Here is another batch of quotes that I have collected over the past couple of months. Hundreds more of my favorite quotes can be found here.
I don’t travel in circles where people say, ‘I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.’ That’s just a long-winded religious way to say, ‘Shut up.’
Penn Jillette, NPR interview
Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.
Pancho Villa (1877 – 1923), last words
“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.” -Chuck Palahniuk
Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, and went bang in the noonday sun.
Kurt Vonnegut – God Bless You Mr. Rosewater
“It’s pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the groud, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you’re done with it.” Poster
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
― Albert Einstein
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940), “The Crack-Up” (1936)
“Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property; Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.”
“The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately defeat him.”
Russell Baker (1925 – )
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
”When I feed the poor, I am called a saint… when I ask why the poor are hungry, I am called a Communist!”
Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara (Liberation Theologian RC priest, Brazil 1909-1990)
“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
David Brin (1950 – )
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”
Joseph Heller (1923 – 1999), “Catch-22”
“That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
“Conceit is God’s gift to little men.”
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”
“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”
“We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”
A reader named Mike Baker handed me a huge collection of quotes, organized by topic. Here are the quotes he collected on the topic of tolerance:
“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”
~ René Dubos
Without tolerance, our world turns into hell. ~ Friedrich Durrenmatt
Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding. ~ Mohandas Gandhi
I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers. ~ Kahlil Gibran (1883 – 1931)
Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love.
— Tom Hannah
The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. — Eric Hoffer
I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others. — Thomas Jefferson
“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.” — John F. Kennedy
Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them. — Joshua Liebman
No human trait deserves less tolerance in everyday life….. than intolerance.
— Giacomo Leopardi
Let us not speak of tolerance. This negative word implies grudging concessions by smug consciences. Rather, let us speak of mutual understanding and mutual respect.
— Father Dominique Pire
We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
— Karl Popper
“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”
— Franklin Roosevelt
Tolerance is the oil which takes the friction out of life. — Wilbert E. Scheer
In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty. ~Thomas Jefferson
A DI reader named Mike Baker offered me his large collection of quotes for reprinting here. Today’s installment of quotes are on the topic of Liberty and Human Rights.
The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting. — Justice William J. Brennan
It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. ~ Albert Camus
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” –Frederick Douglass
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself. Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809)
Tolerance is ennobling, which is why we should teach it to our children. Pluralism is insurance against tyranny, which is why we should demand it of our government. To speak up for even the most despised minorities is both morally right and politically prudent.” ~ Steven Landsburg
The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one. –Albert Einstein
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
-Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776
Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again. -Ronald Reagan
If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom, and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too. -W. Somerset Maugham
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.” -Patrick Henry
Fear is not the natural state of civilized people. ~ Aung San Suu Kyi
Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ”Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society. Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death. ~ Eugene V. Debs
States are not moral agents, people are, and can impose moral standards on powerful institutions. ~ Noam Chomsky
The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don’t agree with. ~Eleanor Holmes Norton
Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. ~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty.
It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression;
for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
~ Thomas Paine, “Dissertations on First Principles of Government”, 1795
How often do you cross paths with a parent who is attempting to make his or her children in the parent’s image and likeness? I see it on a regular basis. The prototypical case is the parent who didn’t make it to the Broadway stage who tries to turn his/her child into a Broadway performer. You often see parents who demand athletic excellence from their kids, often (it seems) in an effort to compensate for the parent’s failed strivings to make it big in sports. This style of parenting reaches every high-earning or high-prestige profession. Or maybe it’s not to make up for the parents own failings as much as it is an attempt to create a trophy child so that, at cocktail parties, the parent can nonchalantly drop a few hints about his or her child’s (sometimes admittedly spectacular) accomplishments.
This afternoon, a friend sent me a perfect antidote for this mindset. It’s a poem by Kahlil Gibran, titled “On Children.”
Upon reading it, I was reminded of the following quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “What does your conscience say? — ‘You should become the person you are’.”
About a year ago, a DI reader named Mike Baker handed me his extensive collection of quotes and invited me to publish them. Today’s quotes from Mike are on the topic right and the duty to engage in a political protest:
“A Patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
Edward R. Abbey
“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in time of great moral crisis.”
Dante Alighieri, Italian poet (1265-1321)
“Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below.:
Roger Nash Baldwin
So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy.
Roger Nash Baldwin
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
“No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.”
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violen trevolution inevitable.”
John F. Kennedy
“Think for yourself, question authority.”
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.”
Edward R. Murrow
“There is one tradition in America I am proud to inherit. It is our first freedom and the truest expression of our Americanism: the ability to dissent without fear. It is our right to utter the words, “I disagree.” We must feel at liberty to speak those words to our neighbors, our clergy, our educators, our news media, our lawmakers and, above all, to the one among us we elect President.”
The Nation (15 July 1991)
“First they arrested the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did nothing.
Then they came for the social democrats, but I was not a social democrat, so I did nothing.
Then they arrested the trade unionists, and I did nothing because I was not one.
Then they came for the Jews and the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew nor a Catholic and I did nothing.
At last they came and arrested me, and there was no one left to do anything about it.”
Rev. Martin Niemoller, nazi prison survivor
“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
“Do not… regard the critics as questionable patriots. What were Washington and Jefferson and Adams but profound critics of the colonial status quo?”
“If… the machine of government… is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”
Henry David Thoreau
“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.”
I collect quotes from many sources and occasional post them at this site. I think of them novels wrapped up in sentences. Here’s my latest batch of favorite quotes:
“The surprising thing about young fools is how many survive to become old fools.”
“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Remembering that you are going to di3e is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Steve Jobs 1987
“Everybody lies, but it doesn’t matter because nobody listens.”
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
― Malcolm X
“Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.”
Horace Mann (1796 – 1859)
“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
H. L. Mencken
“I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.”
“The day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few. When that day comes, we must rely upon the wisdom of the best elements in the country to readjust the laws of the nation.”
– James Madison
“I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience.”
Shelley Winters (1922 – 2006)
“In wartime truth is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”
“The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work.”
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.”
Joan D. Vinge, Catspaw
When someone asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government he and the other founders had birthed on this country, he famously replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
“We do not inherit this earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Native American proverb
“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)
“The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.”
“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”
“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.”
“No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather.”
A DI reader named Mike Baker offered to let me publish his collection of quotes. Today, I’m publishing his quotes concerning the news media:
The American mass media have achieved what American political might could not: World domination. — Akbar S. Ahmed
The safest way to ensure diversity of opinion is diverse ownership. But this ideal has been sacrificed by our government… — Ben Bagdikian
“See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”
–George W. Bush, 43rd President, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005
“Here’s how it works: the president makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ’em through a spell check and go home.”
— Stephen Colbert
I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that. — Walter Cronkite
I certainly think we have an emergency in media, and we gotta fix it. — Phil Donahue
Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.
~Anne Louise Germaine de Stael
Journalism is the only profession explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, because journalists are supposed to be the check and balance on government. We’re supposed to be holding those in power accountable. We’re not supposed to be their megaphone. That’s what the corporate media have become. — Amy Goodman
“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”
–Adolph Hitler, Chancellor of Germany 1933-1945
Since an informed citizenry is the basis for a healthy democracy, independent, non-corporate media are more crucial today than ever before — Dahr Jamail
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
-Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Col. Edward Carrington”, January 16, 1787
Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.
~ Thomas Jefferson
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie–diliberate, contrived, and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. -John F. Kennedy
“The news and truth are not the same thing.” –Walter Lippmann, 1889-1974, American journalist
“Disinformation is a large part of its[CIA] covert action responsibility, and the American people are the primary target of its lies.”
–Ralph McGehee, former CIA intelligence analyst, author of Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA
“The result has been that an increasingly authoritarian agenda has been sold to the American people by a massive, multi-tentacled media machine that has become, for all intents and purposes, a propaganda organ of the state.” David McGowan
By the end of the millenium five men controlled the world’s media. And the people rejoiced, because their TVs told them to. — Michael Moore
The quality of democracy and the quality of journalism are deeply entwined. — Bill Moyers
An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical. And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too. — Bill Moyers
“Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.”
~ Joseph Pulitzer
“The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread…We are tools and vassals for rich men behind the scenes…We are intellectual prostitutes.”
–John Swinton, New York Times editor in a speech before the New York Press Club, 1953
The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity – much less dissent. — Gore Vidal
About a year ago, a DI reader named Mike Baker offered me his collection of quotes, including these quotes on patriotism. Thanks, Mike.
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
~ Edward Abbey
Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.
~ John Adams (1735 – 1826)
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
~ James A. Baldwin
“My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.”
~ G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)
“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
~ Clarence S. Darrow
I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world. ~Diogenes
“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
~ Albert Einstein
When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
~ Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), quoted in Boswell’s Life of Johnson
Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched.
~ Guy de Maupassant
Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
~ Blaise Pascal
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph:
~ Haile Selassie
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
~ George Bernard Shaw
“My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its office-holders.”
It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.
I love to collect quotes. You’ll find hundreds of them under the category “Quotes.” Here is a set of quotes I’ve collected over the past 2 months:
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Voltaire (1694 – 1778)
“An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.”
– Niels Bohr (1885 – 1962)
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”
– G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)
”Study: An increasing number of Americans lack the reading and math skills to do anything but run for President.”
“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”
Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do.
– Jean-Paul Sartre (1905 – 1980), Nausea (1938) “Vendredi”
There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters.
– Alice Thomas Ellis
There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.
– Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Doing what you love means dealing with things you don’t.
– David Shore, House M.D., Last Temptation, 2011
“Of course I believe in free enterprise, but in MY system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.”
-Harry S. Truman
Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.
– Clarence Darrow (1857 – 1938)
“Get used to the idea that death should not matter to us, for good and evil are based on sensation. Death, however, is the cessation of all sensation, hence death, ostensibly the most terrifying of all evils, has no meaning for us, for as long as we exist, death will not be present. When death comes, then we will no longer be in existence.”
“If I were wrong, one would be enough.”
– Albert Einstein
“… when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”
– Isaac Asimov belongs in Skepticism 101
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967), (attributed)
“It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them.”
Pierre Beaumarchais (1732 – 1799)
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
Upton Sinclair (1878 – 1968)