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Human Family

  • One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.

  • In practice, there is nothing especially dramatic in people getting along well together.

  • If you embark on a project as magnificent in concept as the brotherhood of man, it is foolish not to anticipate difficulties of proportionate magnificence.

  • It is impossible to betray another man's child — for whatever reason — without also betraying one's own. To do less than justice to another man's child, no matter who that man is, is to impair by that much the chances one's own children have for a life of meaning and purpose.

  • Across the ages comes a whisper: 'We are all one!'

  • I look upon the whole world as my fatherland, and every war has to me the horror of a family feud.

    • Helen Keller,
    • "Menace of the Militarist Program," in New York Call ()
  • Where Jack isn't safe, Tom's in danger.

  • There is nothing I should care more to do, if it were possible, than to rouse the imagination of men and women to a vision of human claims in those races of their fellow-men who most differ from them in customs and beliefs.

    • George Eliot,
    • letter to Harriet Beecher Stowe (1876), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • Alone, no one wins freedom.

  • Safety lies in catering to the in-group. We are not all brave. All I would ask of writers who find it hard to question the universal validity of their personal opinions and affiliations is that they consider this: Every group we belong to — by gender, sex, race, religion, age — is an in-group, surrounded by an immense out-group, living next door and all over the world, who will be alive as far into the future as humanity has a future. That out-group is called other people. It is for them that we write.

  • We all have to rise in the end, not just one or two who were smart enough, had will enough for their own salvation, but all the halt, the maimed and the blind of us which is most of us.

  • When half the world is still plagued by terror and distress, you stop guiltily sometimes in the midst of your house-laughter and wonder if you've a right to it. Ought any of us to laugh, until all of us can again, you ask yourself, sometimes.

  • Society isn't a simple organism with one nucleus and a fringe of little feet, it's an infinitely complex living structure and if you try to suppress any part of it by that much, and perhaps more, you diminish, you mutilate the whole.

  • ... one life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we'll never even meet.

  • I firmly believe that none of us in this world have made it until the least among us have made it.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Nellie Bly, Oprah: Up Close and Down Home ()
  • There are three fundamentals for human happiness — love and faith, and work which will produce at least a minimum of material security. These things must be made possible for all human beings, men and women alike.

  • We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.

  • What we apparently have failed to grasp is that, in this new world in which we live, the collective hunger of great masses of people, wherever they may be, will affect our long-range welfare, just as though they were our own people.

  • We cannot exist as a little island of well-being in a world where two-thirds of the people go to bed hungry every night.

  • When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

  • There is one thing that humans strive for with every cell, every gene, every nerve fiber of our beings. ... More than Mallomars, more than hot sex, we want to belong.

  • African tradition deals with life as an experience to be lived. In many respects, it is much like the Eastern philosophies in that we see ourselves as a part of a life force; we are joined, for instance, to the air, to the earth. We are part of the whole-life process. We live in accordance with, in a kind of correspondence with the rest of the world as a whole. And therefore living becomes an experience, rather than a problem, no matter how bad or how painful it may be.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • in Claudia Tate, ed., Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • Tomorrow belongs to those of us who conceive of it as belonging to everyone; who lend the best of ourselves to it, and with joy.

  • The hand of benevolence is everywhere stretched out, searching into abuses, righting wrongs, alleviating distresses, and bringing to the knowledge and sympathies of the world the lowly, the oppressed, and the forgotten.

  • He had the uneasy manner of a man who is not among his own kind, and who has not seen enough of the world to feel that all people are in some sense his own kind.

  • At times I am the mother of the world; / And mine seem all its sorrows, and its fears.

  • I am the voice of the voiceless; / Through me the dumb shall speak; / Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear / The cry of the wordless weak. / ... / And I am my brother's keeper, / And I will fight his fight, / And speak the word for beast and bird, / Till the world shall set things right.

  • It is quite fitting that charity should begin at home ... but then it should not end at home; for those that help nobody will find none to help them in time of need.

  • The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him: 'What are you going through?'

  • The feeding of those that are hungry is a form of contemplation.

  • We do too little feel each others' pain; / We do relax too much the social chain / That binds us to each other; slight the care / There is for grief in which we have no share.

  • ... there can be neither politically nor morally a good which is not universal ... we cannot reform for a time or for a class, but for all and for the whole, and our very interests will draw us together in one wide bond of sympathy.

  • Lives are only one with living. How dare we, in our egos, claim catastrophe in the rise and fall of the individual entity? There is only Life, and we are beads strung on its strong and endless thread.

  • They were all too tightly bound together, men and women, creatures wild and tame, flowers, fruits and leaves, to ask that any one be spared. As long as the whole continued, the earth could go about its business.

  • ... somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.

  • Exclusion is always dangerous. Inclusion is the only safety if we are to have a peaceful world ...

  • When you make a world tolerable for yourself you make a world tolerable for others.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1954, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 5 ()
  • The little gray man in the police station was not one, he was anyone. No, he was one; and one alone matters and the world would never believe in any system where one is not important.

  • Etiquette is about all of human social behavior. Behavior is regulated by law when etiquette breaks down or when the stakes are high — violations of life, limb, property and so on. Barring that, etiquette is a little social contract we make that we will restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community.

  • People tend to think that life really does progress for everyone eventually, that people progress, but actually only some people progress. The rest of the people don't.

    • Alice Walker,
    • in Claudia Tate, Black Women Writers at Work ()
  • 'Progress' affects few. Only revolution can affect many.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "One Child of One's Own," In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • we have always loved each other / children all ways / pass it on.

  • Peace or harmony between the sexes and individuals does not necessarily depend on a superficial equalization of human beings; nor does it call for the elimination of individual traits and peculiarities. The problem that confronts us today, and which the nearest future is to solve, is how to be one's self and yet in oneness with others, to feel deeply with all human beings and still retain one's own characteristic qualities.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism ()
  • If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you at night.

  • The process of empowerment cannot be simplistically defined in accordance with our own particular class interests. We must learn to lift as we climb.

  • Blessed are the inclusive for they shall be included ... Cursed are the exclusive for they shall be excluded.

  • In much of the world the chief human right that people recognize is 800 calories a day.

  • The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain ... until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.

    • Jane Addams,
    • in James W. Linn, Jane Addams: A Biography ()
  • I believe the fundamental work of this time — work that requires the participation of all of us — is to discover new ways of 'being together.'

  • ... we don't have to agree with each other in order to think well together. There is no need for us to be joined at the head. We are joined by our human hearts.

  • The only way for me to think and, therefore, act productively, is to view the people I have encountered as local — far away perhaps, but nevertheless my neighbors.

  • ... the certain truth, that as warm a heart, as noble a nature, and as bright an intellect may be found under a yellow, a brown, or a black skin as under a white one.

  • We may have come here on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.

    • Betsy Rose,
    • song title, in Angela Y. Davis, Women, Culture & Politics ()
  • ... there is ten times more in the world than would maintain all in yet unknown luxury. Yet how much misery there is in our midst; not because there is not enough, but owing to the misdirection of it.

  • ... where families suffer from disasters that are preventable, this is a measure of a whole nation's neglect. A society imperils its own future when, out of negligence or contempt, it overlooks the need of children to be reared in a family ... or when, in the midst of plenty, some families cannot give their children adequate food and shelter, safe activity and rest, and an opportunity to grow into full adulthood as people who can care for and cherish other human beings like themselves.

  • ... the people of one nation alone cannot save their own children; each holds the responsibility for the others' children.

  • Faith and architectural principles erected our great temples and cathedrals; faith and the human sciences are needed to erect a social order in which the children of our enemies will be protected as surely as our own children, so that all will be safe.

  • One cannot withdraw from the life of the community. Injury to one member of it cannot fail to be the concern of all.

  • ... my wish, indeed my continuing passion, would be not to point the finger in judgment but to part a curtain, that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight.

  • No matter how hidden the cruelty, no matter how far off the screams of pain and terror, we live in one world. We are one people.

  • We have created a democracy that links us all, and with it come not only opportunities but obligations. There are no gates or walls high enough. There are no bank accounts large enough to buy you and your family and your friends protection from the fear and hunger of those left behind or to isolate you from the consequences of growing social inequities. We are all in this boat together. And the fact that there isn't a hole at your end of the boat doesn't mean you are safe.

  • White folks needs what black folks got just as much as black folks needs what white folks is got, and we's all got to stay here mongst each other and git along, that's what.

  • So, brothers and sisters, as we go, / Still let us move as one, / Always together keeping step, / Till the march of life is done.

    • Phoebe Cary,
    • "Coming Home," Poems of Faith, Hope, and Love ()
  • If you're going to care about the fall of the sparrow you can't pick and choose who's going to be the sparrow. It's everybody ...

  • I can think of no honorable answer. Why must some of us deliberate between brands of toothpaste, while others deliberate between damp dirt and bone dust to quiet the fire of an empty stomach lining? There is nothing about the United States I can really explain to this child of another world.

  • I look at my four boys, who are the colors of silt, loam, dust, and clay, an infinite palette for children of their own, and I understand that time erases whiteness altogether.

  • So long as we continued to attach more importance to our own narrow group membership than to the 'global village' we would propagate prejudice and ignorance. There was absolutely no harm in being part of a small group — indeed, with our hunter-gatherer band mentality it gave comfort, provided us with an inner circle of friends who could be utterly trusted, who were absolutely reliable. It helped give us peace of mind. The danger came only from drawing that sharp line, digging that ditch, laying that minefield, between our own group and any other group that thought differently.

    • Jane Goodall,
    • in Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey ()
  • We dare not ask you bless our harvest feast / Till it is spread for poorest and for least. / We dare not bring our harvest gifts to you / Unless our hungry brothers share them too.

    • Lilian Cox,
    • "Harvest," in Monica Furlong, ed., Women Pray ()
  • I shall not accept more than I need while others in the world have less than they need.

  • The music of difference, all alive. / The founders and this people, who set in diversity / The base of our living.

  • Few are the giants of the soul who actually feel that the human race is their family circle.

  • The more people I meet, the farther out of my own little world I go, the more I see that we are all alike. And there isn't one of us who can afford to pick up the rock in the glass house.

  • But only those who have aims and ambitions for the benefit, not of the individual, but of humankind as a whole can persevere to the end.

    • Ding Ling,
    • "Thoughts on March 8" (1942), in I Myself Am a Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling ()
  • We humans are herd animals of the monkey tribe, not natural individuals as lions are. Our individuality is partial and restless; the stream of consciousness that we call 'I' is made of shifting elements that flow from our group and back to our group again. Always we seek to be ourselves and the herd together, not One against the herd.

  • However long the horror continued, one must not get to the stage of refusing to think about it. To shrink from direct pain was bad enough, but to shrink from vicarious pain was the ultimate cowardice. And whereas to conceal direct pain was a virtue, to conceal vicarious pain was a sin. Only by feeling it to the utmost, and by expressing it, could the rest of the world help to heal the injury which had caused it. Money, food, clothing, shelter — people could give all these and still it would not be enough; it would not absolve them from paying also, in full, the imponderable tribute of grief.

    • Jan Struther,
    • "United Jewish Appeal," A Pocketful of Pebbles ()
  • ... whatever we do to any other thing in the great web of life, we do to ourselves, for we are one.

  • My ideal is that we all be economically interdependent. We should not be independent like millionaires, nor dependent like laborers. My ideal is that we all be interdependent.

    • Rose Pastor Stokes,
    • 1912, in Herbert Stokes and David L. Sterling, eds., "I Belong to the Working Class": The Unfinished Autobiography of Rose Pastor Stokes ()
  • The act of willingly subtracting from one's own limited store of the good and the agreeable for the sake of adding to that of others reflects the understanding that individual happiness needs a base broader than the mere satisfaction of selfish passions. From there, it is not such a large step to the realization that respecting the susceptibilities and rights of others is as important as defending one's own susceptibilities and rights if civilized society is to be safeguarded.

  • Will we ever reach a point when it is no longer necessary to say Them and Us? I believe we must reach that point, or perish.

  • Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Remember," in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.

  • The melting pot is finished. America is a patchwork quilt where all ethnic groups stand side by side.

  • There is a choice before us as people who live in a great world, so knit together that even America cannot stand quite outside it, or act as though it were situated somewhere on the moon! That choice is a choice — let me put it quite brutally — between heaven and hell. ... But it is not a choice between a heaven or a hell beyond the grave; it is a choice between making heaven or making hell on this side of the grave, and in this world, here and now.

    • A. Maude Royden,
    • "The World at the Crossroads," Women at the World's Crossroads ()
  • [When her prospective father-in-law announced his son was marrying 'out of the race':] There is only one race, the human race.

  • The charity that begins at home cannot rest there but draws one inexorably over the threshold and off the porch and down the street and so out and out and out and out into the world which becomes the home wherein charity begins until it becomes possible, in theory at least, to love the whole of creation with the same patience, affection, and amusement one first practiced, in between the pouts and tantrums, with parents, siblings, spouse, and children.

  • Every heart is the other heart. Every soul is the other soul. Every face is the other face. The individual is the one illusion.

  • Ignorant of history, we find it easy to accept our isolation from one another. We are more able to recognize differences than shared experiences and perspectives. History proclaims our common humanity.

    • Linda Simon,
    • "What Shall We Tell the Children?" in Boston Review ()
  • We are fishes swimming / In the same sea.

    • Marina Tsvetaeva,
    • "Poem of the End" (1924), in David McDuff, ed., Selected Poems ()
  • I have a dream. / I gather all the people crazy / about life / and make one big household. / ... / but we do not make anybody poor.

  • There's no such thing as other people's children.

  • Human hearts are never strangers. Go past manners, customs, clothes, language to his heart and you will find a brother who will recognize, welcome and love you when he discovers you have faith in him.

  • We are thy sisters. ... / Our skins may differ, but from thee we claim / A sister's privilege and a sister's name.

    • Sarah L. Forten,
    • 1837, in Dorothy Sterling, ed., We Are Your Sisters ()
  • I am no better than you. You are no worse than I. Whatever I am, you, in your children, may be. Whatever you are, I in my father have been.

  • Today, as never before, the fates of men are so intimately linked to one another that a disaster for one is a disaster for everybody.

  • The task that remains is to cope with our interdependence — to see ourselves reflected in every other human being and to respect and honor our differences.

  • I am a citizen of the world.

    • Sylvia Beach,
    • in Noel Riley Fitch, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation ()
  • There are too many men and women; there is too little Humanity. ... There is a dearth of understanding, of nakedness of spirit. All of us are over-dressed; no man knows what heart beats in his neighbour's bosom.

    • Anna Kingsford,
    • 1886, in Alan Pert, Red Cactus: The Life of Anna Kingsford ()
  • Let's build bridges here and there / Or sometimes, just a spiral stair ...

    • Georgia Douglas Johnson,
    • "Interracial," in Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, eds., The Poetry of the Negro 1746-1949 ()
  • And who shall separate the dust / Which later we shall be: / ... / Will mankind lie apart, / When life has settled back again / The same as from the start?

  • When God made up this world of ours, He made it long and wide, and meant that it should shelter all, and no one should be denied.

    • Carrie Jacobs-Bond,
    • "Friends," Little Stories in Verse As Unpretentious As the Wild Rose ()
  • ... looking at everything as us and them, black and white, male or female is limiting and dangerous.

  • I am an uncompromising pacifist. ... I have no sense of nationalism, only a cosmic consciousness of belonging to the human family.

    • Rosika Schwimmer,
    • citizenship hearing (1926), in Lillian Schlissel, ed., Conscience in America ()
  • The time has come to listen to the frightened moans of our fellow brothers and sisters and indeed the earth itself is in pain.

  • I believe there is only one race — the human race.

    • Rosa Parks,
    • with Gregory J. Reed, Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today's Youth ()
  • ... I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.

  • There's a thread that binds all of us together, pull one end of the thread, the strain is felt all down the line.

  • ... all the world is kin ...

  • We're on this merry-go-round just once. The least we can do is get to know the people we're riding with.

    • Tasha Knight,
    • in Studs Terkel, Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession ()
  • It's all a big old chain. There isn't one unconnected link.

  • ... we are a small, interconnected world; that we are all safe or none of us are; that we are all well cared for or all at risk.

  • Nobody wins until we all do.

  • Unity within multiplicity was the cultural aim, but the cultural fact was multiplicity without unity.

  • We all can't be friends. But we can cut each other some slack.

  • We are each other's harvest / we are each other's business: / we are each other's magnitude and bond.

  • I may be brown as a berry, but that's only secondary, / You can't tell the difference after dark.

    • Alberta Hunter,
    • "You Can't Tell the Difference After Dark," Downhearted Blues ()
  • If we knew each other better, / We would praise where now we blame. / .. . / If we knew each other better / We would count each one a friend.

    • Annette Densted,
    • "If We Knew Each Other Better," in The Boilermakers Journal ()
  • True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.

  • ... we come to realize that other people's welfare is just as important as our own. In helping them, we help ourselves. In helping ourselves, we help the world.

  • It used to be regarded as a theological problem that God could be indifferent to the continuance of human suffering. What is really remarkable is that the human race can be.

  • When human beings are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses.

  • All borders disappear in catastrophe / they are stupid & irrelevant anyway.

  • I pledge allegiance to the global human family, to defend the web of life that is our home. One world, one love, one family, interconnected, interdependent, indivisible, with liberty, justice, and peace for all.