„The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even — if you will — eccentricity.“

—  Joseph Brodsky, Context: The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even — if you will — eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn't be happy with. Something, in other words, that can't be shared, like your own skin: not even by a minority. Evil is a sucker for solidity. It always goes for big numbers, for confident granite, for ideological purity, for drilled armies and balanced sheets. Its proclivity for such things has to do with its innate insecurity, but this realization, again, is of small comfort when Evil triumphs. "A Commencement Address" (1984), delivered at Williams College; As quoted in: Robert Inchausti (2014) Thinking through Thomas Merton. p. 110
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Joseph Brodsky2
1940 - 1996

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„You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity.“

—  Christopher Isherwood English novelist 1904 - 1986
Exhumations (1966), Context: To live sanely in Los Angeles (or, I suppose, in any other large American city) you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be. They have planned a life for you – from the cradle to the grave and beyond – which it would be easy, fatally easy, to accept. The least wandering of the attention, the least relaxation of your awareness, and already the eyelids begin to droop, the eyes grow vacant, the body starts to move in obedience to the hypnotist’s command. Wake up, wake up – before you sign that seven-year contract, buy that house you don’t really want, marry that girl you secretly despise. Don’t reach for the whisky, that won’t help you. You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity. "Los Angeles", p. 161

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„The surest plan to make a Man
Is, think him so.“

—  James Russell Lowell American poet, critic, editor, and diplomat 1819 - 1891
The Biglow Papers (1848–1866), Series II (1866), No. 2.

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„O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil.“

—  Pope Leo XIII 256th Pope of the Catholic Church 1810 - 1903
Prayer to Saint Michael (1888), Context: O Glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven.

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„All evils are equal when they are extreme.“

—  Pierre Corneille French tragedian 1606 - 1684
Horace (1639), Tous maux sont pareils alors qu’ils sont extrêmes. Sabine, act III, scene iv.

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„Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.“

—  Mary Wollstonecraft British writer and philosopher 1759 - 1797
The French Revolution, Bk. V, ch. 4 (1794)

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„The Declaration was not a protest against government but against the excesses of government. It prescribed the proper role of government to secure the rights of individuals and to effect their safety and their happiness. In modern society, no individual can do this all alone, so government is not necessarily evil but a necessary good.“

—  Gerald Ford American politician, 38th President of the United States (in office from 1974 to 1977) 1913 - 2006
1970s, Context: The Declaration was not a protest against government but against the excesses of government. It prescribed the proper role of government to secure the rights of individuals and to effect their safety and their happiness. In modern society, no individual can do this all alone, so government is not necessarily evil but a necessary good. The framers of the Constitution feared a central government that was too strong, as many Americans rightly do today. The framers of the Constitution, after their experience under the Articles, feared a central government that was too weak, as many Americans rightly do today. They spent days studying all of the contemporary governments of Europe and concluded with Dr. Franklin that all contained the seeds of their own destruction. So the framers built something new, drawing upon their English traditions, on the Roman Republic, on the uniquely American institution of the town meeting. On the United States Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution at the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4 July 1976)

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