Sunday at the Square: Articles of Faith

pumpkin patch

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” ―Linus Van Pelt in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”

(As with every great quote we ever have, h/t to Lea.)

(Photo credit.)

John Stuart Mill: “Exchanging error for truth”


“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind…The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it…If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: If wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error…We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.”

Photo credit.

When America is in trouble, you invest in it

On the reopening of trading on Wall Street after 9/11:

“They lifted the New York Stock Exchange covered with ash-the monitors on the floor literally thick with ash, the trading floor badly damaged-and one week later, seven days, they were lined up ready to roar and ringing the bell. That day, for the first and only time in my life, I bought a stock-five thousand dollars worth, of J&J-and as I bought it on the Internet, I called my son over to watch me hit “Enter” so he would understand for the rest of his life that when America is in trouble you invest in it, you put what you’ve got right there.”

–Peggy Noonan in Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now

Gabordi: Fear and Hate-mongering are not patriotic

So I’m slow with this coverage of pre-election commentary, but here’s a worthwhile clip from Tallahassee Democrat Editor Bob Gabordi’s blog:

America was built to change. We’re equipped for change by our constitutional process through civil discourse and honest debate.

If you believe in America – really, really believe in what America stands for – you have to embrace those with whom you totally disagree, listen to what they have to say and – if you still disagree – defeat their argument with wiser reasoning.

But if the best you’ve got is fear and hate, for God’s sake, don’t say you speak as a patriot.

The courage of one’s doubts

“My great teacher Eric Sevareid once said it was important to maintain the courage of one’s doubts as well as the courage of one’s convictions.”
–Bob Schieffer, Face the Nation

Wisdom is not the monopoly of any one party

“It’s important as I said on election night that we enter into the new administration with a sense of humility and a recognition wisdom is not the monopoly of any one party. In order for us to be effective given the scope and the scale of the challenges that we face, Republicans and Democrats are going to have to work together. I think what the American people want more than anything is just common sense smart government. They don’t want ideology, they don’t want bickering, they don’t want sniping. They want action and they want effectiveness.”

— President-elect Barack Obama in a news conference this week on the economy

Facts matter for the thousanth time

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” –Mark Twain

Though passion may have strained…

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

–Abraham Lincoln, in his first Inaugural address,
as quoted by President-Elect Barack Obama in his acceptance speech


Worth remembering, as dissent is about to flip to a different side…

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. — Edward R Murrow

“Facts matter” 19th century version

Apparently someone was onto The Village Square motto: “Facts Matter” just a tiny wee bit before we were:

[Man in general] is capable of rectifying his mistakes, by discussion and experience. Not by experience alone. There must be discussion to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument: but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it. Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong.

— John Stuart Mill, 1865, On Liberty.

Lea’s quote of the day

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.”
– Baha’u’llah (1817-1892); Iranian philosopher

Mistaking part of the truth for the whole.

All students of man and society… are aware that the besetting danger is not so much of embracing falsehood for truth, as of mistaking part of the truth for the whole. It might be plausibly maintained that in almost every one of the leading controversies, past or present, in social philosophy, both sides were in the right in what they affirmed, though in the wrong in what they denied; and that if either could have been made to take the other’s views in addition to its own, little more would have been needed to make its doctrine correct. — John Stuart Mill