Quotations about   sacrifice

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You can always hear the people who are willing to sacrifice somebody else’s life. They’re plenty loud and they talk all the time. You can find them in churches and schools and newspapers and congresses. That’s their business. They sound wonderful. Death before dishonor. This ground sanctified by blood. These men who died so gloriously. They shall not have died in vain. Our noble dead.

Hmmmm.

But what do the dead say?

Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of the millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god I’m glad I’m dead because death is always better than dishonor? Did they say I’m glad i died to make the world safe for democracy? Did they say i like death better than losing liberty? Did any of them ever say it’s good to think i got my guts blown out for the honor of my country? Did any of them ever say look at me i’m dead but i died for decency and that’s better than being alive? Did any of them ever say here i am, i’ve been rotting for two years in a foreign grave but it’s wonderful to die for your native land? Did any of them say hurray I died for womanhood and I’m happy, see how I sing even though my mouth is choked with worms?

Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) American screenwriter and novelist [James Dalton Trumbo]
Johnny Got His Gun (1938)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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There lies at the back of every creed something terrible and hard for which the worshipper may one day be required to suffer.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
“What I Believe,” The Nation (16 Jul 1938)
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Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 21-Nov-18
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Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They grow older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119,” Interview with George Plimpton, The Paris Review (Fall 1990)
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Angelou used the core section (credit cards, parking spaces) a number of times in different interviews.
Added on 26-Oct-18 | Last updated 26-Oct-18
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The essence of the Epistles of Paul is that Christians should rejoice at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe. The projection of a social gospel, in my opinion, is the true witness of a Christian life. This is the meaning of the true ekklesia — the inner, spiritual church. The church once changed society. It was then a thermostat of society. But today I feel that too much of the church is merely a thermometer, which measures rather than molds popular opinion.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Playboy interview (Jan 1965)
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Added on 15-Oct-18 | Last updated 15-Oct-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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Marriage is not a simple love affair, it’s an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one.

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American mythological scholar
The Power of Myth, ch. 1 “Myth and the Modern World” (1988)
Added on 7-Mar-18 | Last updated 7-Mar-18
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If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other folks then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Moses, Man of the Mountain [Moses] (1939)
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Added on 10-Jan-18 | Last updated 10-Jan-18
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Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Social Aims,” Letters and Social Aims (1875)
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Added on 2-Nov-17 | Last updated 2-Nov-17
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When one hears the argument that marriage should be indissoluble for the sake of children, one cannot help wondering whether the protagonist is really such a firm friend of childhood.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
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Added on 13-Mar-17 | Last updated 13-Mar-17
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What you get by reaching your goals is not nearly so important as what you become by reaching them.

ziglar-what-you-become-by-reaching-them-wist_info-quote

Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar (1926-2012) American author, salesperson, motivational speaker
Biscuits, Fleas, and Pump Handles (1974)

Ziglar used multiple variations of this phrase. Also attributed to Goethe and Thoreau. For more discussion see here.
Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.

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Gaylord Nelson (1916-2005) American politician and environmentalist
“Ah, Wilderness! Save It,” New York Times (4 Sep 1984)
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Added on 31-Oct-16 | Last updated 2-Nov-16
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A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.

London - bone shared with the dog - wist_info quote

Jack London (1876-1916) American novelist
“My Life in the Underworld,” Cosmopolitan Magazine (May 1907)
Added on 26-Aug-16 | Last updated 26-Aug-16
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The way to bliss lies not on beds of down,
And he that has no cross deserves no crown.

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Esther, Sec. 9, Meditation 9 (1621)
Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 24-May-16
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How many sacrifice honor, a necessity, to glory, a luxury?

Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest: Thoughts, ch. 4, #38 (1886)
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Added on 9-May-16 | Last updated 9-May-16
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Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Guildhall, London (12 Jun 1945)
Added on 23-Feb-16 | Last updated 23-Feb-16
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Value yourself according to the burdens you carry, and you will find everything a burden.

Richardson - burdens - wist_info quote

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 52 (2001)
Added on 4-Dec-15 | Last updated 4-Dec-15
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People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Middlemarch, Book 8, ch. 72 (1871-72)
Added on 4-Dec-15 | Last updated 4-Dec-15
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He that fasteth and doth no Good saveth his Bread but loseth his Soul.

Fuller - fasting - wist_info

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2382 (1732)
Added on 3-Nov-15 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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Men might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) American abolitionist, orator, writer
Speech on West India Emancipation (4 Aug 1857)
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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The golden apple of selfhood, thrown among the false gods, became an apple of discord because they scrambled for it. They did not know the first rule of the holy game, which is that every player must by all means touch the ball and then immediately pass it on. To be found with it in your hands is a fault: to cling to it, death. But when it flies to and fro among the players too swift for eye to follow, and the great master Himself leads the revelry, giving Himself eternally to His creatures in the generation, and back to Himself in the sacrifice, of the Word, then indeed the eternal dance ‘makes heaven drowsy with the harmony’. All pains and pleasures we have known on earth are early initiations in the movements of that dance: but the dance itself is strictly incomparable with the sufferings of this present time. As we draw nearer to its uncreated rhythm, pain and pleasure sink almost out of sight. There is joy in the dance, but it does not exist for the sake of joy. It does not even exist for the sake of good, or of love. It is Love Himself, and Good Himself, and therefore happy. It does not exist for us, but we for it.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Problem of Pain (1940)
Added on 16-Sep-15 | Last updated 16-Sep-15
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Those who demand consideration for their sacrifices were making investments, not sacrifices.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, # 2 (2001)
Added on 21-Aug-15 | Last updated 21-Aug-15
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He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 23:11-12
Added on 3-Apr-15 | Last updated 3-Apr-15
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Men are more ready to sacrifice their lives than their livelihood: and to sacrifice their own importance often comes hardest of all.

B. H. Liddell Hart (1895-1970) English soldier, military historian (Basil Henry Liddell Hart)
Thoughts on War, ch. 10 (1944)
Added on 9-Mar-15 | Last updated 9-Mar-15
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Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
John 15:13 (KJV)
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Added on 16-Feb-15 | Last updated 16-Feb-15
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Sacrifice is a form of bargaining.

Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948) English journalist, editor, author
Platitudes in the Making, ch. 3 “The Inner Temple,” #12 (1911)
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No sacrifice is worth the name unless it is a joy. Sacrifice and a long face go ill together.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Young India (25 Jun 1925)
Added on 2-Feb-15 | Last updated 2-Feb-15
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Sorrow be damned & all your plans. Fuck the faithful, fuck the committed, the dedicated, the true believers; fuck all the sure & certain people prepared to maim & kill whoever got in their way; fuck every cause that ended in murder & a child crying.

Iain Banks (1954-2013) Scottish author
Against a Dark Background (1993)

Often paraphrased as "Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying."
Added on 23-Oct-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-14
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Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises — it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook — it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
Added on 16-Jun-14 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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Is it not better to die valiantly, than ignominiously to lose our wretched and dishonoured lives after being the sport of others’ insolence?

[Nonne emori per virtutem praestat quam vitam miseram atque inhonestam, ubi alienae superbiae ludibrio fueris, per dedecus amittere?]

Catiline (108-62 BC) Roman politician [Lucius Sergius Catilina]
Quoted in Sallust, Catiline’s War, Book 20, pt. 9 [tr. Rolfe]

Alt. trans.: "Is it not better to die in a glorious attempt, than, after having been the sport of other men's insolence, to resign a wretched and degraded existence with ignominy?"
Added on 5-Jun-14 | Last updated 5-Jun-14
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Yes, we love peace, but we are not willing to take wounds for it, as we are for war.

John Andrew Holmes (1874-1937) American physician and writer
Wisdom in Small Doses (1927)
Added on 2-May-14 | Last updated 2-May-14
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No pain, no palm;
No thorns, no throne;
No gall, no glory;
No cross, no crown.

William Penn (1644-1718) English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, statesman
“No Cross, No Crown” (1682)

Originally written while a prisoner in the Tower of London (1668-69). See Quarles (1821).
Added on 22-May-12 | Last updated 24-May-16
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I do not say, and I do not believe, that Christians are as bad as their creeds. In spite of church and dogma, there have been millions and millions of men and women true to the loftiest and most generous promptings of the human heart. They have been true to their convictions, and, with a self-denial and fortitude excelled by none, have labored and suffered for the salvation of men. Imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, believing that by personal effort they could rescue at least a few souls from the infinite shadow of hell, they have cheerfully endured every hardship and scorned every danger. And yet, notwithstanding all this, they believed that honest error was a crime. They knew that the Bible so declared, and they believed that all unbelievers would be eternally lost. They believed that religion was of God, and all heresy of the devil. They killed heretics in defence of their own souls and the souls of their children. They killed them because, according to their idea, they were the enemies of God, and because the Bible teaches that the blood of the unbeliever is a most acceptable sacrifice to heaven.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Heretics and Heresies” (1874)
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Added on 31-Jul-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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All the martyrs in the history of the world are not sufficient to establish the correctness of an opinion. Martyrdom, as a rule, establishes the sincerity of the martyr, — never the correctness of his thought. Things are true or false in themselves. Truth cannot be affected by opinions; it cannot be changed, established, or affected by martyrdom. An error cannot be believed sincerely enough to make it a truth.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“The Great Infidels” (1881)
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Added on 12-Jun-08 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“Easter 1916” (4), Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Mar-15
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If we stop caring about our heroes, we stop caring about what they died for.

Other Authors and Sources
Ralph Harris
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Mar-14
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True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.

Arthur Ashe (1943-1993) American athlete
(Attributed)

Quoted in Readers Digest, "Points to Ponder" (Sep 1994)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Sep-15
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If a man hasn’t discovered something that he would die for, he isn’t fit to live.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Speech, Detroit (23 Jun 1963)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 19-Jan-15
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Freedom is not free.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Speech, Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change, Bethel Baptist Church (3 Dec 1959)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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