Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: To reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

Etty Hillesum, at quotelady.com

I have often asked myself why human beings have any rights at all. I always come to the conclusion that human rights, human freedoms, and human dignity have their deepest roots somewhere outside the perceptible world. These values are as powerful as they are because, under certain circumstances, people accept them without compulsion and are willing to die for them, and they make sense only in the perspective of the infinite and the eternal. … While the state is a human creation, human beings are the creation of God.

Václav Havel, The New York Review of Books, quoted in Context

The more you seek justice, the more you realize it always remains outside your grasp. Hence, figures like Augustine and [Jonathan] Edwards believed that if the world is to be enjoyed, it must be enjoyed in God, and if justice is to be realized, it must be granted to us with the gift of God's new world. Without God our hopes and we ourselves will remain diminished.

Miroslav Volf, in The Christian Century

True mercy is, so to speak, the most profound source of justice.

John Paul II, "Dives in Misericordia"

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail," in A Testament of Hope

Christianity preaches the unending worth of the apparently worthless and the unending worthlessness of what is apparently so valuable.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament to Freedom

There are none in the humanly "down" position so low that they cannot be lifted up by entering God's order, and none in the humanly "up" position so high that they can disregard God's point of view on their lives. The barren, the widow, the orphan, the eunuch, the alien, all models of human hopelessness, are fruitful and secure in God's care.

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy

We need always to be thinking and writing about [poverty], for if we are not among its victims, its reality fades from us. We must talk about poverty because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.

Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes

The only gift is giving to the poor; All else is exchange.

Thiruvalluvar, at wordsmith.org

Greed is a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough.

Janwillem van de Wetering, Just a Corpse at Twilight

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It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.

Voltaire, quoted in The Atlantic Monthly

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

Quotation at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

Related Elsewhere

Past Reflections columns include:

Sex, Love, and Marriage (Feb. 14, 2003)
Mountaintop Spirituality (January 23, 2003)
Word Made Flesh (December 20, 2002)
Desert Springs (November 25, 2002)
Matters of the Mind (October 16, 2002)
Bumper stickers (August 6, 2002)
Preaching (July 18, 2002)
Prayer (June 24, 2002)
Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

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