Quotes

Incontestably, alas, most people are not, in action, worth very much; and yet, every human being is an unprecedented miracle.  One tries to treat them as the miracles they are, while trying to protect oneself against the disasters they’ve become. –James Baldwin

In the final analysis, a democratic government represents the sum total of the courage and the integrity of its individuals.  It cannot be better than they are. –Eleanor Roosevelt

It is one thing to tell a lie and quite another thing to believe it. –Dick Gregory

As a prerequisite for practicing his vocation the Master required the disciple for three years to give money to everyone who insulted him.  When this trial period was over, the Master said to him, “You are now ready to begin your work.”  Soon thereafter the disciple passed a stranger who insulted him, and he immediately burst out laughing.  “Why do you laugh when I insult you?” asked the stranger.  “Because,” said the disciple, “for three years I have been paying for this kind of thing and now you give it to me for nothing.” –Desert Fathers

It is then he realizes that certain things loom larger than forgiveness and reconciliation: memory, for one, and history, bloody history. –Omar Musa, Here Come the Dogs

Violence does not and cannot exist by itself; it is invariably intertwined with the lie. –Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Nonviolence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another. . . .  I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not permit violence being inflicted on one’s opponent, but that he must be weened from error by patience and sympathy.  For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other.  And patience means self-suffering.  So the doctrine (Satyagraha) came to mean vindication of truth, not by the infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one’s self. –Mohandas K. Gandhi

Violence and injury enclose in their net all that do such things, and generally return upon him who began. –Lucretius

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for man to overcome oppressions and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.  Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little. –Plutarch

Help your brother’s boat across, and Lo! Thine own has reached the shore. –Hindu Proverb

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 have made it possible for evil to triumph. –Haile Selassie

A notorious general entered a small village with his troops only to find it vacated because the people feared his wrath.  After searching the town his troops reported that only one person remained, a priest.  The general walked into the temple, pulled out his sword and said, “Don’t you know who I am?  I am the one who can run through you without batting an eye.”  The priest looked at the general and calmly replied, “And I, sir, am the one who can be run through without batting an eye.” –Zen

When will there be justice in Athens?  There will be justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are. –Thucydides

Facts are the enemy of truth. –Don Quixote

I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. –Galileo

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid. –Soren Kierkegaard

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  But in practice, there is. –Jan van de Snepscheut

In the End we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

When one is deprived of one’s liberty, one is right in blaming not so much the man who puts the shackles on as the one who had the power to prevent him, but did not use it. –Thucydides

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true. –James Cabell

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. –Gilbert Chesterton

Sometimes it is not enough to do our best; we must do what is required. –Winston Churchill

The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness. –William Blake

As Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, so is the Spirit, of the Gospel. –John Calvin

We grow with years more fragile in body, but morally stouter, and can throw off the chill of a bad conscience almost at once. –Logan Pearsall Smith

The most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency. –W. Somerset Maugham

The stress laid on upward social mobility in the United States has tended to obscure the fact that there can be more than one kind of mobility and more than one direction in which it can go. There can be ethical mobility as well as financial, and it can go down as well as up. –Margaret Halsey

Life is governed by a multitude of forces. It would be smooth sailing if one could determine the course of one’s actions only by one general principle whose application at a given moment was too obvious to need even a moment’s reflection. But I cannot recall a single act which could be so easily determined. –Mohandas K. Gandhi

Common experience shows how much rarer is moral courage than physical bravery. A thousand men will march to the mouth of the cannon where one man will dare espouse an unpopular cause. –Clarence Darrow

Self-change must always be social change:  that is why moral courage is rarer than physical courage; the determination to alter the social will needs more energy than the determination to sacrifice the self to that will. . . .  To change oneself is . . . to alter one’s outlook literally–to attend to what has been overlooked.  It is to see another world.  Once that new world is seen . . . then a new way of action is natural and inevitable.  Seeing, realization of the further range of reality, that is the step that really counts.  For by remaking the self we remake the world.  –Anonymous

A man can do what he ought to do; and when he says he cannot, it is because he will not. –Johann Gottlieb Fichte

The world has achieved brilliance without conscience.  Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.  –Omar Bradley

Now I have come to the crossroads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew. But I never took it, you know why? It was too damn hard. –Lt. Col Frank Slade, in The Scent of a Woman

Your conviction, as it turns out, is a luxury of those sitting on the sidelines, Mr. Nash. – William Parcher, in A Beautiful Mind

The real challenge is not simply to survive. Hell, anyone can do that. It’s to survive as yourself, undiminished. –Elia Kazan

In forming a bridge between body and mind, dreams may be used as a springboard from which man can leap to new realms of experience lying outside his normal state of consciousness and enlarge his vision not only of himself, but also of the universe in which he lives. –Ann Faraday

During the greater part of man’s history, fight or flight were his only two ways of getting physical security. . . .  Our physical security now depends much more on intangible relationships, on trust, on moral and psychological imponderables than it used to.  The psychological equivalent of physical security is inner unity, the integration of spiritual and moral unity between men.  –Richard Gregg

All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together. –Jack Kerouac

I honestly do not know if civil disobedience has any effect on the government. I can promise you it has a great effect on the person who chooses to do it. –Martin Sheen

For as man dares to act his apprehension-construction grows and he sees not subjectively but objectively a new reality.  For he brings into being that which he has so dared to desire.  –Gerald Heard

Do not wait for great strength before setting out, for immobility will weaken you further.  Have you strength enough to take this first step?  Courage enough to accomplish this little tiny act of fidelity?  Take this step!  Perform this act!   You will be astonished to feel that the effort accomplished, instead of having exhausted your strength, has doubled it, and that you already see more clearly what you have to do next. –Philippe Vernier

The question is not “Can you make a difference?” You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make during your life on this planet. –Julia Butterfly Hill

The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage. After it had been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult, no violinist could play it. Stravinsky replied, “I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.” –Thomas Powers

You are not more holy for being praised, nor worse for being blamed. –Thomas `a Kempis

Idealists . . . foolish enough to throw caution to the winds . . . have advanced mankind and enriched the world. –Emma Goldman

WHAT DO WE WANT?! Respectful discourse. WHEN DO WE WANT IT?! Now would be agreeable to me, but I am interested in your opinion. –Message on a protest sign

Dare to do things worthy of imprisonment if you mean to be of consequence. –Juvenal

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. –Martin Luther King Jr.

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. –Elie Wiesel

The struggle is eternal. The tribe increases. Somebody else carries on. –Ella Baker

The images of adulthood given by the popular culture are worn-out; a man can no longer depend on them. By the time a man is thirty-five he knows that the images of the right man, the tough man . . . which he received in high school do not work in life. –Robert Bly

It seems that it is only the recent West that has deemed it unnecessary to “initiate” young men. Otherwise, culture after culture felt that if the young man were not introduced to “the mysteries,” he would not know what to do with his pain and would almost always abuse his power. It looks like they were right. –Richard Rohr

All wars are wars among thieves who are too cowardly to fight and who therefore induce the young manhood of the whole world to do the fighting for them. –Emma Goldman

Probably no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both. –Abraham Flexner

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, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a 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

You’ll never have a quiet world until you knock the patriotism out of the human race. –George Bernard Shaw

After every “victory” you have more enemies. –Jeanette Winterson

War creates peace like hate creates love. –David L. Wilson

It is the people who have no say in making wars who suffer most from the consequences of them. –Philippa Carr

A liberation movement that is nonviolent sets the oppressor free as well as the oppressed. –Barbara Deming

Corporal punishment is as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other effect than a hardening one. –Ellen Key

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. –Albert Einstein

So long as governments set the example of killing their enemies, private citizens will occasionally kill theirs. –Elbert Hubbard

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free. –Catherine Ponder

Lack of understanding of the true nature happiness, it seems to me, is the principle reason why people inflict sufferings on others. They think either that the other’s pain may somehow be a cause of happiness for themselves or that their own happiness is more important, regardless of what pain it may cause. But this is shortsighted. No one truly benefits from causing harm to another sentient being . . . . In the long run causing others misery and infringing their rights to peace and happiness result in anxiety, fear, and suspicion within oneself. –The Dalai Lama

Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but conscience is eternal and will never die.  –Martin Luther

As a punishment for refusing to serve in the army, poet Robert Lowell was imprisoned for five months by the U.S. courts. While waiting to be transferred to Connecticut to serve the sentence, Lowell spent a few days in New York’s West Street Jail. During his stay there he was put in a cell next to Louie Lepke, a convicted member of Murder Incorporated. “I’m in for killing,” Lepke told the poet. “What are you in for?” Lowell answered, “Oh, I’m in for refusing to kill.” —Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes

Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime. –Martin Luther King Jr.

Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow seeds of discontent among them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. –Oscar Wilde

The acquisition of the spirit of nonresistance is a matter of long training in self-denial and appreciation of the hidden forces within ourselves. . . . It puts different values upon things and upsets previous calculations. . . . It is the greatest force because it is the highest expression of the soul. –Mohandas K. Gandhi

When we are violent to our enemies, we do violence to ourselves. When we brutalize others, we brutalize ourselves. And eventually we run the risk of becoming our oppressors. –Arundhati Roy

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. –John F. Kennedy

My father . . . used to say, “I need my anger. It obliges me to take action.” I think my father was partly right. Anger arises, naturally, to signal disturbing situations that might require action. But actions initiated in anger perpetuate suffering. The most effective actions are those conceived in the wisdom of clarity. –Sylvia Boorstein

Truth has a power of its own. . . . A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think. –Howard Zinn

Conscience is the perfect interpreter of life.  –Karl Barth

When I was young, I was amazed at Plutarch’s statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long. –W. Somerset Maugham

The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers. –Sydney J. Harris

Technology has allowed . . . our society to separate itself from the sights and the sounds of killing. . . . It must be easy to kill from a roomful of fluorescent lights and wash-and-wear shirts. –Caryl Rivers

Law binds us. But it is important to remember the law is only what is popular. Not what’s right or wrong. –Marilyn Manson

The real existence of an enemy upon whom one can foist off everything evil is an enormous relief to one’s conscience. You can then at least say, without hesitation, who the devil is; you are quite certain that the cause of your misfortune is outside, and not in your own attitude. –Carl Jung

Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. . . . All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. –H.L. Mencken

When I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in all those assumptions underlining our lives. –Audre Lorde

I think it not improbable that man, like the grub that prepares a chamber for the winged thing it has never seen but is to be—that man may have cosmic destinies that he does not understand. And so, beyond the vision of battling races and an impoverished earth, I catch a dreaming glimpse of peace. –Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

We speak for the no longer and the not yet. –Subcomandante Marcos

It is not enough for us to become reconciled with the past–to be content knowing the life we were trying for is gone.  If we are to be consoled then the past must be revised so the things that broke our hearts never ever happened.  –Garland Robertson

To the extent that God does not provide what man may think he can or will provide, these graces and enablements will remain beyond the creature’s reach. –John Calvin

The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual—for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost. –M. Scott Peck

In New England they once thought blackbirds useless, and mischievous to the corn. They made efforts to destroy them. The consequence was, the blackbirds were diminished; but a kind of worm, which devoured their grass, and which the blackbirds used to fed on, increased prodigiously; then, finding their loss in grass much greater than their saving in corn, they wished again for their blackbirds. –Benjamin Franklin

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. –Friedrich Nietzsche

Henry Thoreau was languishing in jail after he had refused to pay the Massachusetts poll tax in 1843 [to protest the Mexican-American War]. Ralph Waldo Emerson came to visit him and asked him why he was there. “Waldo, why are you not here?” said Thoreau. —Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes

Not all forms of commitment . . . are equally healthy. The grand inquisitors of the medieval Catholic Church were utterly dedicated to their “holy” work, and Hitler and many of his associates were fanatically committed to their Nazi doctrines. –Albert Ellis

I should love to satisfy all, if I possibly can; but in trying to satisfy all, I may be able to satisfy none. I have, therefore, arrived at the conclusion that the best course is to satisfy one’s conscience and leave the world to form its own judgment, favorable or otherwise. –Mohandas K. Gandhi

The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you’re going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. –I.F. Stone

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. –Barbara Kingsolver

To have learned through enthusiasms and sorrow what things there are within and without the self that make for more life or less, for fruitfulness or sterility; to hold to the one and eschew the other; to seek, to persuade, and reveal, and convince; to be ready to readjust one’s values at the summons of a new truth that is known and felt; to be unweary in learning to discriminate more sharply between the false and the true, the trivial and the significant, in life and in men and in works; to be prepared to take a risk for the finer and the better things, –that is perhaps all we can do. . . .  The endeavor to be true to experience strikes me at this moment as the most precious privilege of all.  To have found a loyalty from which one cannot escape, which one must forever acknowledge.  No, one cannot ask for more.  –John Middleton Murry

Conscience is a God to all mortals.  –Menander

Every single one of us can do things that no one else can do—can love things that no one else can love. We are like violins. We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music. You know what to do. –Barbara Sher

Our time in the earth will not be measured by what we were able to accomplish but by our vision of the life we were trying for. –Garland Robertson

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