This is what you shall do

“This is what you shall do;

  • Love the earth and sun and the animals,
  • despise riches,
  • give alms to every one that asks,
  • stand up for the stupid and crazy,
  • devote your income and labor to others,
  • hate tyrants,
  • argue not concerning God,
  • have patience and indulgence toward the people,
  • take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men,
  • go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families,
  • read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life,
  • re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul,

and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

– Walt Whitman, preface for Leaves of Grass

This passage captures my core values as well as anything that’s ever been written.


2 responses to “This is what you shall do”

  1. […] physical, logical or ethical interrogation. This is the sentiment expressed by Walt Whitman in the preface of Leaves of Grass: “re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever […]

  2. […] Walt Whitman expressed these beliefs powerfully in the preface of Leaves of Grass. Today I found it useful to read passages from many of these primary sources. Looking forward, I do not know how I will deal with this new realization that my core beliefs are so starkly different than the beliefs of so many Americans. […]

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