Evils in the journey of life are like the hills which alarm travelers on their road - Both appear great at a distance, but when we approach them we find they are far less insurmountable than we had conceived.
From its very inaction, idleness ultimately becomes the most active cause of evil; as a palsy is more to be dreaded than a fever. The Turks have a proverb which says that the devil tempts all other men, but that idle men tempt the devil.
Without realizing what was happening, most of us gradually came to take for granted the premises underlying the philosophy of optimism. We proceeded to live these propositions, though we would not have stated them as blandly as I set them forth here: Man is inherently good. Individual man can carve out his own salvation with the help of education and society through progressively better government. Reality and values worth searching for lie in the material world that science is steadily teaching us to analyze, catalogue, and measure. While we do not deny the existence of inner values, we relegate them to second place. The purpose of life is happiness, [which] we define in terms of enjoyable activity, friends, and the accumulation of material objects. The pain and evil of life - such as ignorance, poverty, selfishness, hatred, greed, lust for power - are caused by factors in the external world; therefore, the cure lies in the reforming of human institutions and the bettering of environmental conditions. As science and technology remove poverty and lift from us the burden of physical existence, we shall automatically become finer persons, seeing for ourselves the value of living the Golden Rule. In time, the rest of the world will appreciate the demonstration that the American way of life is best. They will then seek for themselves the good life of freedom and prosperity. This will be the greatest impetus toward an end of global conflict. The way to get along with people is to beware of religious dictums and dogma. The ideal is to be a nice person and to live by the Creed of Tolerance. Thus we offend few people. We live and let live. This is the American Way.
The man who promises everything is sure to fulfil nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road to perdition.
Freed by full realization and at peace, the mind of such a man is at peace, and his speech and action peaceful. He has no need for faith who knows the uncreated, who has cut off rebirth, who has destroyed any opportunity for good or evil, and cast away all desire. He is indeed the ultimate man.
Buddha (563 - 483 BC)
Source: Sayings of the Buddha in The Dhammapada, p. 96-97