Quotes to Remember
Author: Samuel Metz
Quotes are deceptive. Taken
out of context, they may imply something totally different
from the original intent. Sometimes we mistake wit, irony,
or wordplay for wisdom. The rhythm and rhyme of a phrase
lend a false sense of truth.
Still, quotes provoke
thought. They present poignantly something it might us
many paragraphs to express. Sometimes we simply respond,
"I wish I had said that."
With these caveats, here are
favorites of mine taken from several years of reading.
They cover many topics. May you enjoy and use them in good
Mario Puzo (Source: Godfather
Legacy by Harlan Lebo, p 3)
"I was 45 & tired of being an
artist...it was time to grow up & sell out."
Attributed to Stalin (Stalin edited
by TH Rigby, p167)
"There is nothing sweeter in
life than to bide the proper moment for revenge, to insert
the knife, to turn it around, and to go home for a good
Harry Truman (The Quotable
Harry S Truman edited by T.S. Settel)
"It's almost impossible for a
man to be President of the United
"A President may dismiss the
abuse of scoundrels, but to be denounced by honest men,
honestly outraged, is a test of greatness that none but
strongest men can survive."
William R. Davie (Miracle
at Philadelphia by
Catherine Drinker Bowen)
"It is much easier to alarm
people than inform them."
Benjamin Franklin (Miracle
at Philadelphia by
Catherine Drinker Bowen)
"To get the bad customs of a
country changed, and new ones, though better, introduced,
it is necessary first to remove the prejudices of the
people, enlighten their ignorance, and convince them that
their interests will be promoted by the proposed changes;
and this is not the work of a day."
J.M. Thompson (Robespierre &
the French Revolution, on Maximilien Robespierre, p33, 53)
"He was feared more than
admired, & admired more than liked."
"The real problem before the
legislator is to govern without oppression."
Richard Hofstadter (American
Political Thought, p 149)
"...a strategy dictated by
absolute moral intransigence, however defensible in logic,
was not so effective in reality..."
John Adams (John Adams by
McCullough, p 373)
"A man must be sensible of
the errors of the people & upon his guard against them &
must run the risk of their displeasure sometimes or he
will never do them any good in the long run"
Ben Franklin (Benjamin
Franklin by Carl van Doren, p. 695)
[ On John Adams] "He means
well for his country, is always an honest man, often a
wise one, but sometimes, and in some things, absolutely
out of his senses."
Alexander Hamilton (Alexander
Hamilton by Robert Chernow, p 171)
"The inquiry constantly is
what will PLEASE, not what will BENEFIT the people."
Steven D. Goldfien, MD (American
Society of Anesthesiologists Newsletter, July 2005 p
[Referring to a period in
Chinese history with application to 2005]
"...philosophical differences over right and wrong coupled
with the controversial behavior of its leader have led to
the moralization of politics; this in turn has led to
gridlock in the government. Instead of viewing opposition
as reasoned disagreement among reasonable people,
political factions, intoxicated with the righteousness of
their own beliefs, now view political rivals as evil
people with evil ideas."
Fritz Stern (Foreign
Affairs 2005 (May/June); 84 (#3):14 p16)
"...civic passivity & willed
blindness were necessary preconditions for the triumph of
Jimmy Carter (Presidential
farewell address, 1981)
"The national interest is not
always the sum of all our single or special interests."
Cardinal Richelieu ( ~1624)
"If you give me six lines
written by the most honest man, I will find something in
them to hang him"
Arthur Cebrowski, USN (New
York Times Magazine The fighting next time,
by Bill Keller Mar 10, 2002, p 32)
"Historically, victors don't
learn nearly as well as losers"
"In Germany they
first came for the Communists & I didn't speak up because
I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews & I
didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for
the trade unionists & I didn't speak up because I wasn't a
trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I
didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came
for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Albert Camus (Preface to Caligula)
"Yet I have little regard for
an art that deliberately aims to shock because it is
unable to convince."
Harry S Truman (in Beinhart , New
York Times Magazine
30 April 2006)
"We all have to recognize, no
matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves
the license to do always as we please."
Bernard Lewis (in Faoud
Ajami, In appreciation - a sage in
"Make no mistake, those who
are unwilling to confront the past will be unable to
understand the present and unfit to face the future."
John Severinghaus, MD
"To every problem, there is a
solution: neat, plausible, & wrong."
Bertolt Brecht (Writing
the Truth - Five Difficulties, appendix to Black Cat
edition of Galileo)
"That which is sure is not
sure. As things are, they shall not remain."
"Many of the persecuted lose
the capacity for seeing their own mistakes."
"The man who does not know
the truth expresses himself in lofty, general, and
"But the truth cannot merely
be written. It must be written for someone, someone who
can do something with it."
George Bernard Shaw (Man
of Destiny, quoted in The Story of
English, by McCrum)
"There is nothing so bad or
so good that you will not find an Englishman doing it; but
you will never find an Englishman in the wrong. He does
everything on principle. He fights you on patriotic
principles; he robs you on business principles; he
enslaves you on imperial principles."
all religions that tolerate all religions."
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (Atlantic
Monthly, Nov 1973)
Quote: (Speaking about Nixon)
"I would argue that what the country needs today is a
little serious disrespect for the office of the
presidency; a refusal to give any more weight to a
president's words than the intelligence of the utterance,
if spoken by anyone, would command; an understanding of
the point made so aptly by Montaigne: 'Sits he on never so
high a throne, a man stills sits on his bottom.'"
Lee Hamilton (ex-Congressman,
"At the end of the day, the
responsibility we have placed on our politicians is to
make the country work - not to satisfy their own, partisan
outlooks on the world."
Peter Weiss (Marat/Sade,
scene 25, Corday's second visit, Sade speaks)
That's how it is, Marat
That's how she sees your
They have toothache
and their teeth should be
Their soup's burnt
They shout for better soup
A woman finds her husband too
she wants a taller one
A man finds his wife too
he wants a plumper one
A man's shoes pinch
but his neighbour's shoes fit
A poet runs out of poetry
and desperately gropes for
For hours an angler casts his
why aren't the fish biting
And so they join the
thinking the Revolution will
give them everything
A new pair of shoes
A new wife
A new husband
and the best soup in the
So they storm all the
and there they are
and everything is just the
No fish biting
A worn and stinking partner
and the soup burnt
and all that heroism
which drove us down to the
Well we can talk about it to
If we have grandchildren"
Walter Van Tilburg Clark (The
Ox Bow Incident)
"Night's like a room. It
makes the little things in your head too important."
"I couldn't help thinking
about what Davies had said on getting angry enough not to
be scared when you knew you were wrong."
Winston Churchill (Wicked
Wit edited by Enright)
"It is a fine thing to be
honest, but it is also important to be right."
John LeCarre (Introduction to The
Philby Conspiracy, p 4)
"From his father, Kim
[Philby] acquired ... the Establishment's easy trick of
rationalising selfish decisions and dressing them in the
clothes of a higher cause;"
"But let us be fair in this
respect: no secret service can be more clear-headed than
its government. Everything rests upon a clear-cut
statement of requirements by those who formulate the
nation's policy. If the Secret Service is properly used,
it is a fighting arm, an extension of Government policy.
But in times of dismay and national corruption it sinks
swiftly into intrigue, slovenly security and
H.C. Kee (Jesus in History,
"We must constantly remind
ourselves that devotion to fact is a relatively modern
dimension of human thought..."
Edward R. Morrow (Quoted by I. Ozernoy
in the Atlantic Monthly, November 2006
[Referring to damage control
& his role as chief of USIA 1961] "If they want me in on
the crash landings, I better damn well be in on the
Donald Calne, MD,
neurologist (in Marketing that Matters by
Chip Conley and Eric Friedenwald-Fishman, p112)
"The essential difference
between emotion & reason is that emotion leads to action
while reason leads to conclusion."
Henry Chadwick (The Early
Christian Church, p107)
concludes that the prime purpose of scripture is to convey
spiritual truth, and that the narrative of historical
events is secondary to this."