Quotations about   world

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Here’s a comforting thought for you, Peter. However long you may live, the world will never lose its ability to surprise you with its beauty.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Lies Sleeping (2018)
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Added on 2-Apr-21 | Last updated 2-Apr-21
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As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
The Life of the Mind (1977)
Added on 25-Mar-21 | Last updated 25-Mar-21
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Your calling is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Frederick Buechner (b. 1926) American minister, author
The Hungering Dark (1969)
Added on 3-Feb-21 | Last updated 3-Feb-21
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I’m filled with a desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Myth of Sisyphus” (1942)
Added on 7-Jan-21 | Last updated 7-Jan-21
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A lot of the arguments about religion going on at the moment spring from a rather inept understanding of religious truth. Our notion changed during the early modern period when we became convinced that the only path to any kind of truth was reason. That works beautifully for science but doesn’t work so well for the humanities. Religion is really an art form and a struggle to find value and meaning amid the ghastly tragedy of human life.

Karen Armstrong (b. 1944) British author, comparative religion scholar
“The Reason of Faith,” Interview with Michael Brunton, Ode (Sep-Oct 2009)
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Added on 19-Oct-20 | Last updated 19-Oct-20
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Christ saw much in this world to weep over, and much to pray over: but he saw nothing in it to look upon with contempt.

Edwin Hubbell Chapin (1814-1880) American clergyman
Living Words (1860)
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Added on 18-Sep-20 | Last updated 18-Sep-20
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ANGEL: Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It’s harsh, and cruel. But that’s why there’s us, champions. Doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world is as it should be, to show it what it can be.

Steven S. DeKnight (b. 1964) American television screenwriter, producer
Angel, 4×01 “Deep Down” (6 Oct 2002)
Added on 24-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Aug-20
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What makes earth feel like Hell is our expectation that it should feel like Heaven.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Damned, ch. 1 (2011)
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Added on 7-Jul-20 | Last updated 7-Jul-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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A person can go on living fairly well, seem to be a human being, be occupied with temporal matters, marry, have children, be honored and esteemed — and it may not be detected that in a deeper sense this person lacks a self. Such things do not create much of a stir in the world, for a self is the last thing the world cares about and the most dangerous thing of all for a person to show signs of having. The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss — an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. — is sure to be noticed.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
The Sickness unto Death, “The Forms of This Sickness, i.e., of Despair,” 1.a.1 (1849)

    Alt. trans.:
  • "A man may nevertheless be perfectly well able to live on, to be a mn, a it seems, to occupy himself with temporal things, get married, beget children, win honor and esteem -- and perhaps no one notices that in a deeper sense he lacks a self. About such a thing as that not much fuss made in the world for a self is the thing the world is least apt to inquire about, and the thing of all things the most dangerous for a man to let people notice that he has it. The greatest danger, that of losing one's own self, may pass off as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, that of an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc., is sure to be noticed." (Source)
  • "But to become fantastic in this way, and therefore be in despair, although usually obvious, does not mean that a person may not continue living a fairly good life, to all appearances be someone, employed with temporal matters, get married, beget children, be honored and esteemed -- and one may fail to notice that in a deeper sense he lacks a self. Such things cause little stir in the world; for in the world a self is what one least asks after, and the thing it is the most dangerous of all to show signs of having. The biggest danger, that of losing oneself, can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing; every other loss, an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. is bound to be noticed." (Source)
Added on 9-Jan-20 | Last updated 9-Jan-20
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Love would put a new face on this weary old world in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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Added on 24-Oct-17 | Last updated 24-Oct-17
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If the world were a logical place, men would ride side-saddle.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Sudden Death (1983)
Added on 16-Oct-17 | Last updated 16-Oct-17
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I don’t think the boy of lively mind is hurt much by going to college. If he encounters mainly jackasses, then he learns the useful lesson that this is a jackass world.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“Editorial,” The American Mercury (April 1926)
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Reprinted in Prejudices: Sixth Series (1927).
Added on 12-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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Life is not made up of dramatic incidents — even the life of a nation. It is made up of slowly evolving events and processes, which newspapers, by a score of different forms of emphasis, can reasonably attempt to explore from day to day. But television news jerks from incident to incident. For the real world of patient and familiar arrangements, it substitutes an unreal world of constant activity, and the effect is already apparent in the way which the world behaves. It is almost impossible, these days, to consider any problem or any event except as a crisis; and, by this very way of looking at it, it in fact becomes a crisis.

Henry Fairlie (1924-1990) British journalist and social critic
“Can You Believe Your Eyes?” Horizon (Spring 1967)
Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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“It’s not funny.”

“No, it isn’t, no more than everything else. Laughing is better than crying, though. When you can.”

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Promised Land (1976)
Added on 22-Feb-17 | Last updated 22-Feb-17
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Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Torquato Tasso, Act 1, sc. 2 (1790)
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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The world is not always a kind place. That’s something all children learn for themselves, whether we want them to or not, but it’s something they really need our help to understand.

Fred Rogers (1928-2003) American educator, minister, songwriter, television host ["Mister Rogers"]
You Are Special (1994)
Added on 24-Jan-17 | Last updated 24-Jan-17
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I am weary of reading Newspapers. The Times are so full of Events, the whole Drama of the World is such a Tragedy that I am weary of the Spectacle.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Abigail Adams (27 Feb 1793)
Added on 4-Jan-17 | Last updated 4-Jan-17
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The world either breaks or hardens the heart.

chamfort-breaks-or-hardens-the-heart-wist_info-quote

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
(Attributed)

Quoted in J. De Finod (ed., trans.) A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness (1880).
Added on 20-Dec-16 | Last updated 20-Dec-16
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It remains true, however, that an inconveniently placed railing or sharp corner will not remove itself from the path of a drunkard, even if that drunkard is unaware of the obstacles on the path he has set for himself; in other words, no matter to what degree we are oblivious to the world, it makes its own choices as to how oblivious it will be to us.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
The Phoenix Guards (1991)
Added on 23-Nov-16 | Last updated 23-Nov-16
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DRUMLIN: I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that’s an understatement. What you don’t know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.

ARROWAY: Funny, I’ve always believed that the world is what we make of it.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
Contact, film (1997) [screenplay by J. Hart and M. Goldenberg
Added on 11-Nov-16 | Last updated 11-Nov-16
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The world’s an Inn; and I her guest.
I eat; I drink; I take my rest.
My hostess, nature, does deny me
Nothing, wherewith she can supply me;
Where, having stayed a while, I pay
Her lavish bills, and go my way.

Quarles - worlds an inn - wist_info quote

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
“On the World”
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Added on 6-Jun-16 | Last updated 7-Jun-16
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He that succeeds in the world loves it. He that fails in it hates it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1831)
Added on 2-Mar-16 | Last updated 2-Mar-16
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The world is disgracefully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain.

Firbank - disgracefully managed - wist_info quote

Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) British novelist and playwright
Vainglory (1915)
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Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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“Do you think the world is growing worse?” Mr. Hennessy asked.
“I do not,” said Mr. Dooley.
“Do you think it’s growing better?”
“No,” said Mr. Dooley. “If it’s doing anything, it’s just turning around as usual.”

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
(Attributed)

Usually paraphrased as "The world is not growing worse and it is not growing better -- it is just turning around as usual."
Added on 26-Feb-16 | Last updated 26-Feb-16
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One thing shines clear in the heart’s sweet reason,
One lightning over the chasm runs —
That to turn from love is the world’s one treason
That darkens all the suns.

Edwin Markham (1852-1940) American poet
“The Crowning Hour” (2), The Shoes of Happiness, and Other Poems (1913)
Added on 27-Mar-15 | Last updated 27-Mar-15
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The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in the closet.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (4 Oct 1746)
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All things pass in time. We are far less significant than we imagine ourselves to be. All that we are, all that we have wrought, is but a shadow, no matter how durable it may seem. One day, when the last man has breathed his last breath, the sun will shine, the mountains will stand, the rain will fall, the streams will whisper — and they will not miss him.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Princeps’ Fury, Epilogue [Gaius Sextus] (2008)
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Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
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I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well. And I look forward to a world which will be safe not only for democracy and diversity but also for personal distinction.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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Let the great book of the world be your principal study.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (7 Apr 1756)
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Never give children a chance of imagining that anything exists in isolation. Make it plain from the very beginning that all living is relationship. Show them relationships in the woods, in the fields, in the ponds and streams, in the village and in the country around it. Rub it in.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Island (1962)
Added on 12-Nov-14 | Last updated 14-Mar-18
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I believe that the gods themselves are frightened of the world which they have fashioned.

Peter Ackroyd (b. 1949) English biographer, novelist, critic
The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde (1983)
Added on 16-Sep-14 | Last updated 16-Sep-14
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An authentic faith — which is never comfortable or completely personal — always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better that we found it.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Evangelii Gaudium, sec. 183 (24 Nov 2013)
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Added on 26-Aug-14 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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Don’t believe the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Robert Jones Burdette (1844-1914) American humorist, lecturer, clergyman
“Advice to Young Men,” lecture (1833)

Quoted in the Duluth Evening Observer (1 Feb 1883). Frequently misattributed to Mark Twain. See here for more information.
Added on 16-Jun-14 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Mark 8:36 (KJV)
Added on 22-May-14 | Last updated 22-May-14
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There must be either a predestined Necessity and inviolable plan, or a gracious Providence, or a chaos without design or director. If then there be an inevitable Necessity, why kick against the pricks? If a Providence that is ready to be gracious, render thyself worthy of divine succour. But if a chaos without guide, congratulate thyself that amid such a surging sea thou hast a guiding Reason.

[Ἤτοι ἀνάγκη εἱμαρμένης καὶ ἀπαράβατος τάξις ἢ πρόνοια ἱλάσιμος ἢ φυρμὸς εἰκαιότητος ἀπροστάτητος. εἰ μὲν οὖν ἀπαράβατος ἀνάγκη, τί ἀντιτείνεις; εἰ δὲ πρόνοια ἐπιδεχομένη τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι, ἄξιον σαυτὸν ποίησον τῆς ἐκ τοῦ θείου βοηθείας. εἰ δὲ φυρμὸς ἀνηγεμόνευτος, ἀσμένιζε ὅτι ἐν τοιούτῳ κλύδωνι αὐτὸς ἔχεις ἐν σαυτῷ τινα νοῦν ἡγεμονικόν.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 12, #14 [tr. Haines (1916)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Either fate, (and that either an absolute necessity, and unavoidable decree; or a placable and flexible Providence) or all is a mere casual confusion, void of all order and government. If an absolute and unavoidable necessity, why doest thou resist? If a placable and exorable Providence, make thyself worthy of the divine help and assistance. If all be a mere confusion without any moderator, or governor, then hast thou reason to congratulate thyself; that in such a general flood of confusion thou thyself hast obtained a reasonable faculty, whereby thou mayest govern thine own life and actions.
[tr. Casaubon (1634), #11]

Either the Order of Things are fixed by irrevocable Fate, or Providence may be worked into Compassion, or else the World Floats at Raondom without any Steerage. Now if nature lies under immovable Necessity, to what purpose should you struggle against it? If the favor of Providence is to be gained, qualify your self for the Divine Assistance: But if Chance, and Confusion carry it, and no body sits at the Helm; be you contented and Ride out the Storm patiently, for you have a Governor within you , though the World has none.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

Either there is a fatal necessity and invincible order, or a kind providence, or a confusion without a purpose and without a director. If then there is an invincible necessity, why dost thou resist? But if there is a providence which allows itself to be propitiated, make thyself worthy of the help of the divinity. But if there is a confusion without a governor, be content that in such a tempest thou hast in thyself a certain ruling intelligence.
[tr. Long (1862)]

Either the order of things is fixed by irrevocable fate, or providence may be worked into compassion, or else the world floats at random without any steerage. Now if nature lies under an immovable necessity, to what purpose should you struggle against it? If the favor of providence is to be gained, qualify yourself for divine assistance; but if chance and confusion prevail, be you contented that in such a storm you have a governing intelligence within you.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

Either the Necessity of destiny and an order none may transgress, or Providence that hears intercession, or an ungoverned welter without a purpose. If then a Necessity which none may transgress, why do you resist? If a Providence admitting intercession, make yourself worthy of assistance from the Godhead. If an undirected welter, be glad that in so great a flood of waves you have yourself within you a directing mind.
[tr. Farquharson (1944)]

Fatal necessity, and inescapable order. Or benevolent Providence. Or confusion -- random and undirected. If it's an inescapable necessity, why resist it? If it's Providence, admits of being worshipped, then try to be worthy of God's aid. If it's confusion and anarchy, then be grateful that on this raging sea you have a mind to guide you.
[tr. Hays (2003)]

Either predetermined necessity and unalterable cosmic order, or a gracious providence, or a chaotic ungoverned mixture. If a predetermined necessity, why do you resist? If it is a gracious Providence that can hear our prayers, then make yourself worthy of divine assistance. If a chaotic ungoverned mixture, be satisfied that in the midst of this storm, you have within yourself a mind whose nature it is to govern and command.
[tr. Needleman/Piazza (2008)]

Added on 26-Mar-13 | Last updated 30-Mar-21
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To a wise man, the whole earth is open; for the native land of a good soul is the whole earth.

[Ἀνδρὶ σοφῶι πᾶσα γῆ βατή· ψυχῆς γὰρ ἀγαθῆς πατρὶς ὁ ξύμπας κόσμος.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 247 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
    (Source)

Diels citation: "247. (168 N.)"; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium III, 40, 7. Alternate translations:

  • "To a wise man the whole earth is accessible; for the home country of a good soul is the whole world." [tr. Barnes (1987)]
  • "The whole earth is open to the wise person, for the entire universe is the country of a good soul." [@sentantiq (2019)]
  • "The whole world is home to a wise man with an upright spirit." [Source]
  • "The wise man belongs to all countries, for the home of a great soul is the whole world."
Added on 24-Jul-12 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
“In the Valley of the Shadow,” Parade (10 Mar 1996)
Added on 9-Jun-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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There is always a “but” in this imperfect world.

Anne Brontë (1820-1849) British novelist, poet [pseud. Acton Bell]
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ch. 22 [Helen] (1848)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) English novelist, letter writer
Letter (16 Aug 1776)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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O, how full of briers is this working-day world!

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 11 (1599)
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