Quotes

These are all quotes that either amused or inspired me, and I wanted to be able to share them with people. They're organized by subject.

See here for lots more. Updated daily.

On Love/Home/Family/Friends
"For finally, we are as we love. It is love that measures our stature. There is no smaller package in the world than that of a person all wrapped up in himself."
--Reverend William Sloane Coffin
American social justice activist (1924-)
"Who, being loved, is poor?"
--Oscar Wilde
Irish poet and playwright (1854-1900)
"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned."
--Maya Angelou
American poet (1928-2014); author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
"I can't explain it, some people just feel like home."
--John Cusack in High Fidelity
"A brother may not be friend, but a friend will always be a brother."
--Benjamin Franklin
American politician and scientist (1706-1790)
"Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hopes of steel."
--William Shakespeare
English poet and playwright (1564-1616)
  "My friends are my estate."
--Emily Dickinson
American poet (1830-1886)
 

 

On Doing Good
"We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."
--Mother Theresa
Albanian-born Roman Catholic nun (1910-1997)
"To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer."
--Mohandas Gandhi
Indian mahatma, non-violent activist (1869-1948)
"The good life is not a passive existence where you live and let live. It is one of involvement where you live and help live."
--Isaac Bashevis Singer
Polish-Jewish writer (1904-1991); Nobel Prize laureate in literature - 1978
"There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great."
--G.K. Chesterton
English author and poet (1874-1936)
"An act of 'goodness' is of itself an act of happiness. No reward coming after the event can compare with the sweet reward that went with it."
--Maurice Maeterlinck
Belgian poet, playwright, and essayist (1862-1949)
"We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it."
--Sir William Osler
Canadian physician and educator (1849-1919); called the "most influential physician in history"
"The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be."
--Robert Fulghum
American author (1937-); author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
--Maya Angelou
American poet (1928-2014); author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

 

On Progress
"Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one."
--Thomas Carlyle
Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer (1795-1881)
"The opposite of war isn't peace ... it's creation."
--from Rent by Jonathan Larson
"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
--Frank Zappa
American musician (1940-1993)
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them."
--Henry David Thoreau
American author, poet and philosopher (1817-1862)
"The vast majority of human beings dislike and even dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have always been derided as fools and madmen."
--Aldous Huxley
English author and poet (1894-1963)
"Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done."
--Louis D. Brandeis
American Supreme Court justice (1856-1941); first Jew to serve this position
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."
--Albert Einstein
German Jewish physicist (1879-1955); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1921
'And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.'
-Anaïs Nin
Cuban-French poet (1903-1977)
"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible."
--Doug Larson
English middle-distance runner (1902-1981); won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents ... but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
--Max Planck
German physicist (1858-1947); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1918
"The full importance of an epoch-making idea is often not perceived in the generation in which it is made ... A new discovery is seldom fully effective for practical purposes till many minor improvements and subsidiary discoveries have gathered themselves around it."
--Alfred Marshall
English theorist, practitioner, and educator (1842-1924); arguably the father of professional economics
"No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
--Booker T. Washington
American educator (1856-1915); foremost black educator of his time
  "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly."
--Albert Einstein
German Jewish physicist (1879-1955); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1921
 

 

On Politics
"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."
--Adlai Stevenson
American politician (1900-1965); presidential candidate and ambassador to the United Nations
"The law locks up both man and woman who steals the goose from off the common, but lets the great felon loose who steals the common from the goose."
--Anonymous
"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner."
--General Omar Bradley
American general (1893-1981); led the American assault on D-Day in WWII
"Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle."
--Mohandas Gandhi
Indian mahatma, non-violent activist (1869-1948)
"He knows nothing, and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career."
--George Bernard Shaw
Irish playwright (1856-1950)
"No man has a right ... to treat any other man tolerantly, for tolerance is the assumption of superiority."
--Wendell Willkie
American politician (1892-1944); presidential candidate; special international representative for President Roosevelt
"It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps."
--Martin Luther King, Jr.
American civil rights leader and Baptist minister (1929-1968)
"The narrower a man's mind, the broader his statements."
--Charles Dickens
English writer (1812-1870); author of 15 major novels
"Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be."
--James Baldwin
American author (1924-1987)

 

On Learning
"A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good."
--Samuel Johnson
English writer (1709-1784)
"Science is magic that works."
--Kurt Vonnegut
American novelist (1922-); author of 14 novels
"Imagination is more important than intelligence."
--Albert Einstein
German Jewish physicist (1879-1955); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1921
"Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave."
--Henry Peter Brougham
English baron and attorney (1778-1868); founder of London University
"No inquisitive mind will be content to be ignorant."
--Thomas Jefferson
American politician and president (1743-1826); author of the American Declaration of Independence
"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."
--Albert Einstein
German Jewish physicist (1879-1955); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1921
"Those who will not reason are bigots, those who cannot are fools, and those who dare not are slaves."
--Lord Byron
English Romantic poet and satirist (1788-1824)
"Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so."
--Bertrand Russell
British philosopher, logician, and mathematician (1872-1970); Nobel Prize laureate in literature - 1950
"The hardest work is to go idle."
--Yiddish proverb
"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience."
--Anne Sullivan
American educator (1866-1936); taught and worked with Helen Keller from 1887-1925
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."
--Albert Einstein
German Jewish physicist (1879-1955); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1921
"Real reform will jettison the deadly belief that ordinary children are too stupid to be partners in their own educations ... kids need to understand that nobody on earth can give you an education except yourself."
--John Taylor Gatto
American writer and education reform activist (1935-); three-time New York State Teacher of the Year; author of Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1992) and several other books
  "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
German Jewish physicist (1879-1955); Nobel Prize laureate in physics - 1921
 

 

On Identity
"I reserve my right to be complex."
--Leslie Feinberg
American Transgender activist and author (1947-)
"You don't have a pronoun for me yet."
--Holly Boswell
American Transgender activist and author
"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."
--Lillian Hellman
American playwright and memoirist (1905-1984)
"No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow."
--Alice Walker
American writer (1944-)
"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
--e.e. cummings
American poet (1894-1962)
"Men show their characters in nothing more clearly than in what they think laughable."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
German poet, novelist, dramatist, humanist, scientist, theorist, painter, and chief minister of state (1749-1832); one of the key figures of German literature
  "Hearken unto me, fellow creatures. I who have dwelt in a form unmatched with my desire, I whose flesh has become an assemblage of incongruous anatomical parts, I who achieve the similitude of a natural body through an unnatural process, I offer you this warning: the Nature you bedevil me with is a lie."
--Susan Stryker
American Transgender activist, professor, author, and filmmaker; winner of a Lambda Literary Award for The Transgender Studies Reader (Routledge 2006)

 

More Words Of Wisdom
"Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven in the midst of our rough earthliness."
--Henri Frederic Amiel
Swiss writer, philosopher and critic (1821-1881)
"You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by."
--Sir James Barrie
Scottish playwright (1860-1937); author of Peter Pan
"Write the bad things that are done to you in the sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble."
--Arab Proverb
"We may see the small value God has for riches by the people he gives them to."
--Alexander Pope
English poet (1688-1744); considered the greatest English poet of the 18th century
"A drama critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned."
--George Bernard Shaw
Irish playwright (1856-1950)
"To listen to some devout people, one would imagine that God never laughs."
--Aurobindo Ghose
Indian patriot, poet, philosopher and yogi (1872-1950)
"There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either."
--Robert Graves
English poet, novelist, mythographer, critic and historian (1895-1985)
"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it."
--Rabindranath Tagore
Indian poet (1861-1941); Nobel Prize laureate for literature - 1913
"If you find a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life."
--Anonymous
"To be alive, to be able to see, to talk, to have houses, music, paintings - it's all a miracle. I have adopted the technique of living from miracle to miracle."
--Artur Rubenstein
Polish-born US pianist (1887-1982); considered by many to be the greatest 20th-century piano virtuoso
"There are four stages to a career, illustrated by a producer's call:
1) "Get me Mickey Rooney";
2) "Get me someone like Mickey Rooney";
3) "Get me a young Mickey Rooney"; and
4) "Who's Mickey Rooney?"
--Mickey Rooney
American actor (1920-)
 

 

This page was last updated on: Friday, 01 September 2006.