Quotations about   importance

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You confuse what’s important with what’s impressive.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
Maurice (w. 1914, pub. 1971)
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Added on 8-Jan-18 | Last updated 8-Jan-18
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I suppose we think euphemistically that all writers write because they have something to say that is truthful and honest and pointed and important. And I suppose I subscribe to that, too. But God knows when I look back over thirty years of professional writing, I’m hard-pressed to come up with anything that’s important. Some things are literate, some things are interesting, some things are classy, but very damn little is important.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
“Rod Serling: The Facts of Life,” Interview with Linda Brevelle (4 Mar 1975)
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Added on 8-May-17 | Last updated 8-May-17
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A democracy is badly served when newspapers and television focus so intensely on the personal joys and tragedies of famous people. This kind of “news” crowds out more serious issues, and there is an important difference — as the Constitution’s framers well knew, and as many people today appear to have forgotten — between the public interest and what interests the public.

Cass R. Sunstein (b. 1954) American legal scholar
“Reinforce the Walls of Privacy,” New York Times (6 Sep 1997)
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 13-Dec-16
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All the pieces wish to be, if not a player, at least the piece the players are most concerned with.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Dragon (1998)
Added on 15-Jul-16 | Last updated 15-Jul-16
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Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.

Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) Spanish mystic, poet, philosopher, saint
“Maxims for Her Nuns”

In Complete Works St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. 3 (1963) [ed. Peers]
Added on 28-Oct-15 | Last updated 28-Oct-15
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Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9; Yerushalmi Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a
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Alt. trans.: "Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world."
Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 2-Dec-15
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Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
Vera; or, The Nihilists (1883)

Paraphrase of the actual line, "Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it." In Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), he recycled the line as "Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it." More information about this here.
Added on 30-Jul-15 | Last updated 30-Jul-15
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It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.

[Denn zu einem großen Manne gehört beides: Kleinigkeiten als Kleinigkeiten, und wichtige Dinge als wichtige Dinge zu behandeln.]

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramiturg, writer
Vierunddreißigstes Stück Den 25. Aug 1767, Hamburgische Dramaturgie (1767-1769)
Added on 4-Mar-15 | Last updated 4-Mar-15
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Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. With them, we can make a joint effort to solve the problems of the whole humankind.

The Dalai Lama (b. 1935) Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader [The 14th Dalai Lama; a/k/a Lhama Thondup / Lhama Dhondrub; b. Tenzin Gyatso]
(Attributed)
Added on 9-Sep-11 | Last updated 18-Oct-17
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Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Sermon, Ebenezer Baptist Church (4 Feb 1968)

Full text. Adaptation by King of the 1952 homily "Drum-Major Instincts" by J. Wallace Hamilton.Paraphrased on the MLK memorial in Washington, DC, as, "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness"; the inscription was later removed.
Added on 3-Sep-11 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (2010)
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Added on 16-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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The politics of the university are so intense because the stakes are so low.

Wallace Sayre (1905-1972) U.S. political scientist, academic
Sayre’s Third Law

One of several formulations of the same sentiment, which has also been attributed to Richard Neustadt, Jesse Unruh, Henry Kissinger ("University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small"), Charles Philip Issawi ("In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake. That is why academic politics are so bitter"), Lawrence Peter, C.P. Snow, and others, with antecedents by Samuel Johnson and Woodrow Wilson. Most of the attributions come in the early-mid 1970s, though Herbert Kaufman, a colleague, claimed Sayres had used the phrase for decades.

See also Quote Investigator, Quote Verifier, and Wikipedia for more discussion.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Mar-19
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