Lessons learned from Moby Dick:
"I was a good Christian... How then could I unite with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship ?—to do the will of God— that is worship. And what is the will of God ?—to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me— that is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me? Why, unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must then unite with him in his; ergo, I must turn idolator."
It seems all too common that we of particular persuasion (religious or otherwise) shun individuals in the name of our affiliation (for example, aversion to association with Muslims, the godless or the godful) when most of our affiliations actually require such associations in order to promote conversion. To be sure, this problem is as prevalent among the secular world as the religious one. How often do those learned of one persuasion denounce all others (biologist denounce psychologists who, in turn, denounce the social scientists). The sad truth is that all could be greatly benefited by closer association.
"I will have no man in my boat," said Starbuck," who is not afraid of a whale."One should not sail with the fearless."
While I do not regularly sail, there is still some wisdom to not becoming entangled in works with people who do not have a healthy fear. Without such fear, persons tend to be careless as they barrel head-long towards disaster.
"...you mustn't swear that way when you're preaching. That's no way to convert sinners, cook!"
One of my favorite parts of the book is when "Old Fleece" is delivering, as commanded, a midnight sermon to the sharks snacking on a dead whale in tow. He starts with a fiery sermon but is reprimanded by the commander for using such harsh language. It is often much easier to get what we want when we are nice.
"Ship ahoy! Have ye seen the White Whale?"
Ahab asked every ship they passed, "Have ye seen the white whale?" With such consistent and persistent questioning, Captain Ahab finally found his arch nemesis.
"...Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."
Captain Ahab and his First Mate Starbuck have a moving moment in which Ahab concedes the absurdity of his pursuit and also gives in to Starbuck's pleadings to return home. Had Ahab done so, many would have been happier, and alive. Instead, we find Ahab uttering these words.