What I have lived for

                                                 "Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my
                                                    life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable
                                                    pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions,like great winds, have
                                                    blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of
                                                    anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

                                                    I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great
                                                    that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours
                                                    of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness--
                                                    that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks
                                                    over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss.
                                                    I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen,
                                                    in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that
                                                    saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought,and though it
                                                    might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.

                                                   With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand
                                                   the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have
                                                   tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway
                                                   above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

                                                   Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the
                                                   heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of
                                                   pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine,victims tortured by
                                                   oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole
                                                   world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life
                                                   should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

                                                  This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly
                                                   live it again if the chance were offered me."
                                                                                                                                   -Bertrand Russel

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Last modified on 8th August 2000
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