Crossroads theme: human affairs

Man has been given to understand

that he lives only by grace of those in power.

Let him therefore busy himself sipping coffee, catching butterflies.

Who cares for the Republic will have his right hand cut off.

— Czelaw Milosz Crossroads theme: meetings at the crossroads

When I see the heavens,

the work of Your hands,

the moon and the stars which You arranged,

what is man that You should keep him in mind,

mortal man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him little less that a god,

with glory and honour You crowned him,

gave him power over the works of Your hand,

put all things under his feet.

—Psalm 8 Crossroads theme: Memory and identity

Wherefore those many lights

That boundless atmosphere,

And infinite calm sky?

And what the meaning of this vast solitude?

And what am I?

—Giacomo Leopardi Crossroads theme: Beauty will save the world

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious.

It is the fundamental emotion which stands

At the cradle of true art and true science.

—Albert Einstein

A new education

What is at the origin of every human action? It is attraction

Ultimately, all that we do and desire originates in the appeal that the world has for us, which touches us before we take even one step. In fact, our personalities are formed in response to this attraction.

It is the presumption of old age that reality is shaped by our ideas. The experience of the child is wonder in front of something that is completely given, always new, unexpected, and appealing. Life is either the continuous, exciting discovery of something that was unknown, or it is an inevitable slide into boredom. In fact, what is most attractive about the world is that, in its given-ness, it always points beyond itself to something other, still unseen, secret and mysterious. Accordingly, to live is to walk following the mysterious call of reality: homo viator. The explorer, not the "expert," is the paradigm of humanity.

To return to this original position is the only way to begin anew and to experience culture in its fullest sense: the free development of our human capacity for knowing and interpreting everything that exists. Otherwise, we are doomed to fall into the trap of ideology.

Paradoxically, few periods in history have been as aware of "cultural" issues as we are today. We go to great lengths to catalogue, analyze, preserve, and restore the most obscure expressions of human experience. At the same time, few ages in history have been as unable to "cultivate" humanity as we are. At our core, we are nagged by doubt about the status of our own humanity, after successive waves of rationalist ideology have attempted to reduce or deny the innate and mysterious thirst for meaning that marks us. If the ultimate value of the human experience is in doubt, what space is left for culture? Are we not justified in suspecting, with Nietzsche, that the antiquarian and technical expertise of our time conceals a grave sterility? And what is at the root of this sterility if not an insecurity about our own value and the very positivity of being? If this is the case, we should not waste time in rear-guard battles against the senile follies of modernity and its conflicting ideologies.

The impetus for the work of Crossroads is the perception that we are in need of a new education, a fresh start. A fresh start is not a matter of a new "idea;" it is a matter of being faithful to our most original experience - "reality precedes us and it is positive" - and to what we already are: "a relationship with."