On this "Day of the Dead" reading books is still alive and well. Recent Navy Reads posts about Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Paine and Craig Venter – and on subjects like Jihad-Fatwa, hope vs. fear, the meaning of life, and history in context – led to the discovery of these delectable excerpts from related reads.
from "Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America" by Ranya Tabari Idliby:
"Fear is not the American way, I remind my children. So although feel America's fear, and on some days even share its contempt or disdain, I do not believe that doing so reflects America at its best. As we strive for a better American union, it is knowledge and compassion, rather than fear mongering and ignorance, that must reign supreme. Today more than ever, America's hope, vision, and exceptionalism are needed as an inspiration for those who are aspiring and struggling to gain the freedoms and rights we already have. Banning imagined threats such as Sharia in an America that has had centuries of safeguarded and absolutely secular courts only serves to infringe on the equality and rights of Muslims as Americans, making them feel targeted and persecuted. It reflects a less than honest America, lacking in confidence, insecure in its mission. Let our conviction not be fear but knowledge and power – this has always been the American Way..."
from "The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation" by Matt Ridley:
"The roots of social order are in our heads, where we possess the instinctive capacities for creating not a perfectly harmonious and virtuous society, but a better one than we have at present. We must build our institutions in such a way that they draw out those instincts. Pre-eminently this means the encouragement of exchange between equals. Just as trade between countries is the best recipe for friendship between them, so exchange between enfranchised and empowered individuals is the best recipe for cooperation. We must encourage social and material exchange between equals for that is the raw material of trust, and trust is the foundation of virtue."
from "The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan" by Jenny Nordberg:
"Perhaps someday in our future it will be possible for women everywhere not to be restricted to those roles society deems natural, God-given, or appropriately feminine. A woman will not need to be disguised as a man to go out, to climb a tree, or to make money. She will not even need to make an effort to resemble one, or to think like one. Instead, she can speak a language that men will want to understand. She will be free to wear a suit or a skirt or something entirely different. She will not count as three-quarters of a man, and her testimony will not be worth half of a man's. She will be recognized as someone's sister, mother and daughter. And maybe, someday, her identity will not be confined to how she relates to a brother, son, or father; instead, she will be recognized as an individual, whose life holds value only in itself. It will not be the end of the world, the nation-state, or sexuality. It will not solve all the world's problems. But it is an exciting promise of how we might continue to evolve, through small bursts of individual greatness alongside a slow overhaul of civilization."
from "The Meaning of Human Existence" by Edward O. Wilson:
"The advances of science and technology will bring us to the greatest moral dilemma since God stayed the hand of Abraham: how much to retrofit the human genotype Shall it be a lot, a little bit, or none at all? The choice will be forced on us because our species has begun to cross what is the most important yet sill least examined threshold in the technoscientific era. We are about to abandon natural selection, the process that created us, in order to direct our own evolution by volitional selection – the process of redesigning our biology and human nature as we wish them to be."
"Science and the humanities, it is true, are fundamentally different from each other in what they say and do. But they are complementary to each other in origin, and they arise from the same creative processes in the human brain. If the heuristic and analytic power of science can be joined with the introspective creativity of the humanities, human existence will rise to an infinitely more productive and interesting meaning."
from "The Origins of Crowd Psychology: Gustave Le Bon and the Crisis of Mass Democracy in the Third Republic" by Robert A. Nye:
"The great historian of Victorianism G. M. Young has written 'The real, central theme of history is not what happened, by what people felt about it when it was happening.' No doubt Young does not mean to say that what happened has no bearing in assembling a version of the historical past; but he hopes to stress that contemporaries in any epoch only rarely grasp the nature and significance of the historical forces shaping their lives. Marx, Tocqueville, Weber, and other giants of nineteenth-century social thought notwithstanding, it seems safe to say that most observers of the process and consequences of European industrialization and urbanization suffered from a manifest incongruence between what actually occurred and how they perceived it. And it seems equally safe to say that very often the illusory perception of a generation will refuse to die with it, but will live on, barely transformed, to haunt later generations. It follows that the historian must take these perceptions seriously insofar as they served as truisms that influenced men and women's attempts to make sense of a complex social reality."
from "Conversations with Kennedy" by Benjamin C. Bradlee:
"The helicopter took off in a dark overcast for the jump across the bay. Halfway across, the president spotted the crew of a carrier lined up at attention along the deck, presumably in his honor, and asked the chopper pilot to circle low over the carrier to show that he was aware and appreciative of their respect. The Navy has a special hold on him, irrespective of his rank as commander in chief. We landed on the lawn of Hammersmith Farm, in a scene that was half space-age pomp and half 'Wuthering Heights.' The wind whistled from the helicopter blades, but the light was that dark yellow light of a New England fall evening, and that barn of a house could have been brought over intact from the Bronte moor. This was the first time we had seen Jackie since the death of little Patrick, and she greeted JFK with by far the most affectionate embrace we had ever seen them give each other. They are not normally demonstrative people, period."