Quotations about   words and deeds

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Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past — the best evidence of regret for them that we can offer, or the world receive.

Tryon Edwards (1809-1894) American theologian, writer, lexicographer
A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908)
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Often wrongly quoted, "... best apologies for bad actions in the past."
Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 9-Jun-19
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A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 7:18–20 (KJV)

    Alt. trans.:
  • "A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. And any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do." (GNT)
  • "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits." (NRSV)
Added on 17-Aug-18 | Last updated 17-Aug-18
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Marriage is not a noun, it’s a verb. It’s not something you have, like a house or a car. It is not a piece of paper that proves you are husband and wife. Marriage is a behavior. It is a choice you make over and over again, reflected in the way you treat your partner every day.

Barbara De Angelis (b. 1951) American relationship consultant, lecturer, author
Ask Barbara: The 100 Most-Asked Questions About Love, Sex, and Relationships (1997)
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Added on 25-May-18 | Last updated 25-May-18
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Words and thoughts concerning compassionate action that are not put into practice are like beautiful flowers that are colorful but have no fragrance.

Thích Nhất Hạnh (b. 1926) Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist
Creating True Peace, ch. 1 (2003)
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Added on 7-May-18 | Last updated 7-May-18
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There is no more contemptible type of human character that that of the nerveless sentimentalist and dreamer, who spends his life in a weltering sea of sensibility and emotion, but who never does a manly concrete deed.

William James (1842-1910) American psychologist and philosopher
The Principles of Psychology, Vol. 1, ch. 4 “Habit” (1890)
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This chapter originally published in Popular Science Monthly (Feb 1887).
Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 23-Oct-17
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No matter how full a reservoir of maxims one may possess, and no matter how good one’s sentiments may be, if one has not taken advantage of every concrete opportunity to act, one’s character may remain entirely unaffected for the better. With mere good intentions, hell is proverbially paved.

William James (1842-1910) American psychologist and philosopher
The Principles of Psychology, Vol. 1, “Habit” (1890)
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Added on 16-Oct-17 | Last updated 16-Oct-17
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A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) Lebanese-American poet, writer, painter [Gibran Khalil Gibran]
The Voice of the Master, Part 2, ch. 8 (1960)
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Added on 2-Oct-17 | Last updated 2-Oct-17
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A man’s action is only a picture-book of his creed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Letters and Social Aims, “Poetry and Imagination” (1876)
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Added on 11-Sep-17 | Last updated 11-Sep-17
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Thought is sad without action, and action is sad without thought.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (2nd Ed.,1889)
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Quoted in Cesare Lombroso, The Man of Genius (1896),
Added on 14-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Aug-17
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For action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics. We continually forget that the sphere of morals is the sphere of action, that speculation in regard to morality is but observation and must remain in the sphere of intellectual comment, that a situation does not really become moral until we are confronted with the question of what shall be done in a concrete case, and are obliged to act upon our theory.

Jane Addams (1860-1935) American reformer, suffragist, philosopher, author
Democracy and Social Ethics, ch. 7 “Political Reform” (1902)
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Added on 7-Aug-17 | Last updated 7-Aug-17
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Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) American anarchist, writer, environmentalist
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, ch. 4, “Life and Death and All That” (1989)
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Sometimes incorrectly quoted as "Belief without action is the ruin of the soul."
Added on 31-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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It is a golden rule that one should not judge people according to their opinions, but according to what these opinions make of them.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
In Adolf Wilbrandt (ed.), Selected Writings of Georg C. Lichtenberg (1893)

Alt. trans.:
  • "It is a golden rule not to judge men by their opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them."
  • "One must judge men not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them."
  • "Don't judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him."
Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 30-May-17
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Talk doesn’t cook rice.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb

Also attributed to the Japanese.
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism — that’s the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don’t. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That’s a dangerous type of atheism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon, Second Baptist Church, Detroit (28 Feb 1954)
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Added on 3-Mar-17 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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Men trust their ears less than their eyes.

Herodotus (c.484-c.420 BC) Greek historian
The Histories, Book 1, ch. 8
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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The best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.

John Milton (1608-1674) English poet
An Apology for Smectymnuus (1642)
Added on 16-May-16 | Last updated 16-May-16
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When I had the strength, I did not have the patience. I have the patience today and I no longer have the power.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 11-Nov-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Good impulses are naught, unless they become good actions.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 8-Apr-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; but he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Millennial Harbinger, #8 (Aug 1860).
Added on 13-Mar-13 | Last updated 16-May-16
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The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 23:2-7 (NIV)
    (Source)

Alt trans:
  • "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men." [NRSV]
  • "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." [KJV]
Added on 27-Nov-12 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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The chief way to gain good will is by good deeds.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Officiis, 2.9 [tr. Edinger (1974)]
Added on 28-Aug-12 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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An orator’s life is more convincing than his eloquence.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 507 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 9-Jan-12 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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Cato said the best way to keep good acts in memory was to refresh them with new.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Apothegms, #247 (1624)
Added on 24-Jun-10 | Last updated 16-May-16
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What a man believes may be ascertained, not from his creed, but from the assumptions on which habitually acts.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, “The Revolutionist’s Handbook,” “Religion” (1903)
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Added on 9-Aug-07 | Last updated 7-Nov-17
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What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
James 2:14-18 (KJV)
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:
  • "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith." (NRSV)
  • "My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”—if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. But someone will say, “One person has faith, another has actions.” My answer is, “Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” " (GNT)
Added on 7-Feb-05 | Last updated 8-Nov-17
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Ours is a practical people, to whom ideals furnish the theory of political action, upon which they want not only firm assurance, but also effective practice. They want programmes, but they want action to flow from them. They want constructive common sense. They want the development of the common will, not the views of a single individual. They are beginning to realize that words without action are the assassins of idealism.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) American engineer, bureaucrat, President of the US (1928-32)
In the New York Tribune (29 Apr 1920)

On the 1920 Presidential campaign.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Jun-16
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At the Day of Judgment, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how well we have spoken, but how holy we have lived.

[Certe adveniente die judicii, non quæretur a nobis quid legimus, sed quid fecimus; nec quam bene diximus, sed quam religiose viximus.]

Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380-1471) German monk, author
The Imitation of Christ, Book 1, ch. 3 (c. 1418)

Alt trans.: "At the Day of Judgement, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how eloquently we have spoken, but how holily we have lived."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
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Action is eloquence.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 3, sc. 2, l. 76 (1609)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-May-16
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