L.E. Modesitt Jr. Quotes
“The only absolute truth is change, and death is the only way to stop change. Life is a series of judgments on changing situations, and no ideal, no belief fits every solution. Yet humans need to believe in something beyond themselves. Perhaps all intelligences do. If we do not act on higher motivations, then we can justify any action, no matter how horrible, as necessary for our survival. We are endlessly caught between the need for high moral absolutes—which will fail enough that any absolute can be demonstrated as false—and our tendency for individual judgments to degenerate into self-gratifying and unethical narcissism. Trying to force absolutes on others results in death and destruction, yet failing to act beyond one's self also leads to death and destruction, generally a lot sooner.”
“Words evolve, perhaps more rapidly and tellingly than do their users, and the change in meanings reflects a society often more accurately than do the works of many historians. In he years preceding the first collapse of NorAm, the change in the meaning of one word predicted the failure of that society more immediately and accurately than did all the analysts, social scientists, and historians. That critical word? 'Discrimination.' We know it now as a term meaning 'unfounded bias against a person, group, or culture on the basis of racial, gender, or ethnic background.' Prejudice, if you will.
The previous meaning of this word was: 'to draw a clear distinction between good and evil, to differentiate, to recognize as different.' Moreover, the connotations once associated with discrimination were favorable. A person of discrimination was one of taste and good judgment. With the change of the meaning into a negative term of bias, the English language was left without a single-word term for the act of choosing between alternatives wisely, and more importantly, left with a subterranean negative connotation for those who attempted to make such choices.
In hindsight, the change in meaning clearly reflected and foreshadowed the disaster to come. Individuals and institutions abhorred making real choices. At one point more than three-quarters of the youthful population entered institutions of higher learning. Credentials, often paper ones, replaced meaning judgment and choices... Popularity replaced excellence... The number of disastrous cultural and political decisions foreshadowed by the change in meaning of one word is truly endless...”
“What was, was. The past defines itself. Historians refuse to accept that definition & instead superimpose their analysis of the past through the eyes of the present. Thus, history becomes a pale reflection of the present, while the true past is lost behind the reflected image presented by historians who would have us see what they believe, rather than what was.”
“Can violence and the use of force to effect change upon the universe be left to the young? Do they see what was, what is, and what might yet be? Have they suffered, watched evil fall upon the good, or good upon the evil?
Or should the burden of violence be left to those who can bear it most lightly—upon those who have closed their minds or their feelings? How can they understand the suffering that they must inflict?
Should the burden of force be laid upon the short-lived, who will not see the consequences of their actions? How can they dispense force with compassion if they can escape the knowledge of what they do?...
The greater the force brought to bear, the older and wiser must be the entity who wields it. Wisdom allows sorrow. Age allows experience, and knowledge reinforces wisdom and experience....
Those who would bear the burden of force must be those who are strong and do not seek it, for those who seek force would misuse it, and those who are weak would shy from what they must do....
Findings of the Colloquy
[Translated from the Farhkan]
“...there being a god, that god must be worshiped. Worship means raising the god above the individual, and liturgies often make the point that the individual is less than nothing compared to the deity. If this be done, then, when the god is invoked, the individual has so little worth that he or she may be sacrificed for the needs of the god....
And who speaks for the god? If all people do, then no one does, and there is no god. If the people accept a priesthood, or the equivalent, then those priests exercise whatever power that god's believers grant that god over them, and that elite may cause an individual to be worth less, to be exiled, or even to die or to be killed. Yet such powers do not come from a deity.
In modern history and science, never has there been a verified occasion of a god appearing or demonstrating the powers ascribed throughout history to deities. Always, there is a prophet who speaks for the god. Why cannot the god speak? If a god is omnipotent, then the god can speak. If he cannot, then that god is not omnipotent. Often the prophets say that a god will only speak to the chosen, the worthy.
Should a people accept a god who is either too powerless to speak, or too devious and skeptical to appear? Or a god who will only accept those who swallow a faith laid out by a prophet who merely claims that deity exists—without proof? Yet people have done so, and have granted enormous powers to those who speak for god.”
“Behind your reaction is a feeling that whatever is 'true' must be able to be expressed logically. Men, in particular, have a tendency to confuse correct logic with an accurate assessment of a situation. Be careful of any situation that you have to reason through logically, because if you have to work to reason it out, you're probably missing something.”
“Intelligence is overrated by any species that has it, and that's provable by the fact that all intelligent species are outlived by a factor of a hundred to one, if not a thousand to one, by nonintelligent species, who don't have the brains or perversity to destroy themselves or their environments.”
“The greatest of all faults in a politician, and in any leader, is the failure to recognize that charisma has nothing to do with ability, excellence, or goodness. In fact, charisma enables far more the evils of the universe than great and worthy accomplishments, Give me pedestrian accomplishments over charisma any day.”