Other People’s Words

Mind Moziaek

Have you ever tried to find a quote, book, or article that you read in the not too distant past, but you have no way to find it? I certainly have and I’ve tried different ways to keep track of such things, but nothing really stuck until I ran across the idea of the commonplace book. “A commonplace book is a system for writing down and sorting all manner of tidbits: quotes, anecdotes, observations, and information gleaned from books, conversations, movies, song lyrics, social posts, podcasts, life experiences, or anything else that you might want to return to later.” https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-keep-a-commonplace-book#what-is-a-commonplace-book

Here are some items from my commonplace book so far this year.

“If war has an opposite, gardens might sometimes be it, and people have found a particular kind of peace in forests, meadows, parks, and gardens.” Rebeca Solnit in Orwell’s Roses

“In most cases of people actually talking to one another, human communication cannot be reduced to information…it is a relationship between speaker and hearer.”
“Sound is dynamic. Speech is dynamic – it is action. To act is to take power, to have power, to be powerful. Mutual communication between speakers and listeners is a powerful act.” Ursula Le Guin

Librotraficante means ‘book smuggler’ and that’s what we did: collect books in Texas and ‘smuggle’ them to Arizona, where those same titles had been abruptly banned….(A teenager picked up a book from the table and went to a corner to read it) …As the day went on, the young lady returned, saying, ‘Thank you for giving me this moment. I was just about to finish this book on the day the district personnel came to forcibly take the books away from us.’ Wise beyond her years, she left us some parting advice, ‘I want you to have this book back. Give it to somebody else. I hope somebody can learn from this book.’
“As an educator and a writer, these words were especially powerful. If you can get a kid to pick up a book they haven’t seen in three months, then read it like its a sacred text – hell you have witnessed all that is good in education.”
Lupe Mendez, “The Texas GOP has declared war on books. I’ve seen this before.” Texas Observer

“And these are the truths. We’re all more powerful than we even realize, because we all have the ability to change each other for the better and we should celebrate the stories that remind us of that. Are these truths some great mystery, or based on a new and profound thought or feeling? Of course they aren’t. But sometimes even the most profound and important things are forgotten and that’s why we have these stories. That’s, of course, why we have art.”
Christopher Cosmos, “Why we have storytelling.” hyperallergic.com

“This was the year in which Sayers’ (Dorothy L. Sayers) life could have taken any number of directions: she might have agreed to marry an unsuitable man for the sake of security, or accepted the entreaties of her parents to take a respectable permanent teaching job and keep her writing as a pleasant hobby. It was due to her own imagination and determination that her life would follow a very different path.”
Francesca Wade in Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the World Wars.

“Though she claimed, self-deprecatingly, that she had no more aptitude for politics than for plumbing, all her works, in their different ways, call for a society opposed to violence and domination, where creativity and cooperation are prized above war and individual heroism. The Book of the Bear is her poignant warning that only by celebrating difference can a lasting peace be won.”
Francesca Wade in Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the World Wars.

And finally, Dan Rather’s words upon the death of Paul Farmer, MD. (Here’s a link to The NY Times in case you missed it, or like me, didn’t know of Dr. Farmer until now. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/obituaries/paul-farmer-dead.html)
“Dr. Farmer shows us a different way. It’s not one of pollyannaish prognostications. It is one where hope is earned through the hard work of showing up where others have not. It is the work of seeing the world as it is and then find the mechanisms for change. It is not accomplished with buzz words or sweeping declarations; it is earned by understanding, with empathy, our common humanity. Dr. Farmer had the intellectual tools to do anything he wanted, he chose the poorest countries and the bleakest conditions to deploy those tools, and in doing so, redefined the horizons of health.”

I hope you find inspiration in these words as I have and that we all find ways to inspire and be inspired to do the good work that needs doing every day.

Take care,


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