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Ishmael › Quotes

Ishmael Quotes

There is no one right way to live.
I have amazing news for you. Man is not alone on this planet. He is part of a community, upon which he depends absolutely.
It's the idea that people living close to nature tend to be noble. It's seeing all those sunsets that does it. You can't watch a sunset and then go off and set fire to your neighbor's tepee. Living close to nature is wonderful for your mental health.
But why? Why do you need prophets to tell you how you ought to live? Why do you need anyone to tell you how you ought to live.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact in which they are the lords of the world, they will ACT like lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered, they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.
Everyone in your culture knows this. Man was born to turn the world into paradise, but tragically he was born flawed. And so his paradise has always been spoiled by stupidty, greed, destructiveness, and shortsightedness.
The premise of the Taker story is 'the world belongs to man'. … The premise of the Leaver story is 'man belongs to the world'.
how can you listen to this stuff and not recognize it for what it is?.
We're not destroying the world because we're clumsy. We're destroying the world because we are, in a very literal and deliberate way, at war with it.
In fact, of course, there is no secret knowledge; no one knows anything that can't be found on a shelf in the public library.
Do you see the slightest evidence anywhere in the universe that creation came to an end with the birth of man? Do you see the slightest evidence anywhere out there that man was the climax toward which creation had been straining from the beginning? ...Very far from it. The universe went on as before, the planet went on as before. Man's appearance caused no more stir than the appearance of jellyfish.
You're captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live. … You are captives—and you have made a captive of the world itself. That's what's at stake, isn't it?—your captivity and the captivity of the world.
[A]ny species that exempts itself from the rules of competition ends up destroying the community in order to support its own expansion.
The journey itself is going to change you, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing the route we took to accomplish that change.
If you alone found out what the lie was, then you're probably right—it would make no great difference. But if you ALL found out what the lie was, it might conceivably make a very great difference indeed.
And every time the Takers stamp out a Leaver culture, a wisdom ultimately tested since the birth of mankind disappears from the world beyond recall.
But charisma only wins people’s attention. Once you have their attention, you have to have something to tell them.
Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive anything short of total global catastrophe. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature drop of twenty degrees—which would be a lot more devastating than it sounds. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature rise of twenty degrees. But a community of a hundred species or a thousand species has almost no survival value at all.
The mythology of your culture hums in your ears so constantly that no one pays the slightest bit of attention to it. Of course man is conquering space and the atom and the deserts and the oceans and the elements. According to your mythology, this is what he was BORN to do.
No one species shall make the life of the world its own.' … That's one expression of the law. Here's another: 'The world was not made for any one species.
[I]n Africa I was a member of a family—of a sort of family that the people of your culture haven't known for thousands of years. If gorillas were capable of such an expression, they would tell you that their family is like a hand, of which they are the fingers. They are fully aware of being a family but are very little aware of being individuals. Here in the zoo there were other gorillas—but there was no family. Five severed fingers do not make a hand.
You shouldn't have to settle for rabbits if what you want is deer.
The world of the Takers is one vast prison, and except for a handful of Leavers scattered across the world, the entire human race is now inside that prison.
There is a difference between the inmates of your criminal prisons and the inmates of your cultural prison: The former understand that the distribution of wealth and power inside the prison had nothing to do with justice.
You're captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live... I think there are many among you who would be glad to release the world from captivity... This is what prevents them: They're unable to find the bars of the cage.
[T]he price you've paid is not the price of becoming human. It's not even the price of having the things you just mentioned. It's the price of enacting a story that casts mankind as the enemy of the world.
If you can’t discover what’s keeping you in, the will to get out soon becomes confused and ineffectual - "Ishmael.
The obvious can sometimes be illuminating when perceived in an unhabitual way.
What is crucial to your survival as a race is not the redistribution of power and wealth within the prison but rather the destruction of the prison itself.
This law … defines the limits of competition in the community of life. You may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food. In other words, you may compete but you may not wage war.
You’re captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live.
Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive almost anything short of a global catastrophe.
....he began to speak to me, not in the jocular way of visitors to the menagerie but rather as one speaks to the wind or to the waves crashing on a beach, uttering that which must be said but which must not be heard by anyone.
Exactly. That's what's been happening here for the past ten thousand years: You've been doing what you damn well please with the world. And of course you mean to go right on doing what you damn well please with it, because the whole damn thing belongs to you.
This is considered almost holy work by farmers and ranchers. Kill off everything you can't eat. Kill off anything that eats what you eat. Kill off anything that doesn't feed what you eat." "It IS holy work, in Taker culture. The more competitors you destroy, the more humans you can bring into the world, and that makes it just about the holiest work there is. Once you exempt yourself from the law of limited competition, everything in the world except your food and the food of your food becomes an enemy to be exterminated.
If there are forty thousand people in an area that can only support thirty thousand, it's no kindness to bring in food from the outside to maintain them at forty thousand. That just guarantees that the famine will continue." "True. But all the same, it's hard just to sit by and let them starve." "This is precisely how someone speaks who imagines that he is the world's divinely appointed ruler: 'I will not *let* them starve. I will not *let* the drought come. I will not *let* the river flood.' It is the gods who *let* these things, not you.
The sign stopped me-- or rather, this text stopped me. Words are my profession; I seized these and demanded that they explain themselves, that they cease to be ambiguous.