Quotes to Live By

Quotation marksBaldwin, James Arthur (1924-1987)

‘If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.’

‘It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.’

Burke, Edmund (1729-1797)

‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’*

* This is probably the most quoted statement attributed to Edmund Burke, and an extraordinary number of variants of it exist, but all without any definite original source. These very extensively used ‘quotations’ may be based on a paraphrase of some of Burke’s ideas, but he is not known to have ever declared them in such a manner in any of his writings. It may have been adapted from these lines of Burke’s in his Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents (1770): ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’

Deveny, Catherine (1968-)

‘Offence is a mode of social control … More damage is done by taking offence than giving it. Offence is taken. Not given.’

Einstein, Albert (1879-1955)

‘If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.’

‘I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.’

‘The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.’

‘Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.’

Gibran, Khalil (1883–1931)

‘Life without Liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit … Life, liberty, and thought — three persons in one substance, eternal, never-ending, and unceasing.’

von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang (1749-1832)

‘There is nothing in life so irrational, that good sense and chance may not set it to rights; nothing so rational, that folly and chance may not utterly confound it.’

Heine, Heinrich (1797-1856)

‘That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also.’

Herbert, George (1593-1633)

‘He that knows nothing doubts nothing.’

Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)

‘I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.’

Kennedy, John F. (1917-1963)

‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968)

‘Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’

Krauss, Lawrence M. (1954-)

‘Informed doubt is the very essence of science.’

Obama, Barack Hussein (1961-)

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
Second inaugural address of US President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. (21 January 2013)

Orwell, George (1903-1950)

‘All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by “our” side.

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered.

There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when “our” side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified — still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.’

‘In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.’*

* This statement is often attributed to George Orwell, although it cannot be found in any of his published writings. The origins of the quote appear to be unclear, and it may be that it began as a suggested summation of Orwell’s position, but was later incorrectly assumed to be a quotation.

Pemberton, Max Dr (-)

‘Homosexuality is not a pathology, but homophobia, given that it’s a phobic condition, is.’

Plato (428/427 or 424/423-348/347 BC)

‘Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.’

Savage, Adam (1967-)

‘Someone once said that to follow the path that others have laid before you is a very reasonable course of action, therefore all progress is made by unreasonable men.’

Shaw, George Bernard (1856-1950)

‘All great truths begin as blasphemies.’
Annajanska (1919)

Socrates (469-399BC)

‘There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.’

Stanley, Andy (1958-)

‘Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing significant to say.’

Steinem, Gloria et al. (1934-)

‘The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.’

Toffler, Alvin (1928-2016)

‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’

Tutu, Desmond (1931-)

‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.’

Voltaire (1694-1778)

‘It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.’
Le dîner du comte de Boulainvilliers (1767)

Wilde, Oscar (1854-1900)

‘No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.’