Consider this...

"If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." - Charles Darwin, "Voyage of the Beagle"

In an effort to be optimistic, John proposes these wonderful quotations, especially destined to travelers, readers and music lovers — John’s friends.

The Bengali poet and all-round homme de lettres Rabindranath Tagor said:

“Whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin. I am proud of my humanity when I can acknowledge the poets and artists of other countries as my own. Let me feel with unalloyed gladness that all the great glories of man are mine.”

Spanish-American man of letters George Santayana said:

“To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.”

In his book “From Heaven Lake”, Indian novelist Vikram Seth said:

“… on a personal level, to learn about another great culture is to enrich one’s life, to understand one’s own country better, to feel more at home in the world, and indirectly to add to that reservoir of individual goodwill that may, generations from now, temper the cynical use of national power.”

German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt wrote:

“If we would indicate an idea which, throughout the whole course of history, has ever more and more widely extended its empire … it is that of establishing our common humanity — of striving to remove the barriers which prejudice and limited views of every kind have erected among men, and to treat all mankind, without reference to religion, nation, or color, as one fraternity, one great community … Thus deeply in the innermost nature of man, and even enjoined upon him by his highest tendencies, the recognition of the bond of humanity becomes one of the noblest leading prinicples in the history of mankind.”

In more literary terms, novelist Richard Powers said in an interview:

“Only inhabiting another’s story can deliver us from certainty.”

Roumanian-French absurd playwright Eugène Ionesco said:

“La seule société vivante est celle où chacun peut rester autre au milieu de ses semblables.”

which John translates as

“The only living society is that one where each person can remain different among his fellows.”

The great American union leader, pacifist and socialist, Eugene Debs, said:

“I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.”

In downtown Lyon, there is a set of sculptures with quotations, including this one from “The Crackup” by American novelist Scott Fitzgerald

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

But the most moving and uplifting of them all, an example of Fitzgerald’s courage in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity, is this one from Dalia Mourkarkar, a 16-year old Palestinian flutist living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

“But the most important thing was the feeling the music gives me. You feel as if you are flying.”