Quotes

These are some of my all time favorite quotes. Words of wisdom that represent the values and principles I believe we should all try to live by. I will be expanding this collection over time, please comment and share your own favorite quotes.

Click on the names to navigate:

Albert Einstein
Mahatma Gandhi
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Jonah Lehrer
James Madison
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Heathcote Williams
Malcolm X
William Butler Yeats

Albert Einstein

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”
-Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) by Albert Einstein, p. 97; also in Transformation : Arts, Communication, Environment (1950) by Harry Holtzman, p. 138

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.”
-Letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position (19 March 1940).

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
-Letter to his son Eduard (5 February 1930), as quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), p. 367

“A new idea comes suddenly and in a rather intuitive way. But intuition is nothing but the outcome of earlier intellectual experience.”
-Letter to Dr. H. L. Gordon (May 3, 1949 – AEA 58-217) as quoted in Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007) by Walter Isaacson

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
-Letter of 1950, as quoted in The New York Times (29 March 1972) and The New York Post (28 November 1972).

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Mahatma Gandhi

“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”
-As quoted in “Arun Gandhi Shares the Mahatma’s Message” by Michel W. Potts, in India – West [San Leandro, California] Vol. XXVII, No. 13 (1 February 2002) p. A34

“Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.”
-A list closing an article in Young India (22 October 1925); Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. 33 (PDF) p. 135

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.”
-Young India March 12, 1931

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
-“Interview to the Press” in Karachi about the execution of Bhagat Singh (23 March 1931)

“My life is my message.”
-Response to a journalist’s question about what his message to the world was. Mahatma : Life of Gandhi 1869-1948 (1968) Reel 13

“In reality there are as many religions as there are individuals.”
-Written by Gandhi in Hind Swaraj (1908) Sect. 1

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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.”
-“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”, an address at the Episcopal National Cathedral, Washington D.C. (31 March 1968)

The tough mind is sharp and penetrating, breaking through the crust of legends and myths and sifting the true from the false. The tough-minded individual is astute and discerning. He has a strong austere quality that makes for firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment. Who doubts that this toughness is one of man’s greatest needs? Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
-Ch. 1 : A tough mind and a tender heart

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”
-Stride Toward Freedom : the Montgomery Story (1958)

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
-In a 1955 response to an accusation that he was “disturbing the peace” by his activism during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, as quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound : A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr (1982) by Stephen B. Oates

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
-Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. … Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
-‘Where Do We Go From Here?” as published in Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967), p. 62

“Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness — justice.
-Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967), p. 109

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Jonah Lehrer

“We travel because we need to, Because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed and that changes everything.”

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James Madison

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
-James Madison to W. T. Barry 4 Aug. 1822

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
-Federalist No. 51 (1788-02-06) [10]

“In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”
-Speech, Constitutional Convention (1787-06-29), from Max Farrand’s Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. I [1] (1911), p. 465

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
-“Political Observations” (1795-04-20); also in Letters and Other Writings of James Madison (1865), Vol. IV, p. 491

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
-First Inaugural Address (4 March 1933)

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
-Second Inaugural Address (20 January 1937)

“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
-Speech in 1935, as quoted by Donna E. Shalala, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, in a speech to the American Public Welfare Association (27 February 1995)

“Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. 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. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”
-Simple Truths message to Congress (1938)

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach. We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”
-FDR Oglethorpe University Commencement Address (22 May 1932)

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Heathcote Williams

“Fame is the perversion of the natural human instinct for validation and attention”

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Malcolm X

“You can’t separate peace from freedom, because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
-Speech in New York City (7 January 1965)

“If you’re not ready to die for it, take the word “freedom” out of your vocabulary.”
-Chicago Defender (28 November 1962)

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William Butler Yeats

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

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Comments

  1. source says:

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