Quotations about   crisis

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The Church of the Interdependency and other religions found their places of worship jammed, as the faithful, the newly faithful and the not-actually-at-all-faithful-but-this-is-some-weird-shit-and-I’m-hedging-my-bets came in and, depending on experience, prayed, meditated or wondered what it was exactly they were supposed to do now that they were there.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The Consuming Fire (2018)
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Added on 6-May-22 | Last updated 6-May-22
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What are the choices that we must make if we are now to succeed, and not to fail? […] Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial to tipping their outcomes towards success or failure: long-term planning, and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection, we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.

One of those choices has depended on the courage to practice long-term thinking, and to make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems have become perceptible but before they have reached crisis proportions. […] The other crucial choice illuminated by the past involves the courage to make painful decisions about values. Which of the values that formerly served a society well can continue to be maintained under new changed circumstances? Which of these treasured values must instead be jettisoned and replaced with different approaches?

Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond (b. 1937) American geographer, historian, ornithologist, author
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, ch. 16 “The World as a Polder” (2005)
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Added on 24-Jan-22 | Last updated 24-Jan-22
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I have ferreted out the alarm clock, plugged it in, and set it, musing on the word “alarm” and why the world must be wakened daily to cries of panic and danger.

Barbara Holland (1933-2010) American author
Bingo Night at the Fire Hall (1997)
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Added on 17-Nov-21 | Last updated 17-Nov-21
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The most intelligent of the Nazis, the legal theorist Carl Schmitt, explained in clear language the essence of fascist governance. The way to destroy all rules, he explained, was to focus on the idea of the exception. A Nazi leader outmaneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency. Citizens then trade real freedom for fake safety.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, ch. 17 (2017)
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Added on 9-Jun-21 | Last updated 9-Jun-21
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Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis. Conservatives have their place in the piping times of peace; but in emergencies only rugged issue men amount to much.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Diary entry (1876)
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Added on 9-Oct-20 | Last updated 9-Oct-20
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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.
Added on 24-Mar-20 | Last updated 24-Mar-20
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The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election, if we believe the newspapers. But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing forty years ago.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Oct 1848)
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Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 9-Jun-19
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She smoothed her hair back from her forehead and looked at herself in the mirror. She looked like she always looked. It was probably a truth about tragedy, she thought, while the tragedy is going on people look pretty much the way they looked when it wasn’t.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Thin Air (1995)
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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Life is not made up of dramatic incidents — even the life of a nation. It is made up of slowly evolving events and processes, which newspapers, by a score of different forms of emphasis, can reasonably attempt to explore from day to day. But television news jerks from incident to incident. For the real world of patient and familiar arrangements, it substitutes an unreal world of constant activity, and the effect is already apparent in the way which the world behaves. It is almost impossible, these days, to consider any problem or any event except as a crisis; and, by this very way of looking at it, it in fact becomes a crisis.

Henry Fairlie (1924-1990) British journalist and social critic
“Can You Believe Your Eyes?” Horizon (Spring 1967)
Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Annual Message to Congress (1 Dec 1862)
Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 12-Feb-20
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There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
The Gods Themselves, Sec. 3, ch. 19 (1972)
Added on 26-Jul-16 | Last updated 26-Jul-16
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“Life is like a sewer — what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” It’s always seemed to me that this is precisely the sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need today in these trying times of crisis and universal brouhaha.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
Introduction to “We Will All Go Together When We Go,” An Evening (Wasted) with Tom Lehrer (1959)
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
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He failed to realized that the public is bored by foreign affairs until a crisis arises; and that then it is guided by feelings rather than thoughts.

Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) English diplomat, author, diarist, politician
The Evolution of Diplomacy, 4.3 (1954)
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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The convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office. There is little time for leaders to reflect. They are locked in an endless battle in which the urgent constantly gains on the important. The public life of every political figure is a continual struggle to rescue an element of choice from the pressure of circumstance.

Henry Kissinger (b. 1923) German-American diplomat
The White House Years, ch. 3 (1979)
Added on 3-Aug-15 | Last updated 3-Aug-15
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If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 483 (1934)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 7-Feb-17
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The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next Election, if we believe the newspapers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Oct 1848)
Added on 16-Dec-09 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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I can imagine no greater disservice to the country than to establish a system of censorship that would deny to the people of a free republic like our own their indisputable right to criticize their own public officials. While exercising the great powers of the office I hold, I would regret in a crisis like the one through which we are now passing to lose the benefit of patriotic and intelligent criticism.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) US President (1913-20), educator, political scientist
Letter to Arthur Brisbane (25 Apr 1917)

Three weeks after the US entered WW I.

Added on 28-Jan-09 | Last updated 5-Jul-16
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These times of ours are serious and full of calamity, but all times are essentially alike. As soon as there is life there is danger.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Public and Private Education,” lecture, Boston (27 Nov 1864)
Added on 7-Feb-08 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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It’s not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-May-15
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Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

[In tranquillo esse quisque gubernator potest.]

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 358
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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