Humans: Three Reflections

An ideal to be approached as closely as possible, in as many ways as possible, and with as much self-examining honesty as possible:

Attach yourself only to people who make you better. Completely avoid those who make you worse. Those who make you neither better nor worse become the latter with frequent association, due to wasted time; therefore, avoid this third group too, except insofar as interaction with them is absolutely necessary for normal practical functioning, i.e., as unavoidable accidents of your essential life pursuits.

There are millions of books. A miniscule number of these are edifying, life-enhancing, the sort of books you return to throughout life as companions on your journey. A few more have beneficial information or ideas that help you on your way at one time or another. But by far the greatest bulk of all books, easily dwarfing the first two categories, are those which are worthless or very bad, a substantial number even directly harmful.

In spite of this overwhelming disproportion in favor of the negative, you do not reject reading itself and despise all books on principle. Books are important, even necessary, in your life — a few books, the rare worthwhile ones. Those few books somehow compensate for the existence of all the worthless or harmful ones, and justify your continuing to read, in defiance of all the vacuous or corrupting words printed everywhere around you.

The same is true of humans.

Expecting democratic leaders to be higher men, or at least better than you, and therefore worthy of representing you, will always end in crushing disappointment. A moment’s reflection on what these men had to do to gain and keep their positions of power…. Could you do such things to your soul? Why, then, would you expect any solidity of purpose or principle, any honesty or integrity, from someone who could do such things?

Disillusionment is the product of lost innocence and violated admiration. This experience is natural and beneficial to children; but you are no longer a child.

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