|The ordinary reverence, the reverence defined
and explained by the dictionary, costs nothing. Reverence for one's own
sacred things--parents, religion, flag, laws and respect for one's own beliefs--these
are feelings which we cannot even help. They come natural to us; they are
involuntary, like breathing. There is no personal merit in breathing. But
the reverence which is difficult, and which has personal merit in it, is
the respect which you pay, without compulsion, to the political or religious
attitude of a man whose beliefs are not yours. You can't revere his gods
or his politics, and no one expects you to do that, but you could respect
his belief in them if you tried hard enough; and you could respect him,
too, if you tried hard enough. But it is very, very difficult; it is next
to impossible, and so we hardly ever try. If the man doesn't believe as
we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean it does nowadays,
because we can't burn him.
- Following the Equator
Mark Twain commemorative air mail stamp
issued by Hungary.
Original size is 1 x 1 1/2 inches.
From the Dave Thomson collection.
The Catholic Church says the most irreverent things about matters which are
sacred to the Protestants, and the Protestant Church retorts in kind about the
confessional and other matters which Catholics hold sacred, then both of these
irreverencers turn upon Thomas Paine and charge him with irreverence. This is
all unfortunate, because it makes it difficult for students equipped with only
a low grade of mentality to find out what Irreverence really is.
-"Is Shakespeare Dead?"
Who is to decide what ought to command my reverence--my neighbor or I? . . You can't have reverence for a thing that doesn't command it. If you could do that, you could digest what you haven't eaten, and do other miracles and get a reputation.
-Mark Twain, a Biography
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