Quotations about   struggle

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MORDEN: Think about it, Captain. Look at the long history of human struggle. Six thousand years of recorded wars, bloodshed, atrocities beyond description. But look at what came out of all that. We’ve gone to the stars. Split the atom. Written sonnets. We would never have evolved this far if we hadn’t been at each other’s throats, evolving our way up inch by inch.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×22 “Z’Ha’Dum” (28 Oct 1996)
Added on 6-Aug-20 | Last updated 6-Aug-20
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It is a measure of the Negro’s circumstance that, in America, the smallest things usually take him so very long, and that, by the time he wins them, they are no longer little things: they are miracles.

Murray Kempton (1917-1997) American journalist.
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins & Monuments of the Thirties, ch. 8 (1955)
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On the formation of the Pullman Porters union.
Added on 26-Jun-20 | Last updated 26-Jun-20
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One does not become fully human painlessly.

Rollo May (1909-1994) American psychotherapist
Foreword to Ronald S. Valle and Mark King, Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology (1978)
Added on 15-May-20 | Last updated 15-May-20
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The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to be a light amid the thorns.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
Platonism and the Spiritual Life (1927)
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Added on 19-Mar-20 | Last updated 19-Mar-20
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Let me point out to you that freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be. One hasn’t got to have an enormous military in order to be unfree when it’s simpler to be asleep, when it’s simpler to be apathetic, when it’s simpler, in fact, not to want to be free, to think that something else is more important.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American novelist, playwright, activist
“Notes for a Hypothetical Novel,” speech, San Francisco College (22 Oct 1960)
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Later published in Nobody Knows My Name (1961).
Added on 6-Jan-20 | Last updated 6-Jan-20
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What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) German-American psychologist, writer
Man’s Search for Meaning, Part 2 (1946)
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Added on 16-Apr-19 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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Love responsibility. Say: “It is my duty, and mine alone, to save the earth. If it is not saved, then I alone am to blame.” Love each man according to his contribution in the struggle. Do not seek friends; seek comrades-in-arms.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
The Saviors of God [Salvatores Dei], “The March: First Step: The Ego,” #15-16 (1923) [tr. Friar [1960])
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Added on 4-Jul-17 | Last updated 4-Jul-17
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The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. (Mar 1973).

Full quote: "Some people say they won’t work 'inside the system' -- they’re 'waiting for the revolution.' Well, when the ramparts are open, honey, I'll be there. But until then, I'm going to go right on zapping the business and government delinquents, the jockocrats, the fetus fetishists, and all the other niggerizers any way I can. The biggest sin is sitting on your ass."
Added on 21-Jun-17 | Last updated 28-Aug-17
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To ensure moral salvation, it is primarily necessary to depend on oneself, because in the moment of peril we are alone. And strength is not to be acquired instantaneously. He who knows that he will have to fight, prepares himself for boxing and dueling by strength and skill; he does not sit still with folded hands.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) Italian educator, philosopher, educator, physician
The Advanced Montessori Method: Spontaneous Activity in Education, Vol. I (1917)
Added on 13-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
(Misattributed)

Misattributed to Kierkegaard by Cyril Connolly, Horizon, vol. 11 (1945). More properly attributed to Jacobus Johannes van der Leeuw (1893–1934), The Conquest of Illusion, ch. 1: "The mystery of life in not a problem to be solved, it is a reality to be experienced."
Added on 8-Dec-16 | Last updated 11-Dec-16
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To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

zinn-itself-a-marvelous-victory-wist_info-quote

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) American historian, academic, author, social activist
“The Optimism of Uncertainty,” The Nation (2 Sep 2004)
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Adopted from Zinn's essay of the same name in Paul Loeb (ed.), The Impossible Will Take a Little While (2004). See also Zinn, "A Marvelous Victory" (23 Feb 2004).
Added on 28-Nov-16 | Last updated 11-Dec-16
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I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will be still rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
‘Where Do We Go From Here?” Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1967)
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Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-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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Freedom is worth paying for.

[La liberté vaut qu’on la paye.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Part 2, ch. 8 “Vigo Bay” (1870)
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Added on 15-Apr-16 | Last updated 15-Apr-16
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A religious life is a struggle and not a hymn.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Corinne, Book 10, ch. 5 (1807)
Added on 19-Jan-16 | Last updated 19-Jan-16
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There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives.

Lorde - single issue - wist_info quote

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Learning from the 60s,” speech, Malcolm X weekend, Harvard University (Feb 1982)
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Reprinted in Sister Outsider (1984).
Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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When I was younger, I thought I could change this world. Now I no longer think so but for emotional reasons I must keep on fighting a holding action.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Friday [Dr. Baldwin] (1982)
Added on 24-Nov-15 | Last updated 24-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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Are you going to come along quietly, or am I going to have to use ear plugs?

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
The Goon Show, 9×12 “The Call of the West” (20 Jan 1959)

Variant: "Are you going to come along quietly, or do you want musical accompaniment?"
Added on 2-Jul-15 | Last updated 2-Jul-15
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A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
The Simplest Way to be Happy (1933)
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Added on 23-Mar-15 | Last updated 23-Mar-15
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Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
“Notebook 4,” Notebooks: 1942-1951
Added on 13-Oct-14 | Last updated 13-Oct-14
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Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as the being obliged to struggle with the world.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, “Matrimony” (1787)
Added on 23-Sep-14 | Last updated 23-Sep-14
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We take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Studies in Pessimism: The Vanity of Existence,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
Added on 16-Sep-14 | Last updated 16-Sep-14
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If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden (b. 1956) American editor, writer, essayist
Making Light, “Commonplaces”
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Added on 5-Sep-14 | Last updated 5-Sep-14
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The struggle which is not joyous is the wrong struggle. The joy of the struggle is not hedonism and hilarity, but the sense of purpose, achievement, and dignity.

Germaine Greer (b. 1939) English reformer, author, educator
The Female Eunuch, Introduction (1970)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 2-Sep-14
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To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

e e cummings (1894-1962) American poet and painter [Edward Estlin Cummings]
A Miscellany (1958)
Added on 29-Aug-14 | Last updated 29-Aug-14
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If it was a worthwhile fight, it didn’t matter who won; some good was sure to come of it.

Richard Brooks (1912-1992) American screenwriter, film director, novelist
Deadline: U.S.A. [film] (1952)

Line spoken by Ethyl Barrymore.
Added on 27-Aug-14 | Last updated 27-Aug-14
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You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Two Paths, Lecture 5 (1859)
Added on 5-Aug-14 | Last updated 5-Aug-14
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It isn’t enough to stand up and fight darkness. You’ve got to stand apart from it, too. You’ve got to be different from it.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Fool Moon (2001)
Added on 8-Jul-14 | Last updated 8-Jul-14
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Laugh whenever you can. Keeps you from killing yourself when things are bad. That and vodka.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Changes, ch. 33 [Sanya] (2010)
Added on 28-Jan-14 | Last updated 28-Jan-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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We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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See Gladstone.
Added on 24-Feb-12 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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The important thing in life is not the victory but the contest; the essential thing is not to have won but to have fought well.

[L’important dans la vie ce n’est point le triomphe, mais le combat, l’essentiel ce n’est pas d’avoir vaincu mais de s’être bien battu.]

Pierre Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (1863-1937) French pedagogue, historian, founder of the International Olympic Committee
Olympic Creed, Speech, Olympic Games, London (24 Jul 1908)

Alt. trans: "The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

Original phrasing by de Coubertin: "The importance of these Olympiads is not so much to win as to take part."

De Coubertin was drawing from a sermon by Bp. Ethelbert Talbot at St Paul's Cathedral, London (19 Jul 1908): "We have just been contemplating the great Olympic Games. What does it mean? It means that young men of robust physical life have come from all parts of the world. It does mean, I think, as someone has said, that this era of internationalism as seen in the Stadium has an element of danger. Of course, it is very true, as he says, that each athlete strives not only for the sake of sport, but for the sake of his country. Thus a new rivalry is invented. If England be beaten on the river, or America outdistanced on the racing path, or that American has lost the strength which she once possessed. Well, what of it? The only safety after all lies in the lesson of the real Olympia -- that the Games themselves are better than the race and the prize. St. Paul tells us how insignificant is the prize, Our prize is not corruptible, but incorruptible, and though only one may wear the laurel wreath, all may share the equal joy of the contest. All encouragement, therefore, be given to the exhilarating -- I might also say soul-saving -- interest that comes in active and fair and clean athletic sports."
Added on 4-Apr-11 | Last updated 15-Jul-20
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Over the centuries, mankind has tried many ways of combating the forces of evil … prayer, fasting, good works and so on. Up until Doom, no one seemed to have thought about the double-barrel shotgun. Eat leaden death, demon …

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Post, alt.fan.pratchett (30 May 1998)
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Added on 17-Apr-08 | Last updated 20-Mar-20
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Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“The American Crisis” #1 (19 Dec 1776)
Added on 22-Feb-08 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
Baccalaureate address, Antioch College, Ohio (1859)

Final public address.
Added on 13-Feb-08 | Last updated 16-Jun-17
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Most of us lead lives of chaotic improvisation from day to day, bawling for peace while plunging grimly into fresh disorders.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1991)
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Added on 5-Dec-07 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
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I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Abigail Adams (3 Jul 1776)
Added on 14-Aug-07 | Last updated 4-Jul-15
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ZATHRAS: Yes, Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other people’s needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death. But at least there is symmetry.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×16 “War Without End,” Part 1 (13 May 1996)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb

Quoted in W. C. Wilson, ed., The Teacher's Visitor (1846).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) American abolitionist, orator, writer
Speech on West India Emancipation (4 Aug 1857)

Also cited (in part) as a letter to a colleague in 1849. More background here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Aug-15
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Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.

John Watson (1850-1907) Scottish writer, preacher, theologian [pseud. Ian Maclaren]
The British Weekly (1897)

Frequently paraphrased "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Frequently misattributed to Plato. More discussion about this quotation here.  See also a later expansion on the theme by Watson here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Jan-19
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G’KAR: By G’Quon I can’t recall the last time I was in a fight like that! No moral ambiguity, no hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces. They were the bad guys, as you say, and we were the good guys! And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor!

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
Babylon 5, 3×13 “A Late Delivery from Avalon” (22 Apr 1996)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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