Saturday, January 23, 2010

What Senator Paul Douglas learned

Unitarian and Illinois Senator Paul Douglas speaking in 1966 at the Amherst commencement. From LIFE Magazine.
That what is most needed in the world is love -or energized good will- which, if given a chance and practiced with devotion, can in most cases melt antagonisms within a democratic society and reconcile opposites.

That truth has at once a compulsive and healing power. We should not be afraid of truth, for if recognized and acted upon it is the rock upon which we can base our individual and collective lives.

That in its larger aspects truth is not simple but subtle. Frequently, it requires a long process of discovery both by the probings of research and the sifting induced by dialogue.

That in dealing with the winds of doctrine, in the words of Jefferson, "We should not be afraid to tolerate error as long as reason be left free to combat it.

That when aggression stalks either a community or the world, resistance to it is both necessary and noble, least it become all-pervasive. And it is well that it should be checked in its early days before it can acquire the cumulative momentum of success.

That human courage in defense of an ideal is an ultimate virtue which we should not permit the pressures of conformity to diminish. The nation which minimizes courage is on the road to destruction.

That the Athenians did well to make the owl and the olive tree their symbols to denote wisdom and peace. But freedom tempered with love is the only atmosphere in which true wisdom and peace can flourish. And to preserve and maintain all these virtues, a strong admixture of Spartan courage is needed. Thermopylae was necessary that Socrates might practice his dialectic.

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