Quotations about   family

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Remind them that the sword still hangs upon the wall and the heart still beats within the man, and that that sword will be unsheathed again, if necessary, in defense of your rights. Given them to understand that you will not stand patiently by and see your hard earnings squandered by a luxuriating class of idlers. If the American manhood will arouse itself and speak to those fellows in plain language, not to be misunderstood, they can save themselves, their country and their children, from the fate of poverty which awaits them. Will you do it?

Lucy Parsons
Lucy Parsons (1851-1942) American labor organizer, anarchist, orator [a.k.a. Lucy Gonzalez]
“Wage Slaves vs. Corporations,” The Liberator (24 Sep 1905)
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Added on 4-May-22 | Last updated 4-May-22
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For that is an absurd position which is taken by some people, who say that they will not rob a parent or a brother for their own gain, but that their relation to the rest of their fellow-citizens is quite another thing. Such people contend in essence that they are bound to their fellow-citizens by no mutual obligations, social ties, or common interests. This attitude demolishes the whole structure of civil society.

[Nam illud quidem absurdum est, quod quidam dicunt, parenti se aut fratri nihil detracturos sui commodi causa, aliam rationem esse civium reliquorum. Hi sibi nihil iuris, nullam societatem communis utilitatis causa statuunt esse cum civibus, quae sententia omnem societatem distrahit civitatis.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis [On Duties; On Moral Duty; The Offices], Book 3, ch. 6 / sec. 28 (44 BC) [tr. Miller (1913)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translation:

For as to what is usually said by some men, that they would not take anything away from a father or brother for their own advantage, but that there is not the same reason for their ordinary citizens, it is foolish and absurd: for they thrust themselves out from partaking of any privileges, and from joining in common with the rest of their citizens, for the public good; an opinion that strikes at the very root and foundation of all civil societies.
[tr. Cockman (1699)]

That indeed is absurd, which some men avow, that for their own advantage they would take nothing from a parent or a brother; but that the case of other citizens is different. These men, stablish with their fellow-citizens no common right, no society for common advantage; an opinion that unhinges the whole internal intercourse of a state.
[tr. McCartney (1798)]

For that which some say, that they would take nothing wrongfully, for the sake of their own advantage, from a parent or brother, but that the case is different with other citizens, is indeed absurd. These establish the principle that they have nothing in the way of right, no society with their fellow citizens, for the sake fo the common interest -- an option which tears asunder the whole social compact.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

For this is absurd indeed which some say, that they would take nothing from a parent or a brother for their own benefit, but that it is quite another thing with persons outside of one’s own family. These men disclaim all mutual right and partnership with their fellow-citizens for the common benefit, -- a state of feeling which dismembers the fellowship of the community.
[tr. Peabody (1883)]

It is absurd for people to say that they will not despoil a father or a brother for their own advantage but that fellow-citizens stand on quite a different footing. That is practically to assert that they are bound to their fellow-citizens neither by mutual obligations, social ties, nor common interests. But such a theory tears in pieces the whole fabric of civil society.
[tr. Gardiner (1899)]

The contention that some people advance is absurd, of course: they argue that they would not deprive a parent or brother of anything for their own advantage but that there is another standard applicable to all other citizens. These people do not submit themselves to any law or to any obligation to cooperate with fellow citizens for the common benefit. Their attitude destroys any cooperation within the city.
[tr. Edinger (1974)]

Added on 10-Mar-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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If it be a happiness to be of noble parentage, it is no less so to possess so much merit that nobody inquires whether we are noble or plebeian.

[S’il est heureux d’avoir de la naissance, il ne l’est pas moins d’être tel qu’on ne s’informe plus si vous en avez.]

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], “Of Personal Merit [Du mérite personnel],” Aphorism 21 (1688) [tr. Van Laun (1885)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

If it is a Happiness to be nobly Descended, it is not less to have so much Merit, that no body enquires whether we are so or no.
[tr. Source (1752)]

It is fortunate to be of high birth, but it is no less so to be of such character that people do not care to know whether you are or not.

Added on 4-Mar-22 | Last updated 4-Mar-22
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For five days last week, the White House and its Capitol Hill allies did urgent battle against what they perceive, or say they perceive, as an attack on the institution of marriage. It’s a strange sort of attack, to be sure: a wonderfully pacific attack, a supportive attack, an attack without the slightest intention or capacity to cause harm, consisting, as it does, of the earnest wish of certain loving couples to join themselves to that very institution and thus to feel themselves, and be accepted as, full members of the American (and human) family.

Hendrik Hertzberg (b. 1943) American journalist, editor, speech writer, political commentator
“Distraction,” The New Yorker (19 Jun 2006)
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On a push by Republicans for a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Added on 4-Feb-22 | Last updated 4-Feb-22
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[Friends are] God’s apology for relations.

Hugh Kingsmill
Hugh Kingsmill (1889-1949) English biographer, literary critic, man of letters [pen name of Hugh Kingsmill Lunn]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Michael Holroyd, The Best of Hugh Kingsmill, Introduction (1970).
Added on 27-Jan-22 | Last updated 27-Jan-22
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“I am going to tell you something Benedict should have told you long ago,” I said. “Never trust a relative. It is far worse than trusting strangers. With a stranger there is a possibility that you might be safe.”

“You really mean that, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Yourself included?”

I smiled. “Of course it does not apply to me. I am the soul of honor, kindness, mercy, and goodness. Trust me in all things.”

Roger Zelazny (1937-1995) American writer
The Guns of Avalon [Corwin to Dara] (1972)
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Added on 26-Jan-22 | Last updated 26-Jan-22
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If Nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternately, there would never be more than three in a family.

Laurence Housman
Laurence Housman (1865-1959) English playwright, writer, illustrator
(Attributed)
Added on 30-Sep-21 | Last updated 30-Sep-21
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To go from being a competent writer to being a great writer, I think you have to risk being — or risk being seen as — a bad writer. Competence is deadly because it prevents the writer risking the humiliation that they will need to risk before they pass beyond competence. To write competently is to do a few magic tricks for friends and family; to write well is to run away to join the circus. Your friends and family will love your tricks, because they love you. But try busking those tricks on the street. Try busking them alongside a magician who has been doing it for 10 years, earning their living. When they are watching a magician, people don’t want to say, “Well done.” They want to say, “Wow.”

Toby Litt
Toby Litt (b. 1968) English writer and academic
“What makes bad writing bad?” The Guardian (20 May 2016)
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Added on 13-Aug-21 | Last updated 13-Aug-21
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Now and in the time to be, try to be kind to your parents. If this sounds too close to “Honor thy mother and father” for your comfort, so be it. All I am trying to say is try not to rebel against them, for, in all likelihood, they will die before you do, so you can spare yourselves at least this source of guilt if not of grief. If you must rebel, rebel against those who are not so easily hurt. Parents are too close a target (so, by the way, are sisters, brothers, wives or husbands); the range is such that you can’t miss.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
“Speech at the Stadium,” Commencement Address, University of Michigan (18 Dec 1988)
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Added on 8-Jun-21 | Last updated 8-Jun-21
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These women were fatuous with a fatuity which had threatened her all her life, as it threatened all people of means, and which was of mournful significance for humanity in general, since it proved the emptiness of one of man’s most reasonable expectations. No more sensible form of government could be imagined than aristocracy. If certain able stocks in the community were able to amass enough wealth to give their descendants beautiful houses to grow up in, the widest opportunities of education, complete economic security, so that they need never be influenced by mercenary considerations, and easy access to any public form of work they chose to undertake — why, then, the community had a race of perfect governors ready made.

Only, as the Lauristons showed, the process worked out wholly different in practice. There came to these selected stocks a deadly, ungrateful complacence, which made them count these opportunities as their achievements, and belittle everybody else’s achievements unless they were similarly confused with opportunities; and which did worse than this, by abolishing all standards from their minds except what they themselves were and did.

Rebecca West (1892-1983) British author, journalist, literary critic, travel writer [pseud. for Cicily Isabel Fairfield]
The Thinking Reed, ch. 7 (1936)
Added on 29-Mar-21 | Last updated 29-Mar-21
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Then Bob proposed: “A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!” Which all the family re-echoed.

“God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
A Christmas Carol, Stave 3 “The Second of the Three Spirits” (1843)
Added on 21-Dec-20 | Last updated 21-Dec-20
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CHARLIE ANDERSON: I’m not going to kill you. I want you to live. I want you to live to be an old man, and I want you to have many, many, many children, and I want you to feel about your children then the way I feel about mine now. And someday, when a man comes along and kills one of ’em, I want you to remember! Okay? I want you to remember.

James Lee Barrett (1929-1989) American author, producer, screenwriter
Shenandoah (1965)
Added on 7-Oct-20 | Last updated 7-Oct-20
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There is no happiness in life, there is no misery, like that growing out of the dispositions which consecrate or desecrate a home.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
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Added on 2-Oct-20 | Last updated 2-Oct-20
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You can never leave home. You take it with you no matter where you go. Home is between your teeth, under your fingernails, in the hair follicles, in your smile, in the ride of your hips, in the passage of your breasts.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
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Added on 27-Feb-20 | Last updated 27-Feb-20
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Every marriage is a battle between two families struggling to reproduce themselves.

Carl Whitaker (1912-1995) American physician, psychotherapist, family therapist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in his obituary.
Added on 4-Sep-19 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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Absence is one of the most useful ingredients of family life, and to do it rightly is an art like any other.

Freya Stark (1893-1993) Franco-British explorer, travel writer [Freya Madeline Stark]
The Freya Stark Story (1953)
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Added on 17-Oct-17 | Last updated 17-Oct-17
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Fond as we are of our loved ones, there comes at times during their absence an unexplained peace.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Anne Shaw, But Such Is Life (1931)
Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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Rupert had never forgiven his mother for continuing to have children once she had achieved the heights of human creation by giving birth to Rupert.

Kerry Greenwood (b. 1954) Australian author and lawyer
Death at Victoria Dock, ch. 8 (1992)
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Added on 24-Aug-17 | Last updated 24-Aug-17
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Alcoholism isn’t a spectator sport. Eventually the whole family gets to play.

Joyce Rebeta-Burditt (b. 1938) American writer, television producer
The Cracker Factory (1977)
Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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Man has three friends on whose company he relies. First, wealth — which goes with him only while good fortune lasts. Second, his relatives — they go only as far as the grave and leave him there. The third friend, his good deeds, go with him beyond the grave.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
(Attributed)

I could not find an actual citation for this quotation, but the story (the explanation of a parable, in which a man is summoned before a king, and while his dearest friend will not go with him, and his second best friend will only go to the palace gates, his least-loved friend goes with him before the throne) shows up with different translation in multiple sources:
  • The Talmud: SelectionsPart 5 "Civil and Criminal Laws -- the Holy Days" - "The Day of Atonement" [tr. Polano (1876)].
  • Isaac Aboav, Lamp of Light [Menorat Hamoar] [14th C], Fifth Lamp "Teshuvah," Sec. 2 [ch. 3]  in Leonard Kravitz and Kerry Olitzky, <i>Journey of the Soul: Traditional Sources on the</i> Teshuvah (1995).
  • Talmudic and Other Legends [tr., comp. Weiss (1888 ed.), "Man's Three Friends" (Pirke R. Eliezer).
Added on 15-Jun-17 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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Anyone who has not known that inestimable privilege can possibly realize what good fortune it is to grow up in a home where there are grandparents.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
Added on 27-Feb-17 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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Fate chooses our relatives, we choose our friends.

Jacques Delille (1738-1813) French poet, translator
“Malheur et Pitié,” Canto 1 (1803)
Added on 3-Oct-16 | Last updated 3-Oct-16
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The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) American lawyer
(Attributed)
Added on 20-Sep-16 | Last updated 20-Sep-16
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In America there are two classes of travel — first class, and with children. Traveling with children corresponds roughly to traveling third class in Bulgaria.

Robert Benchley (1889-1945) American humorist
Pluck and Luck (1925)
Added on 23-Aug-16 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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For as much as I hate the cemetery, I’ve been grateful it’s here, too. I miss my wife. It’s easier to miss her at a cemetery, where she’s never been anything but dead, than to miss her in all the places where she was alive.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Old Man’s War (2005)
Added on 23-Aug-16 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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The grandest of heroic deeds are those which are performed within four walls and in domestic privacy.

Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825) German novelist, art historian, aesthetician [Johann Paul Friedrich Richter; pseud. Jean Paul]
(Attributed)

In Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
Added on 13-Jul-16 | Last updated 13-Jul-16
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We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
Keynote Address, Democratic National Convention (16 Jul 1984)
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Added on 6-Jul-15 | Last updated 6-Jul-15
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SIMON: Captain, why did you come back for us?

MAL: You’re on my crew.

SIMON: Yeah, but you don’t even like me. Why’d you come back?

MAL: You’re on my crew. Why’re we still talking about this?

Drew Z. Greenberg (contemp.) TV producer and writer
Firefly, 1×05 “Safe” (8 Nov 2002)
Added on 4-Jun-15 | Last updated 4-Jun-15
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MAL: Cut her down!

PATRON: The girl is a witch.

MAL: Yeah, but she’s our witch. [Cocks his gun] So cut her the hell down.

Drew Z. Greenberg (contemp.) TV producer and writer
Firefly, 1×05 “Safe” (8 Nov 2002)
Added on 28-May-15 | Last updated 28-May-15
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The superstition in which we grew up,
Though we may recognize it, does not lose
Its power over us — Not all are free
Who make mock of their chains.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Nathan the Wise (1779) [tr. Morgan (1955)]

Alt. trans.: "The superstition in which we were brought up never loses its power over us, even after we understand it." [In J. K. Hoyt & Anna L. Ward (eds.), The Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations (1881)]
Added on 23-Jan-15 | Last updated 2-Jun-17
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I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Proven Guilty (2006)
Added on 18-Mar-14 | Last updated 18-Mar-14
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The school is an invaluable adjunct to the home, but it is a wretched substitute for it.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Speech, Lansing, Michigan (31 May 1907)
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Added on 11-Dec-13 | Last updated 11-Dec-13
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This family has no outsiders. Everyone is an insider. When Jesus said, “I, if I am lifted up, will draw …” Did he say, “I will draw some”? “I will draw some, and tough luck for the others”? He said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all.” All! All! All! — Black, white, yellow; rich, poor; clever, not so clever; beautiful, not so beautiful. All! All! It is radical. All! Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bush — all! All! All are to be held in this incredible embrace. Gay, lesbian, so-called “straight;” all! All! All are to be held in the incredible embrace of the love that won’t let us go.

Desmond Tutu (1931-2021) South African cleric, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate
“And God Smiles,” Sermon, All Saints Church, Pasadena, California (6 Nov 2005)

The Bible passage referenced is John 12:32.
Added on 17-Oct-11 | Last updated 26-Dec-21
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It is far more important to love your wife than to love God, and I will tell you why. You cannot help him, but you can help her. You can fill her life with the perfume of perpetual joy. It is far more important that you love your children than that you love Jesus Christ. And why? If he is God you cannot help him, but you can plant a little flower of happiness in every footstep of the child, from the cradle until you die in that child’s arms. Let me tell you to-day it is far more important to build a home than to erect a church. The holiest temple beneath the stars is a home that love has built. And the holiest altar in all the wide world is the fireside around which gather father and mother and the sweet babes.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“What Must We Do to Be Saved?” Sec. 2 (1880)
Added on 25-Sep-08 | Last updated 4-Feb-16
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Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but, unlike charity, it should end there.

Clare Booth Luce
Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) American dramatist, diplomat, politician
“Problem of Pornography,” McCall’s (Oct 1966)
Added on 17-Sep-07 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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ARISTOCRAT: Who is that ugly woman who just came in?
LORD NORTH: Oh, that is my wife.
ARISTOCRAT: Sir, I beg your pardon. I do not mean her. I mean that shocking monster who is along with her.
LORD NORTH: That is my daughter.

Frederick North (1732-1792) British Prime Minister (1770-82) [Lord North]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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