our lives throughout our entire active years of this earthly pilgrimage. We should thus supplant antagonism with amity, conflict with cooperation and belt the globe with the benignant beauty and blessings of brotherliness.
This same attitude of a spiritual sublimating forward looking piety will relieve earth of many of its waifs and wastrels. It will replace human defect and delinquency which are often pernicious products of ignorant or careless progenitors, with a dignity and delight of that self-realization which follows in the wake of proper opportunity and encouragement such as should be synonymous with the striving of everything that lays claim to sanctity.
I want piety as the flowering of religion to synonymize with a sublime subliming service, in the track of which every creature of God, human and other, shall be so trained and treated as to be able to contribute some note to the grandeur and glory of an ever-swelling harmony of creation.
---Alexander Lyons, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Jan. 27, 1932.
Faith, not fate, rules the universe.
True faith is invulnerable; it never wears away; it may burn low but it never burns out; it sometimes ebbs but it always sweeps back and sweeps men on.
Faith is the ballast of toil. Men grow disheartened, but faith forever remains to fire desire, to comfort when weary and worn, to inspire to rose-gathering despite the thorns.
It is faith which sustains the swimmer who fights the tide; faith which supports the soldier with his back to the wall; faith which warms the sailor who combats the storm.
Only faith can stop men from squandering their golden days and dollars; faith can terminate stumbling servitude at the shrine of failure; only faith can lead man to pluck revivifying hope from the myriad hovering flowers of opportunity.
At some time or another the world unites against some one or other of its benefactors; and only faith can heal the gashes inflicted by the barbed wire strewn in their path.
Faith is the foundation stone of all achievement; it is woven into the fabric of all accomplishment; it is faith the spurred the tired ploughboy to become the emancipator of a race; faith that lifted a little girl bereft of senses from the depths of unparalled gloom into the heights of unrivaled heroism.
In the Arch of Victory faith has always been the keystone. Faith in themselves, faith in the thing they were doing, faith that all must turn out well—it has been the inspirational essence that has heartened thousands of hopeless men and women driven to the depths of desperation and despair.
Faith in the omnipresence of opportunity has been the constructive, animating motive of countless men and women who have been scared and saved from servile, slavish subservience to misunderstanding and discouragement.
Flowers have hard work blooming on dreary days; they need sunshine. So does man—the sunshine of Faith.
---Herman J. Stich, The Evening World, New York, N.Y., Nov. 3, 1919.
Faith is the realization of God's presence.
—Morris Lichenstein, New York Times, New York, N.Y., June 28, 1937.
The death of a loved one is difficult to accept without being overwhelmed by sorrow. Death seems to utterly final, so completely the end. Your entreaties are useless, medicine is helpless, wealth is futile when death comes. Certainly love is powerless, and instead of easing the blow, only adds to your grief. For the more you love, the more you love, the more you are hurt when your beloved passes away. What is there then in all the world that can ultimately give you the strength to endure when death takes your dearest one from you? Only faith is the answer. For faith speaks to you of a loving God with Whom there is no death. Faith comforts you with the assurance that your loved one is with God, that the soul is immortal, that death is not the end. Possessing such faith you come to understand that this life is but an interlude within your eternal life during which you ought to live nobly and make your contribution to human betterment no matter how small or large your part. Faith enables you to be grateful for the good your beloved accomplished on this earth. Faith wipes the tears from your eyes and you see with humility and joy your dear one's blessed life should not be a cause for weeping, but rather is an achievement to celebrate. With faith in your heart you can go forward courageously when you are bereaved for then you are uplifted by exalted memories and sustained by the nearness of God.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Sept. 22, 1956.
Faith in the power of man to liberate himself from the shackles of evil and folly makes possible our belief in the efficacy of repentance. Neither despair of man nor denial of his spiritual potentialities lead to repentance. This despair and denial can lead only to listlessness, to fatalism, to a blind and lethargic faith, or to complete disbelief. When we find ourselves in the presence of a saint, our faith in God increases. When we see a personality who embodies within his life the ways of God, our trust in Him is strengthened. If man is but a lowly, forlorn creature, without hope and future, how can we ever attain faith in God? If within us we see but darkness and evil, how can we ever penetrate this darkness to see the light and grace of God? The Almighty is a God of faithfulness. He is faithful, but He also has faith, faith in man, faith in the world. If we will have faith in man, God will also be found by us.
—David S. Shapiro, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., June 19, 1952.
The whole human personality becomes divine when it molds its motives toward a divine end, when it strives to elevate the very realm of the senses into the sphere of holiness.
It must be kept clearly in mind that the sphere of holiness encloses only goodness, justice, wisdom—that can bear the searching light of reason and morality. …
Holiness presses into service heart, hand, and spirit. It takes in the sanctity of married life, the reverence for father and mother, the respect for justice to all, the regard for the aged and hoary-headed person, the observance of just weights and measures. Yes, it takes in all conditions and vicissitudes of life—home, school, business, industry, and the market place. Let us hallow God’s name by hallowing all our pursuits and endeavors, all our social relations and activities. Thus, indeed, will we prove that man is the monarch of all life, that his dominion is entire creation, that his is the power “to prepare a way even in the wilderness, to make a highway even in the desert, to life up every valley, to make low every mountain and hill, and to smooth every rough place” (Isaiah 40:3-4); thus, shall the glory of God be revealed.
---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 10, 1929.
Ethics and morality are the direct outcome of the belief in God. The belief in God means purity and ethical holiness. To recognize the true and only God mean[s] also to act according to His will and consequently to live a moral life. Holiness is the aim and test of moral conduct. Ethical perfection which embraces every noble activity known to man, is possible only through a strong belief and a consequent attachment to God’s will and His ways. Ethical holiness is the fundamental principle of religious doctrine. To be noble and sanctified in life is the ideal and destiny. Morality is contingent upon religion, and without the latter the presence or sincerity of the former is to be doubted. Where there is no religion, the best of ethical laws would not prevent a man from becoming a slave to his passions.
---S. Talpis, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 18, 1918.
Holiness is something as real and as intelligible as God Himself. Holiness is spiritual health, sin is departure from spiritual health. Holiness, like good health, should be our normal condition; sinfulness, like disease, should be an abnormal condition with us.
—S.J. Schweb, Lake Charles American-Press, Lake Charles, La., Oct. 2, 1922.
There is no virtue nobler or mightier than profound and sincere humility. Yet no quality of mind or heart has been more sadly misunderstood and maligned. Humility is not popular today. It is considered appropriate only for the weak, the poor, the beaten in the conflicts of life. It is not something to be attained; rather is it the unfortunate, unavoidable result of defeat.
How differently our ancestors felt about it. “Humility is the greatest of all virtues.” It was the only quality specifically attributes by the Bible to Moses, our great liberator and lawgiver. “Now the man Moses was very humble, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” Rabbi Yochanan said, “Wherever you find described the power of God, there you also find described His humility.”
Why this contrast between our attitude of scorn towards humility and the respect with which our ancestors entertained for it? It is not because we do not quite understand what humility means? We associate it with the fawning hypocrisy of a Uriah Heap, with the cringing fear of a beaten slave, with the bloodless surrender of one’s rights. But humility is none of these things. Surely none of them could apply to Moses, who hated hypocrisy, who crushed slavery, who claimed his rights even from God Himself. Yet he “was humble above all men that were on the face of the earth.”
True humility is not an abject, groveling, self-despising spirit; it is but a right estimate of ourselves in proportion to the vast universe in which we live, and to the mighty forces which mold our destiny.
We are mere grains of sand upon a little clod of earth. Even our wildest imagination falters before the immensity of the universe. A light year is as far as light can travel in a year’s time at the rate of 186,000 miles per second, and astronomers can already see at a distance of 200,000,000 light years away, and beyond the reach of their vision are probably even vaster spaces as yet unseen. Through this universe countless planets, many of them millions of times as large as our earth, are whirling at unimaginable speed. Yet each follows its predestined and eternal orbit, in obedience to universal law. Before the grandeur of such a universe can we be anything but humble?
Even upon this little earth of ours, how weak and helpless we are. A little tremor of its surface and a great city is laid in ruins with countless dead and injured. One of its rivers overflows and the work of years goes for naught, and human lives are quenched like candles in the wind. How ridiculous to strut and brag and swell in the face of such utter helplessness!
But we boast of our mental prowess. What does it amount to? We catch only a passing glimpse of great ideas before they fade like a flash of a glowworm, into the darkness. We can think only in terms of space and time. We see as through a glass darkly. It is only the man of little knowledge who thinks he knows it all.
Nearer the truth was the great sage who said that his wisdom was as the water absorbed by a fly, dipped into the mighty ocean.
And morally how poor we are, how full of frailties and imperfections. How hard even the best of men have to struggle with themselves, to achieve true nobility and greatness. As the simple and beautiful prayer puts it: “What are we? What is our life? What is our righteousness? What is our goodness? What is our power? What is our might? Are not the unjust heroes as naught before Thee? Wise men as if they were without knowledge? And the intelligent as if void of understanding?”
Thus every one of us has the eyes to perceive this great world of ours, the mind to understand its unchanging and beneficent law, the heart to thrill to its majestic beauty, will grow humble and reverent before it. As James Barrie makes his little minister say—“Life is one long lesson in humility.
Yet, not only is it natural to be humble, it is also indispensable to human happiness. To be happy means to love and be loved, to have friends, to give and to earn the approval and the affection of our fellow men. But only the humble can attain such happiness.
“My friends and I have built a wall
“Between us, thick and wide.
“The stones of it are laid in scorn
“And plastered with pride.”
That’s what pride is—a wall that shuts our sympathy, tolerance, understanding, friendship. Only humility can break it down, make us realize our own frailties and imperfections and thus render us tolerant, sympathetic and patient with orders. It will impress us, moreover, with our weakness and insignificance and make us eager to cooperate with others for the common good. He who is humble will expect little and give much to life and thereby attain to true greatness.
The first thing about humility is that it is the only road that leads to God. Like darkness it reveals the heavenly lights. It follows naturally that only he who recognizes his shortcomings can succeed in eliminating them—that he who stands low in his own estimation, can look up to a Higher Power, that only he who forgives others can expect forgiveness for himself. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; and a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”
Let us, therefore, as we approach the duties and problems of life, prepare ourselves by learning well the supreme lesson of humility. It may reveal to us our weakness and helplessness, but it will also open our eyes to the beauty and the grandeur of God’s world. It may expose to us our frailties, and our shortcomings and our imperfections, but it will also bring us the healing message of God’s love and mercy. It has been well called by a great poet, “the higest virtue, mother of them all.”
---William S. Malev, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., April 28, 1930.
One of the greatest blessings that religion has given man is the ideal of humility. This virtue is known to all but, sadly enough, practiced by few. Humility, unlike some of its sister virtues, reaps no material reward and receives little or no recognition while its opposites, pride and haughtiness, seem to be more lucrative. It would seem from our worldly experiences that the man of show and pomp, of pride and conceit, oft times wins for himself more friends and earns greater plaudits than the meek, modest, unassuming individual who is content to perform his allotted tasks and obligations in life without thought of recompense or public approval. I wonder who is the more successful in life?
Humility is essential to the moral growth of the individual. It is that fundamental quality which pleases man in a just relationship with God. Aquinas says, “Humility, strictly speaking, implies reverence whereby man subjects himself to God. Humility is then the victory of truth in character; that just self-estimate which while not depreciating personal gifts or excellence always refers them to God as their true and only source.” Humility furthers the development of community life; it promotes the spirit of altruism and service; it frees man from covetousness and envy.
Humility is practical and axiomatic for man’s daily acts. Humility is the consciousness that all that we are and all have we possess are not the fruits of our own doing but rather the result of God’s blessing and of man’s cooperation. Yet we see men who strut about the world with haughtiness and overbearing pride, who regard themselves as paragons of virtue and pronounced successes in life. And that they do is beyond criticism and impeccable in their own estimation—and they spare no effort with their tongues to let the world know that they are perfect and without blemish. In their haughtiness, their own mouths speak with praise and naught on earth can convince them that they are as susceptible to the same frailties of earthly existence as their confreres.
Humility of speech is as important as modesty of action. I know of no limits that should be drawn as to the use of gentle words. We must learn to be mild in our force of speech even though decided in our intents and action. The world scorns the “know-it-all,” the one who professes supreme authority on every subject, who imagines in the folly of his innocent heart that he knows ore of arts, science and facts of every branch of human activity, than those who are adept therein. We should never cultivate glibness of tongue. We should have a ready, kind, sympathetic, friendly world for all, realizing that we cannot arrogate unto others a perfection of knowledge.
---Myron M. Meyer, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Mo., June 15, 1930.
The greatest barrier in the way of acquisition of true knowledge is conceit. The conceited man cannot become truly wise. The most striking instances of humility have been furnished by those whom the world has accounted the wisest of men.
---David Philipson, The Morning Herald, Baltimore, Md., May 10, 1896.
In the building of the soul, God’s living temple, obedience to law, statutes, and ordinances promulgated by the Great Architect of the Universe spells strength and life. Such obedience means not slavery but freedom, not drudgery but liberty. Liberty is non-existing if it means acting as one pleases. The state of nature knows no such liberty. The planets follow their sun; the seas follow the moon in tidal waves; the clouds are led forth in ranks and columns by the night winds. Laws were made to enhance happiness, not to lessen it. Man increases the number of law he obeys and he increases in influence, strength, wealth and personality.
---Julius Berger, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Sept. 22, 1922.
The religious person is led to his God, as is the poet to his music, by his heart. Man aspires toward perfection. In art this impulse appears as the quest for beauty. In science it is the quest for knowledge that will bring power. In religion it is the quest for perfection on the ethical plane, the quest for certainty on the emotional plane, the seeking of the eternal. In this unfriendly world, fashioned perhaps for purposes other than our comfort, we need the solicitude of a Father, the comforting support of a Friend. Man rebels at the senseless extinction that death as it reveals itself to our fleshly eyes seems to bring. We open the eyes of our inner being and light the world with a friendly glow. We are immortal. Our life is not the whim of chance. It has a deep purpose. Into the tight, regulated cause-effect life science pictures, the idea of God introduces beauty, freedom, will, moral law, spiritual aspiration. We need an absolute, external agency to give dignity, worth, above all, sense, to human suffering and striving. Biology and history teach only that might is right. Our moral life thus becomes dependent upon the objective standard that is God.
The religious person is not concerned with the rational justifications for God. He feels a deep longing, a profound need for God. As the psalmist says, “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house and the swallow a nest for herself where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.” The belief in God brings with it an intense conviction that life is good, that life is worth living. Life is worth living only if it is lived with intensity and enthusiasm. God should be worshipped only in joy—during an experience of great delight.
The God of Faith is neither distant nor cold. He is near and His breath is upon us. He is our rock and fortress. His presence strengthens us in our distress. Our love and yearning for Him raise us above ourselves, left us out of the bog of our daily lives with their trifling duties and heavy disappointments and place us, in Spinoza’s term, under the “aspect of eternity.” Our love for Him makes us one with all upward aspiring men. It gives significance to us and our acts. It confers dignity and worth upon our lives. It floods our lives with a many-faceted radiance.
Our mind and our heart both seek God. Our mind discovers a formula, a bold and frigid generalization. Our heart finds a loving Father, a concerned Guide.
---Morris Adler, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Joseph, Mo., July 27, 1930.
To be able to get along successfully with others one must learn not to see too much and not to hear too much.
The teacher that is constantly picking on her pupils at the slightest indication of misconduct, the husband and wife who criticize one another for the smallest indiscretion, the parents who never overlook one false step of the children; all of these and all those like them make life miserable for themselves and for others.
The perfectionist in anything is doomed to disillusionment. What a hard road the perfectionist must walk in this our life.
He never seems to understand that we are mortal and human and therefore subject to making mistakes quite easily. Not one of us is perfect.
The Bible says, "there lives no man on earth who is so righteous that he sinneth not." If we can get to understand and accept this side of human frailty we shall find ourselves much more at east with ourselves and with those around us.
It is so foolish to upset our equilibrium as well as to disturb the peace of others, by picking on them and criticizing them for the most trivial fault.
There are times when you should not examine too closely. There are times when you should overlook some of the petty things that are going on.
Certainly this does not imply that one must blind oneself to major sins and errors. We are not asking for indifference to wrongdoing. But this is a reminder to all of us that happiness can be lost by noticing too much.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 13, 1954.
To be a perfectionist is to invite trouble. Those who are unsatisfied with anything but the ultra best in themselves and in others are doomed to many disappointments and heartaches. We are human and mortal and thus given to making mistakes.
To be sure, we are perfectible, we can improve, but to expect perfection of anyone is to expect the impossible. Some folks never seem to learn this truth about human nature, and so they fill their minds with discontent.
There are some women who are miserable if their homes are not perfectly tidy; if their children are not perfectly mannered; if their husbands are not completely "just so." There are men who become furious if their wives or their secretaries make the slightest mistakes; if their plans do not unfold exactly as they should.
It is one thing to do your best, but it is an altogether different thing to anticipate that what you accomplish will be perfection or what you expect someone else to do must be flawless. Some of the world's greatest virtuosos, superb pianists and violinists, play wrong notes during their performances.
There is hardly a masterpiece in art, in painting or sculpture and in architecture without several errors.
We must learn to understand the fact that because we are human we fall short of perfection. Let us work to the best of our ability to achieve whatever we are after, but let us be tolerant of ourselves and others when perfection is not attained.
A great deal of unnecessary trouble and frustration will be avoided by the humility of understanding that we can only aim for the stars, though we do not reach them.
—Hyman Judah Schachtel, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, March 12, 1955.
We might say that one quality which makes us human is our imperfection. All to often, we become frustrated or angered over the imperfections of our fellow human beings, even those who program or operate our computers! Perhaps this is because we're expecting people to behave as machines rather than human beings. Errors, imperfections, inconsistencies and mistakes are part of what make us human and perhaps there is something endearing about the fact that we're not perfect.
Totalitarian systems reduce people to machines--they expect machine-like perfection. Such regimes are like machines themselves which see other human beings not as real flesh and blood, but as mechanical parts, replaceable, interchangeable and, if necessary, disposable. In such systems, human beings become like machines when they define others in terms of "What have they done lately?" instead of "Who are they and what to they really mean to us as people?"
We're not machines. We're sometimes thoughtful and at times, thoughtless; but we also feel, we care, we dare, we create, we innovate, we imagine, we build, we love, we cherish--we are capable of all these wonderful qualities machines cannot supply nor ever were intended to provide. We can, unlike machines, see things differently one day than we did a few days earlier, for we are marvelously capable of change and growth. In this, we find the source of our divinely endowed greatness and strength.
—Richard Zionts, Shreveport Journal, Shreveport, La., Aug. 18, 1964.
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