Quotes

These are quotes that to some degree or other, resonated with me because of their relevance at the time, or because they cleverly capture some truth; very much as a poem does, but without the pretense.

How timely is this for 2017, coming at us from 210 years ago?

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day…. I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.”

— President Thomas Jefferson , June 11, 1807


I have some relatives who are socialists. I know I probably shouldn’t admit to such a sordid thing publicly, but then I see a quote like this that applies:

“How should it happen that the individual should be without rights, but the combination of individuals should possess unlimited rights?”

— Auberon Herbert (1838 – 1906)


“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

— C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

That quote is usually paired up with this one from G.K. Chesterton (whose writings I’ve never explored.)

“The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”

— G.K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)


I’ve recently had to deal with persons who have been intentionally making themselves stupid with regular marijuana use. They used to be such nice people. This quote struck me as particularly applicable:

“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice…. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed—in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical—and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied….”

— Theologian Dietrich Bonhoffer (1906 – 1945 – killed in Flossenbürg concentration camp.)


“In such a depressing American landscape, why is the United States doing pretty well? Put simply, millions of quiet, determined Americans get up every morning and tune out the incompetence and corruption of their government. They simply ignore destructive fads of popular culture. They have no time for the demagoguery of their politicians and the divisive rhetoric of social activists. Instead, these quiet Americans simply go to work, pursue their own talents, excel at what they do, and seek to take care of their families. The result of their singular expertise is that even in America’s current illness, the nation still soars above the global competition. … America is not saved by our elected officials, bureaucrats, celebrities and partisan activists. Instead, just a few million hardworking Americans in key areas — a natural meritocracy of all races, classes and backgrounds — ignore the daily hype and chaos, remain innovative and productive, and dazzle the world. The silent few of a forgotten America have given the entire country an astonishing standard of living that is quite inexplicable.”

— Historian Victor Davis Hanson (1953 – )

(I’m reading Hanson’s book, “Carnage and Culture” and learning about famous battles of history. Dry reading in many places, and one must constantly keep looking up words to stay awake, but oh, the tidbits! I am thoroughly enjoying it, and finally gaining some understanding of such dis-related but interesting things as Cortez’s conquest of Mexico, the Battle of Midway, and the Tet Offensive. Finally, someone has explained what happened in Vietnam in a way that actually makes sense to me and isn’t afraid to offend anyone.)


“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

— Voltaire (1694-1778)


“It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.”

— Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974)
British mathematician

I would go one further and say that it is the student’s duty to reject outright anything presented as data, that is patently false or wrong or twisted. I’m sure every student has tossed overboard something they found in their studies that didn’t line up with what they knew to be true. My point is that a student should forcibly eject ALL such false data.

— Jere Matlock (1952 – )
(I love that I can quote myself on my own blog among such exalted company!)

“What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that you have lost everything.”

— L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986)


“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”

— Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)


“Everybody is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)


“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

— Jack London (1876-1916)


“To do something for someone or something you loved–England or Shakespeare or a dog… or history–wasn’t a sacrifice at all. Even if it cost you your freedom, your life, your youth.”

— Connie Willis (1945-)


“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”

— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.”

— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)


A fitting quote for Tax Day:

“If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers.”

— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

“You are the child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are enlightened from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

— Marianne Williamson (1952-)
from Return to Love
frequently attributed to
Nelson Mandella (1918-2013)


“If all the good people were clever,
And all clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever
We thought that it possibly could.
But somehow, ’tis seldom or never
The two hit it off as they should;
The good are so harsh to the clever,
The clever so rude to the good!”

— Elizabeth Wordsworth (1840-1932)


“We journalists make it a point to know very little about an extremely wide variety of topics; this is how we stay objective.”

— Dave Barry (1947 – )


Whenever things seem grim, it seems there’s a great Churchill quote on the subject. The following quote was written and broadcast to the desperate Britons in the middle of World War II, with London being pounded by German bombs every day and night and a very real possibility of the obliteration of his country threatened by the Nazis (who were certainly trying):

“These are not dark days; these are great days–the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)


“In their various guises, courses on ethics at all educational levels have tended to promote moral relativism, undermining the very concept of right and wrong. In other words, many ethics courses are themselves frauds. Right and wrong are not rocket science.”

— Thomas Sowell (1930 – )


“When we no longer hold people responsible for their choices, civility and common sense will be diminished.”

— Robert A. Levy (1941 – )


“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)


“Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the observation of those moral precepts … in which all religions agree.”

— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)


“The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.”

— Ann Landers (1918-2002)


“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.”

— Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)


“If we are forced, at every hour, to watch or listen to horrible events, this constant stream of ghastly impressions will deprive even the most delicate among us of all respect for humanity.”

— Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC)


“Never explain. Your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe it anyway.”

— Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)


(Written in Iraq May 2003). “It’s interesting to watch how the people change their attitudes the longer we’re in town. When we first got into the city, all the people were hiding. They were afraid for the most part and stayed out of our way. [Later,] Wherever we were, we were mobbed by kids, teenagers, as well as by the older generation. Once our presence is established, they love to come up to us. It is much like I would imagine towns in Europe were during the Second World War as people were liberated by the U.S. I’ll tell you, no matter what the world says, the looks these people give us, the hope for the future that we bring with us is a testament to what we’re doing. It transcends politics, or oil, or anything else. These people have been oppressed, some severely wronged and we’re here to do a humane, good and honorable thing. So in short, we’re making a difference for the people that matters. So anyone who opposes this thing, just tell them they can come on down, walk in my boots, see what I see, and if it doesn’t change their minds then it will at least make them realize how lucky they are to live where they live and to have the very right to oppose that which allows them the freedoms they have.”

— written by a 1st Lieutenant
with the 101st Airborne,
a graduate of the 2000
class of West Point


“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete”

— Inventor R. Buckminster Fuller(1895-1983)

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