I am not basically a conservationist. When the last great whale is slaughtered, as it surely will be, the whales' suffering will be over. This is not the whales' loss, but man's. I am not concerned about the wiping out of a species - this is man's folly - I have only one concern, the suffering which we deliberately inflict upon animals whilst they live.
The non-action of the wise man is not inaction. It is not studied. It is not shaken by anything. The sage is quiet because he is not moved, not because he wills to be quiet. . . . Joy does all things without concern. For emptiness, stillness, tranquillity, tastelessness, silence, and non-action are the root of all things.
Paraphrased: When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples began planning a splendid funeral. However some disciples expressed concern that given a particular arrangement, birds and kites would eat his remains. Chuang Tzu replied, "Well, above ground I shall be eaten by crows and kites, below it by ants and worms. What do you have against birds?"
The first of our senses which we should take care never to let rust through disuse is that sixth sense, the imagination. I mean the wide-open eye which leads us to see truth more vividly, to apprehend more broadly, to concern ourselves more deeply, to be, all our life long, sensitive and awake to the powers and responsibilities given to us as human beings.
Man is full of desires: he loves only those who can satisfy them all. "This man is a good mathematician," someone will say. But I have no concern for mathematics; he would take me for a proposition. "That one is a good soldier." He would take me for a besieged town. I need, that is to say, a decent man who can accommodate himself to all my desires in a general sort of way.
Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)
Source: W. H. Auden and L. Kronenberger (eds.) The Viking Book of Aphorisms, New York: Viking Press, 1966.
No "revisionist" historian of recent decades has excoriated the Spanish Conquest more thoroughly than Bartolomé de Las Casas, a contemporary of Columbus and the first priest to be ordained in the Americas: "The reason the Christians have murdered on such a vast scale and killed anyone and everyone in their way is purely and simply greed. . . . Their insatiable greed and overweening ambition know no bounds; the land is fertile and rich, the inhabitants simple, forbearing and submissive. The Spaniards have shown not the slightest consideration for these people, treating them (and I speak from first-hand experience, having been there from the outset) not as brute animals - indeed, I would to God they had done and had shown them the consideration they afford their animals - so much as piles of dung in the middle of the road. They have had as little concern for their souls as for their bodies, all the millions that perished having gone to their deaths with no knowledge of God and without the benefit of the Sacraments. One fact in all this is widely known and beyond dispute, for even the tyrannical murderers themselves acknowledge the truth of it: the indigenous peoples never did the Europeans any harm whatever; on the contrary, they believed them to have descended from the heavens, at least until they or their fellow citizens had tasted, at the hands of these oppressors, a diet of robbery, murder, violence, and all other manner of trials and tribulations."
I am speaking to those among you who have retained some sovereign shred of their soul, unsold and unstamped: '- to the order of others'. If, in the chaos of the motives that have made you listen to the radio tonight, there was an honest, rational desire to learn what is wrong with the world, you are the man whom I wished to address. By the rules and terms of my code, one owes a rational statement to those whom it does concern and who are making an effort to know. Those who are making an effort to fail to understand me, are not a concern of mine.