Friday, October 30, 2009

Judith Warner

Melching, who has succeeded where any number of other women’s rights and global health organizations have failed, explained to me in an interview this summer that the secret to her group’s success lay in the fact that she had learned, through years of trial and error, that to reach people you had to meet them where they were. Respect them. Acknowledge their social norms, beliefs and practices. Find common ground. Build on shared human aspirations — for safety, for dignity, for a better life for one’s children — then discover how those shared aspirations might reasonably translate into ending practices that cause suffering. “If you come in and say, ‘You are awful people,’ people tune out and say, ‘Who do you think you are?’” she told me, speaking first from Senegal, where she has lived for the past 35 years. “Making people feel bad about what they’re doing doesn’t work; they only get defensive. What does work is getting people to discuss together what are their rights and what they mean. It’s not just a question of blaming and shaming people but educating and empowering them.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thornton Wilder

Selections from Theophilus North...

In the spring of 1926 I resigned from my job. The first days following such a decision are like the release from a hospital after a protracted illness. One slowly learns how to walk again; slowly and wonderingly one raises one's head. p1

It's wonderful the way nature strives to create harmony within ourselves. p6

The spirit of play swept away the cynicism and indifference into which I had fallen. Moreover, a readiness for adventure reawoke in me -- for risk, for intruding myself into the lives of others, for extracting fun from danger. p6

Kindness is not uncommon, but imaginative kindness can give a man a shock. p18

Monday, October 12, 2009

Benjamin Franklin

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Audrey Hepburn

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

-Audrey Hepburn, when asked about her beauty secrets


Every smile is a direct achievement.

Friday, October 9, 2009

LL Cool J (via Twitter)

Some of us have thousands of reasons why we can't do what we want to, when all we need is one reason why we can.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

E. A. Miller

...after two days in the woods, I struggled with neither my body nor my soul. There was no blizzard, no broken leg, no capture by Indians, no desire, upon seeing that first sunrise, to commit either my soul or [my dog's], no spirit of Rimbaud. I was still wrestling with pretense. I was so uncomfortable with my own perceptions that they were only real if they could be translated into narratives of faith and fortitude -- even if those narrative models made me feel like a failure! So much for a solo hiking trip -- I had brought along a vast audience, crowded with family, old lovers (even the thought of which can make me suck in my stomach) and literary critics. Talk about ill-fitting equipment: an invisible audience and borrowed stories.

I came to hike to find a story, but stories are products of past history and future audiences. I didn't know how to attend to the present.

excerpted from Equipment and Pretense, in Solo: On Her Own Adventure, ed. Susan Fox Rogers, 1996.