Cleaning out an old file — a cardboard folder, to be specific, not a collection of dots and squiggles on the hard drive — I came upon an old sign. A wall ornament of sorts, the kind of thing people hang on their walls so that once or twice a week, perhaps ten times in an hour, they will have to look at and even to acknowledge an observation about the world they inhabit.
You know the kind of thing I mean. A bunch of words which, in some now forgotten state of mind, you admired and wanted to remember. You hung onto them a while, then slowly they drifted off, probably to something like an old file.
Here’s the one I came upon earlier today. It’s from a speech many years ago by David Cornwell, whom you perhaps know better as John le Carré.
The only thing we can say with safety, perhaps, is that the greatest threat to mankind comes from the renunciation of individual scruple in favor of institutional denominators, from the adoption of slogan, and the mute acceptance of prepackaged animosities, in preference to the hard-fought decisions of individual, humanistic conscience. Real heroism lies, as it always will, not in conformity or even patriotism but in acts of solitary moral courage.
Not sure if it works, but mostly it still sounds pretty good.
Just emptied a glass of Jameson. Off to bed. Be positive, be well.