Revolutionaries and Reformers

Pessoa's statue in front of famous Lisbon café...
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“Revolutionaries and reformers all make the same mistake.  Lacking the power to master and reform their own attitude towards life, which is everything, or their own being, which is almost everything, they escape into wanting to change others and the external world.  Every revolutionary, every reformer is an escapee.  To fight is proof of one’s inability to do battle with oneself.  To reform is proof that one is oneself beyond all help.

If a man of real sensitivity and correct reasoning feels concerned about the evil and injustice of the world, he naturally seeks to correct it first where it manifests itself closest to home and that, he will find, is in his own being.  The task will take him his whole lifetime.”

-Fernando Pessoa

~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on December 4, 2008.

2 Responses to “Revolutionaries and Reformers”

  1. Are we not all to a certain degree falling into this trap, trying to escape instead of looking inward? It is a very Stoic sentiment. Look hard at it, and let me know what you think [especially NJP and cpeters].

  2. This gets back to the discussion on acting in the world. Trying to come to terms with one’s finite existence is the challenge of a lifetime. While doing so, decisions are made. How to spend one’s time? If you act, or reform, to avoid the key issues, that is a problem. If you act with the best perspective possible at the time, with the right attitude of non-attachment, you will learn lessons that help you in your ultimate quest. If you act to avoid yourself, or thought, you can get deeper in a hole. If you do act, might as well be on something that is meaningful to you, which comes from a dark and mysterious place not open to reason. The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.

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