Monday, May 17, 2021

A Handful of Insights from Nikolai Berdyaev

Seeds for contemplation and consideration.

Nikolai Berdyaev

I discovered Nikolai Berdyaev around four decades ago in a book titled Four Existential TheologiansHe was born in 1874 and lived through the Russian Revolution and both World Wars. His writings do not conveniently fit a neat categorization. He's been referred to as a Christian mystic and a Christian existential anarchist philosopher, among other things.

I have selected a half dozen quotes to share here. Though written 80 to 100 years ago, these observations seem totally relevant today, do. they not?

* * *

"Slavery is passivity. The victory over slavery is creative activity."

* * *

"Only the free man is a personality, and he is that even if the whole world should wish to enslave him."

* * * 

"Man, human personality, is the supreme value, not the community, not the collective realities which belong to the object world, such as society, nation state, civilization, church."

* * * 

"Freedom gives rise to suffering. One can lessen it if one refuses freedom."

* * * 

"We live in a nightmare of falsehoods, and there are few who are sufficiently awake and aware to see things as they are. Our first duty is to clear away illusions and recover a sense of reality."

* * * 

"It is beyond dispute that the State exercises very great power over human life and it always shows a tendency to go beyond the limits laid down for it." 

EdNote: This last quote reflects why Libertarians are constantly on guard to call out government overreach.


We're living in some profound times. It's so easy to allow ourselves to get tangled up in pettiness. We were created for something higher. 

Earlier today I was thinking about Dr. Martin Luther King's dream about living in a world where we're judged by our character and not the color of our skin. His quote crossed my mind while I was reading a journal note from the mid-70s. I'd written something about how character is something you have to work at, to develop. It is not something that just gets zapped into us. It saddens me to see how character has been diminished as a value in our contemporary culture.

* * * 

What are you currently reading to challenge your thinking? What are you thinking about to challenge your lifestyle? Too often we just live and let live.  

Here's a poem along that line: The Easy Way Out


Unknown said...

As soon I started to read the first line, I heard WOODY GUTHRIE voice, it sounds like one of his "moral" songs ending by "the moral of this story, the moral of this song is that...etc etc. Bob Dylan also used to borrow this style, for instance at the end of the song "Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" your poem follows that line Ed! It needs a melody now...

Unknown said...

Nikolai Berdyaev, Woody Guthrie, Luther King Bob Dylan, your poem "THE EASY WAY OUT" follows that line of writers and it also sounds like a song like those ending by "the moral of this story, the moral of this song" etc.... It needs a melody!

Popular Posts