Quote Book – [32] – Society: People and its Government

If there is anything that we’ve learned during the 1960’s, all of us who are here, it is that violence is not the answer to our problems.  And let no one say that violence is the courageous way, that violence is the short route, that violence is the easy route.  Because violence will bring no answer : It will bring no answer to your union; it will bring no answer to your people; it will bring no answer to us here in the United States, as a people.

Punishment is not prevention.  History offers cold comfort to those who think grievance and despair can be subdued by force.  To understand is not to permit; but to fail to understand is the surest guarantee of failure.

Men without hope, resigned to despair and oppression, do not make revolutions.  It is when expectation replaces submission, when despair is touched with the awareness of possibility, that the force of human desire and the passion for justice are unloosed.
It is not bigness that should be our goal.  We must attempt, rather to bring people back to … the warmth of community, in the worth of individual effort and responsibility …and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future.
An Essential Foundation

Community demands a place where people can see and know each other, where children can play and adults work together and join in the pleasures and responsibilities of the place where they live.

Action on any one front alone will not succeed.  Providing a man a job, while in my judgment the most important step we can take, will not improve the schools his children attend or assure that medical care will be available even though he can afford it.  Building new housing without providing social services or transportation to get to work or accessible health services will result in one slum replacing another.  Improving the quality of education or job training without any promise of a job at the end will not ease the dropout rate.  But action on all these matters in concert will build a community.

The city is … a place where men should be able to live in dignity and security and harmony, where the great achievements of modern civilisation and the ageless pleasures afforded by natural beauty should be available to all.

[Another great task] is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – a lack of purpose and dignity – that inflict us all.  Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.

Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine Justice weights the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm hearted in a different scale.  Better the occasional faults of a government living in the spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
Government is a very rough business, you must be content with very unsatisfactory results – Sir George Cornewall

Make gentle the life of this world

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