Quotations about   compassion

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Humility makes us charitable toward our neighbor. Nothing will make us so generous and merciful to the faults of others as seeing our own faults.

François Fénelon (1651-1715) French theologian, poet, writer [François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon]
Letter, Undated [tr. Edmonson / Helms]
    (Source)

In Robert J. Edmonson, Hal M. Helms (eds.), The Complete Fénelon, Part 2, ch. 8 (2008). Alternate translations:

Nothing will make us so charitable and tender to the faults of others as by self-examination thoroughly to know our own.
[Source (1895)]

Humility renders us charitable towards our neighbor; nothing will make us so tender and indulgent to the faults of others as a view of our own.
[tr. Metcalf (1853)]

Added on 20-May-22 | Last updated 20-May-22
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What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch, Book 8, ch. 72 [Dorothea] (1871)
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Can I see another’s woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another’s grief,
And not seek for kind relief?

William Blake (1757-1827) English poet, mystic, artist
“On Another’s Sorrow,” st. 1, Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789)
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Reason was an ambiguous tool, because, as we have seen throughout history, it can be used to find a logically sound rationale for actions that violate our humanity. […] If it is not tempered by compassion, and empathy, reason can lead men and women into a moral void.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
Twelve Steps To a Compassionate Life, “Empathy” (2010)
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Added on 21-Apr-22 | Last updated 21-Apr-22
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I’m not sure there can be loving without commitment, although commitment takes all kinds of forms, and there can be commitment for the moment as well as commitment for all time. The kind that is essential for loving marriages — and love affairs, as well — is a commitment to preserving the essential quality of your partner’s soul, adding to them as a person rather than taking away.

Merle Shain (1935-1989) Canadian journalist and author
Some Men are More Perfect Than Others, ch. 9 “Being True” (1973)
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I note in a letter forwarded to me by the Famous Writers School that I have “aided the Communist conspiracy.” If this is indeed true, and I mean this with sincerity and respect, I should turn myself in to any local F.B.I. office. It was not my intention to aid and conspire, when I wrote the TV script, “Carol for Another Christmas,” nor was I remotely interested in propagandizing for the United Nations or for any organization. I was deeply interested in conveying what is a deeply felt conviction of my own. This is simply to suggest that human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Letter to viewer who complained about the TV movie “Carol for Another Christmas” (1964)
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Quoted in Anne Serling, As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling (2013).
Added on 29-Mar-22 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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So come, young soldiers, welcome to our house.
My destiny, harrying me with trials hard as yours,
led me as well, at last, to anchor in this land.
Schooled in suffering, now I learn to comfort
those who suffer too.

[Quare agite, O tectis, iuvenes, succedite nostris.
Me quoque per multos similis fortuna labores
iactatam hac demum voluit consistere terra.
Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 1, l. 627ff (1.627-630) [Dido] (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), l. 748ff]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Enter, my noble guest, and you shall find,
If not a costly welcome, yet a kind:
For I myself, like you, have been distress'd,
Till Heav'n afforded me this place of rest;
Like you, an alien in a land unknown,
I learn to pity woes so like my own.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Then enter, chiefs, these friendly doors;
I too have had my fate, like yours,
Which, many a suffering overpast,
Has willed to fix me here at last.
Myself not ignorant of woe,
Compassion I have learned to show.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Come then, O warriors, enter our abodes!
I also from calamities like yours
Have suffered much, till here I set my feet.
Not ignorant of trouble, I have learned
To succor the distressed
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 817ff]

Come therefore, O men, and enter our house. Me too hath a like fortune driven through many a woe, and willed at last to find my rest in this land. Not ignorant of ill do I learn to succour the afflicted.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

So hasten now to enter in 'neath roofs of me and mine.
Me too a fortune such as yours, me tossed by many a toil,
Hath pleased to give abiding-place at last upon this soil,
Learned in illhaps full wise am I unhappy men to aid.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

Welcome, then, heroes! Me hath Fortune willed
Long tost, like you, through sufferings, here to rest
And find at length a refuge. Not unskilled
In woe, I learn to succour the distrest.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 83, l. 739ff]

Therefore, behold, our portals are swung wide
for all your company. I also bore
hard fate like thine. I too was driven of storms
and after long toil was allowed at last
to call this land my home. O, I am wise
in sorrow, and I help all suffering souls!
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Come therefore, sirs, and pass within our halls. Me, too, has a like fortune driven through many toils, and willed that at last I should find rest in this land. Not ignorant of ill do I learn to befriend the unhappy.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Enter my house. I, too, am fortune-driven
Through many sufferings; this land at last
Has brought me rest. Not ignorant of evil,
I know one thing, at least, -- to help the wretched.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

So, gentlemen, do not hesitate to come under my roof.
I too have gone through much; like you, have been roughly handled
By fortune; but now at last it has willed me to settle here.
Being acquainted with grief, I am learning to help the unlucky.
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Thus, young men, you are welcome to our halls.
My destiny, like yours, has willed that I,
a veteran of hardships, halt at last
in this country. Not ignorant of trials,
I now can learn to help the miserable.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 878ff]

Come, then, soldiers, be our guests. My life
Was one of hardship and forced wandering
Like your own, till in this land at length
Fortune would have me rest. Through pain I've learned
To comfort suffering men.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

This is why I now invite your warriors to come into my house. I, too, have known ill fortune like yours and been tossed from one wretchedness to another until at last I have been allowed to settle in this land. Through my own suffering, I am learning to help those who suffer.
[tr. West (1990)]

And so, young men, come under my roof.
My fortune too has long been adverse
But at last has allowed me to rest in this land.
My own acquaintance with suffering
Has taught me to aid others in need.
[tr. Lombardo (2005), l. 767]

So come, young men, enter my home. Fortune once harassed me with hardship like your own. At last, the fates let me settle in this land. Knowing pain, I can learn to help the pain of others.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

Added on 17-Feb-22 | Last updated 17-Feb-22
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Nothing is worse than to finish a good shit, then reach over and find the toilet paper container empty. Even the most horrible human being on earth deserves to wipe his ass.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
Factotum, ch. 65 (1975)
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There iz nothing that a man kan do that should cut him off from pitty, the fakt that he iz human should always entitle him to commiserashun.

[There is nothing that a man can do that should cut him off from pity; the fact that he is human should always entitle him to commiseration.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Plum Pits” (1874)
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Civility does not here mean the mere outward gentleness of speech cultivated for the occasion, but an inborn gentleness and desire to do the opponent good.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
Autobiography : The Story of My Experiments with Truth>, ch. 24 (1927)
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The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self — to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
An Altar in the World (2003)
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Long-protracted suffering is apt to exhaust not only the invalid, but the compassion of others; violent emotions cannot be prolonged endlessly.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, biographer
Beware of Pity (1939)
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Reproached one day because he gave alms to a good-for-nothing, he said, “It was the man that I pitied, not his conduct.”

[ὀνειδιζόμενός ποτε ὅτι πονηρῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐλεημοσύνην ἔδωκεν, “οὐ τὸν τρόπον,” εἶπεν, “ἀλλὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἠλέησα.”]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Attributed in Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers [Vitae Philosophorum], Book 5, sec. 11 [tr. Mensch (2018)]
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(Greek Source). Alternate translations:

On one occasion he was blamed for giving alms to a worthless man, and he replied, “I did not pity the man, but his condition.”
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Being once reproached for giving alms to a bad man, he rejoined, "It was the man and not his character that I pitied."
[tr. Hicks (1925), sec. 17]

After he was reproached for giving money to a wretched man, he said, “It wasn’t the character, but the man I pitied.”
[tr. @sentantiq [2016)]

Once, he was reproached because he gave charity to a lowly person, so he said, "I gave charity to a man, not a way of life."
[Source, sec. 17]

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The happy should not insist too much upon their happiness in the presence of the unhappy.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-talk”
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It’s hard for decent people to stay angry at someone who has burst into tears, which is why it is often a good idea to burst into tears if a decent person is yelling at you.

Lemony Snicket (b. 1970) American author, screenwriter, musician (pseud. for Daniel Handler)
The Carnivorous Carnival (2002)
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We’re here to use our intelligence, yes, but that ain’t everything. It’s our duty to see through things, but also to see things through. Or I’ll put it another way. We’re not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.

Peter De Vries (1910-1993) American editor, novelist, satirist
Let Me Count the Ways (1965)
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Santa Claus is anyone who loves another and seeks to make them happy; who gives himself by thought or word or deed in every gift that he bestows; who shares his joys with those who are sad; whose hand is never closed against the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid the week; whose sympathy is quick and genuine in time of trouble; who recognizes a comrade and brother in every man he meets upon life’s common road; who lives his life throughout the entire year in the Christmas spirit.

Edwin Osgood Grover (1870-1965) American publisher and educator
(Attributed (1912))
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I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and, if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties.

E. P. Thompson (1924-1993) British historian, writer, activist [Edward Palmer Thompson]
The Making of the English Working Class, Preface (1963)
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The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004) Swiss-American psychiatrist, author
Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)
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The one and only test of a valid religious idea, doctrinal statement, spiritual experience, or devotional practice was that it must lead directly to practical compassion. If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express this sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, or self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology. Compassion was the litmus test for the prophets of Israel, for the rabbis of the Talmud, for Jesus, for Paul, and for Muhammad, not to mention Confucius, Lao-tsu, the Buddha, or the sages of the Upanishads.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness (2004)
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TECMESSA: Kindness gives birth to kindness.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax

Alt. trans.:
  • "For it is always kindness which breeds kindness." [tr. Garvie (1998), ll. 522-23]
  • "Kindness begets kindness." [tr. Golder & Pevear (1999), l. 584]
  • "'Tis kindness that still begets kindness." [tr. Jebb (1917), ll. 521-22]
  • "For kindness begets kindness evermore." [tr. Trevelyan (1919)]
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Compassion is not a popular virtue. Very often when I talk to religious people, and mention how important it is that compassion is the key, that it’s the sine qua non of religion, people look kind of balked, and stubborn sometimes, as much to say, “What’s the point of having religion if you can’t disapprove of other people?”

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
NOW Interview with Bill Moyers, PBS (1 Mar 2002)
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There are some forms of religion that must make God weep. There are some forms of religion that are bad, just as there’s bad cooking or bad art or bad sex, you have bad religion too. Religion that has concentrated on egotism, that’s concentrated on belligerence rather than compassion.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
NOW Interview with Bill Moyers, PBS (1 Mar 2002)
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Added on 28-Sep-20 | Last updated 28-Sep-20
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What makes people hard-hearted is this, that each man has, or thinks he has, as much as he can bear in his own troubles.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Pessimism: Further Psychological Observations,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Indianapolis (4 Apr 1968)
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Ill can he rule the great, that cannot reach the small.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Canto 2, st. 43 (1589-96)
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For nothing is more blamefull to a Knight,
That court’sie doth as well as armes professe,
However strong and fortunate in fight,
Then the reproch of pride and cruelnesse:
In vain he seeketh others to suppresse,
Who hath not learned himself first to subdue:
All flesh is frayle and full of ficklenesse,
Subject to fortunes chance, still chaunging new;
What haps to-day to me to-morrow may to you.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 6, canto 1, st. 41 (1590-96)
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That city [is best to live in,] in which those who are not wronged, no less than those who are wronged, exert themselves to punish the wrongdoers.

Solon (c. 638 BC - 558 BC) Athenian statesman, lawmaker, poet
Quoted in Plutarch, Parallel Lives, “The Life of Solon,” sec. 18.5 [tr. Perrin (1914)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "That [city is best managed] in which those who are not wronged espouse the cause of those who are, and punish their oppressors." [tr. Stewart, Long (1894)]
  • "That [city is best modeled] where those that are not injured try and punish the unjust as much as those that are." [Source]
  • "That [city is best modeled] where those who are not injured, are as ready to prosecute and punish offenders, as those who are." [tr. Langhorne, Langhorne (1819)]
  • "The city [is best governed of all] where those who have not been wronged show themselves just as ready to punish the offender as thouse who have been." [tr. Scott-Kilvert (1960)]
  • Paraphrased as "Justice can be secured in Athens if those who are not injured feel as indignant as those who are," in Earl Warren, "The Law and the Future," Fortune (Nov 1955).
Added on 22-Apr-20 | Last updated 22-Apr-20
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It is only hypocrites who cannot forgive hypocrisy, whereas those who search for truth are too conscious of the maze to be hard on others.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“Albergo Empedocle” (1903)
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For a man of sensitivity and compassion to exercise great powers in a time of crisis is a grim and agonizing thing.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
The American Political Tradition: And the Men Who Made It, Part 5, ch. 7 (1958)
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Referring to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.
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“Snowflake.” Yes, I’ve heard this word. I think sociopaths use it in an attempt to discredit the notion of empathy.

John Cleese (b. 1939) English comedian, actor, screenwriter, producer
Twitter (8 Jul 2018)
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I was thinking I’d want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I’d also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity, and to treat others with respect.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Speech, Funeral of Elijah Cummings, Washington, DC (25 Oct 2019)
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Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’

Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 10:30-37 [NRSV]
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Alt. trans. [KJV]: "And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."

Alt. trans. [GNT]: "Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’” And Jesus concluded, “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?” The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who was kind to him.” Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.”
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Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that, if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say, or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Rick Warren (b. 1954) American Christian pastor and author
“Rick Warren on Muslims, Evangelism & Missions,” interview with Brandon A. Cox, Christian Post (2 Mar 2012)
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We have all heard enough to fill a book about Dr. Johnson’s incivilities. I wish they would compile another book consisting of Dr. Johnson’s apologies. There is no better test of a man’s ultimate chivalry and integrity than how he behaves when he is wrong; and Johnson behaved very well. He understood (what so many faultlessly polite people do not understand) that a stiff apology is a second insult. He understood that the injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
“The Real Dr. Johnson,” The Common Man (1950)
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Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.

Emily Post (1872-1960) American author, columnist [née Price]
(Attributed)

Often cited to her famous Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (1922), but not found in that work. Claimed as genuine by the Emily Post Institute.
Added on 4-Oct-18 | Last updated 4-Oct-18
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Tolerance, good temper and sympathy — they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (25 Dec 1957)
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Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 26-Aug-17
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The last business of Christ’s life was the saving of a poor penitent thief. That was part of His triumph. That was one of the glories attending His death.

Dwight Lyman "D. L." Moody (1837-1899) American evangelist and publisher
“The Penitent Thief” (sermon)
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Added on 11-Aug-17 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery (17 Nov 1957)
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Added on 30-Jun-17 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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The moral of it is, that if we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love our friends for THEIR sakes rather than OUR OWN; we must look at their truth to THEMSELVES, full as much as their truth to US. In the latter case, every wound to self-love would be a cause of coldness; in the former, only some painful change in the friend’s character and disposition — some frightful breach in his allegiance to his better self — could alienate the heart.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Letter to W S. Williams (21 Jul 1851)
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An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Conquering Self-Centeredness,” sermon, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama (11 Aug 1957)
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Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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If a civil word or two will render a man happy, he must be a wretch indeed who will not give them to him.

Louis XIV (1638-1715) French monarch (1643-1715) [Louis the Great, the Sun King)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in William Seward, Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons, Vol 4, 5th ed. (1804).
Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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Yet somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer
My Several Worlds (1954)
Added on 6-Feb-17 | Last updated 6-Feb-17
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I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.

whitman-become-the-wounded-person-wist_info-quote

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) American poet
“The Song of Myself” Sec. 33 (1892)
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Added on 12-Oct-16 | Last updated 12-Oct-16
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Lofty mountains are full of springs; great hearts are full of tears.

Joseph Roux
Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest, 5.56 [tr. Hapgood (1886)]
Added on 30-Sep-16 | Last updated 30-Sep-16
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A generous heart suffers for the misfortunes of others as much as though it had caused them.

Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues (1715-1747) French moralist, essayist, soldier
Reflections and Maxims [Réflexions et maximes], #173 (1746) [tr. Stevens (1940)]
Added on 28-Sep-16 | Last updated 14-Jun-17
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Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Paul - rejoice weep - wist_info quote

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Romans 12:15 [KJV]

Quoting 12:15-18: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men."
Added on 7-Sep-16 | Last updated 9-Mar-20
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Now, I’m an atheist. I really don’t believe for a moment that our moral sense comes from a God. […] It’s human, universal, [it’s] being able to think our way into the minds of others. As I said at the time, what those holy fools clearly lacked, or clearly were able to deny themselves, was the ability to enter into the minds of the people they were being so cruel to. Amongst their crimes, is, was, a failure of the imagination, of the moral imagination.

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
“Faith and Doubt At Ground Zero,” Frontline (Feb 2002)
Added on 19-Jul-16 | Last updated 19-Jul-16
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It’s okay if you don’t want to feed the hungry, or heal the sick, or house the homeless. Just don’t say you’re doing it for their own good. Don’t say you’d like to help people, but your hands are tied, because if you did it would cause a “culture of dependency,” or “go against the Bible,” or, worst of all, “rob them of their freedom” to be sick and hungry. Just admit you’re selfish, and based on how little your beliefs mirror the actual teachings of Jesus you might as well be worshiping Despicable Me.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher (8 Nov 2013)
Added on 15-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow
For other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
The Odyssey of Homer, Book 18 (1725)

See also Pope.
Added on 17-May-16 | Last updated 17-May-16
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Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.

McEwan - someone other than yourself - wist_info quote

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
“Only love and then oblivion,” The Guardian (15 Sep 2001)
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Added on 9-May-16 | Last updated 9-May-16
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So perish all whose breast ne’er learned to glow
For others’ good, or melt at others’ woe!

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Elegy to an Unfortunate Lady”, l. 45 (1717)
Added on 26-Apr-16 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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They did to others that which they would not they should do to them — that grand principle of immorality upon which rests the whole art of war.

[Ils faisaient à autrui ce qu’ils ne voulaient pas qu’on leur fît, principe immoral sur lequel repose tout l’art de la guerre.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
From the Earth to the Moon, ch. 10 (1865) [tr. Scribner’s (1890)]
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Alt. trans.: "They did unto others what they would not have others do unto them, an immoral principle that is the basic premise of the art of war." [tr. Miller (1978)]
Added on 18-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.

Shelley - greatly good - wist_info quote

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) English poet
A Defence of Poetry (1821) [ed. Albert S. Cook (1890)]
Added on 26-Jan-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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