“Let me give you a word on the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her August claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumult to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Frederick Douglass. Letter to an abolitionist associate. 1853.
“Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.”
Karl Marx (1818-83), German political theorist, social philosopher. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, sct. 1 (1852; repr. in Selected Works, vol. 2, 1942).
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Maya Angelou. From “On the Pulse of Morning“
“You have to play the hand you are dealt.” American folk saying.