Verse 3: The Master leads not by seeking power and control but by refraining from action and letting events unfold on their own.
17: The Master rules quietly, drawing no attention to himself; when he accomplishes something, the people believe that they themselves accomplished it.
18: When there is disorder and evil, order and goodness appear.
19: If you refrain from imposing artificial categories, good will appear naturally; let all things take their own course.
26: The Master should be steady, serenely content within herself.
29: The world is sacred and cannot be improved; there is a proper time for all things. Recognizing this, the Master remains still and does not try to control events.
30: The wise ruler does not use force; doing so only produces a counterforce. Understanding that the universe is beyond his control, he submits to the Tao and lives content within himself.
31: Peace is the greatest good. The decent man resorts to violence only as a last resort, and he does so with great sorrow and with compassion for his enemies.
37: If the powerful could center themselves in the Tao, all would be transformed, and people would be content and free from desire.
38: By not acting, the Master leaves nothing undone; by acting, ordinary men leave much undone. Loss of the Tao can lead to empty ritual and chaos; therefore, the Master concerns herself with profound truths rather than illusion.
46: In harmony with the Tao, a country lives in peace rather than preparing for war. We should put aside the illusion of fear, put aside preparations to defend ourselves against enemies.
53: When the affluent prosper and the poor suffer, balance is lost. To achieve balance, stay centered within the Tao.
57: When the leader stops trying to control, the world governs itself. The more control you impose, the less order there will be.
58: In governing a country, tolerance is preferable to repression. Attempts to force the people to change will fail. Thus the Master does not try to impose his will.
59: The best leader is moderate: open-minded, tolerant, flexible.
The Qualities of the Prince (pp. 37– 53)
Paragraphs 1– 6: A prince’s sole concern and profession must be war, its institutions, and its discipline. An unarmed man is unsafe and despised among armed men. Even in peacetime a prince must keep his body and his mind in shape for war, studying terrain, strategy, and the history of successful commanders.
7– 8: To hold his position, a prince must be realistic rather than idealistic; he must learn how not to be good. He should avoid the reputation of vice, except for those vices he needs to hold his state.
9 –11: The prince who displays generosity (except in looting and sacking with his soldiers) will lose his wealth and the regard of his subjects. He is wiser to maintain the resources he needs to defend against enemies and be thought a miser than to become poor or known for rapacity.
12 –18: A little judicious cruelty shows more compassion than excessive mercy, which permits disorder. A prince must be cautious but decisive and is safer being feared than loved. He should take lives when necessary, but he should never earn his subjects’ hatred by taking their property or women, even during war.
19 –22: Shrewd manipulation of men’s minds is more essential than keeping promises. Men fight with laws, while beasts fight with force; but since laws often fail, a prince must be a fox to recognize traps and a lion to frighten the wolves.
23 –25: The prince need not be virtuous but only seem to be: he should appear merciful, faithful, and full of integrity, kindness, and religion, while in fact doing whatever is necessary to hold power. He must avoid seeming changeable, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, or irresolute.
26 –28: Danger to a prince can be external (from foreign powers) or internal (from subjects conspiring against him). Good troops and friends will prevail over external threats; satisfying the people and avoiding their hatred will protect him from assassination and overthrow.
The Declaration of Independence (pp. 77– 85)
Paragraphs 1–2: When a people rejects past ties in favor of equal sovereignty, they should explain their reasons. Because all men are created equal and form governments to protect their rights, they are entitled to cast off any government that abridges their equality and rights and to replace it with a better one. Thus the thirteen United States of America cast off the king of Great Britain.
3 –29: The king has in diverse ways prevented his legislature from representing and acting in the interests of the states and has harassed and oppressed their citizens.
30 –31: The American people’s petitions to the king and his subjects in Britain have been ignored, proving him unfit to be the ruler of a free people and necessitating a separation.
32: The representatives of the United States of America therefore declare the colonies free and independent, with all the rights and powers of states, and pledge their mutual support.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Civil Disobedience (pp. 173 –199)
Paragraphs 1–2: “That government is best which governs least.” Governments, like armies, are a means for the people to express their will, but they also may be used by a few against the people’s interests. Governments do not act, but facilitate (or impede) action by individuals and groups.
3 – 6: We need not immediately abolish government but should improve it. Governments rule by majority, not by justice, and thus may improperly overrule individual conscience, turning men into tools of the government. Those who follow their consciences and resist the government are treated as enemies by it.
7–15: The present American government, which supports slavery, forces men of conscience into resistance. Those who fail to oppose wrongdoing with action, but simply voice or vote their convictions, are leaving justice to chance. A real man refuses allegiance on any level to a government that pursues immoral policies.
16 –19: We should not be deterred from rebelling against unjust laws, or persuaded to wait for a majority vote to change them, by our fear of causing more harm than good. A just government would prevent such harm; in its absence, we should concern ourselves with living justly and not with reforming the government.
20 –24: Those in Massachusetts who believe in abolishing slavery should withdraw their support from the state, refusing to pay taxes and going willingly to prison. Money prevents the man who has it from living in accord with his convictions; anyone who needs the government’s protection is reluctant to disobey its rules.
25 –37: I myself, having little property, have declined to pay various taxes and was once imprisoned overnight. In jail I saw the barriers between me and my neighbors and particularly between me and the state. My perspective on my town became that of a foreign traveler, which lasted even after someone paid my tax and I was released.
38 – 45: Unlike natural forces, a government of men warrants resistance. Those who pay much attention to the government, however, or work within it, are paying homage to a static manifestation of human values rather than to those values themselves. The ideal government would be just to all men and would treat every individual with respect.
ELIZABETH CADY STANTON
Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (pp. 201–209)
Paragraphs 1–2: Because men and women are equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yet women are denied these rights by the government, women now must throw off that government and demand equality.
3 – 18: To establish his absolute tyranny over woman, man has deprived her of the vote, of all individual rights once she marries, of entry into the most profitable and distinguished jobs, of a thorough education, and of a voice in the church. Yet he forces her, if single and a property owner, to pay taxes supporting this unjust system. He has given her a circumscribed moral code, sphere of action, and opportunity for self-sufficiency and self-respect.
19 –20: Women, being half the population, now set out to demand their rights.
21–24: Given that the most basic law of God and Nature entitles man to pursue his own happiness, it is hereby resolved that there is no validity in any human laws restricting woman from this right or placing her in a position inferior to man’s.
25 –28: Woman should be informed of her rights and encouraged to assert them. Man should support woman as a lecturer and teacher and should follow the same high standards of behavior as are demanded of woman.
29 –34: Woman, having rights and capabilities equal to man’s, must secure the right to vote and must zealously promote this and other just causes by writing, speaking, and every other righteous means.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Letter from Birmingham Jail (pp. 211–231)
Paragraphs 1– 4: While here in jail I read your statement calling my activities “unwise and untimely” and indicating bias against “outsiders coming in.” I came here at the request of our Southern Christian Leadership Conference affiliate in Birmingham. More basically, I came to carry the gospel of freedom. Injustice is here, and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
5 – 9: You deplore the demonstrations here but not the conditions that caused them. Any nonviolent campaign has four basic steps — collecting facts, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. Our fact collecting has shown the depth and breadth of racial injustice in Birmingham. We negotiated and won promises that have been broken. We prepared for action with self-purification — a series of workshops on nonviolence. Then we planned our action.
10 –11: You call for negotiations; so do we. The purpose of direct action is to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored. We are here to create the constructive, nonviolent tension necessary for growth.
12–14: You ask, Why not give the new city administration time to act? No administration here will act unless prodded: freedom will not be offered voluntarily by the oppressor but must be demanded by the oppressed. Wait has almost always meant never, and given the lynchings, beatings, poverty, cruelty, and degradation we suffer, we cannot afford to wait.
15 –22: You deplore our willingness to break laws. Though we urge people to obey just laws, we have a moral responsibility to disobey any law that conflicts with the law of God. Segregation is not only politically, economically, and socially unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Our civil disobedience shows respect for law and is part of the great Christian and American traditions.
23 –24: I have almost concluded that white moderates, not rabid segregationists, are our greatest stumbling block — those who value order over justice, prefer reducing tension to achieving peace, agree with our goals but reproach our methods, and believe they can set a timetable for our freedom. I had hoped you would understand that tension must be released to be alleviated and that injustice must be exposed to be cured.
25 –29: You accuse us of precipitating violence by our nonviolent actions. As the federal courts have affirmed, it is wrong to urge anyone to give up his constitutional rights because seeking them may precipitate violence. Nor will time inevitably bring redress; progress requires work. You speak of our activities in Birmingham as extreme; yet I stand between the opposing forces of passivity and hatred, espousing the nonviolent middle course.
30 –36: The American Negro has become aware of his birthright of freedom and is not willing to remain oppressed. Try to understand his yearning rather than squelch it. If I am an extremist, so were Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, Lincoln, Jefferson, and others. I had hoped the white moderate would recognize the need for creative extremists, responding to the cry of the oppressed race as a few white brothers have. Instead, some white church leaders have opposed us outright, while too many others choose caution over courage.
37– 41: The early church was powerful, when Christians acted energetically in defense of their beliefs. Today it is often weak, passive, and ineffectual, a bulwark of the status quo. Yet some noble souls have broken loose and joined our struggle for freedom. I hope the church as a whole will meet this challenge. But whether it does or not, we will reach our goal because freedom is the goal and heritage of America.
42– 44: You commend the Birmingham police for keeping “order” and “preventing violence,” when their dogs attacked unarmed demonstrators, and the policemen are habitually cruel and inhumane to Negroes under their control. Their public display of nonviolence in defense of segregation uses a moral means to achieve an immoral end. I wish you had commended the courage and discipline of the demonstrators, who one day will be regarded as heroes.
45 – 47: I hope circumstances will soon make it possible for us to meet, not over civil rights but as fellow clergymen and Christian brothers.
Self-Reliance (pp. 255 –269)
Paragraph 1:To believe that what is true for you is true for all men — that is genius. We pay too much attention to books and authorities and not enough to ourselves. In fact, great works of art contain our own rejected thoughts.
2: Every man eventually sees the folly of imitation. Each person has within him a profound and unique power. However, most people do not fully express this godlike genius.
3: Only by accepting and trusting yourself can you access the divinity within you. But you must also be a part of the world; you cannot flee from society.
4 –5: Unlike many adults, children are independent. They are not afraid to be opinionated, genuine, even rude. If grown men were as honest as boys, their opinions would be much more potent.
6 –7: The interior voices we pay attention to as children disappear because society drowns them out. Men conform to society’s demands and surrender their liberty. Society preaches custom instead of self-reliance. To be a whole man, you must discover your own beliefs, your own laws. An individual should be forceful and rough rather than weak and conventional.
8 –9: Men do good works in order to pay penance to popular opinion. I, however, want to live my life for myself and not for others. What others think does not concern me. The great man keeps his independence even in a crowd.
10: Conforming to dead conventions scatters your power. When men belong to sects, they cannot tell the full truth; they can only speak the party line. Eventually we begin to wear the prison-uniform of our party on our faces in hypocritical and forced smiles.
11: If you are a non-conformist, the world will punish you. Both the elite and the masses will view you with displeasure.
12–15: We are scared of inconsistency but contradiction should not bother us: a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Great souls are contradictory. Speak what you believe today, and speak what you believe tomorrow, and do not worry about consistency. If people misunderstand you, very well — to be great is to be misunderstood.
16 –17: No man can ever be what he is not; appearances do not matter. Our character is more important than our wills or actions. Instead of worrying what others think, we should ignore the custom of the times and become true men. The true man does not accept the standards of society. He is a creator, not a follower. We see this in the institutions created by men like Caesar, Luther, and Christ. In fact, history can be reduced to the biographies of a few great and true men.
W. E. B. DuBois
Of Our Spiritual Strivings (pp. 287–299)
Paragraph 1: Between white people and me, there is always this unasked question: How does it feel to be a problem?
2: As a child I first realized I was separate and different. Because of my color, there were many opportunities and prizes I desired but could not have.
3 –5: The American Negro has a double-consciousness. He looks at himself through the eyes of others, and always feels the double-ness of being American and Negro. The American Negro longs to be whole, but he does not want to lose either of his double sides. His longing to merge them has created waste, ruin, and shame.
6 –7: During slavery times, the Negro worshipped the ideal of freedom. However, Emancipation has not brought peace or true freedom, and this has caused bitter disappointment.
8 –10: The ideal of Education offered hope, but it also brought self-awareness. The Negro began to analyze his place in society; slavery had devastated his family structure and left him poor and ignorant. His burden was heavy, yet he had no time to fix his social problems.
11: The prejudice and hatred of others led to self-doubt and self-hatred, and the Negro began to believe that he was inferior. Yet the failure of all these ideals brought something positive: a pragmatic and clear vision of the meaning of progress.
12: While not false, the goals of the past were imperfect. They should be combined. Yes, the Negro needs education, the vote, and freedom, but he needs them all together and not separately. This will help him achieve the real goal — human brotherhood. The Negro already exemplifies the American spirit in his love of liberty, his music and tales, and his faith. He has much to offer the country.
13 –14: The Negro Problem is a test of the principles of the United States of America.
The Individual in the Chains of Illusion (pp. 325 –338)
Paragraphs 1–2:World War I had a profound effect on Western civilization — after 1914, the solid and secure world of the nineteenth century was gone.
3 – 5: World War II was worse. Advances in weapons technology led to even greater damage; the wholesale destruction of civilians for political purposes was now legitimate. All sides brutalized each other. After the war, the possibility of mass destruction posed by new weapons led millions of people to apathy, escapism, and brutalization.
6 –7: Industrialization brought about increased materialism and “commodity hunger.” Production and greedy consumption have become the primary aims of mankind.
8 – 9: Corporations and bureaucracies have transformed people from individuals into things, or cogs in a machine. In a society composed almost entirely of “organization men,” obedience and conformity are the main goals. But modern people have forgotten that disobedience can also be a great virtue. The myths of Adam and Eve and Prometheus show how freedom and disobedience are connected.
10: Disobedience is crucial to human history. Disobedience makes possible the spiritual and intellectual development of citizens. In fact, submission to authority could cause the end of civilization; totalitarianism and unquestioned obedience may lead to atomic destruction.
11–15: Humans are tribal. We form groups and create rules to govern those groups. There is, however, a stark difference between those inside and outside the group; outsiders are not recognized as fully human. Advanced moral thinkers — the Buddha, the ancient Hebrew prophets, the Greeks, Jesus—have long imagined the One Man. In this view, all people are fundamentally the same. The only group is a universal one and all humans are members of it. This stance evolved over time into what we know as humanism.
16 –17: Nationalism, however, has destroyed humanism. We live in One World, but our world is connected by economic systems, communications technology, and fear of weapons, not by humanism. Rather than allegiance to all of humankind, modern man has allegiance to the state.
18 –20: If humans do not want to destroy themselves, a new kind of man must arise. This man would no longer see those outside his group as strangers. He would realize that only the surface features are different, but the substance is the same. In fact, all men are fellows — the One Man.
21– 24: Progress and rationality have led to great things, but they have also given us the potential for worldwide destruction. The humanists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries unfailingly believed in progress, but we see the possibility of annihilation. Only a renaissance of humanism can save our world from barbarism.
Gender and Culture
Of the Pernicious Effects Which Arise from the Unnatural
Distinctions Established in Society (pp. 799 – 813)
Paragraphs 1– 4: Those who gain wealth and comfort tend to become idle and fail to perform their moral obligations; thus, more equality must be established between the classes before morality gains ground.
5 –7: Society is not properly organized; it prevents both sexes from gaining respect through virtue, affection, and the fulfillment of their moral duties, by compelling men to gain respect by acquiring wealth and property, and women to advance by using their charms.
8 –19: A woman’s rank in life requires her to be dependent and charged with motherhood and denies her the opportunity to think and act for herself; men may unfold their faculties by becoming soldiers and statesmen.
20 –29: Unlike women of the lower classes, women of the upper class are not bound by the duties of wife and mother and should, but do not, have paths by which they can cease to be arbitrarily governed, share in government deliberations, and study politics, medicine, and business.
30 –32: The most respectable women are the most oppressed and usually become contemptible only because they are treated like contemptible beings in their bondage of ignorance.
33 –34: Reasonable men are called on to assist in the emancipation of women, to be content with rational fellowship, rather than slavish obedience, from women. As a result, women will learn to respect themselves and love men with true affection.
Shakespeare’s Sister (pp. 837– 853)
Paragraphs 1–2: I decided to see what historians had to say about the lives of Elizabethan women in England. Perhaps the reason women wrote none of the great literature of that age was because of the conditions in which they lived.
3 – 4: Trevelyan’s History of England says little about women, except to note that they were often beaten by their fathers and husbands and had virtually no control over their own lives. In fiction, however, women are exalted.
5 – 6: Historians mention an occasional queen or great lady but say nothing about ordinary Elizabethan women. Based on what little we do know, it would be very odd indeed if one of these Elizabethan women had written the plays of Shakespeare.
7: “What would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister?” She would not have gone to school, as Shakespeare did, and her parents would have discouraged her interest in books and expected her to marry young. She would have traveled secretly to London, where she would have been mocked and rebuffed when she tried to become an actress. Later, she would have accepted help from a sympathetic man, become pregnant, and committed suicide.
8 – 9: That, I think, is what would have become of a woman in Shakespeare’s time had she had Shakespeare’s genius. Had she survived the impossible obstacles facing her, the stress of living freely in sixteenth-century London would have made her writing “twisted and deformed” and compelled her to publish her work anonymously.
10 –11: The circumstances of sixteenth-century life would have made it very difficult for a woman to achieve the state of mind needed to create art. From confessional writings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we learn of the enormous obstacles male artists faced in producing works of genius.
12 –14: For women, those obstacles were far more formidable. Both the material conditions of their lives and the hostility of society stood in their way. Though men like Oscar Browning, who asserted that women were intellectually inferior to men, are largely discredited today, their opinions once carried great authority. Even in the nineteenth century, women were not encouraged to become artists. Men appear to hold a deep-seated desire to be superior to women, not only in the arts but also in politics.
15 –17: Old-fashioned opinions about women may seem amusing today, but they caused much pain to the women of earlier generations. Artists, in particular, are sensitive to what others think of them; hurtful opinions can cloud the incandescent state of mind needed for the creation of great art — the state of mind that Shakespeare possessed.
Masculinity (pp. 889 – 902)
Paragraph 1: Maleness is a biological fact, but masculinity is a cultural construct. Feminists now prefer to use the term “gender” instead of “sex” because gender can and should be changed; sex, however, is less malleable.
2 – 4: In 1997 David Skuse argued that masculinity was genetic, but Skuse’s interpretation was clearly flawed. He did not prove that masculinity is “natural.” In fact, most research shows that masculine men are made. Parents treat boys and girls differently. Mothers respond more rapidly to a boy crying, and boys are fed longer and more often than girls. Girls are taught patience; boys are taught instant gratification. Skuse’s data reflect differences in socialization and parenting, not genetic differences between boys and girls.
5: Father-love and mother-love affect boys and girls differently. Girls develop more self-confidence when they have encouraging fathers, but such fathers are rare. Boys’ self-confidence, however, comes from attentive mothers, and attentive mothers are common. Thus, boys grow up believing they are lovable regardless of their appearance and behavior.
6 – 9: Young boys are made into masculine men. Women do not require this. In fact, boys become masculine because of other boys. Males use challenges and trials to achieve masculinity. Young males group behind dominant males and prove themselves by conflict with other groups; they also fight for power within the group. A man’s self-worth comes from his groups and his status within them. Gaining respect from other men is essential. A man uses his abilities — his knowledge of masculine things, his humor, his physical prowess — to secure respect. In this way, young men also exclude women from their groups.
10 –11: The myth of masculinity demands that every boy should be a strong warrior. Any man incapable of this is less of a man. The myth creates anxiety in many men who cannot live up to it.
12 –14: Masculinity is the system of behaviors that form corporate society. Corporations are full of many masculinist hierarchies. Men exclude women from these groups, or they punish women for trying to fit in. Any woman who belongs to a masculinist hierarchy does not concern herself with the interests of other women. The myth of the compassionate and nurturing female executive simply covers up the fact that these women have no real power.