Rufus Jones, democratic visionary

“The democracy I want will treat every human person as a unique, sacred, and indispensable member of a spiritual whole, a whole which remains imperfect if one of its “little ones” is missing; and its fundamental axiom will be the liberation and realization of the inner life which is potential in every member of the human race.”

“The most important service we can render our fellows is to awaken in them a real faith in their own spiritual nature and in their own potential energies, and to set them to the task of building the ideal democracy in which personality is treated as sacred and held safe from violation, infringement, and exploitation and, more than that, in which we altogether respect the worth and divine hopes inherent in our being.”

Alexis de Toqueville on poetry and democracy:

“From the time when the exercise of the intellect became a source of strength and of wealth, we see that every addition to science, every fresh truth, and every new idea became a germ of power placed within the reach of the people. Poetry, eloquence, memory, the graces of the mind, the fire of imagination, depth of thought, and all the gifts which Heaven scatters at a venture turned to the advantage of democracy; and even when they were in the possession of its adversaries, they still served its cause by throwing into bold relief the natural greatness of humankind. Its conquests spread, therefore, with those of civilization and knowledge; and literature became an arsenal open to all, where the poor and the weak daily resorted for arms.”

Robert D. Richardson, Jr. on Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Emerson further understood that the inner light is the irreducible source not only of personal religious experience but of modern political, indeed democratic ideals.”

William James’ on the religious mystery of democracy:

“Over and above the mystery of self-surrender, there are in the cult of poverty other religious mysteries. There is the mystery of veracity: “Naked came I into the world,”etc.–
whoever first said that, possessed this mystery. My own bare entity must fight this battle,
shams cannot save me. There is also the mystery of democracy, or sentiments of the equality before God of all his creatures. . .It is not exactly the sentiment of humility, though it comes so close to it in practice. It is humanity, rather, refusing to enjoy anything that others do not share.”

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