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“At first, man was enslaved by the gods. But he broke their chains. Then he was enslaved by the kings. But he broke their chains. He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race. But he broke their chains. He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right. And he stood on the threshold of the freedom for which the blood of the centuries behind him had been spilled.”

Ayn Rand, Anthem 

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“You see men like Walter all over Chelsea and the Village, men who insist, at thirty or forty or older, that they have always been chipper and confident, powerful of body; that they’ve never been strange children, never taunted or despised […] if Richard were still himself, untouched by illness, they could be together right now, arguing about Walter Hardy and the quest for eternal youth, about how gay men have taken to imitating the boys who tortured them in high school.”

Michael Cunningham, The Hours

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“Since moving to New York I’ve learned what the word ‘geisha’ really means to most Westerners. From time to time at elegant parties, I’ve been introduced to some young woman or other in a splendid dress and jewelry. When she learns I was once a geisha in Kyoto, she forms her mouth into a sort of smile, although the corners don’t turn up quite as they should. She has no idea what to say! And then the burden of conversation falls to the man or woman who has introduced us–because I’ve never really learned much English, even after all these years. Of course, by this time there’s little point in even trying, because this woman is thinking, ‘My goodness… I’m talking with a prostitute…’ A moment later she’s rescued by her escort, a wealthy man a good thirty or forty years older than she is. Well, I often find myself wondering why she can’t sense how much we really have in common. She is a kept woman, you see, and in my day, so was I.”

Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha 

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“You have to look! […] That’s another one of our rules. Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will be even worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in, Mr. Nakata. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

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“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him […] We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, towards its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them–the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.” 

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist 

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‘”Abollah?”

“Yes.”

“When I grow up, will I live with you?”

Abdullah watched the orange sun dropping low, nudging the horizon. “If you want. But you won’t want to.”

“Yes I will!”

“You’ll want a house of your own.”

“But we can be neighbors.”

“Maybe.”

“You won’t live far.”

“What if you get sick of me?”

She jabbed his side with her elbow. “I wouldn’t!”

Abdullah grinned to himself. “All right, fine.”

“You’ll be close by.”

“Yes.”

“Until we’re old.”

“Very old.”

“For always.”

“Yes, for always.”

From the front of the wagon, she turned to look at him. “Do you promise, Abollah?”

“For always and always.”‘

Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

 

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“The people of these regions [of sub-Saharan Africa] have been told so often that they are poor and powerless that they do not recognize the abundance surrounding them. Thus they can be persuaded by unscrupulous companies in league with corrupt national and local politicians to sell what they “own” for a fraction of its actual value. Even were they to embrace a new agenda that put the earth at its center, Africans might find that they cannot reach their goals because the resources (or the technologies needed to access those resources) are not available to them. It’s as if someone is being swept along in the current of the river, and you are on the riverbank telling her that if she calmed down and thought for a second, she’d be able to help herself by swimming to the bank and not drowning. But the current is getting stronger, and getting stronger; she is panicking and fighting the current, and as a result only increasing her chances that she will drown.”

Wangari Maathai, Replenishing the Earth