"I am not a reformer. I think there is entirely too much attempt at reforming in the world and that we pay too much attention to reformers. We have two kinds of reformers. Both are nuisances. The man who calls himself a reformer wants to smash things. He is the sort of man who would tear up a whole shirt because the collar button did not fir the buttonhole. It would never occur to him to enlarge the buttonhole. This sort of reformer never under any circumstances knows what he is doing. Experience and reform do not go together. A reformer cannot keep his zeal at white heat in the presence of a fact. He must discard all facts.
...On the other hand, we have a different kind of reformer who never calls himself one. He is singularly like the radical reformer. The radical has had no experience and does not want it. The other class of reformer has had plenty of experience but it does him no good. I refer to the reactionary -- who will be surprised to find himself put in exactly the same class as the Bolshevist. He wants to go back to some previous condition, not because it was the best condition, but because he thinks he knows about that condition.
The one crowd wants to smash up the whole world in order to make a better one. The other holds the world as so good that it might well be let stand as it is -- and decay. The second notion arises as does the first -- out of not using the eyes to see with. It is perfectly possible to smash this world, but it is not possible to build a new one. It is possible to prevent the world from going forward, but it is not possible then to prevent it from going back -- from decaying. OR, should everything be petrified, that thereby six percent solution, interest may be paid. The trouble is that reformers and reactionaries alike get away from the realities -- from the primary functions.
One of the counsels of caution is to be very certain that we do not mistake a reactionary turn for a return of common sense. We have passed through a period of fireworks of every description, and the making of a great many idealistic maps of progress. We did not get anywhere. It was a convention, not a match. Lovely things were said, but when we got home we found the furnace out. Reactionaries have frequently taken advantage of the recoil from such a period, and they have promised 'the good old times' -- which usually means the bad old abuses -- and because they are perfectly void of vision they are sometimes regarded as 'practical men.' Their return to power is often hailed as the return of common sense."
My Life And Work
at 3/27/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger
"From fearing Mrs. Ruffner I soon learned to look upon her as one of my best friends. When she found that she could trust me she did so implicitly. During the one or two winters that at I was with her she gave me an opportunity to go to school for an hour in the day during a portion of the winter months, but most of my studying was done at night, sometimes alone, sometimes under some one whom I could hire to teach me. Mrs. Ruffner always encouraged and sympathized with me in all my efforts to get an education. It was while living with her that I began to get together my first library. I secured a dry-goods box, knocked out one side of it, put some shelves in it, and began putting into it every kind of book that I could get my hands upon, and called it my 'library.'"
Booker T. Washington
Up From Slavery
"Many years before author Richard Wright achieved international acclaim for his classic novel, Native Son, he lived in Memphis and worked for an optical company where he swept floors and ran errands for his white employers. It was 1926, and the 18-year-old Wright loved to read; but he could not afford to buy any books and as a black man, he was not allowed into the public library.
Fortunately, Wright worked for a generous man named Jim Falk. Falk cared more about Richard Wright's intelligence and his desire to learn than he did about the color of his skin. Falk lent the young black man his library card and Wright began checking out books for himself, all the while telling the librarian that the books were for Mr. Falk. The world of literature was suddenly opened and in all-night reading sprees Wright devoured the masterworks of Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Stephan Crane, and other writers. His life would never be the same again.
Richard Wright himself wrote about this episode in his autobiography, Black Boy. Here, Gregory Christie's illustrations of the young man and his life in Memphis are personal and touching, and make Wright's hunger for words almost palpable. William Miller manages to retain all the power of the original story even as he makes it accessible to younger readers. Between the illustrations and the story, what certainly comes through is the injustice of ignorance and the power and hope education can provide."
On William Miller's Book Richard Wright and the Library Card
at 3/24/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger