Universal Human Values

From the moment of birth every human being wants happiness and freedom and wants to avoid suffering. In this we are all the same; and the more we care for the happiness of others the greater our own sense of each other becomes. Many of our problems are created by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, resources, economic status or other factors.

The time has come to think on a deeper, more human level and appreciate and respect our sameness as human beings. And to have a respect for endangered cultures that share these principles. We are at the dawn of an age in which many people feel that extreme political concepts should cease to dominate human affairs. We should use this opportunity to replace them with universal human and spiritual values and ensure that these values become the fiber of the global family that is emerging. It is not possible to find peace with anger, hatred, jealousy or greed.

At every level of society, familial, tribal, national and international, the key to a happier and more peaceful and successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not necessarily need to become religious, nor even believe in an ideology. We need only to develop our good human qualities and know that love and compassion are the most essential concepts for human survival. So long as human beings live and suffer, the only world open to our present knowledge, the brotherhood of man will seem an unattainable principle. In order for us to achieve real lasting peace among one another, the effort to realize that noblest and most satisfactory moral value must be occupation of every individual intelligence.

His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, The Compassionate Life (2001).


The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt. Excerpt from his speech, “Citizenship In A Republic, ” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.


William Faulkner on the Writer’s Duty

William Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 (although the award banquet was not held until December 10, 1950). He was 52 at the time. On November 11, a Swedish reporter called Faulkner to let him know that the Nobel committee had recognized him for “powerful and independent artistic contribution in America’s new literature of the novel.” Faulkner was modest and mentioned that he was a farmer and could not travel to collect the award and $30,000. He told no one about the award that day. Eventually he made his way to Stockholm and drank to put himself at ease. According to biographer Jay Parini, “Faulkner’s high-pitched southern voice was unintelligible to most in the room, including those who knew English. He read quickly and slurred his words.” It was not until his speech was printed in newspapers the very next day, that the committee — and the world — could appreciate the poetry and passion of his eloquent words. Six decades later, these words continue to inspire new generations of writers.

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work — a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

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Nobel Lectures: Literature 1901 – 1967 by Horst Frenz