No Comment, Quotation — November 24, 2007, 12:00 am

Gracián on the Value of Integrity

baltasar-gracian

Hombre de entereza. Siempre de parte de la razón, con tal tesón de su propósito, que ni la passión vulgar, ni la violencia tirana le obliguen jamás a pisar la raya de la razón. Pero ¿quién será este Fenis de la equidad?, que tiene pocos finos la entereza. Celébranla muchos, mas no por su casa; síguenla otros hasta el peligro; en él los falsos la niegan, los políticos la dissimulan. No repara ella en encontrarse con la amistad, con el poder, y aun con la propria conveniencia, y aquí es el aprieto del desconocerla. Abstrahen los astutos con metafísica plausible por no agraviar, o la razón superior, o la de estado; pero el constante varón juzga por especie de traición el dissimulo; préciase más de la tenacidad que de la sagacidad; hállase donde la verdad se halla; y si dexa los sugetos, no es por variedad suya, sino dellos en dexarla primero.

A person of integrity. Be a person of integrity. Cling to righteousness with such tenacity of purpose that neither the passions of the mob, nor the violence of the tyrant can ever cause you to transgress the bounds of right. But who can be such a phoenix of equity? What a scanty following rectitude has! Many praise it indeed, but few devote themselves. Others follow it until danger threatens; then the false deny it and the politic conceal it. For righteousness cares not if it conflicts with friendship, power or even self-interest; then comes the danger of desertion. Astute people make plausible distinctions so as not to stand in the way of their superiors or of the reasons of state. But straightforward and constant people regard deception as a kind of treason and set more store in tenacity than on sagacity. Such people are always to be found on the side of truth, and if they desert a group they do not change due to fickleness but because the others have first deserted truth.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales, Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia § 29 (1647)(J. Jacobs transl. 1892)

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

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