Liberal Arts Blog — Most Important Sentences Ever Written I — Cicero’s secular version of a religious truth
Liberal Arts Blog — Tuesday is the Joy of Literature, Language, Culture, and Religion Day
Today’s Topic: Most Important Sentences Ever Written I — Cicero’s secular version of a religious truth
Nihil novum sub solem. Nothing new under the sun. Especially true about what matters most. Language changes. Technology changes. Not truth. Not deep truth. So what are the most important truths ever spoken?
Prioritization is key to living a life where time is limited. Prioritization is key to constructing a global curriculum that makes sense for every human child. We must focus on the shared, the positive, the future. As the Hindu saying goes, “Truth is one but sages call it by many names.” So what is the deepest of deep truths?
Before I give you my selection let me remind you of the first sentence of the Analects of Confucius “Isn’t it a pleasure having learned something once to return to it at due intervals?” If there is something worth returning to with a regular periodicity, certainly it is that deepest of deep truths. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
CICERO’S (ALLEGED) VERSION OF THE DEEPEST OF DEEP TRUTHS
1. “Gratitude is not only the first of the virtues but the parent of all the others.” (Cicero)
2. Either this claim is true or it is false.
3. I believe it is true and that we humans have 10,000 years of data in support of it. That data consists in the fact that all the world’s great religions have this claim at their core. But the religious don’t call it “gratitude.” They call it piety.
PRAISE THE LORD! ALLAHU AKBAR! AUM BHUR BUVA SWAHA!
1. Christians say “Praise the Lord!”
2. Muslims say “Allahu Akbar!”
3. Hindus say “Aum bhur buva swaha ….” (Gayatri Mantra)
SCIENTISTS AND SECULARISTS SING BEETHOVEN/SCHILLER’S “ODE TO JOY”
1. They say “Wow!” and “Awesome!” a lot as they marvel, eyes wide and jaws dropped, at the rising or setting of the sun, the coming of spring, or summer, or winter, or fall.
2. They are particularly grateful for family and friends that give a deeper human meaning to their lives.
3. They dream of a time when every child born has the opportunity to share their joy.
NB: We live day to day. The most important thing is to get out of bed on the right foot.
That foot is the foot of gratitude. A Jewish prayer I learned only a few years ago is the “Modeh Ani” — a prayer to be said before you get out of bed in the morning. The message: thankfulness. Ingratitude is the root of all evil.
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to words, language, literature, religion, culture. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to Words, Language, Literature (eg. quotes, poetry, vocabulary) that you have not yet shared.
This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.