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135 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1978
"You are going to die," I told him.
"But I will die decently," he said, pausing. "Isn't that what we should live for?"
His question had a quality of coldness, of challenge.
"The balete tree--it was there for always, tall, leafy and majestic. In the beginning, it sprang from the earth as vines coiled around a sapling. The vines strangled the young tree they had embraced. They multiplied, fattened and grew, became the sturdy trunk, the branches spread out to catch the sun. And beneath this tree, nothing grows!"
I continue, for instance, to hope that there is reward in virtue, that those who pursue it should do so because it pleases them. This then becomes a very personal form of ethics, or belief, premised on pleasure. It would require no high sounding motivation, no philosophical explanation for the self, and its desires are animal, basic—the desire for food, for fornication. If this be the case, then we could very well do away with the church, with all those institutions that pretend to hammer into the human being attributes that would make him inherit God's vestments if not His kingdom.