Quotations about   nonconformity

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Independence was an act of revolution; republicanism was something new under the sun; the federal system was a vast experimental laboratory. Physically Americans were pioneers; in the realm of social and economic institutions, too, their tradition has been one of pioneering. From the beginning, intellectual and spiritual diversity have been as characteristic of America as racial and linguistic. The most distinctively American philosophies have been transcendentalism — which is the philosophy of the Higher Law — and pragmatism — which is the philosophy of experimentation and pluralism. These two principles are the very core of Americanism: the principle of the Higher Law, or of obedience to the dictates of conscience rather than of statutes, and the principle of pragmatism, or the rejection of a single good and of the notion of a finished universe. From the beginning Americans have known that there were new worlds to conquer, new truths to be discovered. Every effort to confine Americanism to a single pattern, to constrain it to a single formula, is disloyalty to everything that is valid in Americanism.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
“Who Is Loyal to America?” Harper’s Magazine #1168 (Sep 1947)
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Added on 12-Jan-22 | Last updated 12-Jan-22
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The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even — if you will — eccentricity. That is, something that can’t be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn’t be happy with. Something, in other words, that can’t be shared, like your own skin: not even by a minority. Evil is a sucker for solidity. It always goes for big numbers, for confident granite, for ideological purity, for drilled armies and balanced sheets. Its proclivity for such things has to do with its innate insecurity, but this realization, again, is of small comfort when Evil triumphs.

Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996) Russian-American poet, essayist, Nobel laureate, US Poet Laureate [Iosif Aleksandrovič Brodskij]
Commencement Address, Williams College (24 May 1984)
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Added on 27-Apr-21 | Last updated 27-Apr-21
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Freedom only means the freedom to be stupid. Because you don’t need freedom to do what everybody thinks you should.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
“Honest Questions with Penn Jillette,” Interview by Glen Beck, CNN (2 Nov 2007)
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Added on 22-Apr-21 | Last updated 22-Apr-21
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Censors don’t want children exposed to ideas different from their own. If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty.

Judy Blume (b. 1938) American writer
“Judy Blume Talks about Censorship,” judyblume.com
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Added on 8-Apr-21 | Last updated 19-Apr-21
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The only reason why we wish to exchange thoughts is that we are different. If we were all the same, we would die dumb. No thought would be expressed after we found that our thoughts were precisely alike. We differ — our thoughts are different. Therefore the commerce that we call conversation.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Limits of Toleration,” Speech, Nineteenth Century Club of New York (8 May 1888)
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Added on 11-Feb-21 | Last updated 11-Feb-21
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She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Equal Rites (1987)
Added on 29-Apr-15 | Last updated 29-Apr-15
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The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, ch. 2, sec. 3 (1963)
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Added on 24-Jan-12 | Last updated 20-Jan-20
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