Quotes out of Context: Eleanor Roosevelt and Louis C.K.

Whenever I have been hurt or have hurt someone and am trying to throw away responsibility, these two quotes come to mind:


At first these ideas seem to contradict each other. The first quote says victimhood is a choice; it’s up to us to accept or reject the inferior position of being hurt. We are in a situation and it’s our responsibility to decide how to feel about it. So if we are hurt, it’s our fault. It’s appealing to me, someone who is much more inclined to express hurt from the “superior” position of anger, and who also does not think it fair to be accused of causing hurt that I did not intend. So, I read this quote as to validate the admittedly defective ways in which I process being and causing hurt.

The second is from the view of the offender and says that if someone is hurt by your actions, you have to accept the fact without dispute and act accordingly. You can’t blame the person for deciding to be hurt (“playing the victim”), and you can’t decide that their hurt is invalid. These things don’t matter. You are responsible for the hurt you have caused. This is a healthier way to look at. Makes me feel safer to express hurt knowing it ought not to be rejected, and holds me accountable for the hurt I have caused.

Now, context.

Turns out, Roosevelt never actually said these words verbatim. She did, however, express this core idea over an incident in which the Secretary of her administration had been invited to give a speech at a University Charter Day, only to have the host of the event step down because she did not believe it appropriate to have a political figure speak.

At a conference, Roosevelt was asked whether the secretary had been “snubbed”:

 “A snub” defined the first lady, “is the effort of a person who feels superior to make someone else feel inferior. To do so, he has to find someone who can be made to feel inferior.”

The quote was thusly distilled, attributed, and published in the Readers Digest. For ease of digesting.

I’m a surprised and a little disappointed at the relatively petty origins of such a powerful idea. I’d have thought it would be a response to bullying or discrimination to encourage those who feel the power is in everyone else’s hands. Really, the host’s decision to step down from the event seems to be an upholding of her personal values, not an effort to demean. Not a big deal.

The Roosevelt quote is really about self-esteem. Inferior and superior are states of self-esteem. And it’s true, if you have high self-esteem then you will not easily be taken down a notch by those who wish you challenge you. But the quote implies that self-esteem is something you can decide. Is that so?

The quote also raises the question: is someone with high self-esteem impervious to hurt? Should they be? What does that do to a person who is unable to feel hurt? Maybe there are times in our lives where we should be hurt, so we don’t get too ahead of ourselves. Just sayin’.

Then we have the Louis C.K. quote, which seems to me more about having empathy for those you’ve hurt no matter if their hurt is justified in your eyes. Since you are the one that caused the pain, your acknowledgement of it might be the only thing that can undo it, so it is your moral duty to do so. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. It’s a bit of a lofty idea, to expect everyone to cave so easily to those they have hurt when there was a reason – maybe even a valid one – to do it in the first place. But let’s say he’s talking about the hurt one inadvertently causes.

Context in light of recent events (refusing the address the allegations of the women who felt violated) gives this a little…hypocritical edge.

BUT WAIT. Upon further investigation, this quote is from season 5 episode 3 of Louis, where his character has to draw the line with a friend whose roughhousing goes too far, admit his friend’s protests:

“You’re hitting me and you’re physically hurting me and that’s where I have to draw the line. I’m telling you that it hurt and you don’t get to deny that. When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

Goddamnit, it’s PHYSICAL pain he’s talking about!! Will I ever read a quote properly out of context?!

Check your Facts!








We all know how the internet has made it possible to communicate quickly and to a wide audience. We also know that there is the possibility for an amazing amount of BS, scams, misleading claims, and dangerous lies.

Below is a list of fact-checkers that can help to keep you on the side of truth!

Snopes.com is one of the best online resources that debunks Urban Legends and Rumors on a huge number of topics. It’s run by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, who established this website in 1995.


Canada’s political fact-checker.
Independent. Transparent. Non-partisan.


Canada Fact Check


FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.


PolitiFact.com is a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact – check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter.


TruthOrFiction.com is your Email Reality Check. Get the truth about rumors, inspirational stories, virus warnings, hoaxes, scams, humorous tales, pleas for help, urban legends, prayer requests, calls to action, and other forwarded emails. So basically it covers almost every hoax that lands in your Email Inbox.


Hoax-Slayer allows Internet users to check the veracity of common email hoaxes and aims to counteract criminal activity by publishing information about common types of Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also includes anti-spam tips, computer and email security information, articles about true email forwards, and much more.




Letter from Sayward

Dear Bob,

Back at the Table:

This morning I woke at 4:00 am when the motion lights went off. That’s today’s excuse. As I grow older I am finding the days shifting into an early to bed because it’s always early to rise. Always. Today, the elk strayed too close to the barrier fence and triggered the light. Will the fences hold? Will they come in the yard and eat the fruit trees? This time of year they peel the bark from around the trees. Whatever, I’m up.

The fire is going, music is on, and reflection time starts up. For years I have been contributing to a few different blogs. I also have a trapline of reading to do every morning, and a set pattern of hitting the bookmarks and logging on. When the days are longer I just start earlier in order to be out and about in the light. No excuses in December, for no matter how sunny the looming day might be, sunrise doesn’t change and there is no chance of a walk or chores before 8:00am. What to do? Make soup or write? Logon and read? Pick up the banjo? Or, continue to stare at the fire?

I have to confess that every morning I also check the news and see if someone has shot Trump? (Does he now have a mystery illness?) I also check the Futures and see if something has triggered a rout? Then, I sift through the stories and wade through opinions and bias. What is true? What is really happening? Is there such a thing as the ‘Deep State’. Is there some vast conspiracy holding it all together, pulling strings for a new war in order to sell more weapons? Will Alabamians really vote in a Roy Moore? Is the President of the US really a pussy grabbing lout? Can this be true, and what the hell is happening? Has it always been this way? And the Clintons are not very ‘nice people’, for sure. On CNN last weekend they had a special about Militias and why people join them? My God, I actually understood their motivation. I think this rural redneck has more in common with a militia member than with those movie stars playing politics; (I’m tired of the Shawn Penns telling me what is right and wrong and what needs to be done).

I do know I am offended every time I see Trump boarding his Marine helicopter. See the ramrod-stiff young marine standing at attention at the bottom of the ramp? He is most likely the cream of the crop for that honour. He has been steeped in military traditions, is beyond well-trained, and exudes honour and correct behaviour. He is forced to salute an overweight lout who mustered up 5 false deferments to avoid military service. But what really offends me is that the civilian lout salutes him back. This is not right. It is wrong. I say this as a civilian who has never served in any military, but I know when I see something wrong.

I say this as the son of two WW2 veterans and know very well what my long-passed Father would say. He would be horrified. Horrified.

In 1968 my Dad sold his insurance business in California and packed up his family in a move to Vancouver Island. It actually took a few years. I remember the discussions at night with my Mom, the tears, the loud voices. My mother insisted. I was 10 when the process began, and 12 the day we arrived at the border. My Dad had been a Major in WW2, a survivor. He was a supply officer in the 7th army. My Mother was a Canadian army nurse. She was stationed in field hospitals just behind the ‘lines’. They met at a dance and were married in Ghent, Belgium. My Dad never talked about the war, unless he and I ‘had a few’ on the back porch. Then he would tell me a few things. It wasn’t like the movies. There were no Tom Hanks. He had friends who died and he would sleep at night under a half-track in order to stay alive. My mom worked the field hospitals. You didn’t want to get her ‘going’ because she would talk about the ‘wounds’. I do know this, for the rest of her life she would only have a bath at night. She never showered, ever again. She used to say that she had a lifetime of cold showers standing on pallets; in the mud. That was enough.

My Dad used to also say, that the US would become a Police State, and that he hoped he would not be alive to see it happen.

Yesterday I went to town. I popped in to see my Mom at the Care Home. She is in a Broda chair and at the end of her life. She breathes and opens her eyes; or tries to. She no longer has the strength to drink, but can reflexively swallow so the care aids mix extra liquid with her pureed food. I don’t think she has known who I am for many years, but awhile ago I think she recognized my voice and tried to smile. When she could still open her eyes my Brother and I noticed they would change colour. They used to be hazel-brown; her whole life. Last year they turned blue, and then for awhile they changed back to brown. Sometimes they are more grey. I don’t know what colour they are anymore?

I’m not sure of too much these days.

I do know this. In these days of Collapse and Decline it is important to find a centre, and hope that it is right. It is important to recognize when ‘something is wrong’, and not be part of it. It is also important to ‘do the right thing’. It may be as simple as listening or holding the door for someone; good manners, meaningful traditions, and waking my wife on ‘swimming days’ with a cup of coffee.

After I check the news, I’ll let the chickens out, and take my dog Molly for a walk. It’s all good.

regards to all from Sayward,

Paul Stahnke

Sunday Sermon #2

Only Connect

[a talk delivered at the Nanaimo Unitarian- Universalist fellowship]

Only Connect: genetics, culture, and the veil of ignorance: Grow a language, grow a morality, grow a soul

  • Bob Lane

The last time I talked with you I gave you a quiz. No quiz today! [If you insist on a quiz then here: If God is all powerful can she create a rock so heavy that she cannot lift it?]

Instead I’ll ask you to contribute with questions and observations after I share a few words with you. After the last talk one of you asked me if I am an agnostic or an atheist. I answered, “Neither. I consider myself an ignostic.”

I have been thinking about that question and answer for some time now. Perhaps a parable will help:

An ignostic was asked whether she believed in God, and said, “If you mean a big man in a cloud, as some  conceive of God, then I am an atheist, for we have satellites now which would have surely seen such a creature if he existed. If you mean an all-encompassing God who is synonymous with the entire universe, then I am a theist… though I see no reason for having two words for the same thing. If you mean a vaguely-defined supernatural being whose existence cannot be tested, then I am a theological noncognitivist; it doesn’t matter whether a meaningless thing is true or not, and I won’t worry about it any more than I will about invisible pink unicorns.”


The position that there are many different, contradictory definitions for the word “God”, so one can’t claim to be a theist OR an atheist until one knows which definition is meant. I don’t, for example, believe in or worship Thor or Zeus. Furthermore, if the chosen definition is incoherent and makes no predictions that can be empirically tested, then it doesn’t matter whether one believes in it or not, for how can something meaningless be true OR false? (this last part is also known in philosophy as theological noncognitivism)



“The need is not really for more brains, the need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear. The hand that hefted the ax, out of some old blind allegiance to the past fondles the machine gun as lovingly. It is a habit man will have to break to survive, but the roots go very deep.”
― Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey: An Imaginative Naturalist Explores the Mysteries of Man and Nature

One of the attractions of the UU approach to religion and life is caught in the assertion that divinity and spirit are to be found not through blind faith but through finding and sending down roots to the deepest part of one’s unique self. As is true in botany, those roots spread out into the wider community and can nourish us and give us a healthy life. How do we know when we are living in the best place for those roots to grow? In so much as we do indeed “grow a soul” we should consider carefully the garden in which that soul grows.

Continue reading

Sunday’s Sermon

{This was posted by Bob a couple of years ago, but it speaks to today also.}

What?? Hitler and the American Indians? Have you lost your mind?

What connection could there be? Well, dear reader . . . According to James Pool’s Hitler and His Secret Partners:

“Hitler drew another example of mass murder from American history. Since his youth he had been obsessed with the Wild West stories of Karl May. He viewed the fighting between cowboys and Indians in racial terms. In many of his speeches he referred with admiration to the victory of the white race in settling the American continent and driving out the inferior peoples, the Indians. With great fascination he listened to stories, which some of his associates who had been in America told him about the massacres of the Indians by the U.S. Cavalry.

The Reasoner

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The Reasoner Volume 11, Number 11 – December 2017 – acrobat

EDITORIAL / Hykel Hosni

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