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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

When former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of himself and the United Nations in 2001, he gave a remarkable speech.  In that speech delivered on December 10 — just a few short months after the World Trade Center was destroyed by extremists — he said:

Each of us has the right to take pride in our particular faith or heritage. But the notion that what is ours is necessarily in conflict with what is theirs is both false and dangerous. It has resulted in endless enmity and conflict, leading men to commit the greatest of crimes in the name of a higher power.

Even though this part of his address was discussing the need for greater acceptance and understanding across religious boundaries, it certainly could be applied to other realms of belief and lines of division such as those found in politics, nationalism, academia, race, philosophy… you name it.

Avoiding the “false and dangerous” notions Annan described six and a half years ago sure would go a long way toward opening paths humanity could  take in overcoming its most pressing present and future challenges.

Read Kofi Annan’s entire Nobel Lecture at NobelPrize.org

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This month, most U.S. colleges and universities send forth their graduating seniors into the world with high hopes and big speeches. In honor of these many momentous commencement ceremonies, I present words spoken in 1968 to a crowd of 14,000-plus college students — words that are as fitting now as they were then:

You are the people, as President Kennedy said, who have ‘the least ties to the present and the greatest ties to the future.’ I urge you to learn the harsh facts that lurk behind the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves. Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our own misguided policies — and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson once told us was the last, best, hope of man. There is a contest on, not for the rule of America, but for the heart of America. In these next eight months, we are going to decide what this country will stand for — and what kind of men we are. So I ask for your help, in the cities and homes of this state, into the towns and farms: contributing your concern and action, warning of the danger of what we are doing — and the promise of what we can do. I ask you, as tens of thousands of young men and women are doing all over this land, to organize yourselves, and then to go forth and work for new policies — work to change our direction — and thus restore our place at the point of moral leadership, in our country, in our own hearts, and all around the world.

Excerpted from a lecture given by Robert F. Kennedy to students at Kansas State University on March 18, 1968 — two days after he announced his candidacy for U.S. President. His full speech can be read at PBS’s American Experience website.

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What would happen if  citizens give up on protecting their rights? Here’s a glimpse of an answer political philosopher Robert A. Dahl wrote in his On Democracy (2000, Yale University Press) reflecting on the moment Thomas Jefferson ended the Alien and Sedition Act in the late 1800s in support of the Right to Free Speech:

If and when many citizens fail to understand that democracy requires certain fundamental rights, or fail to support the political, administrative, and judicial institutions that protect those rights, then their democracy is in danger.

In this good year 2008, let’s boot out of office everyone who  has shown they lean more heavily toward authoritarianism than toward  protecting our rights.  Bye Republicans — you’re time to destroy our democracy will soon end.

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Today, while reading Richard Barbrook’s fantastic book, Imaginary Futures, I encountered this well-stated quote from a much older book, Modern Corporation and Private Property, by Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means written in 1932:

The communist thinks of the community in terms of a state; the corporation director thinks of it in terms of an enterprise; and though this difference between the two might lead to a radical divergence in results, it still remains true that the corporation director who would subordinate the interests of the individual stockholder to those of the group more nearly resembles the communist in thought than he does the protagonist of private property.

So, around the world, are they really closet Stalinists or are they the freedom-loving CEOs they say they are? Modern Corporation is definitely going on my reading list.

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