Choosing Cruelty

Sunday, July 1, 2018 – Choosing Cruelty

I must be cruel only to be kind. Thus bad begins and worse remains behind. ~ Hamlet to Gertrude, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4

The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don’t ask for their love, only for their fear. ~ Heinrich Himmler

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. ~ William Tecumseh Sherman

The truth is that every intelligent man, as you know, dreams of being a gangster and of ruling over society by force alone. As it is not as easy as the detective novels might lead one to believe, one generally relies on politics and joins the cruelest party. What does it matter, after all, if by humiliating one’s mind one succeeds in dominating everyone? I discovered in myself sweet dreams of oppression. ~ Albert Camus, The Fall

Cruelty, like every other vice, requires no motive outside of itself; it only requires opportunity. ~ George Eliot

All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness. ~ Tennessee Williams

There are few uglier traits of human nature than this tendency – which I now witnessed in men no worse than their neighbors – to grow cruel, merely because they possessed the power of inflicting harm. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Lust is to the other passions what the nervous fluid is to life; it supports them all, lends strength to them all ambition, cruelty, avarice, revenge – are all founded on lust. ~ Marquis de Sade

Cruelty is the law pervading all nature and society; and we can’t get out of it if we would. ~ Thomas Hardy

People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be as cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

He was a sceptic; he was young, abstract, and therefore cruel. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty. ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

There was always a screen behind which one could hide – a superior who in turn had his superior – orders, instructions, duties, commands, and finally the many-headed monster, morale, necessity, hard reality, responsibility, or whatever it was called – there was always a screen behind which to evade the simple law of humanity. ~ Erich Maria Remarque

It is usually when men are at their most religious that they behave with the least sense and the greatest cruelty. ~ Ilka Chase

I think it’s perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don’t know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away. Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it’s because he’s ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they’re responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I’d want nothing to do with them. ~ Philip Pullman

It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder, for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man. ~ Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind, and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel. ~ Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

I have a sense that God is unfair and preferentially punishes his weak, his dumb, his fat, his lazy. I believe he takes more pleasure in his perfect creatures, and cheers them on like a brainless dad as they run roughshod over the rest of us. He gives us a need for love, and no way to get any. He gives us a desire to be liked, and personal attributes that make us utterly unlikable. Having placed his flawed and needy children in a world of exacting specifications, he deducts the difference between what we have and what we need from our hearts and our self-esteem and our mental health. ~ George Saunders

The hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes. The heart of a hurt child can shrink so that forever afterward it is hard and pitted as the seed of a peach. Or again, the heart of such a child may fester and swell until it is a misery to carry within the body, easily chafed and hurt by the most ordinary things. ~ Carson McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. ~ Bertrand Russell

Weakness is what brings ignorance, cheapness, racism, homophobia, desperation, cruelty, brutality, all these things that will keep a society chained to the ground, one foot nailed to the floor. ~ Henry Rollins

All cruelty springs from weakness. ~ Seneca

Idle people are often bored and bored people, and unless they sleep a lot, are cruel. It is not accident that boredom and cruelty are great preoccupations in our time. ~ Renata Adler

There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates. ~ James Russell Lowell

No murder or sin or act of barbarism or cruelty has ever been committed by a person fully absorbed in the reading of a book. By this fact alone, we can conclude that readers are nicer people, at least until they put the book down. When we are reading, we are better. ~ Anthony McCartney

However miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery. ~ Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

Men act in response to an outward situation, and on being presented with an opportunity to conform to a pattern. If the pattern gives license to cruelty, so much the better. They take advantage of the license so thoughtlessly, so thoroughly, that it becomes perfectly clear: the generality of mankind are only waiting for the chance, only waiting for outward circumstance to sanction brutality and allow them to be cruel and brutal to their heart’s content. ~ Thomas Mann

To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is cruelty. ~ Maximillian Robespierre

We are cruel enough without meaning to be. ~ John Updike, Rabbit Is Rich

Cruelty towards others is always also cruelty towards our selves. ~ Paul Tillich

The truth doesn’t have to do with cruelty. The truth has to do with mercy. ~ Ken Kesey

Cruelty is softened by fear, not pity. ~ Mason Cooley

It is possible that the contemplation of cruelty will not make us humane but cruel, that the reiteration of the badness of our spiritual condition will make us consent to it. ~ Lionel Trilling

Cruelty would be delicious if one could only find some sort of cruelty that didn’t really hurt. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Happiness is a beautiful fruit that tastes of cruelty. ~ Agnes Varda

I wanted to get far away from those who believed in cruelty, so then I went to France, a land of true freedom, democracy, equality and fraternity. ~ Josephine Baker