“This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we really believe in, and those we never think to question.”
“No human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one's life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins.”
“When you really know somebody you can’t hate them. Or maybe it’s just that you can’t really know them until you stop hating them.”
“As long as you keep getting born, it's all right to die sometimes”
“A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife's adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.
There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine - a Speaker for the Dead - has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I'm going to tell you.
The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. 'Is there any man here,' he says to them, 'who has not desired another man's wife, another woman's husband?'
They murmur and say, 'We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.'
The Rabbi says, 'Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.' He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, 'Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he'll know I am his loyal servant.'
So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.
Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, 'Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.'
The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’
As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’
So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.
The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.
So of course, we killed him.
Letters to an Incipient Heretic”
“You killed more people than anybody in history."
"Be the best at whatever you do, that's what my mother always told me.”
“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
“He loved her, as you can only love someone who is an echo of yourself at your time of deepest sorrow.”
“But when it comes to human beings, the only type of cause that matters is final cause, the purpose. What a person had in mind. Once you understand what people really want, you can't hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can't hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart.”
“Sickness and healing are in every heart; death and deliverance in every hand.”
“The difference between raman and varelse is not in the creature judged, but in the creature judging. When we declare an alien species to be raman, it does not mean that they have passed a threshold of moral maturity. It means that we have.”
“Twisted and perverse are the ways of the human mind," Jane intoned. "Pinocchio was such a dolt to try to become a real boy. He was much better off with a wooden head.”
“It's the most charming thing about humans. You are all so sure that the lesser animals are bleeding with envy because they didn't have the good fortune to be born Homo sapiens.”
“Maybe she couldn't know who she was today. Maybe it was enough to know that she was no longer who she was before.”
“We've devoted our lives to learning about them!" Miro said.
Ender stopped. "Not from them.”
“Order and disorder', said the speaker, 'they each have their beauty.”
“Dona Crista laughed a bit. "Oh, Pip, I'd be glad for you to try. But do believe me, my dear friend, touching her heart is like bathing in ice."
I imagine. I imagine it feels like bathing in ice to the person touching her. But how does it feel to her? Cold as she is, it must surely burn like fire.”
“Quim," she said, "don't ever try to teach me about good and evil. I've been there, and you've seen nothing but a map.”
“I don't hate you, I love you, you're part of myself, you're my heart and when you go it's my heart torn out and carried away--”
“Ah, I am the judge of dreams, and you are the judge of love. Well, I find you guilty of dreaming good dreams, and sentence you to a lifetime of working and suffering for the sake of your dreams. I only hope that someday you won't declare me innocent of the crime of loving you.”
“He is dangerous, he is beautiful, I could drown in his understanding.”
“You're cultural supremacists to the core. You'll perform your Questionable Activities to help out the poor little piggies, but there isn't a chance in the world you'll notice when they have something to teach you.”
“You understand that the piggies are animals, and you no more condemn them for murdering Libo and Pipo than you condemn a cabra for shewing up capim."
That's right," said Miro.
Ender smiled. "And that's why you'll never learn anything from them. Because you think of them as animals.”
“A strange thing happened then. The Speaker agreed with her that she had made a mistake that night, and she knew when he said the words that it was true, that his judgment was correct. And yet she felt strangely healed, as if simply saying her mistake were enough to purge some of the pain of it. For the first time, then, she caught a glimpse of what the power of speaking might be. It wasn’t a matter of confession, penance, and absolution, like the priests offered. It was something else entirely. Telling the story of who she was, and then realizing that she was no longer the same person. That she had made a mistake, and the mistake had changed her, and now she would not make the mistake again because she had become someone else, someone less afraid, someone more compassionate.”
“Darkness bound them closer than light.”
“The tribe is whatever we believe it is. If we say the tribe is all the Little Ones in the forest, and all the trees, then that is what the tribe is. Even though some of the oldest trees here came from warriors of two different tribes, fallen in battle. We become one tribe because we say we're one tribe."
Ender marveled at his mind, this small raman [member of another sentient species]. How few humans were able to grasp this idea, or let it extend beyond the narrow confines of their tribe, their family, their nation.”
“So you chose not to be part of the bands of children who group together for the sole purpose of excluding others, and people look at you and say, poor girl, she’s so isolated, but you know a secret, you know who you really are. You are the one human being who is capable of understanding the alien mind, because you are the alien mind; you know what it is to be unhuman because there’s never been any human group that gave you credentials as a bona fide homo sapien
# [He] wondered if it was already too late to teach her how to be a human”
“This is the Speaker for the Dead? Judging someone by appearances?"
"Maybe I've fallen in love with Grego."
"You've always been a sucker for people who pee on you.”
“Once you understand what people really want, you can't hate them anymore. You can fear them, but you can't hate them, because you can always find the same desires in your own heart.”
“Did the poet know how lucky he was, to have such beautiful words and a place to put them and keep them?”
“I want you to go back into the barrack and tell the men to come out after the storm. Tell them to look up at me tied here. Tell them I’ll open my eyes and look back at them, and they’ll know hat I survived.”
“In the past, I had particularly loved her smell. She always smelled freshed, freshly washed or of freshed laundry or fresh sweat or freshly loved”
“My refusal to remove the book from the library was backed by a majority of the Board of Governors. I wrote back to Mr Malfoy, explaining my decision:
So-called pure-blood families maintain their alleged purity by disowning, banishing or lying about Muggles or Muggle-borns on their family trees. They then attempt to foist their hypocrisy upon the rest of us by asking us to ban works dealing with the truths they deny. There is not a witch or wizard in existence whose blood has not mingled with that of Muggles, and I should therefore consider it both illogical and immoral to remove works dealing with the subject from our students' store of knowledge.(4)
This exchange marked the beginning of Mr Malfoy's long campaign to have me removed from my post as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and of mine to have him removed from his position as Lord Voldemort's Favourite Death Eater.
(4)My response prompted several further letters from Mr Malfoy, but as they consisted mainly of opprobrious remarks on my sanity, parentage and hygiene, their relevance to this commentary is remote.”
“I am a pretty, useless ornament who always believed she'd have a man to take care of her.”
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