Quotations about   ideals

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We are too prone to judge ourselves by our ideals and other people by their acts. All of us are entitled to be judged by both. We must recognize the dignity of our neighbors and before we act must place ourselves in the place of our neighbor and judge our acts through his eyes.

Dwight Morrow (1873-1931) American businessman, diplomat, politician
Quoted in “Close Mexican Ties Urged by Morrow,” New York Times (17 May 1930)

The first sentence of this comment by Morrow was popularized in a biography of him, Harold Nicolson, Dwight Morrow (1935). Nicolson is, in turn, often erroneously credited with the quote.

Nicolson noted it was frequently used by Morrow ("'Remember,' he would often repeat, 'that we are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts.'"). He also recounts a variant, "All nations are prone to judge themselves by the loftiness of their own purposes, and to judge others nations by their failure to attain their high purposes."

More discussion of this quotation (and its predecessors) can be found here. Compare also to a related sentiment by Longfellow.
Added on 14-Sep-20 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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You’re only as good as your last story.

Helen Thomas (1920-2013) American reporter and author
Acceptance speech, Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award, White House Correspondents Dinner, Washington, DC (25 Apr 1998)

That was the full speech.
Added on 9-Sep-20 | Last updated 9-Sep-20
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ANGEL: Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It’s harsh, and cruel. But that’s why there’s us, champions. Doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world is as it should be, to show it what it can be.

Steven S. DeKnight (b. 1964) American television screenwriter, producer
Angel, 4×01 “Deep Down” (6 Oct 2002)
Added on 24-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Aug-20
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So it is not a matter of whether it is possible to attain Buddhahood, or if it is possible to make a tile a jewel. But just to work, just to live in this world with this understanding is the most important point, and that is our practice. That is true zazen.

Shunryū Suzuki (1905-1971) Japanese Zen Buddhist master
Lecture in Los Altos, California (1 Sep 1967)
Added on 2-Jul-20 | Last updated 2-Jul-20
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If everyone were clothed with integrity,
If every heart were just, frank, kindly,
The other virtues would be well-nigh useless,
Since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience
The injustice of our fellows.

Si de probité tout était revêtu,
Si tous les cœurs était francs, justes et dociles,
La plupart des vertus nous seraient inutiles,
Puisqu’on en met l’usage à pouvoir sans ennui
Supporter dans nos droits l’injustice d’autrui.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
Le Misanthrope, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 1564 (1666) [tr. Wormeley (1894)]

Original French.

Alt. trans. [Page (1913)]
If everything were clothed in probity,
If all men's hearts were open, just, gentle,
Most of our virtues would be wholly useless,
Since we employ them now, in cheerfully
Enduring wrong, with right on our side.
Added on 23-May-20 | Last updated 23-May-20
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You are right in assuming that I am indifferent to the pattern of things. I am. I have never liked stale phrases and bodyless courage. I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Letter to Countee Cullen (5 Mar 1943)
Added on 3-Apr-20 | Last updated 3-Apr-20
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It had been boldly predicted by some of the early Christians that the conversion of the world would lead to the establishment of perpetual peace. In looking back, with our present experience, we are driven to the melancholy conclusion that, instead of diminishing the number of wars, ecclesiastical influence as actually and very seriously increased it.

William Lecky (1838-1903) Irish historian
History of European Morals, Vol. 2, ch. 4 (1869)
Added on 18-Jan-17 | Last updated 18-Jan-17
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He that studies books alone, will know how things ought to be; and he that studies men will know how things are.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words, Preface (1821 ed.)
Added on 19-May-16 | Last updated 19-May-16
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Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.

Charles Péguy (1873-1914) French poet, essayist, editor
“The Modern World: Politics and Mysticism,” Basic Verities [tr. Green & Green (1943)]
Added on 27-Jan-16 | Last updated 27-Jan-16
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Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man’s starving.

Henry - starving - wist_info

O. Henry (1862-1910) American short story writer [pseud. for William Sydney Porter]
“Cupid à la Carte,” Heart of the West (1907)
Added on 5-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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Like other idealisms, patriotism varies from a noble devotion to a moral lunacy.

Dean Inge - patriotism - wist-info

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Our Present Discontents,” Outspoken Essays: First Series (1919)
Added on 12-Oct-15 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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It is loyalty to great ends, even though forced to combine the small and opposing motives of selfish men to accomplish them; it is the anchored cling to solid principles of duty and action, which knows how to swing with the tide, but is never carried away by it — that we demand in public men, and not sameness of policy, or a conscientious persistency in what is impracticable.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“Abraham Lincoln” (1864), My Study Windows (1871)
Added on 24-Aug-15 | Last updated 24-Aug-15
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Judaism holds that man can most genuinely worship God by imitating those qualities that are godly: As God is merciful, so must we be compassionate; as God is just, so must we deal justly with our neighbor; as God is slow to anger, so must we be tolerant.

Morris N. Kertzer (1910-1983) American rabbi, writer
“What is a Jew?” Look Magazine (1954)
Added on 10-Jun-15 | Last updated 10-Jun-15
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I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well. And I look forward to a world which will be safe not only for democracy and diversity but also for personal distinction.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them; and every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.

George W. Bush (b. 1946) US President (2001-09)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 2001)
Added on 17-Dec-14 | Last updated 20-Jun-16
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What are the American ideals? They are the development of the individual for his own and the common good; the development of the individual through liberty, and the attainment of the common good through democracy and social justice.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
“True Americanism” (1915)
Added on 7-Oct-14 | Last updated 7-Oct-14
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Ours is a practical people, to whom ideals furnish the theory of political action, upon which they want not only firm assurance, but also effective practice. They want programmes, but they want action to flow from them. They want constructive common sense. They want the development of the common will, not the views of a single individual. They are beginning to realize that words without action are the assassins of idealism.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) American engineer, bureaucrat, President of the US (1928-32)
In the New York Tribune (29 Apr 1920)

On the 1920 Presidential campaign.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Jun-16
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He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
A Preface to Morals, 11.3 (1929)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Apr-17
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Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
Work: A Story of Experience ch. 12 [Christie] (1875)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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