Quotations about   fear

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Always struck by the “comical” aspect of everything in Algeria connected with death. I find nothing more justified. Impossible to exaggerate the ridiculous quality of an event that is normally accompanied by sweat and gurgling. Similarly, it could not be too far demoted from the sacred status normally attributed to it. Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. And from this point of view, death is no more worthy of respect than Nero or the inspector at my local police station.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
Notebooks, Vol. 1 (1935-1942)
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Added on 31-May-19 | Last updated 31-May-19
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Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Dust Tracks on a Road, ch. 4 (1942)
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Added on 5-May-19 | Last updated 5-May-19
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We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still.

Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) American physician, poet, essayist, researcher
“The Youngest and Brightest Thing Around,” The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher (1979)
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Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of idolatry. What have I gained, that I no longer immolate a bull to Jove or to Neptune, or a mouse to Hecate; that I do not tremble before the Eumenides, or the Catholic Purgatory, or the Calvinistic Judgment-day, — if I quake at opinion, the public opinion as we call it; or at the threat of assault, or contumely, or bad neighbors, or poverty, or mutilation, or at the rumor of revolution, or of murder? If I quake, what matters it what I quake at?

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Character,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Added on 13-Nov-18 | Last updated 13-Nov-18
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Neither fear your death’s day nor long for it.

[Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 47, l. 13 [tr. Ker (1919)]
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    The final element of living a happy life. Alt. trans.:
  • "Neither fear, nor wish for, your last day" [Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)]
  • "Nor fear nor yet desire thy last day" [Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906)]
  • "And for the inevitable hour, / Nor hope it nigh, nor dread its power." [tr. Merivale]
  • "Ne wish for Death, ne fear his might." [tr. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey]
  • "Death neither wish, nor fear to see." [tr. Sir Richard Fanshawe]
  • "Neither to fear death nor seek it." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Nor dread your last day, nor long for it." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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SPARTACUS: When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Spartacus (1960) [novel by Howard Fast]
Added on 4-Sep-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-18
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Anxiety is the unwillingness to play even when you know the odds are for you. Courage is the willingness to play even when you know the odds are against you.

Thomas Szasz (b. 1920) Hungarian-American psychiatrist, educator
The Second Sin (1973)
Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company,
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 3 [Henry] (1599)
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Added on 7-May-18 | Last updated 7-May-18
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Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook (1963)
Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 3, sc. 2 [Boy] (1599)
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Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance.

Seth Godin (b. 1960) American entrepreneur, author, public speaker
Poke the Box (2011)
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Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 7-Mar-18
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Warped with satisfactions and terrors, woofed with too many ambiguities and too few certainties, life can be lived best not when we have the answers — because we will never have those — but when we know enough to live it right out to the edges, edges sometimes marked by other people, sometimes showing only our own footprints.

Rosalie Maggio (contemp.) American writer
The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women, Introduction (1996)
Added on 16-Feb-18 | Last updated 16-Feb-18
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Anxiety is the handmaiden of contemporary ambition.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
Status Anxiety (2004)
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Added on 10-Jan-18 | Last updated 10-Jan-18
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It’s a funny thing, the less people have to live for, the less nerve they have to risk losing — nothing.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Moses, Man of the Mountain, ch. 2 (1939)
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Added on 18-Oct-17 | Last updated 10-Jan-18
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I’m convinced if I keep going one day I will write something decent. On very bad days I will observe that I must have written good things in the past, which means that I’ve lost it. But normally I just assume that I don’t have it. The gulf between the thing I set out to make in my head and the sad, lumpy thing that emerges into reality is huge and distant and I just wish that I could get them closer.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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Added on 2-Oct-17 | Last updated 2-Oct-17
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The pretext for indecisiveness is commonly mature deliberation; but in reality indecisive men occupy themselves less in deliberation than others; for to him who fears to decide, deliberation (which has a foretaste of that fear) soon becomes intolerably irksome, and the mind escapes from the anxiety of it into alien themes.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
The Statesman: An Ironical Treatise on the Art of Succeeding, ch. 21 (1836)
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Added on 29-Aug-17 | Last updated 29-Aug-17
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This simply means that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God’s image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God’s redemptive love.

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 11-Aug-17 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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Man is so built that he cannot imagine his own death. This leads to endless invention of religions. While this conviction by no means proves immortality to be a fact, questions generated by it are overwhelmingly important. The nature of life, how ego hooks into the body, the problem of ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe — these are paramount questions, Ben; they can never be trivial. Science hasn’t solved them — and who am I to sneer at religions for trying, no matter how unconvincingly to me? Old Mumbo Jumbo may eat me yet; I can’t rule him out because he owns no fancy cathedrals. Nor can I rule out one godstruck boy leading a sex cult in an upholstered attic; he might be the Messiah. The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, Part 4, ch. 33 [Jubal] (1961)
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In the "uncut" original version (1960): "Self-aware man is so built that he cannot believe in his own extinction ... and this automatically leads to endless invention of religions. While this involuntary conviction of immortality by no means proves immortality to be a fact, the questions generated by this conviction are overwhelmingly important ... whether we can answer them or not, or prove what answers we suspect. The nature of life, how the ego hooks into the physical body, the problem of the ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe -- these are paramount questions Ben; they can never be trivial. Science can't, or hasn't, coped with any of them -- and who am I to sneer at religions for trying to answer them, no matter how unconvincingly to me? Old Mumbo Jumbo may eat me yet; I can't rule Him out because He owns no fancy cathedrals. Nor can I rule out one godstruck boy leading a sex cult in an upholstered attic; he might be the Messiah. The only religious opinion that I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!"
Added on 11-Aug-17 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 36, epigraph (1897)
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Added on 3-Jul-17 | Last updated 3-Jul-17
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Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength — carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) Dutch evangelist, concentration camp survivor
He Cares, He Comforts (1977)
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See Spurgeon.
Added on 22-May-17 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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Sickness and sorrows come and go, but a superstitious soul hath no rest.

Robert Burton (1577-1640) English scholar
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 3.4.1.3 (1621-51)
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Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
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GLOUCESTER: Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The thief doth fear each bush an officer.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part III, Act 5, sc. 6, l. 11 (1590)
Added on 22-Feb-17 | Last updated 22-Feb-17
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No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed, ch. 1 (1961)
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
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The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) American author, poet, editor, literary critic
(Spurious)

Not found prior to a Tweet (9 Nov 2011). For more information, see here.
Added on 14-Dec-16 | Last updated 14-Dec-16
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I think Hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go.

gaiman-hell-is-something-you-carry-around-wist_info-quote

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Dec-16 | Last updated 1-Dec-16
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And from your policy do not wholly banish fear,
For what man living, freed from fear, will still be just?

aeschylus-freed-from-fear-will-still-be-just-wist_info-quote

Aeschylus (525-456 BC) Greek dramatist (Æschylus)
The Eumenides
Added on 3-Nov-16 | Last updated 3-Nov-16
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But I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Abigail Adams (3 Jul 1776)
Added on 28-Sep-16 | Last updated 28-Sep-16
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If you ever want to feel like you’re on the verge of total, abject bowel-releasing terror, try making your way a klick or two out of a forest, at night, with the certain feeling you’re being hunted. It makes you feel alive, it really does, but not in a way you want to feel alive.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
Zoe’s Tale (2008)
Added on 27-Sep-16 | Last updated 27-Sep-16
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Lucius Arruntius killed himself, he said, to escape both the future and the past.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
“A Custom of the Island of Cea,” Essays (1588) [tr. Frame (1958)]
Added on 29-Aug-16 | Last updated 29-Aug-16
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The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
“The Sub-Treasury,” speech, Illinois House of Representatives (26 Dec 1839)
Added on 27-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Jul-16
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Nothing is terrible except fear itself.

[Nil terribile nisi ipse timor.]

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
De Augmentis Scientiarum [Advancement of Learning], Part 2, “Fortitudo” (1605)
Added on 21-Jul-16 | Last updated 21-Jul-16
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Beware, beware! he’ll cheat ‘ithout scruple, who can without fear.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)
Added on 19-Jul-16 | Last updated 19-Jul-16
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If you can’t joke about the most horrendous things in the world, what’s the point of jokes? What’s the point in having humor? Humor is to get us over terrible things. That’s all it’s for. That’s why you should laugh at funerals. Of course it’s the wrong thing to say. That’s why it’s funny.

Gervais - humor terrible things - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Interview with Chris Heath, GQ (15 May 2013)
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Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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The best advice I’ve ever received is, “No one else knows what they’re doing either.”

Gervais - what theyre doing either - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Tweet (7 Oct 2014)
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Added on 9-Jun-16 | Last updated 9-Jun-16
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MINSTREL: [singing]
He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp,
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken,
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away,
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin!
His head smashed in, and his heart cut out,
And his liver removed, and his bowels unplugged,
And his nostrils raped, and his bottom burnt off,
And his penis —

SIR ROBIN: That’s enough music for now, lads.

Monty Python (contemp.) British comedy troupe
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Added on 3-Jun-16 | Last updated 3-Jun-16
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Often the fear of one evil leads us into a worse.

[Souvent la peur d’un mal nous conduit dans un pire.]

Boileau-Despereaux - fear of one evil - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 64 (1674)
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There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?

Erin Hanson (b. 1996) Australian poet
“There is freedom waiting for you”
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Added on 4-May-16 | Last updated 4-May-16
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Better hazard once than be always in fear.

Fuller - hazard once - wist_info quote

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs (1732) [comp.]
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Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other.

Ameinger - politics is the gentle art - wist_info quote

Oscar Ameringer (1870-1943) German-American political activist, Socialist organizer, author, politican
The American Guardian
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To live bravely by convictions from which the free peoples of the world can take heart, the American people must put their faith in long-range policies — political, economic, and military — programs that will not be heated and cooled with the brightening and waning of tensions. The United States has matured to world leadership; it is time we steered by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship.

Omar Bradley (1893-1981) American general
Speech, Memorial Day, Longmeadow, Mass. (31 May 1948)
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Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just … start.

Umebinyuo - start now - wist_info quote

Ijeoma Umebinyuo (contemp.) Nigerian poet
“Start now” (27 Sep 2014)
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Added on 3-Feb-16 | Last updated 3-Feb-16
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When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
The Cancer Journals (1997)
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We can sit in our corners, mute forever, while our sisters and ourselves are wasted, while our children are distorted and destroyed, while our earth is poisoned. We can sit silently in our corners, mute as bottles, and we will still be no less afraid.

Lorde - mute as bottles - wist_info quote

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action,” The Cancer Journals (1980)
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Originally given as a speech at the Modern Language Association meeting (28 Dec 1977).
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The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) French-American religious and writer [a.k.a. Fr. M. Louis]
The Seven Storey Mountain (1948)
Added on 23-Dec-15 | Last updated 23-Dec-15
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Like young men from the dawn of time, I decided to choose the risk of death over certain humiliation.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Whispers Under Ground (2012)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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And when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcome
but when we are silent
we are still afraid.
So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive.

Lorde - still afraid - wist_info

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“A Litany for Survival,” The Black Unicorn (1978)
Added on 1-Dec-15 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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Terrorism’s goal is to commit frightening, high-profile crimes that scare people into making rash, expensive decisions that make the world look like the terrorists would like to see it.

Doctorow - terrorists - wist_info

Cory Doctorow (b. 1971) Canadian-British blogger, journalist, activist, author
“How terrorists trick Western governments in doing their work for them,” Boingboing.net (16 Nov 2015)
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Added on 17-Nov-15 | Last updated 17-Nov-15
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Oh why do we not say the important things, it would be so easy, and we are damned because we do not.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
“Song about my mother [Lied von meiner Mutter],” from “Thirteen Psalms” (1920) [tr. Middleton]
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Better perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared — this must someday become the highest maxim for every single commonwealth.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Wanderer and His Shadow (1880)
Added on 3-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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Fear for one’s daily bread destroys one’s character.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In G. Janouch, “Conversations with Kafka” [tr. Rees] Encounter (Aug 1971)
Added on 29-Oct-15 | Last updated 29-Oct-15
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Somebody was screaming and I had to check it wasn’t me. It could have been me. I certainly wanted to scream, but I remembered that right then and there Leslie and I were the only coppers on the scene and the public doesn’t like it when the police start screaming; it contributes to an impression of things not being conducive to public calm.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Rivers of London [Midnight Riot] (2011)
Added on 21-Oct-15 | Last updated 21-Oct-15
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PELAGEA VLASOVA: Don’t be afraid of death so much as an inadequate life.

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) German poet, playwright, director, dramaturgist
The Mother (1930)
Added on 8-Oct-15 | Last updated 8-Oct-15
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What you fear to believe, your children will believe.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #340 (2001)
Added on 2-Oct-15 | Last updated 2-Oct-15
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If ever there’s a tomorrow where we’re not together, there is something you must remember. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) English poet and playwright [Alan Alexander Milne]
(Misattributed)
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Christopher Robin to Pooh Bear. The quotation is broadly attributed to Milne and Winnie the Pooh, but is actually from the 1997 Disney video Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, written by Carter Crocker and Karl Geurs, based on the characters created by Milne.
Added on 14-Aug-15 | Last updated 14-Aug-15
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If we need fear to keep us safe, we also need to apply reason to fear to make sure it’s serving us, not the other way around.

Graham Ericsson (b. 1947) American writer, aphorist
What Have You Done To Me Lately?, ch. 5 (2014)
Added on 28-Jul-15 | Last updated 28-Jul-15
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