Thursday, November 6, 2008

How Tall Are You?

I just finished The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier. I have to admit that I have only seen probably two of his films, but know his name very well. Out front, I loved the book! There was a lot of historical information about him and his family that I found interesting as well as his take on success, life in Hollywood, and being a father, husband, and man. This is a great book to read and, as the sub-title suggests, is a book that ignites one’s mind to ponder and question their accomplishments and experiences in a realistic light. I would like to cite a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

‘In the school of hard knocks, politics was a name for the way white folks arranged things to their own advantage.’

‘Of all my father’s teachings, the most enduring was the one about the true measure of a man. That true measure was how well he provided for his children…’

‘Compassion for other human beings has to extend to the society that’s been grinding the powerless under its heel. The more civilized the society becomes, the more humane it becomes; the more it can see its own humanity, the more it sees the ways in which its humanity has been behaving inhumanly.’

‘It may sound perfunctory, or simplistic, or even na├»ve, but I think it’s fair and useful to observe that there are wonderful things about our species.’

‘It often takes a near-death experience…to make us realize how simple life is, how few the essentials really are. We love; we work; we raise our families. Those are the areas of significance in our individual lives. And love and work and family are the legacy we leave behind when our little moment in the sun is gone.’

‘…I developed a belief system that was fraught with danger. I had come to believe that the hard work of good, honest, fair-minded people with a passionate commitment to justice would bring about a world in which a life of dignity for all would be the rule. A world in which opportunities to pursue fulfillment would be limited only by the outer margins of one’s individual ability. I had come to believe that problems of race, ethnicity, color, education, sexual preference, class, and poverty, and the attendant afflictions left in their wake to plague the modern world in their names, would be successfully resolved through the efforts of those same good honest, fair-minded people. A new progressive force with insight and cohesion was in the making, thought I. The ills of my generation would ultimately be addressed. Frictions would be tamed, tensions neutralized, and out of the hearts and minds of good men and women would come the way to a better future—one in which we would all lend a hand at weaving the strong cultural threads of our social diversity into a more caring, a more human, community. Bullshit!’

‘All that blood on Wild Kingdom—we accept it in the animal world. In our world we say “It’s a dog eat dog,” and it sounds like a bad thing; but we talk about the “food chain” on the Serengeti Plain and give it civilized acceptability with polished terms like zoology.’

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