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Quotes of the day: Cornel West

Published Sunday, June 02, 2013 @ 12:18 AM EDT
Jun 02 2013

Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953) is an American philosopher, academic, activist, author, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. West is a 1973 graduate of Harvard University and received his PhD at Princeton University. He is currently a professor of African American Studies at Princeton and of Religious Philosophy and Christian Studies at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. (Click for full Wikipedia article.)


Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists.

Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it.

Every president needs to deal with the permanent government of the country, and the permanent government of the country is Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats and the questions becomes what is the relationship between that president and Wall Street.

Every religious tradition has gangsters and thugs. We also have humans and heroes in those same traditions. Some simple truths need to be said over and over again.

I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.

If our world is regulated by reductionist, narrow, sophomoric versions of Darwin; or reductionist, narrow, sophomoric versions of religious dogma; you end up being childishly anti-scientific, and childishly anti-religious, and you miss the very complex interaction.

If your success is defined as being well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference then we don't want successful leaders. We want great leaders- who love the people enough and respect the people enough to be unsought, unbound, unafraid and unintimidated to tell the truth.

It takes courage to interrogate yourself. It takes courage to look in the mirror and see past your reflection to who you really are when you take off the mask, when you’re not performing the same old routines and social roles. It takes courage for folk to stand up.

Look at the world through the eyes of the weak and vulnerable.

Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.

None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.

Oftentimes in this country, sadly and unfortunately, you have to constitute some kind of threat to the status quo in order for the weak and the vulnerable to get some kind of attention.

There is always a fundamental tension between a commitment to truth and a quest for power.

To accept your country without betraying it, you must love it for that which shows what it might become.

To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely- to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping, because the something that sustains you, no empire can give you, and no empire can take away

To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.

To love and serve is to persevere and endure.

Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.

When ordinary people wake up, elites begin to tremble in their boots.

Whether we agree with the reasons for war or not, we must be grateful for our courageous brothers and sisters in uniform who have risked their lives for us on the battlefield, and always be in prayer for their families.

Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white"- they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity.

You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.

You can't move forward until you look back.

You must let suffering speak, if you want to hear the truth.

You've got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it.

Categories: Cornel West, Quotes of the day


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