Quotations about   self-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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He who gives only what he would as readily throw away gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
Notes from Life, “Of Money: Giving and Taking” (1853)
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Added on 5-Sep-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
(Misattributed)
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The words are not found in any Voltaire and actually belong to historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing as S. G. Tallentyre in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), describing an 1759 incident where Voltaire learned that Claude-Adrien Helvétius' book On the Mind [De l’esprit] had been burned (along with Voltaire's own "On Natural Law") after condemnation by the Paris Parliament and the Sorbonne.
‘What a fuss about an omelette!’ he had exclaimed when he heard of the burning. How abominably unjust to persecute a man for such an airy trifle as that! ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,’ was his attitude now.
Hall later wrote to a friend that the actual words were her own and ought not to have had quotation marks.

Variations:
  • I wholly disapprove of what you say -- and will defend to the death your right to say it.
  • Monsieur l’Abbé, je déteste ce que vous écrivez, mais je donnerais ma vie pour que vous puissiez continuer à écrire.
More information here.
Added on 12-Jul-16 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
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If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
“The Weight of Glory,” sermon, Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin (8 Jun 1941)
Added on 8-Jul-16 | Last updated 8-Jul-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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Neither urge another to that thou wouldst be unwilling to do thyself, nor do thyself what looks to thee unseemly and intemperate in another.

William Penn (1644-1718) English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, statesman
Some Fruits of Solitude, # 71 (1693)

See also Matthew 7:12.
Added on 4-Oct-10 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
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