Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit.The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread.But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought.
I have learned that no matter how much I learn about anything, I am always at 'the threshold of ignorance,' a frontier of inner and outer awareness (and lack of it) in which some things have become second nature, some things are new and a little uncomfortable, and some things are a complete mystery.
When a poor man knocks at your door and says, "I'm hungry," and your first thought is Why can't you get a job?, you've invaded his privacy. Why would you need to know why he can't get a job? He didn't come to discuss his inabilities or bad habits; he came to discuss his hunger. If you want to do something about it, feed him.
Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future. But we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.
We look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure. But it is not. It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line. There is science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition, and sometimes plain old guessing. The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists. And this gap complicates everything we do.