On the Fine Line Between Patriotism and Tom-Foolery

Mark Twain, Patriotism, and the Fourth of July

Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
-Mark Twsin, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

What better way to express your patriotism by drinking to much and playing with explosives?

Image credit: Brian Hefele, courtesy flickr

On Being Succinct

The best ideas are understood with the fewest words

Erdenebayar / Pixabay

“To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…

Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”
-Mark Twain

An idea is like a sculpture. It takes form and meaning as you chip away at all that isn’t needed.

On Self Acceptance

Mark Twain on self-acceptamce

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval”
-Mark Twain

Self acceptance: Being comfortable in your own skin. All else risks a crisis of existential proportions.

Image credit: Nick Kenrick, courtesy flickr

On Supporting Education or Building Jails

Mark Twain on educations vs. more jails

“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.”
-Mark Twain

Allowing schools to slowly wither through lack of funding only means money will be spent later building a jail – social institutions are funded by the public’s priorities. We should consider the implications of what it means when we build a school versus when we build a jail.

More fully supporting one will diminish the other.

Image credit: Todd Petrie, courtesy flickr

On Not Learning from History and Electing Presidents

Good politics doesn't not necessarily mean good presidents

DonnaW / Pixabay

“History has tried hard to teach us that we can’t have good government under politicians. Now, to go and stick one at the very head of the government couldn’t be wise.”
-Mark Twain in the New York Herald, August 26, 1876

The process of becoming president requires a man of unique skill and talent, most of which are ill-suited for real leadership.

Yeah, so what’s my point?

Here we go again…

On Learning Wisdom, Eventually

Learning wisdom

ambroochizafer / Pixabay

“We chase phantoms half the days of our lives. It is well if we learn wisdom even then, and save the other half.” – Mark Twain

There comes a time in one’s life where he may question, finally, all the distractions of youth that have taken so much time and energy, and see them for what they are: nameless, faceless phantoms of fear and want , without merit or purpose.

Even then, after one has given over half a life to such imaginary phantoms and ghosts, it is worthwhile to to finally see what is important, and then to pursue only that.

On Judging a Book by its Cover

Clothes make the man. Make a good first impression and people tend to listen to what you have to say

GLady / Pixabay

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society”
-Mark Twain

One should refrain, as much as possible, from judging a book merely by its cover. But it is also best when a book has a clean, well-made cover.

 

On the Real Value of a Good Education

A good education is a mindset. A drive to satisfy never ending curiosity

Unsplash / Pixabay

“Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.”
-Mark Twain

A good education is never finished. And the best education teaches unending curiosity in the knowledge that what one knows pales in comparison to what one doesn’t know.