I have tremendous respect for the Russian people and their poets.
Every heart has the capacity for good or evil. If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Every heart balances the devil and sainthood but it is still just one heart.
During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn’t change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.
If you cannot imagine yourself doing exactly what was done to you, you had better put that rock down. The danger is only borne by you.
- Socrates taught us: “Know thyself.”
- Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way things worked out that they were the executioners and we weren’t.
- From good to evil is one quaver, says the proverb. And correspondingly, from evil to good.
Grief that is not accurately understood is felt as pain and anger.
In prison, both in solitary confinement and outside solitary too, a human being confronts his grief face to face. This grief is a mountain, but he has to find space inside himself for it, to familiarize himself with it, to digest it, and it him. This is the highest form of moral effort, which has always ennobled every human being. A duel with years and with walls constitutes moral work and a path upward (if you can climb it).
And 3 more for good measure:
- When you’ve robbed a man of everything he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.
- One word of truth outweighs the whole world.
- Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career.