One of the things I did when I was on vacation in August was clean out my files at home. Thirty years of accumulated paper. Frightening. But I found some old jewels, of course, which was worth the time.
It is astonishing how quickly we’ve begun to accept terrorism as a permanent part of the international landscape. Astonishing because there is a fairly painless (and fairly obvious) alternative.
The greatest threat to civility—and ultimately to civilization—is an excess of certitude. The world is much menaced just now by people who think that the world and their duties in it are clear and simple. They are certain that they know what—who—created the universe and what this creator wants them to do to make our little speck in the universe perfect, even if extreme measures—even violence—are required.
America is currently awash in an unpleasant surplus of clanging, clashing certitudes. That is why there is a rhetorical bitterness absurdly disproportionate to our real differences. It has been well said that the spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure you are right. One way to immunize ourselves against misplaced certitude is to contemplate—even to savor—the unfathomable strangeness of everything, including ourselves.
 From an article printed in a long defunct newsletter called New Options, the editor of which was Mark Satin, who presumably is the author of the piece.