General Quotes

I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.

— John Locke

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.

— John Philpot Curran, Speech upon the Right of Election (1790)

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.

— Helen Keller

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.

— Dr. Samuel Johnson

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

— Confucius

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.

— Theodore Roosevelt

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

— H. L. Mencken

Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm.

— Henry Truman

The more he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.

— Dale Carnegie

To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

— Voltaire, 1764

Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions.

— Frank Lloyd Wright

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.

— Mark Twain, Notebook, 1887

An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force of revelation.

— William James

The greatest remedy for anger is delay.

— Thomas Paine

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.

— William James

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

At the heart of the egalitarian left is the pathological belief that there is no structure of reality; that all the world is a tabula rasa that can be changed at any moment in any desired direction by the mere exercise of human will.

— Murray Rothbard

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

— Abraham Lincoln

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.

— Benjamin Disraeli

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Obscurity is the refuge of the incompetent.

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

One should respect public opinion insofar as it is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

— Bertrand Russell

Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.

— Samuel Butler

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

— Epictetus

To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.

— Marcus Aurelius

Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Always do what you say you are going to do. It is the glue and fiber that binds successful relationships.

— Jeffrey Timmons

The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.

— Charles Caleb Colton

Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.

— Publilius Syrus

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

— Anne Frank

The minute you read something that you can’t understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.

— Will Rogers

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.

— Hubert Humphrey

It’s the niceties that make the difference fate gives us the hand, and we play the cards.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.

— G. K. Chesterson

If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.

— Henry Ford

Thinking well is wise; planning well, wiser; doing well, wisest and best of all.

— Persian proverb

He who acts under an emotional impulse also acts. What distinguishes an emotional action from other actions is the valuation of input and output. Emotions disarrange valuations. Inflamed with passion, man sees the goal as more desirable and the price he has to pay for it as less burdensome than he would in cool deliberation.

— Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.

— René Descartes

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. Presumably the plans for our employment were being changed. I was to learn later in life that, perhaps because we are so good at organizing, we tend as a nation to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization.

— Charlton Ogburn, Merrill’s Marauders: The truth about an incredible adventure

The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.

— Confucius

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt.

— H. L. Mencken

I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.

— William James

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

— Albert Einstein

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage -the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors. Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas-or of inherited knowledge – which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men. Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.

— Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness

Men are like steel. When they lose their temper, they lose their worth.

— Chuck Norris

Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.

— Thomas Paine

You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.

— Malcolm Forbes

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom we shall welcome to participate in all of our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.

— George Washington

Show me your achievement – and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.

— Ayn Rand

At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child – miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.

— P.J. O’Rourke

Difficulties are things that show a person what they are.

— Epictetus

[W]e’ve got to stop telling people they can’t do it. I’ve come to realize that one of the main keys to success in the capitalist system is simply to believe in it. When you think success is possible, you spend more time thinking about how to achieve it and less time complaining…

— Glenn Beck, An Inconvenient Book

The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity.

— Ayn Rand

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.

— Thomas Edison

Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Thought, not money, is the real business capital.

— Harvey S. Firestone

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid; to think and act for myself; enjoy the benefits of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, – This I have done, and this is what it means to be an American.

— John Wayne

The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.

— Aristotle

Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none.

— Edmund Burke, Speech on the Bill for the Relief of Protestant Dissenters

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

— Calvin Coolidge

It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion.

— William Ralph Inge

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

— Herbert Spencer

Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.

— Virgil

Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

— Winston Churchill, Speech given at Harrow School, Harrow, England, (29 October, 1941)

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

— Charles de Gaulle

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

— Lance Armstrong

History teaches us that men and nations only behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.

— Abba Eben

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

— Albert Einstein

We are all full of weakness and errors, let us mutually pardon each other our follies it is the first law of nature.

— Voltaire

When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

— Erasmus

There’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow stripe and dead armadillos.

— Jim Hightower

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.

— Confucius

The man who reads nothing at all is better than educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.

— Thomas Jefferson

I know a lot of you believe that most people in the news business are liberal. Let me tell you, I know a lot of them, and they were almost evenly divided this time. Half of them liked Senator Kerry; the other half hated President Bush.

— Andy Rooney

He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.

— Marcus Aurelius

Equality is not in the natural order of things, and the crusade to make everyone equal in every respect (except before the law) is certain to have disastrous consequences.

— Murray Rothbard

Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles

In the mirrors of many judgements, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil which exists to oppose other evils. … on that Great Day of which the prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Perhaps even sooner than that, I now judge. But whatever… Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless.

— Roger Zelazny, The Guns of Avalon

Idiot, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.

— Ambrose Bierce

He who dares not to offend cannot be honest.

— Thomas Paine

Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is.

— Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (17 May, 1916)

Creation is a drug I can’t do without.

— Cecil B. Demille

My kind of loyalty was to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.

— Mark Twain

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

— Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

If I knew for certain that a man was coming to my house to do me good, I would run for my life.

— Henry David Thoreau

Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded, and the amount of eccentricity in a society has been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Chapter 3

The Social Security Act does not require an individual (citizen) to have a Social Security number to live and work within the United States, nor does it require an SSN simply for the purpose of having one….

— Vincent Sanudo, Social Security Administration

Hatred is a luxury of the idle.

— Will Spencer

It everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.

— George Patton

Everybody has asked the question … “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!

— Frederick Douglass, What the Black Man Wants

The defects of fortune must be supplied by industry.

— Julius Caesar, The Civil War

The greatest open-minded idea I’m aware of is to know that one does not know what is best for others, whether it’s in economic, social, or moral policy, or in the affairs of other nations. Believing one knows what is best for others represents the greatest example of a closed mind.

— Ron Paul, A Wise Consistency

In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

— Theodore Roosevelt

For believe me: the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and greatest enjoyment is – to live dangerously

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.

— Epictetus

It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.

— Winston Churchill

The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.

— Thomas Jefferson

Organization! Hell! I’m the organization! … Hell! There ain’t no rules around here! We are trying to accomplish some’pn’. —

— Thomas Alva Edison, When asked what rules he ran his laboratory organization by; Wachhorst, Wyn, Thomas Alva Edison, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981, pp. 180-83

What thinking rational human being has never been in conflict with his Gods?

— Will Spencer

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

— Mark Twain

Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.

— Confucius

I went into the business for the money, and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.

— Charlie Chaplin

Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct
before reason can act upon them.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp (30 July 1816)

You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.

— Winston Churchill

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

— Aristotle

No matter how many times you get your fingers burned, you have to trust people. Otherwise you are a hermit in a cave, sleeping with one eye open.

— Robert Heinlein, The Door Into Summer

We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice-that is, until we have stopped saying, “It got lost,” and say, “I lost it.”

— Sydney J. Harris

Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

— Gilbert Chesterton

It is the nature of every person to error, but only the fool perseveres in error.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

Consider, when you are enraged at any one, what you would probably think if he should die during the dispute.

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.

— Ambrose Bierce

The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

— John Gilmore

Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.

— Howard Aiken

All life is a purposeful struggle, and your only choice is the choice of a goal.

— Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.

— William James

Those who don’t read the newspapers are better off than those who do insofar as those who know nothing are better off than those whose heads are filled with half-truths and lies.

— Thomas Jefferson

The universe is transformation; our life is what our thoughts make it.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

— Winston Churchill

Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.

— Thomas Paine

Decalogue
Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
Never spend your money before you have it.
Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
We never repent of having eaten too little.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
Take things always by their smooth handle.
When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.

— Thomas Jefferson

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

— William James

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.

— Henry Ford

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

— Robert Heinlein

Concentrate your energies, your thoughts and your capital. The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket.

— Andrew Carnegie

All the greatest things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: Freedom; Justice; Honour; Duty; Mercy; Hope.

— Winston Churchill, United Europe Meeting, Albert Hall, London (14 May, 1947)

There’s so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?

— Dick Cavett

Wisdom is learning what to overlook.

— William James