The October 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Federal Housing Cuts to Blame for Homelessness

Judge Halts OHA Evictions

The Crime of Pushing a Cart

Giving Love to a Homeless Dog

Clergy Denounce Police Sweeps of Homeless

St. Mary's on the Move for Justice

Oaxaca's Radical Teachers

Berkeley Is Hard on the Homeless

Giant Puppets Stand Tall for Justice

Poor Leonard: On History

October Poetry of the Streets


September 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Quotations and Original Thoughts
by Leonard Roy Frank
Street Spirit

1. More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
WOODY ALLEN, "My Speech to the Graduates," Side Effects, 1981

2. If people did learn from history, history would be very different.
JAMES BALDWIN (writer), New York Times Magazine, 9 April 1967

3. Power, however great that power may consider itself to be, gives way, and has always been forced to give way, before the onslaught of human necessity: human necessity being the fuel of history.
JAMES BALDWIN, "Malcolm and Martin," Esquire, April 1972

4. There is no obstacle which cannot be broken down by wills sufficiently keyed up, if they deal with it in time. There is thus no inescapable historic law.
HENRI BERGSON (French philosopher), "Final Remarks," The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 1932, translated by R. Ashley Audra and Cloudesley Brereton, 1935

5. One faces the future with one's past.
PEARL S. BUCK (writer), What American Means to Me, 1943

6. We are all victims as well as agents of the historical process.
SIR HERBERT BUTTERFIELD (English historian), "Marxist History," History and Human Relations, 1952

7. History is the human phase of planetary evolution.
HARIDAS CHAUDHURI (Bengali philosopher, 1913-1975), "History," The Evolution of Integral Consciousness, 1977

8. History is a vast early warning system.
NORMAN COUSINS (writer and editor), 1973, "Editor's Odyssey," Saturday Review, 15 April 1978

9. Every observation of history inspires a confidence that we shall not go far wrong; that things will mend.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON (philosopher), "The Young American," lecture, Mercantile Library Association, Boston, 7 February 1844

10. To believe that what has not occurred in history will not occur at all is to argue disbelief in the dignity of man.
MOHANDAS K. GANDHI (Indian spiritual and political leader, 1869-1948), quoted in Louis Fischer, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, 1950

11. History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for-tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
SEAMUS HEANEY (Irish poet), The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes, 1991

12. What experience and history teach is this - that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history.
GEORG HEGEL (German philosopher), introduction to Philosophy of History, 1832, translated by John Sibree, 1900

13. Unless history is a vagary of nonsense, there must be a counterpart to the immense power of man to destroy, there must be a voice..., a voice not vague, faint and inward, like qualms of conscience, but equal in spiritual might to man's power to destroy.
ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL (Polish-born U.S. theologian), God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, 1955

14. The darkness of history... conceals a light. Beyond the mystery is meaning. And the meaning is destined to be disclosed.

15. The 'real movement' of history, it turns out, is fueled not by matter but by spirit, by the will to freedom.
GERTRUDE HIMMELFARB (historian), On Looking into the Abyss, 1994

16. The drumbeat of history is quickening.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON, speech before the National Industrial Conference Board, Washington, 17 February 1965

17. History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
JAMES JOYCE (Irish writer), Ulysses, 1922

18. Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world - or to make it the last.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, United Nations address, New York City, 20 September 1963. Two months later, Kennedy was assassinated.

19. Men make their own history, but they... make it within a historical circumstance which can restrict (as well as open up) possibilities.
PAUL KENNEDY (English historian), introduction to The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, 1987

20. The time is not come for impartial history. If the truth were told just now, it would not be credited.
ROBERT E. LEE, 1868, quoted in David Macrae, The Americans at Home, 1870

21. The history of mankind is the history of thought -- of the gradual ascendancy of mind over matter.
B. H. LIDDELL HART (English military writer), September 1935, Thoughts on War, 1944

22. The whole of history is nothing but a continual transformation of human nature.
KARL MARX (German political scientist), The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847

23. A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.
DAVID McCULLOUGH (historian), quoted in Digby Diehl, "Publishing Is the Big Winner at the 29th National Book Awards," Los Angeles Times Book Review, 23 April 1978

24. What's so fascinating is to see how often the ups and downs of history derive from that mysterious ingredient called personality.
DAVID McCULLOUGH, quoted in Maureen Dowd, "No Fancy Spoken Here," New York Times, 19 December 1999

25. America was discovered accidentally by a great seaman who was looking for something else.... History is like that, very chancy.
SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON (historian), The Oxford History of the American People, 1965

26. The future influences the present just as much as the past.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (German philosopher, 1844-1900), quoted in Laurence J. Peter, editor, Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, 1977

27. Human history is the history of liberty, and liberty is history's golden thread.
MICHAEL NOVAK (philosopher and diplomat), "Faith in Search of Votes," New York Times, 19 December 1999

28. History... it's what those bitter old men write.
JACQUELINE KENNEDY ONASSIS, 1965, quoted in Theodore H. White, In Search of History, 1978

29. History consists of a series of swindles, in which the masses are first lured into revolt by the promise of Utopia, and then, when they have done their job, enslaved over again by new masters.
GEORGE ORWELL (English writer), summarizing Burnham's view of history, "James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution," May 1946, The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, volume 4, edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, 1968

30. History [is] the record of divine manifestations imperfectly understood.
LEOPOLD von RANKE (German historian, 1795-1886), quoted in Page Smith, The Historian and History, 1964

31. I am convinced that the new wisdom which the new world requires will be learned sooner or later, and that the best part of human history lies in the future, not the past.
BERTRAND RUSSELL (English mathematician and philosopher), "Adaptation: An Autobiographical Epitome" (closing sentence), Portraits From Memory: And Other Essays, 1951

32. All the important human advances that we know of since historical times began have been due to individuals of whom the majority faced virulent public opposition.
BERTRAND RUSSELL, Woodrow Wyatt television interview, BBC, London, 1959, Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind, 1960

33. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
GEORGE SANTAYANA (Spanish philosopher), The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress, 1905-1906. Compare, "Those who only remember the past are condemned to misread the future." Fareed Zakaria (journalist), closing sentence, "Mishandling the China Challenge," Newsweek, 15 August 2005

34. History is the best antidote to illusions of omnipotence and omniscience. It should forever remind us of the limitations of our passing perspectives. It should strengthen us to resist the pressure to convert momentary interests into moral absolutes. It should lead us to a profound and chastening sense of our frailty as human beings -- to a recognition of the fact, so often and so sadly demonstrated, that the future will outwit all our certitudes and that the possibilities of history are far richer and more various than the human intellect is likely to conceive.
ARTHUR M. SCHLESINGER JR. (historian and special assistant to President Kennedy, 1961-1963), "History and National Stupidity," New York Review of Books, 27 April 2006

35. One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history. The question is, shall we make world history or only suffer it passively? Will our thinking again become ethical-religious? Shall we again win ideals that will have power over reality? This is the question before us today.
ALBERT SCHWEITZER (German physician and theologian), "Religion in Modern Civilization," Christian Century, 21 November 1934

36. History... is really the story of human-kind's struggle for mastery over its own fate.
DANIEL SINGER (journalist), "Whose Millennium?" Nation, 19 April 1999

37. The history of mankind is the movement of humanity toward greater and greater unification.
LEO TOLSTOY (Russian writer), Jan. 4, A Calendar of Wisdom, 1908, trans. by Peter Sekirin, 1997

38. It is the historical function of civilizations to serve, by their downfalls, as steppingstones to a progressive process of the revelation of always deeper religious insight, and the gift of ever more grace to act on this insight.
ARNOLD J. TOYNBEE (English historian), "Christianity and Civilization," 1947, Civilization on Trial, 1948

39. Men make history and not the other way 'round. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
HARRY S. TRUMAN, quoted in This Week, 22 February 1959.

40. Man fails to profit from the lessons of history because his prejudgments prevent him from drawing the indicated conclusions and [because] history will often capriciously take a different direction from that in which her lessons point.
BARBARA W. TUCHMAN (historian), "Is History a Guide to the Future?" 1966, Practicing History: Selected Essays, 1981

41. Hope unbelieved is always considered nonsense. But hope believed is history in the process of being changed.
JIM WALLIS (minister, writer, and founder of Sojourners magazine), The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change, 1994

42. Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
H. G. WELLS (English writer), The Outline of History, 1920

43. We learn from history the mistakes we are likely to repeat.

44. We look at history through a lens polished by our own experience.

45. History is what comes crashing down on the backs of those who fail to respond to its tap on the shoulder.

46. The times call for innovation: history dares not repeat itself.

47. "The great noontide" (Nietzsche) of history is the great springtime of the human spirit.

Leonard Roy Frank is the editor of Random House Webster’s Quotationary. His newly published The Electroshock Quotationary, an illustrated 154-page history of psychiatry's most controversial procedure, is downloadable free-of-charge on the Internet at

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