“To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil.”
“If you must err, do so on the side of audacity.”
“My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it's the other way round.”
“There's no pain on earth that doesn't crave a benevolent witness.”
“you got to figure out which end of the needle you’re gon be, the one that’s fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth.”
“We 're all yearning for a wedge of sky, aren 't we? I suspect God plants these yearnings in us so we'll at least try and change the course of things. We must try, that's all" - Lucretia Mott in The Invention of Wings
― Sue Monk Kidd”
“I’d chosen the regret I could live with best, that’s all.”
“The sorry truth is you can walk your feet to blisters, walk till kingdom-com, and you never will outpace your grief.”
“I saw then what I hadn't seen before, that I was very good at despising slavery in the abstract, in the removed and anonymous masses, but in the concrete, intimate flesh of the girl beside me, I'd lost the ability to be repulsed by it. I'd grown comfortable with the particulars of evil. There's a frightful muteness that dwells at the center of all unspeakable things, and I had found my way into it.”
“When mauma saw my raw eyes, she said, “Ain’t nobody can write down in a book what you worth.”
“For a moment I felt the quiet hungering thing that comes inside when you return to the place of your origins, and then the ache of mis-belonging.”
“If you don't know where your're going, you should know where you came from.”
“She said it again, "I'm tired."
She wanted me to tell her it was all right, to get her spirit and go on, but I couldn't say it. I told her, "Course you're tired. You worked hard your whole life. That's all you did was work."
"Don't you remember me for that. Don't you remember I'm a slave and work hard. When you think of me, you say, she never belong to those people. She never belong to nobody but herself."
She closed her eyes. "You remember that."
"I will, mauma.”
“God fills us with all sorts of yearnings that go against the grain of the world—but the fact those yearnings often come to nothing, well, I doubt that’s God’s doing.” She cut her eyes at me and smiled. “I think we know that’s men’s doing.”
“How could I choose someone who would force me to give up my own small reach for meaning? I chose myself, and without consolation.”
“In writing The Invention of Wings, I was inspired by the words of Professor Julius Lester, which I kept propped on my desk: “History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.”
“There's a frightful muteness that dwells at the center of all unspeakable things, and I had found my way into it.”
“I'd been wandering about in the enchantments of romance, afflicted with the worst female curse on earth, the need to mold myself to expectations.”
“I didn't know how to be in the world without her.”
“Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.”
“I’d chosen the regret I could live with best, that’s all. I’d chosen the life I belonged to.”
“There was a time in Africa the people could fly. Mauma told me this one night when I was ten years old. She said, “Handful, your granny-mauma saw it for herself. She say they flew over trees and clouds. She say they flew like blackbirds. When we came here, we left that magic behind.”
“Their laughter would ring out abruptly, a sound Mother welcomed. “Our slaves are happy,” she would boast. It never occurred to her their gaiety wasn’t contentment, but survival.”
“As he left, I peered at Sarah Mapps and her mother, the way they grabbed hands and squeezed in relief, and then at Nina, at the small exultation on her face. She was braver than I, she always had been. I cared too much for the opinions of others, she cared not a whit. I was cautious, she was brash. I was a thinker, she was a doer. I kindled fires, she spread them. And right then and ever after, I saw how cunning the Fates had been. Nina was one wing, I was the other.”
“It has come as a great revelation to me,” I wrote her, “that abolition is different from the desire for racial equality. Color prejudice is at the bottom of everything. If it’s not fixed, the plight of the Negro will continue long after abolition.”
“How can you ask us to go back to our parlors?” I said, rising to my feet. “To turn our backs on ourselves and on our own sex? We don’t wish the movement to split, of course we don’t—it saddens me to think of it—but we can do little for the slave as long as we’re under the feet of men. Do what you have to do, censure us, withdraw your support, we’ll press on anyway. Now, sirs, kindly take your feet off our necks.”
“I longed for it in that excruciating way one has of romanticizing the life she didn’t choose.”
“People say love gets fouled by a difference big as ours. I didn’t know for sure whether Miss Sarah’s feelings came from love or guilt. I didn’t know whether mine came from love or a need to be safe. She loved me and pitied me. And I loved her and used her. It never was a simple thing. That day, our hearts were pure as they ever would get.”
“Everything she knew came from living on the scarce side of mercy.”
“All things pass in the end, even the worst melancholy. I opened my dresser and pulled out the lava box that held my button. My eyes glazed at the sight of it, and this time I felt my spirit rise up to meet my will. I would not give up. I would err on the side of audacity. That was what I'd always done.”
“And ask each passenger to tell his story, and if there is one of them all who has not cursed his existence many times, and said to himself over and over again that he was the most miserable of men, I give you permission to throw me head-first into the sea.”
“Right now universes are being created thrown together and destroyed the world over. Seven billion souls, each preoccupied with their own unique reality, each with a head full of memories, plans, learned knowledge and accumulated trivia; birthdays, telephone numbers, bus routes, passwords. Each one with somewhere to go, something they need to get done. They all have birth certificates and shoe sizes. Every single one has a story.”
“Your generation is suffering from what for lack of a better word I shall call over-debunk. There was a lot of debunking that had to be done, of course. Bigotry, militarism, nationalism, religious intolerance, hypocrisy, phonyness, all sorts of dangerous, ready-made, artificially preserved false values. But your generation and the generation before yours went too far with their debunking job. You went overboard. Over-debunk, that's what you did. It's moral overkill. It's like those insecticides Rachel Carson speaks of in her book, that poison everything, and kill all the nice, useful bugs as well as the bad ones, and in the end poison human beings as well. In the end, it poisons life itself, the very air we breathe. That's what you did, morally and intellectually speaking. Yours is a silent spring. You have overprotected yourselves. You are all no more than twenty, twenty-two years old, but yours is a silent spring, I'm telling you. Nothing sings for you any more.”
“In one of our government departments . . . but perhaps I had better not say exactly which one. For no one's more touchy than people in government departments, regiments, chancelleries or, in short, any kind of official body. Nowadays every private citizen thinks the whole of society is insulted when he himself is.”
“If we get lucky, it will grow hair.”
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