— Milton, Paradise Lost
“It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.”
— Eric Hofer, The Passionate State of Mind
“Our ability to selectively engage and disengage our moral standards…helps explain how people can be barbarically cruel in one moment and compassionate the next.”
— Albert Bandura
“Power said to the world,
‘You are mine.’
The world kept it prisoner on her throne.
Love said to the world, ‘I am thine.’
The world gave it the freedom of her house.”
— Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds
Sometimes this whole world
is just one big prison yard.
Some of us are prisoners,
the rest of us are guards.
— Bob Dylan, George Jackson
We're all guinea pigs in the laboratory of God...
Humanity is just a work in progress.
— Tennessee Williams, Camino Real (1953)
Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man’s spirit than when we win his heart.
— Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)
Wherever anyone is against his will,
that is to him a prison.
— Epictetus, Discourses, (2nd Century)
"Once you put a uniform on, and are given a role, I mean, a job, saying ‘your job is to keep these people in line,’ then you’re certainly not the same person if you’re in street clothes and in a different role. You really become that person once you put on the khaki uniform, you put on the glasses, you take the nightstick, and you act the part. That’s your costume and you have to act accordingly when you put it on."
— Guard Hellmann
"Kill a Gook For God"
— [Penned on helmet of a U.S. soldier in Vietnam]
“We’ve traveled too far, and our momentum has taken over: We move idly towards eternity, without possibility of reprieve or hope of explanation.”
— Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
“What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self?”
— Nathaniel Hawthorne
“People on the outside tend to live looking toward the future. The future for a convict is vague and sketchy. His past is gone; people stop writing after a while. The present becomes magnified.”
— Ken Whalen, Ex convict, playwright.
"Do you know what you have done? [Sherlock Holmes asked Sigmund Freud] You have succeeded in taking my methods--observation and inference--and applying them to the inside of a subject's head."
— Nicholas Meyer, The Seven Percent Solution
"I believe that in all men's lives at certain periods, and in many men's lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.... Of all the passions the passion for the Inner Ring is most skilful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things." "To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colors.... Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink or a cup of coffee, disguised as a triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still--just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naive or a prig--the hint will come. It will be the hint of something, which is not quite in accordance with the technical rules of fair play, something that the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand. Something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about, but something, says your new friend, which "we"-- and at the word "we" you try not to blush for mere pleasure--something "we always do." And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man's face--that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face--turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude: it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel."
— C. S. Lewis. The Inner Ring (1944)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
— John Donne, Meditations XV11
"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have been committed in the name of rebellion."
— C. P. Snow, "Either-Or"
"The historical account of humans is a heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition could produce.... I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth."
— Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, 1727.
"Sure, this robe of mine doth change my disposition."
— Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
— British Statesman, Edmund Burke
"[W]e must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph."
— Haile Selassie, former Emperor of Ethiopia.
"The landmark Stanford study provides a cautionary tale for all military detention operations.... Psychologists have attempted to understand how and why individuals and groups who usually act humanely can sometimes act otherwise in certain circumstances.”
— Schlesinger Independent Commission Report
“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.”
— Tom Stoppard
"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil."
— John Milton