Surely it is better, thought Domenica, that forty-five should buy the book and actually read it, than should many thousands, indeed millions, buy it and put it on their shelves, like...Professor Hawking's Brief History of Time. That was a book that had been bought by millions, but had been demonstrated to have been read by only a minute proportion of those who had acquired it. For do we not all have a copy of that on our shelves, and who amongst us can claim to have read beyond the first page, in spite of the pellucid prose of its author and his evident desire to share with us his knowledge of...of whatever it is that the book is about?
Isabel is looking at several collections of research journals. 'She would understand the issues if she chose to open one of the volumes, but she knew that there were conversations within which she would never have the time to participate in. And that, of course, was the problem with any large collection of books, whether in a library or a bookshop: one might feel intimidated by the fact that there was simply too many to read and not know where to start.
Great feuds often need very few words to resolve them. Disputes, even between nations, between peoples, can be set to rest with simple acts of contrition and corresponding forgiveness, can so often be shown to be based on nothing much other than pride and misunderstanding, and the forgetting of the humanity of the other -- and land, of course.
Dear friends, he began, there is no timetable for happiness; it moves, I think, according to rules of its own. When I was a boy I thought I'd be happy tomorrow, as a young man I thought it would be next week; last month I thought it would be never. Today, I know it is now. Each of us, I suppose has at least one person who thinks that our manifest faults are worth ignoring; I have found mine, and am content. When we are far from home we think of home; I, who am happy today, think of those in Scotland for whom such happiness might seem elusive; may such powers as listen to what is said by people like me, in olive groves like this, grant to those who want a friendship a friend, attend to the needs of those who have little, hold the hand of those who are lonely, allow Scotland, our place, our country, to sing in the language of her choosing that song she has always wanted to sing, which is of brotherhood, which is of love.
Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth, things of that sort, our personal memories, that make the private tapestry of our lives.
The problem, of course, was that people did not seem to understand the difference between right and wrong. They needed to be reminded about this, because if you left it to them to work out for themselves, they would never bother. They would just find out what was best for them, and then they would call that the right thing. That's how most people thought.
Most morality, thought Mma Ramotswe, was about doing the right thing because it had been identified as such by a long process of acceptance and observance. You simply could not create your own morality because your experience would never be enough to do so. What gives you the right to say that you know better than your ancestors? Morality is for everybody and this means that the views of more than one person are needed to create it. That was what made modern morality, with its emphasis on individuals and the working out of an individual person, so weak. If you gave people the chance to work out their morality, then they would work out the version which was easiest for them and which allowed them to do what suited them for as much of the time as possible. That, in Mma Ramotswe's view, was simple selfishness, whatever grand name one gave it.
Mma Ramotswe had listened to a World Service broadcast on her radio one day which had simply taken her breath away. It was about philosophers who called themselves existentialists and who, as far as Mma Ramotswe could ascertain, lived in France. These French people said that you should just live in a way which made you feel real, and that the real thing to do was the right thing too. Mma Ramotswe had listened in astonishment. You did not have to go to France to meet existentialists, she reflected; there were many existentialists right here in Botswana. Note Mokoti, for example. She had been married to an existentialist herself, without even knowing it. Note, that selfish man who never once put himself out for another--not even for his wife--would have approved of existentialists, and they of him. It was very existentialist, perhaps, to go out to bars every night while your pregnant wife stayed at home, and even more existentialist to go off with girls--young existentialist girls--you met in bars. It was a good life being an existentialist, although not too good for all the other, nonexistentialist people around one.
Moral beauty existed as clearly as any other form of beauty and perhaps that was where we could find the God who was so vividly, and sometimes bizarrely, described in our noisy religious explanations. It was an intriguing thought, as it meant that a concert could be a spiritual experience, a secular painting a religious icon, a beguiling face a passing angel.
She had argued for a broad interpretation, which imposed a duty to answer questions truthfully, and not to hide facts which could give a different complexion to a matter, but on subsequent thought she had revised her position.Although she still believed that one should be frank in answers to questions, this duty arose only where there was an obligation, based on a reasonable expectation, to make a full disclosure. There was no duty to reveal everything in response to a casual question by one who had no right to the information.
She imagined what it must be like to have Charlie's mind - to believe that red shoes are faster then other shoes; to believe, as he did, that ducks could drive fire engines and that pigs built houses out of bricks and straw. There were plenty of people who weren't three-and-three-quarters who believed equally implausible things...and when to war over them.