Posted on 2014 August 21


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A barbarian isn’t someone from a society you find distasteful. A barbarian is someone who forces you to belong to that society.

The true barbarian is he who thinks everything barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices. — William Hazlitt

It’s not how you dress or what you believe that makes you civilized; it’s how you treat others. Barbarians will greet you with a spear; the civilized will greet you with interest.

The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race, or his holy cause. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business. — Eric Hoffer

If I’m unsure that I’m right, how can I be sure you’re wrong?

To have doubted one’s own first principles is the mark of a civilized man. — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

If someone steps on your toe and you cry “Ouch!” and they say, “Oops! Sorry!” — that’s civilized. If someone steps on your toe and you cry “Ouch!” and they say, “Get your foot out of my way!” — that’s not.

A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. — Dave Barry

In America, one side presses for change by being resentful, while the other side resists change by being contemptuous. In that respect, neither is civilized.

When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics, but in the real world, cooperation works better. — Bill Clinton

[Republicans] need to be like the rest of America. We’re going to win when we look like America. We need to be white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to be with tattoos, without tattoos, with ponytails, without ponytails, with beards, without. — Rand Paul 

If civilization is the apex of human achievement, perhaps the best of a civilization are those who have class. But what’s classy? Is it fine clothes and great taste in wine? Maybe class is simply the ability to get along with anyone, anywhere.

You’ve got to be original and stand out from the crowd and take some chances. But you’ve always got to keep it classy. — Meyer Hawthorne

A car passed me on the highway, its turn signal blinking uselessly, the driver evidently having forgotten it. I snorted with contempt, then glanced idly at my dashboard to find my own turn signal was blinking away, too.

Sometimes incompetence is useful. It helps you keep an open mind. — Roberto Cavalli

Back in the day, if you were artistic or athletic or wise, in your village you became the go-to person for that skill set. Today, if you possess such traits, you must compete against everyone with those abilities in your city or state or nation, if you are to make a good career of it. This demands tremendous dedication, far beyond what a village might need. The best in any field, then, tend to be obsessive, arrogant, and demanding. Even the nice ones can’t stop practicing their craft day and night. The top performers sacrifice everything for their calling — family, friendships, honor. They cease to be civilized. Lance Armstrong. Barry Bonds. Enron’s Kenneth Lay. Richard Nixon. In this respect, our civilization is led by barbarians.

Determination becomes obsession and then it becomes all that matters. — Jeremy Irvine

It is said that Genghis Khan’s Mongol conquest of medieval Eurasia brought the benefits of civilization to the many nations in the region, including expanded trade, civil administration, and technology. The Great Khan believed he was on a mission from Heaven to tame the world. He also believed his own nomadic people were civilized, whereas others — especially farmers — were little more than barn animals. Armed with these views, The Khan gave his forces free reign to kill anyone who stood in their path, with the result that upwards of 60 million humans were slaughtered, one sixth of that era’s worldwide population.

If there were a clear prospect that such evils were part of a barbarian past, then at least we might find a small crumb of comfort. No such prospect exists: no scientific analysis can even remotely answer or account for past and present horrors of human behavior. — Simon Conway Morris