Quotations about   sympathy

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It is by means of my vices that I understand yours.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (Spring-Summer 1844)
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He recorded this phrase multiple times, including in his lecture, "The Anglo-American" (7 Dec 1852), and Notebook S Salvage.
Added on 16-Apr-19 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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Tolerance, good temper and sympathy — they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long.

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 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind then that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
Statement to the Court (18 Sep 1918)
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On being convicted of Sedition. Often paraphrased: "As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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Economic privation proceeds by easy stages, and so long as men suffer it patiently the outside world cares little.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
The Economic Consequences of the Peace, ch. 6 (1919)
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Added on 17-Jan-17 | Last updated 17-Jan-17
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Terrorism set up by reformers may be just as bad as Government terrorism and it is often worse because it draws a certain amount of false sympathy.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
In Young India (18 Dec 1924)
Added on 5-Dec-16 | Last updated 5-Dec-16
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Lofty mountains are full of springs; great hearts are full of tears.

Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest, 5.56 [tr. Hapgood (1886)]
Added on 30-Sep-16 | Last updated 30-Sep-16
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A generous heart suffers for the misfortunes of others as much as though it had caused them.

Luc de Clapiers, Marquis de Vauvenargues (1715-1747) French moralist, essayist, soldier
Reflections and Maxims [Réflexions et maximes], #173 (1746) [tr. Stevens (1940)]
Added on 28-Sep-16 | Last updated 14-Jun-17
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The more you join with people in their joys and their sorrows, the more nearer and dearer they come to be to you.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Tom Sawyer Abroad, ch. 11 (1894)
Added on 21-Sep-16 | Last updated 21-Sep-16
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Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Paul - rejoice weep - wist_info quote

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Romans 12:15 [KJV]
Added on 7-Sep-16 | Last updated 7-Sep-16
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The more you are drawn to put yourself in the place of the other person, the more you feel the pain inflicted upon him, the insult offered him, the injustice of which he is a victim, the more you will be urged to act so that you may prevent the pain, insult, or injustice.

Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) Russian activist, scientist, philosopher, anarchist
Anarchist Morality (1909)
Added on 31-Aug-16 | Last updated 31-Aug-16
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Sympathy … is not an end in itself. … Not mere feeling, but action, will mitigate the world’s misery, society’s injustice, or the people’s alienation from God.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
The Prophets, 18 (1962)
Added on 24-Aug-16 | Last updated 24-Aug-16
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I never yet heard man or woman much abused, that I was not inclined to think the better of them; and to transfer any suspicion or dislike to the person who appeared to take delight in pointing out the defects of a fellow-creature.

Jane Porter (1776-1850) English historical novelist and dramatist
Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney, Vol. 2, “Falsehood, Treachery, and Slander,” #19, Remark (1807)
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Added on 6-Jun-16 | Last updated 6-Jun-16
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So perish all whose breast ne’er learned to glow
For others’ good, or melt at others’ woe!

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Elegy to an Unfortunate Lady”, l. 45 (1717)
Added on 26-Apr-16 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.

Shelley - greatly good - wist_info quote

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) English poet
A Defence of Poetry (1821) [ed. Albert S. Cook (1890)]
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I do not believe that any man can lead who does not act, whether it be consciously or unconsciously, under the impulse of a profound sympathy with those whom he leads — a sympathy which is insight — an insight which is of the heart rather than of the intellect.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) US President (1913-20), educator, political scientist
“Leaders of Men,” Commencement Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (17 Jun 1890)
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Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 14-Dec-15
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There are two insults which no human being will endure: The assertion that he hasn’t a sense of humor, and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Main Street (1920)
Added on 13-Oct-15 | Last updated 13-Oct-15
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The pat on the back, the arm around the shoulder, the praise for what was done right, and the sympathetic nod for what wasn’t, are as much a part of golf as life itself.

Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006) US President, (1974-77) [b. Leslie Lynch King, Jr.]
Speech, Dedication of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Pinehurst, North Carolina (12 Sep 1974)
Added on 28-Aug-15 | Last updated 28-Aug-15
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He whose Belly is full believes not him whose is empty.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2399 (1732)
Added on 27-Aug-15 | Last updated 27-Aug-15
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You can’t do the biggest things in this world unless you handle men; and you can’t handle men if you’re not in sympathy with them; and sympathy begins in humility.

George Horace Lorimer (1867-1937) American journalist, author, magazine editor
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1901)
Added on 29-Jul-14 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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To hear complaints with patience, even when complaints are vain, is one of the duties of friendship.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, # 59 (9 Oct 1750)
Added on 28-Mar-14 | Last updated 28-Mar-14
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Depend upon it if a man talks of his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him; for where there is nothing but pure misery there never is any recourse to the mention of it.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (1780)
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In Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, ch. 51 "1780" (1791)
Added on 21-Mar-14 | Last updated 21-Mar-14
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Never find your delight in another’s misfortune.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 467
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It is a consolation to the wretched to have companions in misery.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 995
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Candy smiled at me a little. “Look,” she said. “You’re a good guy. I know you care about me, but you’re a while male, you can’t understand a minority situation. It’s not your fault.”

[…] When the beer came, I drank about a quarter of it and said to Candy, “Extend that logic, and we eventually have to decide that no one can understand anyone. Maybe the matter of understanding has been overrated. Maybe I don’t have to understand your situation to sympathize with it, to help you alter it, to be on your side. I’ve never experienced starvation either, but I’m opposed to it. When I encounter it, I try to alleviate it. I sympathize with its victims. The question of whether I understand it doesn’t arise.”

She shook her head. “That’s different,” she said.

“Maybe it isn’t. Maybe civilization is possible, if at all, only because people can care about conditions they haven’t experienced. Maybe you need understanding like a fish needs a bicycle.”

“You’re quite thoughtful,” she said, “for a man your size.”

“You’ve never been my size,” I said. “You wouldn’t understand.”

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
A Savage Place, ch. 12 (1981)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Mar-17
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If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
Drift-Wood, “Table Talk”
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More discussion of this quotation here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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