Saturday, January 30, 2016

Love is Wise, Hatred is Foolish


This is silly season in American politics, during which the essentially powerless (most of us) are targeted by the enormously privileged with expensive, intricately-engineered appeals to our fears and hopes. It is tempting to tune out, or rely on old, unexamined assumptions about our political preferences.

I've been doing some of both.

But when this advice came across my screen, it seemed worth sharing. It isn't new; it has been said by many others in myriad ways, but I'm fond of old Bertrand Russell, whose wisdom helped steer me clear of extremes as a young person in college. Here he is, speaking to future generations, in an interview in 1959:
I should like to say two things, one intellectual and one moral.
The intellectual thing I should want to say to them is this: When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts. That is the intellectual thing that I should wish to say.
The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple: I should say, love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way — and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.