One can only face in others what one can face in oneself. On this confrontation depends the measure of our wisdom and compassion. This energy is all that one finds in the rubble of vanished civilisations, and the only hope for ours.
It is the writer, not the statesman, who is our strongest arm. Though we do not wholly believe it yet, the interior life is a real life, and the intangible dreams of people have a tangible effect on the world.
Human freedom is a complex, difficult – and private – thing. If we can liken life, for a moment, to a furnace, then freedom is the fire which burns away illusion. And honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began. The recovery of this standard demands of everyone who loves this country a hard look at himself, for the greatest achievements must begin somewhere, and they always begin with the person. If we are not capable of this examination, we may yet become one of the most distinguished and monumental failures in the history of nations.
“Can I do anything for you?” he persisted; and when I did not answer, being both touched and irritated by his question, he smiled and said, “You haven´t to be shy. I know what it is like to be ill and alone in a strange city.”
It was a hideously, an inevitably self-concious gesture and yet it touched and disarmed me. I know that his concern, at bottom, had very little to do with me. It had to do with his memories of himself and it expressed his determination never to be guilty of the world´s indifference.
The people who are in one´s life or merely continually in one´s presence reveal a great deal about one´s needs and terrors. Also, one´s hopes.
The world had prepared no place for you, and if the world had its way, no place would ever exist. (…) This is not the way this truth presents itself to white men, who believe the world is theirs and who, albeit unconsciously, expect the world to help them in the achievement of their identity. But the world does not do this – for anyone; the world is not interested in anyone´s identity. And, therefore, the anguish which can overtake a white man comes in the middle of his life, when he must take the almost inconceivable effort to divest himself of everything he has ever expected or believed, when he must take himself apart and put himself together again, walking out of the world, into limbo, or into what certainly looks like limbo.