I came across this quote recently and knew it would be worth sharing. Georges Philippe Friedmann (1902 – 1977), was a French sociologist and philosopher, known for his influential work on the effects of industrial labor on individuals and his criticisms of the uncontrolled embrace of technological change in twentieth-century Europe and the United States. I can only imagine his commentary on the technology of the 21st century, especially the internet.
In the 1930s, Friedman made several trips to the Soviet Union and established himself as an authority on Soviet society, about which he was quite critical. This generated deep conflicts between Friedman and the French Communist Party. So he chose to stay away from politics and that is the context for this quote.
This emphasis on one’s inner character rather than the outer world is sadly lacking in much of the discourse I see online these days. Yet the message of transcending oneself can uplift the spirit.
Take flight each day! At least for a moment, however brief, as long as it is intense.
Every day a “spiritual exercise”, alone or in the company of a man who also wishes to better himself….
Leave ordinary time behind. Make an effort to rid yourself of your own passions….
Become eternal by surpassing yourself. This inner effort us necessary, this ambition, just.
Many are those who are entirely absorbed in militant politics, in the preparation for the social revolution. Rare, very rare, are those who, in order to prepare for the revolution, wish to become worthy of it.
– Georges Friedman 1942