Quotations about   inaction

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Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, ch. 4, “Life and Death and All That” (1989)
    (Source)

Sometimes incorrectly quoted as "Belief without action is the ruin of the soul."
Added on 31-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
On Liberty, ch. 1 “Introductory” (1859)
Added on 3-Aug-16 | Last updated 3-Aug-16
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My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.

Anna Sewell (1820-1878) English novelist
Black Beauty, 3.38 (1877)
Added on 16-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“Vacillation,” The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)
Added on 28-Sep-15 | Last updated 28-Sep-15
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Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; It is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Strictly Personal (1953)
Added on 22-Jun-15 | Last updated 18-May-16
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Man’s greatest strength is shown in standing still.

Edward Young (1683-1765) English poet
The Complaint, 8.912 (1742-45)
Added on 28-Oct-14 | Last updated 28-Oct-14
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It is almost impossible to remain silent in the face of tyranny without, by this very act of silence, becoming an agent of that tyranny.

Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (b. 1941) American author
Against Therapy, Conclusion (1988)
Added on 7-Aug-14 | Last updated 8-Aug-14
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Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Harijan (7 Apr 1946)
Added on 3-Jul-14 | Last updated 3-Jul-14
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As we must account for every idle Word, so must we likewise for every idle Silence.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 575 (1731)
Added on 26-Jun-14 | Last updated 26-Jun-14
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Who, when he may, forbids not sin, commands it.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Troades, l. 290 [tr. Miller (1917)]
Added on 20-Jun-14 | Last updated 20-Jun-14
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A man does not sin by commission only, but often by omission.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 9, #5 [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
Added on 13-Jun-14 | Last updated 1-Mar-16
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The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.

Other Authors and Sources
Florynce R. Kennedy, in Gloria Steinem, “the Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.,” Ms. (Mar 1973)
Added on 6-Jun-14 | Last updated 6-Jun-14
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He who does not punish evil commands it to be done.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian artist, engineer, scientist
Note-books (1508-1518)
Added on 3-Jan-14 | Last updated 8-Jan-15
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It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Elementary Sketches of Moral Philosophy, “Lectures at the Royal Institution” (1804-1806), Lecture 19 (1850)
Added on 17-Nov-08 | Last updated 17-Jun-16
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We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 28-Jan-08 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.

Molière (1622-1673) French playwright, actor [stage name for Jean-Baptiste Poquelin]
(Attributed)

Alt. trans.: "It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Aug-15
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One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.

William James (Will) Durant (1885-1981) American historian, teacher, philosopher
NY World-Telegram & Sun (6 Jun 1958)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Feb-17
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