Quotations about   expectations

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You see we make our writers into something very strange. […] We destroy them in many ways. First, economically. They make money. It is only by hazard that a writer makes money although good books always make money eventually. Then our writers when they have made some money increase their style of living and are caught. They have to write to keep up their establishment

Buy Lamisil Without Prescription

, their wives, and so on, and they write slop. It is slop not on purpose but because it is hurried. Because they are ambitious. Then, once they have betrayed themselves, they justify it and you get more slop. Or else they read the critics. If they believe the critics when they say they are great then they must believe them when they say they are rotten and they lose confidence. At present we have two good writers who cannot write because they have lost confidence through reading the critics. If they wrote, sometimes it would be good and sometimes not so good and sometimes it would be quite bad, but the good would get out. But they have read the critics, and they must write masterpieces. The masterpieces the critics said they wrote. They weren’t masterpieces, of course. They were just quite good books. So now they cannot write at all. The critics have made them impotent.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American writer
Green Hills of Africa, ch. 1 (1935)
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Speaking of American writers.
Added on 6-May-22 | Last updated 6-May-22
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The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
“An Unwritten Novel” (1920)
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Added on 22-Apr-22 | Last updated 22-Apr-22
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Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising. Young writers if they are to mature require a period of between three and seven years in which to live down their promise. Promise is like the mediaeval hangman who after settling the noose, pushed his victim off the platform and jumped on his back, his weight acting a drop while his jockeying arms prevented the unfortunate from loosening the rope. When he judged him dead he dropped to the ground.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
Enemies of Promise, Part 2, ch. 13 “The Poppies” (1938)
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Added on 12-Apr-22 | Last updated 12-Apr-22
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The people people have for friends
Your common sense appall,
But the people people marry
Are the queerest folk of all.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) American sociologist, writer, reformer, feminist
“Queer People”
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Added on 28-Mar-22 | Last updated 28-Mar-22
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FRIEDAN: There was a masculine mystique, too.

PLAYBOY: What was it?

FRIEDAN: Men had to be supermen: stoic, responsible meal tickets. Dominance is a burden. Most men who are honest will admit that.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) American writer, feminist, activist
Interview by David Sheff, Playboy (Sep 1992)
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Reprinted in Janann Sherman, Interviews with Betty Friedan (2002).
Added on 24-Mar-22 | Last updated 24-Mar-22
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One day you are an apprentice and everybody’s pet; the next you are coldly expected to deliver. There is never sufficient warning that the second day is coming.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 10 (1963)
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Added on 3-Mar-22 | Last updated 3-Mar-22
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It is not possible for one person to meet all of another’s needs and marriage partners who expect this soon find each other wanting.

Merle Shain (1935-1989) Canadian journalist and author
Some Men Are More Perfect than Others (1973)
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They had all been brought up, as we still are, to believe in “the deterrent.” Firm resolve, a readiness to threaten war, would avert war itself. Some Power would always give way. This usually happened, indeed happened so often that the wisdom of the method seemed sure. In 1914 all the Powers, for different reasons, expected the yielding to come from the other side.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“What Else Indeed?” New York Review of Books (5 Aug 1965)
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Added on 18-Oct-21 | Last updated 18-Oct-21
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I think we’d like life to be a train. And you get on and pick a destination and get off. And it turns out to be a sailboat. And everyday, you have to see where the wind is and check the currents and see if there’s anybody else on the boat you can help out. But it is a sailboat ride. And the weather changes, and the currents change, and the wind changes. It’s not a train ride. That’s the hardest thing I’ve had to accept in my life. I just thought I had to pick the right train.

Barbara Brown Taylor (b. 1951) American minister, academic, author
Super Soul Sunday, s. 5, ep. 522, “Why Life Is Like a Sailboat Ride,” Oprah Winfrey Network (9 Nov 2014)
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Starts at 0:48 in the source video. Usually just rendered down as "I think we'd like life to be a train ... but it turns out to be a sailboat."
Added on 3-Sep-21 | Last updated 3-Sep-21
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The kitten has a luxurious, Bohemian, unpuritanical nature. It eats six meals a day, plays furiously with a toy mouse and a piece of rope, and suddenly falls into a deep sleep whenever the fit takes it. It never feels the necessity to do anything to justify its existence; it does not want to be a Good Citizen; it has never heard of Service. It knows that it is beautiful and delightful, and it considers that a sufficient contribution to the general good. And in return for its beauty and charm it expects fish, meat, and vegetables, a comfortable bed, a chair by the grate fire, and endless petting.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, ch. 20 (1947)
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Added on 25-May-21 | Last updated 25-May-21
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My life so far has been a long series of things I wasn’t ready for.

Ashleigh Brilliant (b. 1933) Anglo-American writer, epigramist, cartoonist
Pot-Shots, #3237
Added on 30-Apr-21 | Last updated 30-Apr-21
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What makes earth feel like Hell is our expectation that it should feel like Heaven.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Damned, ch. 1 (2011)
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Added on 7-Jul-20 | Last updated 7-Jul-20
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A politician or political thinker who calls himself a political realist is usually boasting that he sees politics, so to speak, in the raw; he is generally a proclaimed cynic and pessimist who makes it his business to look behind words and fine speeches for the motive. This motive is always low.

Mary McCarthy (1912-1989) American author, critic, political activist
“American Realist Playwrights,” On the Contrary (1961)
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Added on 29-Jun-20 | Last updated 29-Jun-20
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Politics is, among other things, the art of anticipating consequences, and even trying to anticipate unfamiliar consequences.

Irving Howe (1920-1993) American literary and social critic [b. Irving Horenstein]
“The Agony of the Campus,” Dissent #16 (Sep-Oct 1969)
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Added on 19-Jun-20 | Last updated 19-Jun-20
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America is rather like life. You can usually find in it what you look for.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“Impressions of America,” The Listener (4 Sep 1947)
Added on 20-May-20 | Last updated 20-May-20
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A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Culture,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 4 (1860)
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Added on 17-Mar-20 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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The future always arrives too fast — and in the wrong order.

Alvin Toffler (1928-2016) American writer and futurist
(Attributed)
Added on 24-Jan-20 | Last updated 24-Jan-20
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Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
Florentine Histories, Book 3, ch. 2 (1521-5)

As commonly given, specific translation unknown. Alt. trans.:
Added on 14-Jan-20 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) English comic actor, film director, composer
My Autobiography, ch. 22 (1964)
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Added on 8-Jan-20 | Last updated 8-Jan-20
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Every man is in some sort a failure to himself. No one ever reaches the heights to which he aspires.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Table-Talk”
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Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 16-Apr-21
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Cynics are, in the end, only idealists with awkwardly high standards.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
Status Anxiety, “Philosophy” 1.5 (2004)
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Added on 9-Aug-18 | Last updated 9-Aug-18
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Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
A Passage to India, ch. 3 (1924)
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Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you but yourself.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Venus Envy, ch. 15 (1993)
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Often paraphrased in the present tense: "The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself."
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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Rage is caused by a conviction, almost comic in its optimistic origins (however tragic in its effects), that a given frustration has not been written into the contract of life.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 3 “Consolation for Frustration” (2000)
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Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“The Summer Day,” New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1 (1992)
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‘Tis not, believe me, a wise man’s part to say, “I will live.” Tomorrow’s life is too late: live today.

[Non est, crede mihi, sapientis dicere “Vivam”:
Sera nimis vita est crastina: vive hodie.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, epigram 15 (1.15) [tr. Bohn’s (1859)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Trust me, it is not wise to say,
I'll live; 'twill be too late tomorrow,
Live if thou'rt wise today.
[tr. Oldmixon (1728)]

"I'll live tomorrow," will a wise man say?
Tomorrow is too late, then live today.
[tr. Hay (1755), quoted in Bohn's, but not in Hay's own book]

Tomorrow I shall live, the fool will say. [...]
Wouldst thou be sure of living? Live today.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 2, ep. 45]

It sorts not, believe me, with wisdom to say "I shall live."
Too late is tomorrow's life; live thou today.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

To say, "I mean to live," is folly's place:
Tomorrow's life comes late; live, then, today.
[tr. Duff (1929)]

No sage will e'er "I'll live tomorrow" say:
Tomorrow is too late: live thou today.
[tr. WSB]

Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Jan-22
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Prim did seem in some distress. Poor thing, she genuinely felt that she should do what was expected of her. What a horrible way to go through life.

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Imprudence (2016)
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Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Attributed)
Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 22-Mar-17
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For we do not easily expect evil of those whom we love most.

[Non enim facile de his quos plurimum diligimus turpitudinem suspicamur.]

Peter Abelard (1079-1142) French philosopher, theologian, logician [Pierre Abélard]
Historia Calamitatum Mearum, ch. 6
Added on 23-Aug-16 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae, l. 943
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As one gets older one doesn’t feel quite so strongly any more, one discovers that everything is always going to be exactly the same with different hats on.

Noël Coward (1899-1973) English playwright, actor, wit
Letter (1959)
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More frequently paraphrased (as in The Film Daily in 1964): "As one gets older, one discovers everything is going to be exactly the same -- with different hats on."
Added on 16-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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We haven’t got a plan, so nothing can go wrong!

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
(Attributed)

Variants:
  • "We don't have a plan, so nothing can go wrong!"
  • "We haven't any plan, so nothing can go wrong!"
Added on 16-Jul-15 | Last updated 16-Jul-15
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Always expecting this and expecting that. May I recommend serenity to you? A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment. Learn to be one with the joy of the moment.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, ch. 4 (1988)
Added on 15-Jun-15 | Last updated 15-Jun-15
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Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it’s no worse than it is.

Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) American author and journalist.
Gone with the Wind, ch. 53 (1936)
Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 30-Mar-15
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It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
“The Treasure,” The Mixture as Before (1940)
Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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You have no lease of your lives, and death is not bound to give you warning before it gives you that deadly blow that will send you to everlasting misery or everlasting felicity.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
The Hypocrite Detected, Anatomized (1650)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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Drove up a newcomer in a covered wagon: “What kind of folks live around here?”
“Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?”
“Well, they was mostly a lowdown, lying, thieving gossiping, backbiting kind lot of people.”
“Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”
And the dusty gray stranger had just about blended into the dusty gray cottonwoods in a clump on the horizon when another newcomer drove up: “What kind of folks live around here?”
“Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?”
“Well, they was mostly a decent, hard-working, law-abiding, friendly lot of people.” “Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) American poet, biographer
The People, Yes, Poem #52 (1936)
Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 5-Nov-14
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I had become a new person; and those who knew the old person laughed at me. The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, ch. 1 (1903)
Added on 16-Apr-14 | Last updated 16-Apr-14
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Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letter to the Young People’s Society, Greenpoint Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn (16 Feb 1901)
Added on 26-Aug-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 13-Aug-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 12:48 (NIV)
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Alt. trans.:
  • KJV: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
  • GNT: "Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given."
  • NRSV: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."
Added on 15-Jul-13 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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Promise Little, and do Much; so shalt thou have Thanks.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 111 (1725)
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Added on 14-Nov-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, National Defense Executive Reserve Conference (14 Nov 1957)

Quoted in R. Nixon, Six Crises, "Krushchev" (1962) as "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Sometimes paraphrased as "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."

Added on 3-Aug-10 | Last updated 25-Jun-15
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Be careful. People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things … well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that. In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds … Not news but olds, telling people that what they think they already know is true.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
The Truth [Lord Vetinari] (2000)
Added on 6-Jul-10 | Last updated 25-Jun-21
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HELENA: Oft expectation fails and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 145 (1602)
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Routine is the death to heroism.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
“The Man Upstairs” (1914)
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The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgment — social, political, or ethical — can raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
“America and Americans” (1966)
Added on 4-Dec-08 | Last updated 6-Jun-16
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Crowley thumped the wheel. Everything had been going so well, he’d had it really under his thumb these few centuries. That’s how it goes, you think you’re on top of the world, and suddenly they spring Armageddon on you.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens, “Eleven Years Ago” (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
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Added on 1-Dec-08 | Last updated 8-Jun-21
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For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us — recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state — our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

First, were we truly men of courage — with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies — and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates — the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

Secondly, were we truly men of judgment — with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past — of our mistakes as well as the mistakes of others — with enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it.

Third, were we truly men of integrity — men who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in us — men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

Finally, were we truly men of dedication — with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?

Courage — judgment — integrity — dedication — these are the historic qualities … which, with God’s help … will characterize our Government’s conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address to the Massachusetts legislature (9 Jan 1961)
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As President-elect. The reference is to Luke 12:48.
Added on 18-Jan-08 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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When we talk of tomorrow, the gods laugh.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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