I’m revisiting one of my favourite books to type up some quotes, and I thought I’d share a few with you. Next time you have a spare chunk of time on your hands, I encourage you to read this incredible true story of Gregory David Roberts, a man who escaped an Australian prison and lived in a slum in Bombay, works for the underground and gains incredible insights into humanity, and our place in the universe.
“No happiness exists without its woe, no wealth without its cost, and no life without its full measure, sooner or later, of sorrowing and death.” (Roberts 2007:129)
“Friendship is also a kind of medicine, and the markets for it, too, are sometimes black.” (Roberts 2007:215)
“Justice is a judgement that is both fair and forgiving. Justice is not done until everyone is satisfied, even those who offend us and must be punished by us… justice is not only the way we punish those who do wrong. It is also the way we try to save them.” (Roberts 2007:229)
It’s forgiveness that makes us what we are. Without forgiveness, our species would have annihilated itself in endless retributions. Without forgiveness, there would be no history. Without that hope, there would be no art, for every work of art is in some way an act of forgiveness. Without that dream, there would be no love, for every act of love is in some way a promise to forgive. We live on because we can love, and we love because we can forgive. (Roberts 2007:370)
Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves, and love is often the blade; but it’s worry that keeps the knife sharp, and worry that gets most of us, in the end. (Roberts 2007:426)
Greed without control, or control without greed won’t give you a black market. Men can be greedy for the profit made from, let’s say pastries, but if there isn’t strict control on the baking of pastries, there won’t be a black market for apple strudel. And the government has very strict controls on the disposal of sewage, but without greed for profit from sewage, there won’t be a black market for shit. When greed meets control, you get a black market. (Roberts 2007:446)
There’s a little arrogance at the heart of every better self… and there’s an innocence, essential and unblinking, in the heart of every determination to serve. (Roberts 2007: 451)
Sooner or later, fate puts us together with all the people, one by one, who show us what we could, and shouldn’t, let ourselves become. Sooner or later we meet the drunkard, the waster, the betrayer, the ruthless mind, and the hate-filled heart. But fate loads the dice, of course, because we usually find ourselves loving or pitying almost all of those people. And it’s impossible to despise someone you honestly pity, and to shun someone you truly love. (Roberts 2007:471)
“So that’s it,” he concluded. “The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and a hundred million cowards. The rest of us, all six billion of us, do pretty much what we are told!” … This set of number is the cause of empire and rebellion. This is the formula that has generated our civilisations for the last ten thousand years. This built the pyramids. This launched your Crusades. This put the world at war, and this formula has the power to impose the peace.(Roberts 2007:350)
Is it possible to change this to: One million peaceful man, ten million smart men, one million confident men, and six billion people who do what’s right rather than what they are told.
It all comes down to changing: evil to peace, stupid to smart, coward to confident, and ignorant to aware. It almost makes a turn for peace sound simple…
If you haven’t read this book, I recommend you do!
Roberts, Gregory David, Shantaram : A Novel (Sydney: Picador, 2007). And more of his philosophies at: www.shantaram.com