Out of instinct for self-preservation, and logically enough, [the mind] asks, “If it is a good and holy thing to be punished, must it not also be a good and holy thing to punish?” It answers that it is; and our earth becomes the hell it is. Thus we human beings plant in ourselves the perennial blossom of cruelty — the conviction that if we hurt other people we are doing good to ourselves and to life in general.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
“Pleasure Be Your Guide,” The Nation, “Living Philosophies” series #10 (25 Feb 1939)

Adapted into Clifton Fadiman, I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Certain Eminent Men and Women of Our Time (1952).

Added on 19-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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