WIST is my personal collection of quotations. Please feel free to browse and borrow.
- 14164 quotes and counting ...
Topic Cloudaction age America argument art author beauty belief change church and state death deeds democracy destiny education ego evil faith fear freedom future God government history honesty humanity integrity leadership liberty life love morality perspective politics power religion science silence success truth virtue war wealth wisdom writing
- I've only been adding topics/tags since 2014, so not all quotes have been given a topic. Choose "Topics" from the menu for the full list.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
This aphorism is frequently attributed to Shaw, but not found in his works and not attributed to him or in this form before around 1990. It may be a misattributed paraphrase from Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973): "People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates."
What pleases you in others will in general please them in you.
I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
I acknowledge myself a unitarian — Believing that the Father alone, is the supreme God, and that Jesus Christ derived his Being, and all his powers and honors from the Father. […] There is not any reasoning which can convince me, contrary to my senses, that three is one, and one three.
The only time you don’t want to fail is the last time you try a thing.
“Don’t Be Afraid to Stumble,” The Rotarian (Jan 1952)
This was a favorite phrase of Kettering's, and many versions exist or are attributed.
- "The only time you mustn't fail is the last time you try." (The Rotarian (May 1953))
- "The only time you don't want to fail is the last time you try."
- "The only time you can't afford to fail is the last time you try."
- "The only time you don't fail is the last time you try something, and it works."
Life is too important to be taken seriously.
Vera; or, The Nihilists (1883)
Paraphrase of the actual line, "Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it." In Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), he recycled the line as "Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it." More information about this here.
Philosophy easily triumphs over past ills and ills to come, but present ills triumph over philosophy.
Everyone is prejudiced in favor his own powers of discernment, and will always find an argument most convincing if it leads to the conclusion he has reached for himself; everyone must then be given something he can grasp and recognize as his own idea.
We cannot safely confine government programs to our own domestic progress and our own military power. We could be the wealthiest and the most mighty nation and still lose the battle of the world if we do not help our world neighbors protect their freedom and advance their social and economic progress. It is not the goal of the American people that the United States should be the richest nation in the graveyard of history.
Money can’t buy you friends, but you get a better class of enemy.
One lesson the arts teach is that there can be more than one answer to a question and more than one solution to a problem; variability of outcome is okay. […] The arts teach children that their personal signature is important and that answers to questions and solutions to problems need not be identical. There is, in the arts, more than one interpretation to a musical score, more than one way to describe a painting or a sculpture, more than one appropriate form for a dance performance, more than one meaning for a poetic rendering of a person or a situation. In the arts diversity and variability are made central. That is one lesson that education can learn from the arts.
The Arts and the Creation of Mind, ch. 8 (2002)
Variant: "The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution; questions can have more than one answer. If they do anything, the arts embrace diversity of outcome."
Dripping water hollows a stone.
The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.
Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.
Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions “on the further shore,” pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There’s not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn’t be like that. Reality never repeats. The exact same thing is never taken away and given back. How well the Spiritualists bait their hook! “Things on this side are not so different after all.” There are cigars in Heaven. For that is what we should all like. The happy past restored.
And that, just that, is what I cry out for, with mad, midnight endearments and entreaties spoken into the empty air.
If we need fear to keep us safe, we also need to apply reason to fear to make sure it’s serving us, not the other way around.
One of the functions of intelligence is to take account of the dangers that come from trusting solely to intelligence.
Individualism, at first, only saps the virtues of public life; but in the long run it attacks and destroys all others and is at length absorbed in downright selfishness.
Mary, my sweet, carpe that old diem! — it’s the only game in town.
Lust of absolute power is more burning than all the passions.
[Cupido dominandi cunctis affectibus flagrante est.]
Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience. This is the ideal life.
Deeds are better things than words are,
Actions mightier than boastings.
Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right. Both roles are critical, but they differ profoundly. I often observe people in top positions doing the wrong things well.
Most of the other shops were in fact impossible to identify. When a shop appeared to sell a mixture of ghetto blasters, socks, soap and chickens, it didn’t seem unreasonable to go in and ask if they’d got any paper or toothpaste stuck away in one of their shelves as well, but they looked at me as if I was completely mad. Couldn’t I see that this was a ghetto blaster, socks, soap and chicken shop?
There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and that will attempt to defeat a man because of his religious beliefs. Such a society is like a cockroach — it thrives in the dark. So do those who combine for such an end.
We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.
If you mean to profit, learn to please.
Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result.
Letter to James C. Conkling (26 Aug 1863)
I begin to think that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Every object is beautiful in motion; a ship under sail, trees gently agitated with the wind, and a fine woman dancing, are three instances in point. Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe.
Whenever you look at a piece of work and you think the fellow was crazy, then you want to pay some attention to that. One of you is likely to be, and you had better find out which one it is. It makes an awful lot of difference.
As attributed by Francis Davis, inventor of power steering.
Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.
Governments make of philosophy a means of serving their state interests, and scholars make of it a trade.
Some people are to be reasoned, some flattered, some intimidated, and some teased into a thing; but, in general, all are to be brought into it at last, if skillfully applied to, properly managed, and indefatigably attacked in their several weak places.
I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
Life is dull without a challenge. If your try fails, what does that matter? All life is failure in the end. The thing is to get some sport out of trying.
Drop upon drop collected will make a river. Rivers upon rivers collected will make a sea.
A brave people will certainly prefer liberty, accompanied by virtuous poverty, to a depraved and wealthy servitude.
Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?”
Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?”
There was silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.”
When a young man who has been going to church in a routine way honestly realises that he does not believe in Christianity and stops going — provided he does it for honesty’s sake and not just to annoy his parents — the spirit of Christ is probably nearer to him then than it ever was before.
Mere Christianity, “Let’s Pretend” (1952)
Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their dead grip.
Any damned fool can write a plan. It’s the execution that gets you all screwed up.
In Harry G. Summers, Jr., On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, ch. 4 (1982).
Christian establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.
Wants what he wants when he wants it — and thinks that constitutes a natural law.
The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.
[Nisi impunitatis cupido retinuisset, magnis semper conatibus adversa.]
Let us never be betrayed into saying we have finished our education; because that would mean we had stopped growing.
I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.
Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.
The system by which Zaire works … is very simple. Every official you encounter will make life as unpleasant for you as he possibly can until you pay him to stop it. In US dollars. He then passes you on to the next official who will be unpleasant to you all over again.
The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
To serve the Public faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable.
If one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.
Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government from having held a place of eminence. Even in the freest countries our property is subject to the control and disposal of our partners, to whom the laws have given a sovereign authority. Deprived of a voice in legislation, obliged to submit to those laws which are imposed upon us, is it not sufficient to make us indifferent to the public welfare? Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours.
You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere.