Quotations about   decision

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When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil. You may have to make the choice, but do not fool yourself into thinking it is therefore a good.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
Actions and Passions (1949)
Added on 27-Sep-21 | Last updated 27-Sep-21
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Tut, man, decide promptly, but never give any reasons for your decisions. Your decisions may be right, but your reasons are sure to be wrong.

William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-1793) British barrister, politician, judge, legal reformer
Quoted in John Cordy Jeaffreson, A Book About Lawyers, Vol. 1, ch. 12 (1867)
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When asked by the new governor of a West Indies island how to apply the law.
Added on 13-Aug-21 | Last updated 13-Aug-21
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War is one way of making decisions — but what’s decided may not be what anybody originally intended.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots
Added on 14-May-21 | Last updated 14-May-21
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You must make up your mind to act decidedly and take the consequences. No good is ever done in this world by hesitation.

T. H. Huxley (1825-1895) English biologist [Thomas Henry Huxley]
Letter to Anton Dohrn (17 Oct 1873)
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Added on 3-May-21 | Last updated 3-May-21
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Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those changes that would make all the difference.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook (1963)
Added on 29-Apr-21 | Last updated 29-Apr-21
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It’s better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong than to agonize at length and be right too late.

Marilyn Moats Kennedy (1943-2017) American educator, business and career consultant, writer
“The Case Against Performance Appraisals,” Across the Board (Jan 1999)
Added on 31-Mar-21 | Last updated 31-Mar-21
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“This I choose to do,” she croaked, her breath leaving little clouds in the air. She cleared her throat and started again. “This I choose to do. If there is a price, this I choose to pay. If it is my death, then I choose to die. Where this takes me, there I choose to go. I choose. This I choose to do.”

It wasn’t a spell, except in her own head, but if you couldn’t make spells work in your own head, you couldn’t make them work at all.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Wintersmith, ch. 1 [Tiffany] (2006)
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Added on 2-Mar-21 | Last updated 2-Mar-21
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The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life or of the work.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“The Choice” (1933)
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Added on 25-Jan-21 | Last updated 25-Jan-21
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Our law affords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. Our cases recognize “the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” Our precedents “have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.” These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

Anthony Kennedy (b. 1936) US Supreme Court Justice
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (91-744), 505 U.S. 833 (29 Jun 1992) [Majority Opinion]
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Citations removed.
Added on 11-Nov-20 | Last updated 11-Nov-20
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The dividing line between those who want to think and therefore have to judge by themselves, and those who do not, strikes across all social and cultural or educational differences. In this respect, the total moral collapse of respectable society during the Hitler regime may teach us that under such circumstances those who cherish values and hold fast to moral norms and standards are not reliable: we now know that moral norms and standards can be changed overnight, and that all that then will be left is the mere habit of holding fast to something. Much more reliable will be the doubters and skeptics, not because skepticism is good or doubting wholesome, but because they are used to examine things and to make up their own minds. Best of all will be those who know only one thing for certain: that whatever else happens, as long as we live we shall have to live together with ourselves.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
“Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship” (1964)
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Added on 4-Aug-20 | Last updated 4-Aug-20
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MORELLA: There is always choice. We say that there is no choice only to comfort ourselves with a decision we have already made.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×09 “Point of No Return” (26 Feb 1996)
Added on 23-Jul-20 | Last updated 23-Jul-20
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Decisions are always made with insufficient information. If you really knew what was going on, the decision would make itself.

Jack McDevitt (b. 1935) American author
Odyssey, ch. 39 (2006)
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Added on 21-Jul-20 | Last updated 21-Jul-20
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If I should labor through daylight and dark,
Consecrate, valorous, serious, true,
Then on the world I may blazon my mark;
And what if I don’t, and what if I do?

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Philosophy,” Enough Rope (1926)
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Added on 18-May-20 | Last updated 18-May-20
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A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
(Attributed)
Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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I have accustomed myself to receive with respect the opinions of others, but always take the responsibility of deciding for myself.

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) American politician, general, US President (1829-1837)
(Attributed)

Quoted by John F. Kennedy in the foreword to T. Sorensen, Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows (1963)
Added on 13-Nov-18 | Last updated 13-Nov-18
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Delay is itself a decision.

Theodore "Ted" Sorensen (1928-2010) American lawyer, writer, presidential adviser, speechwriter
Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows, ch. 3 (1963)
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Full quote: "In the White House, the future rapidly becomes the past, and delay is itself a decision." Earlier in the chapter, he writes, "Some will counsel speed; others will counsel delay -- yet even delay will constitute a decision."
Added on 13-Apr-18 | Last updated 13-Apr-18
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I chose and my world was shaken. —
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You have to move on.

Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021) American composer and lyricist
“Sunday in the Park with George” (1984)
Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 31-Oct-16
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Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong — but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong! Heaven save us from poltroons who fear to make a choice.

heinlein-take-sides-always-take-sides-wist_info-quote

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Double Star (1956)
Added on 10-Oct-16 | Last updated 10-Oct-16
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If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now — when?

Hillel (1st C. BC-1st C. AD) Jewish sage, rabbi
Talmud, Mishnah, “Pirkay Avot [Chapters of the Fathers],” Aboth 1:14 [tr. Rosten (1972)]
Added on 2-Aug-16 | Last updated 2-Aug-16
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Don’t commit suicide, because you might change your mind two weeks later.

Art Buchwald (1925-2007) American humorist, columnist
Leaving Home (1995)

A personal mantra Buchwald used to combat his intermittent depression. Possibly borrowed from Voltaire.
Added on 1-Aug-16 | Last updated 12-Sep-16
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A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.

Patton - vigor now - wist_info

George S. Patton (1885-1945) American soldier
(Attributed)
Added on 2-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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If you don’t know what to do, sit still and listen. You may hear something.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) American poet, biographer
Incidentals (1900)
Added on 22-Jun-15 | Last updated 22-Jun-15
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Now I realize that on any particular decision a very great amount of heat can be generated. But I do say this: life is not made up of just one decision here, or another one there. It is the total of the decisions that you make in your daily lives with respect to politics, to your family, to your environment, to the people about you. Government has to do that same thing. It is only in the mass that finally philosophy really emerges.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Republican National Committee Luncheon (17 Feb 1955)
Added on 28-May-15 | Last updated 28-May-15
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No more distressing moment can ever face a British government than that which requires it to come to a hard, fast, and specific decision.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
The Guns of August, ch. 9 (1962)
Added on 28-Apr-15 | Last updated 28-Apr-15
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A man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) American journalist, writer
Letter to Hume Logan (22 Apr 1958)
Added on 22-Apr-15 | Last updated 22-Apr-15
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There’s always, always a choice. My options might really, truly suck, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Cold Days (2012)
Added on 9-Sep-14 | Last updated 9-Sep-14
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For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men — such as the subjects of this book — have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality. In whatever area in life one may meet the challenges of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience — the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men — each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient — they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956; 1964 ed.)
Added on 17-Mar-14 | Last updated 17-Mar-14
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Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Papers of the Adams Family, Part 6 “Two Fragments from a Suppressed Book Called ‘Glances at History’ or ‘Outlines of History'” (1939)
Added on 14-Dec-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Choose the course which you adopt with deliberation; but when you have adopted it, then persevere in it with firmness.

Bias of Priene (fl. c. 650) Greek philosopher
In Diogenes Laërtius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, “Bias” (c. 230) [tr. Yonge]

Alt. trans.: "Be slow in considering, but resolute in action."
Added on 8-May-12 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011) American computer inventor, entrepreneur
Commencement Address, Stanford University (2005)
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Added on 29-Aug-11 | Last updated 14-Apr-21
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On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it is politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it is popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Speech, Santa Rita, Calif., (14 Jan 1968)

Recording (at 10:22). King reused speech elements frequently. The same passage can be found in "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution", sermon at the National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968).
Added on 2-Nov-10 | Last updated 6-Apr-18
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There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk “his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor” on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, “His Maculate Origin,” ch. 8 (1991 ed.)

See Jefferson.
Added on 31-May-10 | Last updated 10-Sep-14
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One man’s perfectly rational and objective decision making may be another man’s utter insanity.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Ron Ward
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Nov-21
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The sad truth of the matter is that most evil is done by people who never made up their minds to be or do either evil or good.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Life of the Mind, Vol. 1 “Thinking,” Part 3, ch. 18 (1977)
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Sometimes rendered (possibly from the original lecture): "The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Nov-20
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