That’s just, like, your opinion

“There is no such thing as a pure fact, innocent of interpretation. Behind every fact presented to the world—by a teacher, a writer, anyone—is a judgment. The judgement that has been made is that this fact is important, and that other facts, omitted, are not important.” – Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

Asking nicely won’t help

“The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass (quoted by Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States)

And that’s the truth

“Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles or gives me any best place. And a’nt I a woman? Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a’nt I a woman? I would work as much and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well. And a’nt I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen em most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And a’nt I a woman?” – Sojourner Truth (quoted by Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States)

The poets studied rules of verse, and the ladies, they rolled their eyes

“To say that the Declaration of Independence, even by its own language, was limited to life, liberty, and happiness for white males is not to denounce the makers and signers of the Declaration for holding the ideas expected of privileged males of the eighteenth century. Reformers and radicals, looking discontentedly at history, are often accused of expecting too much from a past political epoch—and sometimes they do. But the point of noting those outside the arc of human rights in the Declaration is not, centuries late and pointlessly, to lay impossible moral burdens on that time. It is to try to understand the way in which the Declaration functioned to mobilize certain groups of Americans, ignoring others. Surely, inspirational language to create a secure consensus is still used, in our time, to cover up serious conflicts of interest in that consensus, and to cover up, also, the omission of large parts of the human race.” – Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States

The thing to do

“If you’ve ever been in a fight with someone you love,
each of you holding the pistol of your dignity
to the other’s temple, despite, or maybe
because of, the width and breadth of that love,
which has you pretty sure you’ve been mistaken
for her father, while she’s fairly certain
she’s again found someone like her mother,
so she’s haunted by her blindness, and you’re
sick of her projections, and just as someone’s
about to say the next perfect thing—perfect
for deepening this unfathomable trench—
it might be a good time to get up and leave
saying, ‘I need to check on the cornbread.’ “

– Diana Goetsch, “Whole Lotta Love”

Matters of equity

“Seamen are a class of persons remarkable for their rashness, thoughtlessness, and improvidence. They are generally necessitous, ignorant of the nature and extent of their own rights and privileges, and for the most part incapable of duly appreciating their value. They combine, in a singular manner, the apparent anomalies of gallantry, extravagance, profusion in expenditure, indifference to the future, credulity, which is easily won, and confidence, which is readily surprised. Hence it is, that bargains between them and ship-owners, the latter being persons of great intelligence and shrewdness in business, are deemed open to much observation and scrutiny; for they involve great inequality of knowledge, of forecast, of power, and of condition. Courts of Admiralty on this account are accustomed to consider seamen as peculiarly entitled to their protection; so that they have been, by a somewhat bold figure, often said to be favorites of Courts of Admiralty. In a just sense they are so, so far as the maintenance of their rights, and the protection of their interests against the effects of the superior skill and shrewdness of masters and owners of ships are concerned.” – Justice Joseph Story, Brown v. Lull

Landlubbers ahoy

The crews of large ships are distributed into classes, according to their different capacities; and thus the grade of one’s seamanship may be ascertained by the station he may have held. The classification is stated in Van Heytbuysen’s Marine Evidence, p. 9, as follows:

Quarter-masters, Boatswain’s mates, Gunners and Gunners’ mates, Forecastle-men — Best seamen in the ship.

Foretop-men, Maintop-men — Active young seamen.

Mizentop-men — Young lads, and indifferent seamen.

After-guards-men, Waisters — Landsmen, &c.

– Simon Greenleaf, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence

It’s nice when they’re connected

“Intelligence is the ability to solve a problem, to decipher a riddle, to master a set of facts. Judgment is the ability to orbit a problem or a set of facts and see it as it might be seen through other eyes, by observers with different biases, motives, and backgrounds.” – James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

Submission to the lesser god

“There was once a time when most people worried about going to hell if they violated an oath taken in the name of God. That divine deterrence has slipped away from our modern cultures. In its place, people must fear going to jail. They must fear their lives being turned upside down. They must fear their pictures splashed on newspapers and websites. People must fear having their name forever associated with a criminal act if we are to have a nation with the rule of law.” – James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

Busted

“If federal agents burst into a hotel room and find a kilo of heroin piled in the middle of a table, everybody sitting at that table is going to jail. It isn’t open to any of them to say it had never occurred to them that this activity was illegal, or that their accountants and lawyers had reviewed the heroin and concluded it was lawful and appropriate under governing rules and regulations. Nope. Everybody is going to jail. In a corporate fraud case, the challenge was reversed. At the end of the day, the government would understand the transaction completely. We would know who was sitting at the table and exactly what the deal was. But everybody at the table would say they had absolutely no idea this complicated, mortgage-backed, reverse-repo, foreign-exchange-swap transaction was illegal.” – James Comey, A Higher Loyalty

Woman and child, too

“Man has long talked somewhat arrogantly about the conquest of nature; now he has the power to achieve his boast. It is our misfortune—it may well be our final tragedy—that this power has not been tempered with wisdom, but has been marked by irresponsibility; that there is all too little awareness that man is part of nature, and that the price of conquest may well be the destruction of man himself.” – Rachel Carson, “Of Man and the Stream of Time” (emphasis in original)

If you can find one

“The Christian is to seek justice. Politics holds the power necessary for the establishment of justice. Therefore the Christian must participate in the political process. The perspective and beliefs of Christianity make the Christian indispensable in a political order intent on seeking justice in a world pervaded by self-interest.” – James B. Comey, “Reinhold Niebuhr and Jerry Falwell: the Christian in politics”

There’s two types of harness

“Society is the sum of social relations, and among these relations we can distinguish two extreme types: relations of constraint, whose characteristic is to impose upon the individual from outside a system of rules with obligatory content, and relations of cooperation whose characteristic is to create within people’s minds the consciousness of ideal norms at the back of all rules. Arising from the ties of authority and unilateral respect, the relations of constraint therefore characterize most of the features of society as it exists, and in particular the relations of the child to its adult surrounding. Defined by equality and mutual respect, the relations of cooperation, on the contrary, constitute an equilibrial limit rather than a static system. Constraint, the source of duty and heteronomy, cannot, therefore, be reduced to the good and to autonomous rationality, which are the fruits of reciprocity, although the actual evolution of the relations of constraint tends to bring these nearer to cooperation.” – Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. Marjorie Gabain)

The principle of the interest

“It is a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it.” – George Washington, “Letter to Henry Laurens, November 14, 1778″

Always look on the bright side of life

“The human mind is always poring upon the gloomy side of Fortune, and while it inhabits this lump of Clay, will always be in an uneasy and fluctuating State, produced by a thousand Incidents in common Life, which are deemed misfortunes, while the mind is taken off from the nobler pursuit of matters in Futurity. The sufferings of the Body naturally gain the Attention of the Mind, and this Attention is more or less strong, in greater or lesser souls, altho’ I believe that Ambition & a high Opinion of Fame, makes many People endure hardships and pains with that fortitude we after times Observe them to do. On the other hand, a despicable opinion of the enjoyments of this Life, by a continued series of Misfortunes, and a long acquaintance with Grief, induces others to bear afflictions with becoming serenity and Calmness. It is not in the power of Philosophy, however, to convince a man he may be happy and Contented if he will, with a Hungry Belly. Give me Food, Cloaths, Wife & Children, kind Heaven! and I’ll be as contented as my Nature will permit me to be.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 15, 1777, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (emphasis in original)

Go hungry and see how good everything tastes

“Mankind are never truly thankfull for the Benefits of life, until they have experienc’d the want of them. The Man who has seen misery knows best how to enjoy good. He who is always at ease & has enough of the Blessings of common life is an Impotent Judge of the feelings of the unfortunate.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 15, 1777

When the war was young

“I am Sick—discontented—and out of humour. Poor food—hard lodging—Cold Weather—fatigue—Nasty Cloaths—nasty Cookery—Vomit half my time—smoak’d out of my senses—the Devil’s in’t—I can’t Endure it—Why are we sent here to starve and Freeze—What sweet Felicities have I left at home; A charming Wife—pretty Children—Good Beds—good food—good Cookery—all agreeable—all harmonious. Here all Confusion—smoke & Cold—hunger & filthyness—A pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef soup—full of burnt leaves and dirt, sickish enough to make a Hector spue—away with it Boys—I’ll live like the Chameleon upon Air.” – Albigence Waldo, Diary, December 14, 1777