The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now if a man tried
To take his time on earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
Well I wonder what would happen to this world
Harry Chapin, I Wonder What Would Happen to This World, 1978
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
…civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
If we don’t stand for something, we may fall for anything.
I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.
You miss a hundred percent of the shots you never take.
A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.
Good dreams don’t come cheap
You’ve got to pay for them
If you just dream when you’re asleep
There is no way for them
to come alive
Harry Chapin, There Only Was One Choice, 1977
…never accept images that have been created for you by someone else. It is better to form the habit of learning how to see things for yourself, listen to things for yourself, and think for yourself; then you are in a better position to judge for yourself.
Al Hajj Malik Al Shabazz
May the high courage and technical genius which made this achievement possible be so used in the future that mankind will live in a world in which peace, self-expression, and the chance of dangerous adventure are available to all.
Australian Prime Minister John Gorton; message delivered to the moon by Apollo 11
The trouble with us in America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy.
Louis Kronenberger, 1954
Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.
Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964
It is no use in saying “We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
The important thing in life is not the victory but the contest; the essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well.
Pierre de Coubertin
The greatest enemy of progress is the illusion of knowledge.
John Young, astronaut
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” (I found it) but “That’s funny…”
If leaders are careless about basic things — telling the truth, respecting moral codes, proper professional conduct — who can believe them on other issues?
James L. Hayes
The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he or she wants done and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
No one enjoys addressing others’ deficiencies. But failure to do so sends the message that people are on track when they really aren’t, and that may be the greatest disservice a leader can do to someone else.
Eric Harvey and Alexander Lucia, 144 Ways to Walk the Talk
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
The love of justice in most men is only the fear of themselves suffering injustice.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
In most of mankind gratitude is merely a secret hope for greater favours.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld, 1678
Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate.
axiom cited by George F. Will, May 11, 2004
Be loyal to people…but don’t confuse that with loyalty to an institution. An institution is not a person, and when the people in it change, so may its place for you. Take care of yourself, your life.
Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, June 25, 2003; quoting Leonard Koppett in her column at the time of his death
We are in deep trouble when victimhood becomes a sacrament, personal injury a point of pride, when irreverence is seen as a hate crime.
Doug Marlette, quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 20, 2003
It is unclear how individuals, let alone clumps of millions, grieve and suffer for a celebrity stranger whose death illustrates the Law of Inverse Ratio Rhetoric. The law is: hyperbole about a deceased person expands to fill the vacuum of the person’s substantive significance.
George Will, Newsweek, September 15, 1997 on death of Diana, Princess of Wales
Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.
Frank Zappa, 1989
Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.
Now with the wisdom of years, I try to reason things out
And the only people I fear are those who never have doubts
Save us all from arrogant men, and all the causes they’re for
I won’t be righteous again
I’m not that sure anymore
Billy Joel, Shades of Grey, 1992
Oh, yesterday’s over my shoulder
So I can’t look back for too long
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong
Jimmy Buffett, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, 1977
Many people today don’t want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing, they want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety.
The bottom line is that a president of unprecedented incompetence is being enabled by a Congress of criminal complicity in an agenda of frightful destructiveness. To see that and not say it loudly and emphatically would be an act of journalistic, political or civic malpractice. It would be un-American.
Leonard Pitts, Jr.