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Category: Verandah

“I would love to see all exotic wildlife in zoos allowed to live out their lives in peace and comfort and then not be replaced. Instead, have the zoos and aquariums be places where people – especially children – go to interact with animals that actually like us and want to be around us and not have to be on medication to deal with their lives behind the glass or bars. There are lots of animals who enjoy us, and I think children and adults would have a more meaningful experience interacting with animals who are interested in us.” – Laurel Braitman (interviewed by Malcolm Harris in The New Inquiry, September 2012)

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“I was committed for two weeks to a mental health hospital for depression and suicidal behavior. Two weeks doesn’t sound long, but let me assure you that time is, in fact, relative. Imagine, if you will, being driven off in the middle of the night, poked and prodded by a doctor, having everything about you catalogued from your earrings to your underwear, being stripped and shoved in a shower, dressed in ill-fitting pink scrubs, marched out to a white-walled cage, and then watched. Watched by a panel of placating smiles, who ask questions for which they’ve already decided the answers. Watched as you color with the bright colored crayons, smile at everyone, swallow your pills, laugh too much, line up for the cafeteria, attend group and circle the happy face when you just want to yell, ‘I’m not in kindergarten!’ But you don’t because you want out, and, perhaps even more so, because you’re afraid you shouldn’t be let out. Sometimes I think I could spend a lifetime finding words in those two weeks alone.” – Beth McKinney, Rattle 56

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“My family moved from Taiwan to Texas when I was seven. I was in first grade, and I wore a navy-blue uniform that had the three characters of my name embroidered just above the left breast pocket. In America, I wore jeans, t-shirts, and purple shoes to school. In America, the three characters of my name lived in a distant drawer and smelled funny. In America, I learned to dump my leftovers into a big trash can and feel free to go get more.” – Elizabeth T. Chao, Rattle 59

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“You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.” – John Lewis, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America

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“Religion operates in different ways in different persons. It hardens some natures to pride and bigotry; it softens others to sentimentality and a refusal to confront life’s sterner demands. Some it inexplicably irradiates; some it brutalizes. Religion may be as Professor Freud said, civilization’s greatest illusion. If that is so, it may be thought of as resembling a sun long extinct whose rays still continue to warm, animate, and inspirit the minds of men. It instilled fear and awe in the cave-dwellers; it offered the image of an overwatching Eye; it became identified with all those dawning ideas of order and morality, of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ of rewards and penalties. For thousands of years it has played a large part in the public and private life of mankind. Truth or illusion, it is ingrained in the human mind. There are two characteristics of men and women of religious conviction that have often been remarked. The first is their way of viewing the facts of the daily life—our humble daily life —as freighted with the greatest importance, particularly in relation to the future. Everything is under that overwatching Eye; everything is on a Grand Scale. Such men and women are seldom able to transmit to their children the conviction that illuminates them, but in that charged cell, which is family life —in that enclosed space of finely tuned acoustics—they transmit the concept of scale. Their children learn to think big, to make large demands on life, on themselves, and on others. This ‘scale’ has not necessarily any spiritual qualifications; it’s enough that it’s big, big. Hence the phrase ‘Beware of sharks and missionaries’ children.’ ” – Thornton Wilder, “New Haven, 1920” (emphasis in original)

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“Fujiwara Sadanobu (1088-1156) was the grandson of Fujiwara Yukinari (Kozei, 972-1027), one of the greatest calligraphers of Japan, and the son of Sadazane (1063-ca. 1131) . . .. He is known for having copied single-handedly onto nearly six hundred scrolls the entire Issaikyo, the Chinese translation of the Tripitaka, a task that spanned twenty-seven years. His efforts literally went up in smoke a few years later, when the temple to which he had donated the work, a building in the Todaiji complex in Nara, was destroyed by fire.” – Miyeko Murase, Book of Dreams

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“I try not to talk about being a woman because I don’t want to be defined that way. I try not to talk about religion or politics because I am at odds with the people where I live. I try not to talk about my opinions, because who cares. I try not to talk at all, but sometimes I find myself saying just anything.” – Kathryn Nuernberger, “Float, Cleave”

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“It is no crime that a person’s taste changes according to what he experiences and is exposed to. The youth for example are comforted by exaggerated prattle and obscenity. While the aged prefer speech that is free of such blemishes. Therefore we say that we cannot clearly define the limits of taste, for it is built on habit and familiarity, and those two differ. But one can approximate it when one distinguishes good habits from bad ones through a sound nature and a clear intuition.” – Ahmad Faris Shidyaq, “On Taste” (trans. Rana Issa and Suneela Mubati)

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