We Cannot Cure the World of Sorrows, But We Can Choose To Live in Joy

Joseph Campbell? Diane K. Osbon? Kurt Vonnegut? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: When I watch the news I see endless reports signaling that the world is a mess. Efforts to mend the world are necessary and laudable; however, I am reminded of the advice given by mythology scholar Joseph Campbell. The world has always been a mess, and priority should be given to straightening out our own lives. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: This guidance occurred in the 1991 book “Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion” which consisted of material selected and edited by Diane K. Osbon. The following text appeared in a section titled “In the Field”, and Osbon stated that she had collected the words directly from Campbell. The section contained “favorite expressions of his, recorded in my journals over the years in his company”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess.
We are not going to change it.
Our job is to straighten out our own lives.

Below is one additional selected citation.

Continue reading We Cannot Cure the World of Sorrows, But We Can Choose To Live in Joy

Notes:

  1. 1991, Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion, Selected and edited by Diane K. Osbon, Chapter: In the Field, Quote Page 8 and Page 17, HarperCollins, New York, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)