Thomas Paine (quotes)

  • Virtue is not hereditary.
  • My mind is my own church.
  • Science is the true theology.
  • Government is a necessary evil
  • War ought to be no man’s wish.
  • Kill the king but spare the man.
  • Public credit is suspicion asleep.
  • Wisdom is not the purchase of a day
  • Titles do not count with posterity.
  • Prophesying is lying professionally.
  • My country is wherever liberty lives.
  • Wrong cannot have a legal descendant.
  • Time makes more converts than reason.
  • Government is best which governs least
  • Liberty cannot be purchased by a wish.
  • Human nature is not of itself vicious.
  • The greatest remedy for anger is delay.
  • The birthday of a new world is at hand.
  • Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
  • The more we bestow the richer we become.
  • These are the days that try man’s heart.
  • He who dares not offend cannot be honest.
  • These are the times that try men’s souls.
  • I disbelieve all holy men and holy books.
  • Nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice.
  • Man must go back to nature for information.
  • The balance of power is the scale of peace.
  • Priests and conjurors are of the same trade.
  • A government of our own is our natural right
  • Character is much easier kept than recovered.
  • Tears may soothe the wounds they cannot heal.
  • The Vatican is a dagger in the heart of Italy.
  • Prejudice will fall in a combat with interest.
  • Compassion, the fairest associate of the heart.
  • Where knowledge is a duty, ignorance is a crime.
  • The slavery of fear had made men afraid to think.
  • Men should not petition for rights, but take them
  • The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.
  • The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.
  • I die content, I die for the liberty of my country.
  • To take away (voting) is to reduce a man to slavery.
  • Every person of learning is finally his own teacher.
  • It is unpleasant to see character throw itself away.
  • It is the object only of war that makes it honorable.
  • A share in two revolutions is living to some purpose.
  • We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
  • It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance.
  • Better fare hard with good men than feast it with bad.
  • From the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom.
  • In Deism our reason and our belief are happily united.
  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
  • My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
  • That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
  • Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence.
  • Aristocracy is kept up by family tyranny and injustice.
  • I detest the Bible as I detest everything that is cruel.
  • Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title.
  • To be nobly wrong is more manly than to be meanly right.
  • The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system.
  • … a thirst for power is the natural disease of monarchy.
  • The NT, compared with the Old, is like a farce of one act.
  • The guilt of a government is the crime of a whole country.
  • It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
  • Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself.
  • Aristocracy has a tendency to degenerate the human species.
  • Customs will often outlive the remembrance of their origin.
  • One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.
  • A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men.
  • Mutual fear is a principal link in the chain of mutual love.
  • What at first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue.
  • Government without a constitution, is a power without a right.
  • Governments arise either out of the people or over the people.
  • It is only by the exercise of reason that man can discover God.
  • The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
  • Let them call me rebel, and welcome, I feel no concern from it.
  • What is it the Bible teaches us? — rapine, cruelty, and murder.
  • The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture.
  • It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies.
  • Wisdom degenerates in governments as governments increase in age.
  • The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason.
  • Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness.
  • The Christian religion begins with a dream and ends with a murder.
  • There is no greater tyranny than that of the dead over the living.
  • The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind.
  • Ye that dare oppose, not only tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth!
  • The cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.
  • No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
  • Our greatest enemies, the ones we must fight most often, are within.
  • It is easy to see that when republican virtue fails, slavery ensues.
  • A man may write himself out of reputation when nobody else can do it.
  • An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.
  • It is painful to behold a man employing his talents to corrupt himself.
  • …the true greatness of a nation is founded on principles of humanity.
  • Commerce diminishes the spirit, both of patriotism and military defence.
  • Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
  • I die in perfect composure and resignation to the will of my Creator, God.
  • You cannot undermine police authority and then complain about rising crime.
  • Some people can be reasoned into sense, and others must be shocked into it.
  • Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst.
  • Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society.
  • He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument
  • If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
  • Youth is the seed time of good habits, as well in nations as in individuals.
  • When all other rights are taken away, the right of rebellion is made perfect.
  • Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the means of riches.
  • War is the gambling table of governments, and citizens the dupes of the game.
  • I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
  • The strength and power of despotism consists wholly in the fear of resistance.
  • Those who expect to reap the blessing of freedom must undertake to support it.
  • … in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.
  • A man does not serve God when he prays, for it is himself he is trying to serve
  • The greatest tyrannies are always perpetuated in the name of the noblest causes.
  • It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.
  • Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous consciousness of honor.
  • Every proprietor owes to the community a ground-rent for the land which he holds.
  • It is a general idea, that when taxes are once laid on, they are never taken off.
  • The people of America are a people of property; almost every man is a freeholder.
  • The period of debate is closed. Arms, as a last resource, must decide the contest.
  • It is the direction and not the magnitude which is to be taken into consideration.
  • I would not dare so dishonor my Creator’s name by attaching it to this filthy book.
  • The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
  • The Bible: a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalise mankind.
  • Taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.
  • The protection of a man’s person is more sacred than the protection of his property.
  • Suspicion and persecution are weeds of the same dunghill, and flourish best together.
  • Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
  • A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation.
  • For the fate of Charles the first, hath only made kings more subtle ‚Äî not more just.
  • The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing.
  • When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
  • “Government,” says Swift, “is a plain thing, and fitted to the capacity of many heads.”
  • We can only reason from what is; we can reason on actualities, but not on possibilities.
  • Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order.
  • A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.
  • Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.
  • When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.
  • I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.
  • …for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
  • The final event to himself has been, that as he rose like a rocket, he fell like the stick.
  • There is something absurd in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.
  • A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
  • It is with a pious fraud as with a bad action; it begets a calamitous necessity of going on.
  • It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.
  • The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerors, and the third of reason.
  • Evils, like poisons, have their uses, and there are diseases which no other remedy can reach.
  • The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
  • The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed.
  • I know not whether taxes are raised to fight wars, or wars are fought in order to raise taxes.
  • Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
  • Mingling religion with politics may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.
  • Nothing, they say is more certain than death, and nothing more uncertain than the time of dying
  • If there was ever a just war since the world began, it is this in which America is now engaged.
  • Beware the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry.
  • The more acquisitions the government makes abroad, the more taxes the people have to pay at home.
  • Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions.
  • The art of publicity is a black art; but it has come to stay, and every year adds to its potency.
  • The right of voting for representatives , is the primary right by which other rights are protected.
  • If those to whom power is delegated do well, they will be respected; if not, they will be despised.
  • When authors and critics talk of the sublime, they see not how nearly it borders on the ridiculous.
  • It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error.
  • Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
  • Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.
  • Therefore we say that a lying Spirit has been in the mouth of the writers of the books of the Bible.
  • Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority; perfect equality affords no temptation.
  • What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
  • Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off.
  • To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
  • There are two distinct classes of men – those who pay taxes and those who receive and live upon taxes.
  • Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
  • It is a faculty of the human mind to become what it contemplates, and to act in unison with its object.
  • I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace.
  • He, who survives his reputation, lives out of despite himself, like a man listening to his own reproach.
  • It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.
  • From such beginnings of governments, what could be expected, but a continual system of war and extortion?
  • It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all.
  • To possess ourselves of a clear idea of what government is, or ought to be, we must trace it to its origin.
  • The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
  • The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly.
  • Peace, which costs nothing, is attended with infinitely more advantage than any victory with all its expence.
  • But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing.
  • Death is not the monarch for the dead, but of the dying. The moment he obtains a conquest he loses a subject.
  • We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.
  • Titles are like a magicians wand which circumscribe human facility and prevent us from living the lives of man.
  • …the Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any.
  • The United States of America will sound as pompously in the world or in history as The Kingdom of Great Britain.
  • When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure, or not attempt it.
  • Man did not enter society to be worse off, or to have fewer rights, but rather to have those rights better secured
  • But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes?
  • If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe, and that is all that it proves.
  • Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.
  • Action and care will in time wear down the strongest frame, but guilt and melancholy are poisons of quick dispatch.
  • He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
  • The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.
  • It has been the political career of this man to begin with hypocrisy, proceed with arrogance, and finish with contempt
  • Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.
  • It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.
  • The Allwise Creator hath been dishonored by being made the author of fable and the human mind degraded by believing it.
  • It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes.
  • All men can understand what representation is; and that it must necessarily include a variety of knowledge and talents.
  • Lay then the axe to the root, and teach governments humanity. It is their sanguinary punishments which corrupt mankind.
  • For freemen like brothers agree; With one spirit endured, they one friendship pursued, And their temple was Liberty Tree
  • Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion.
  • Accustom a people to believe that priests, or any other class of men can forgive sins and you will have sins in abundance.
  • The graceful pride of truth knows no extremes, and preserves, in every latitude of life, the right-angled character of man.
  • When the tongue or the pen is let loose in a frenzy of passion, it is the man, and not the subject, that becomes exhausted.
  • How necessary it is at all times to watch against the attempted encroachment of power, and to prevent its running to excess.
  • It is important that we should never lose sight of this distinction. We must not confuse the peoples with their governments.
  • The New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.
  • The representative system of government is calculated to produce the wisest laws, by collecting wisdom where it can be found.
  • It is a fraud of the Christian system to call the sciences human invention; it is only the application of them that is human.
  • And to read the Bible without horror, we must undo everything that is tender, sympathizing and benevolent in the heart of man.
  • The stupid texts of the Bible – from which, be the talents of the preacher what they may, only stupid sermons can be preached.
  • Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise.
  • That God cannot lie, is no advantage to your argument, because it is no proof that priests can not, or that the Bible does not.
  • Calumny is a vice of curious constitution; trying to kill it keeps it alive; leave it to itself and it will die a natural death.
  • Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavoured to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.
  • It will be proper to take a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen, and on which they have been founded.
  • No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance.
  • Is it not a species of blasphemy to call the New Testament revealed religion, when we see in it such contradictions and absurdities.
  • And this manner of speaking of the Almighty, as one would speak of a man, is consistent with nothing but the stupidity of the Bible.
  • All Of Us Might Wish At Times That We Lived In A More Tranquil World….(yet) Our Times Are Challenging And Filled With Opportunity.
  • The declaration which says that God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children is contrary to every principle of moral justice.
  • An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.
  • All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for impostors to preach and fools to believe.
  • The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretended imitation of a person (Jesus) who lived a life of poverty.
  • Human language is local and changeable, and is therefore incapable of being used as the means of unchangeable and universal information.
  • That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations is as shocking as it is true.
  • Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles; he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.
  • Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
  • When my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.
  • To say that any people are not fit for freedom, is to make poverty their choice, and to say they had rather be loaded with taxes than not.
  • The moral duty of man consists of imitatingthe moral goodness and beneficence of God,manifested in the creation, toward all His creatures.
  • It is always to be taken for granted, that those who oppose an equality of rights never mean the exclusion should take place on themselves.
  • I would give worlds, if I had them, if The Age of Reason had never been published. O Lord, help! Stay with me! It is hell to be left alone.
  • It is a position not to be controverted, that the earth … was and ever would have continued to be, the COMMON PROPERTY OF THE HUMAN RACE.
  • Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ’tis time to part.
  • There is a natural firmness in some minds, which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude.
  • The times that tried men’s souls are over-and the greatest and completest revolution the world ever knew, gloriously and happily accomplished.
  • Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.
  • The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and friendship which is formed in misfortune, are, of all others, the most lasting and unalterable.
  • Let the world see that this nation can bear prosperity; and that her honest virtue in time of peace is equal to her bravest valor in time of war.
  • The error of those who reason by precedents drawn from antiquity, respecting the rights of man, is that they do not go far enough into antiquity.
  • They may be all comprehended under three heads – 1st, Superstition; 2d, Power; 3d, the common interests of society, and the common rights of man.
  • What is called a republic, is not any particular form of government … it is naturally opposed to the word monarchy, which means arbitrary power.
  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.
  • Before anything can be reasoned upon to a conclusion, certain facts, principles, or data, to reason from, must be established, admitted, or denied.
  • The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.
  • Whatever has a tendency to promote the civil intercourse of nations by an exchange of benefits is a subject as worthy of philosophy as of politics.
  • Christianity is the strangest religion ever set up, for it committed a murder upon Jesus in order to redeem mankind from the sin of eating an apple.
  • Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise and able men to improve into useful matter.
  • Man did not make the earth, and though he had a natural right to occupy it, he had no right to locate as his property in perpetuity, any part of it.
  • Virtues are acquired through endeavor, Which rests wholly upon yourself. So, to praise others for their virtues Can but encourage one’s own efforts.
  • To reason with goverments, as they have existed for ages, is to argue with brutes. It is only from the nations themselves that reforms can be expected
  • The American constitutions were to liberty, what a grammar is to language: they define its parts of speech, and practically construct them into syntax
  • Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.
  • [A]ll churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, are simply human inventions. They use fear to enslave us. They are a monopoly for power and profit.
  • But where, says some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you. Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain.
  • ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
  • We must be compelled to hold this doctrine to be false, and the old and new law called the Old and New Testament, to be impositions, fables and forgeries.
  • The greatest characters the world has known, have rose on the democratic floor. Aristocracy has not been able to keep a proportionate pace with democracy.
  • A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right.
  • THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD: And it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.
  • As to the book called the bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions and a history of bad times and bad men.
  • To establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches.
  • There are matters in the Bible, said to be done by the express commandment of God, that are shocking to humanity and to every idea we have of moral justice.
  • Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them.
  • Politics and self-interest have been so uniformly connected, that the world, from being so often deceived, has a right to be suspicious of public characters.
  • It is from the power of taxation being in the hands of those who can throw so great a part of it from their own shoulders, that it has raged without a check.
  • There is something in corruption which, like a jaundiced eye, transfers the color of itself to the object it looks upon, and sees everything stained and impure.
  • I do not believe that any two men, on what are called doctrinal points, think alike who think at all. It is only those who have not thought that appear to agree.
  • In a chariot of light from the region of the day, the Goddess of Liberty came. She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love, the plant she named Liberty Tree.
  • We repose an unwise confidence in any government, or in any men, when we invest them officially with too much, or an unnecessary quantity of, discretionary power.
  • I do not believe in the creed professed by any church that I know of. Each of these churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my part, I disbelieve them all.
  • Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance.
  • I fear not, I see not reason for fear. In the end we will be the victors. For though at times the flame of liberty may cease to shine, the ember will never expire.
  • Religion is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it as I detest everything that is cruel.
  • We hold the moral obligation of providing for old age, helpless infancy, and poverty is far superior to that of supplying the invented wants of courtly extravagance.
  • There exists in man a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition,to the grave.
  • The Deist needs none of those tricks and shows called miracles to confirm his faith, for what can be a greater miracle than the creation itself, and his own existence?
  • The animals to whom nature has given the faculty we call cunning know always when to use it, and use it wisely; but when man descends to cunning he blunders and betrays.
  • He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
  • He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he that in defence of reason rebels against tyranny has a better title to Defender of the Faith, than George the Third.
  • Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.
  • Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title. The thing is perfectly harmless in itself, but it marks a sort of foppery in the human character, which degrades it.
  • If the present generation, or any other, are disposed to be slaves, it does not lessen the right of the succeeding generation to be free: wrongs cannot have a legal descent.
  • War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end; it has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes.
  • When extraordinary power and extraordinary pay are allotted to any individual in a government, he becomes the center, round which every kind of corruption generates and forms.
  • How strangely is antiquity treated! To answer some purposes it is spoken of as the times of darkness and ignorance, and to answer others, it is put for the light of the world.
  • A man will pass better through the world with a thousand open errors upon his back than in being detected in one sly falsehood. When one is detected, a thousand are suspected.
  • From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms! Through the land let the sound of it flee; Let the far and the near all unite, with a cheer, In defense of our Liberty Tree.
  • It was needless, after this, to say that all was vanity and vexation of spirit; for it is impossible to derive happiness from the company of those whom we deprive of happiness.
  • It is not a field of a few acres of ground, but a cause, that we are defending, and whether we defeat the enemy in one battle, or by degrees, the consequences will be the same.
  • …It would be more consistent that we call [the Bible] the work of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind.
  • Ah, reader, put thy trust in thy creator, and thou wilt be safe; but if thou trustest to the book called the scriptures thou trustest to the rotten staff of fable and falsehood.
  • We feel something like respect for consistency even in error. We lament the virtue that is debauched into a vice; but the vice that affects a virtue becomes the more detestable.
  • He is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.
  • There is something in meanness which excites a species of resentment that never subsides, and something in cruelty which stirs up the heart to the highest agony of human hatred.
  • Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.
  • The Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the sun, in which they put a man called Christ in the place of the sun, and pay him the adoration originally payed to the sun.
  • No man is prejudiced in favor of a thing, knowing it to be wrong. He is attached to it on the belief of its being right; and when he sees it is not so, the prejudice will be gone.
  • A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.
  • To live with our enemies as if they may some time become our friends, and to live with our friends as if they may some time become our enemies, is not a moral but a political maxim
  • We have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest truest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
  • When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to [profess] things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
  • Commerce is no other than the traffic of two individuals, multiplied on a scale of number; and, by the same rule that Nature intended the intercourse of two, she intended that of all!
  • The end of all political associations is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; and these rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression.
  • There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.
  • Our present condition is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect independence contending for dependence.
  • Thus commerce, though in itself a moral nullity, has had a considerable influence in tempering the human mind….he trades with the same countries …(that he) would have gone to war with.
  • In the progress of politics, as in the common occurrences of life, we are not only apt to forget the ground we have travelled over, but frequently neglect to gather up experiences as we go.
  • On this question of war, three things are to be considered. First, the right of declaring it: secondly, the expense of supporting it: thirdly, the mode of conducting it after it is declared.
  • Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
  • The Almighty implanted in us these inextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of His image in our heart. They distinguish us from the herd of common animals.
  • It may perhaps be said that it signifies nothing to a man what is done to him after he is dead; but it signifies much to the living; it either tortures their feelings or hardens their hearts.
  • Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed. Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them.
  • When an objection cannot be made formidable, there is some policy in trying to make it frightful; and to substitute the yell and the war-whoop, in the place of reason, argument and good order.
  • As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.
  • All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
  • Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! This is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!
  • Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the means of riches; and tho’ avarice will preserve a man from being necessitously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.
  • A single legislature, on account of the superabundance of its power, and the uncontrolled rabidity of its execution, becomes as dangerous to the principles of liberty as that of a despotic monarch.
  • Civilization, or that which is so called, has operated two ways to make one part of society more affluent and the other part more wretched than would have been the lot of either in a natural state.
  • The nearer any disease approaches to a crisis, the nearer it is to a cure. Danger and deliverance make their advances together; and it is only in the last push that one or the other takes the lead.
  • The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries, that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion.
  • Is it because you are sunk in the cruelty of superstition, or feel no interest in the honor of your Creator, that you listen to the horrid tales of the Bible, or hear them with callous indifference?
  • Practical religion consists in doing good: and the only way of serving God is that of endeavoring to make His creation happy. All preaching that has not this for its object is nonsense and hypocrisy.
  • There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state. The construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity.
  • All this [Paul’s writing] is nothing better than the jargon of a conjurer who picks up phrases he does not understand to confound the credulous people who come to have their fortune told. Age of Reason
  • It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.
  • In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion.
  • And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one.
  • His [Jesus’] historians, having brought him into the world in a supernatural manner, were obliged to take him out again in the same manner, or the first part of the story must have fallen to the ground.
  • The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.
  • The obscene and vulgar stories in the Bible are as repugnant to our ideas of the purity of a Divine Being, as the horrid cruelties and murders it ascribes to Him are repugnant to our ideas of His justice.
  • It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
  • Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it.
  • To believe that God created a plurality of worlds, at least as numerous as what we call stars, renders the Christian faith at once little and ridiculous; and scatters it in the mind like feathers in the air.
  • The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up.
  • One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.
  • Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. Freedom and security.
  • The story of the whale swallowing Jonah, though a whale is large enough to do it, borders greatly on the marvelous; but it would have approached nearer to the idea of a miracle if Jonah had swallowed the whale.
  • Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.
  • No country can be called free which is governed by an absolute power; and it matters not whether it be an absolute royal power or an absolute legislative power, as the consequences will be the same to the people.
  • Men did not make the earth… It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. … Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds.
  • As priestcraft was always the enemy of knowledge, because priestcraft supports itself by keeping people in delusion and ignorance, it was consistent with its policy to make the acquisition of knowledge a real sin.
  • The danger to which the success of revolutions is most exposed, is that of attempting them before the principles on which they proceed, and the advantages to result from them, are sufficiently seen and understood.
  • One would think that a system loaded with such gross and vulgar absurdities as Scripture religion is could never have obtained credit; yet we have seen what priestcraft and fanaticism can do, and credulity believe.
  • The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related, that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.
  • I consider the war of America against Britain as the country’s war, the public’s war, or the war of the people in their own behalf, for the security of their natural rights, and the protection of their own property.
  • I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
  • When I see throughout this book, called the Bible, a history of the grossest vices and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales and stories, I could not so dishonor my Creator by calling it by His name.
  • I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered; and the easier repaired when disordered.
  • The artificial noble shrinks into a dwarf before the noble of nature; and in the few instances (for there are some in all countries) in whom nature, as by a miracle, has survived in aristocracy, those men despise it.
  • The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty but not the principle, for at the time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind.
  • I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state; up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake.
  • These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
  • Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity.
  • The creation is the Bible of the Deist. He there reads, in the handwriting of the Creator himself, the certainty of His existence and the immutability of His power, and all other Bibles and Testaments are to him forgeries.
  • A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.
  • It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.
  • I am sensible that he who means to do mankind a real service must set down with the determination of putting up, and bearing with all their faults, follies, prejudices and mistakes until he can convince them that he is right.
  • Of all the tyrannies that effect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.
  • The idea of hereditary legislators is as inconsistent as that of hereditary judges, or hereditary juries; and as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man; and as ridiculous as an hereditary poet-laureat.
  • To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.
  • Our citizenship in the United States is our national character. Our citizenship in any particular state is only our local distinction. By the latter we are known at home, by the former to the world. Our great title is AMERICANS.
  • The accumulation of great wealth is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it, the consequence of which is that the working people perish in old age and the employer abounds in affluence.
  • Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.
  • Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to reestablish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made ignorant.
  • Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
  • The choicest gift of God to man, the gift of reason; and having endeavoured to force upon himself the belief of a system against which reason revolts, he ungratefully calls it human reason; as if man could give reason to himself.
  • The mind, in discovering truths, acts in the same manner as it acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition it was in before it saw it.
  • The Bill of Rights should contain the general principles of natural and civil liberty. It should be to a community what the eternal laws and obligations of morality are to the conscience. It should be unalterable by any human power.
  • The abilities of man must fall short on one side or the other, like too scanty a blanket when you are abed. If you pull it upon your shoulders, your feet are left bare; if you thrust it down to your feet, your shoulders are uncovered.
  • The Book of Job and the 19th Psalm, which even the Church admits to be more ancient than the chronological order in which they stand in the book called the Bible, are theological orations conformable to the original system of theology.
  • It is far better that we admitted a thousand devils to roam at large than that we permitted one such imposter and monster as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the Bible prophets, to come with the pretended word of God and have credit among us.
  • Everything wonderful in appearance has been ascribed to angels, to devils, or to saints. Everything ancient has some legendary tale annexed to it. The common operations of nature have not escaped their practice of corrupting everything.
  • That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his works, and is the true theology.
  • The story of Jesus Christ appearing after he was dead is the story of an apparition, such as timid imaginations can always create in vision, and credulity believe. Stories of this kind had been told of the assassination of Julius Caesar.
  • And when we view a flag, which to the eye is beautiful, and to contemplate its rise and origin inspires a sensation of sublime delight, our national honor must unite with our interests to prevent injury to the one, or insult to the other.
  • And as to you, Sir, treacherous in private friendship and a hypocrite in public life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any.
  • Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
  • In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxes.
  • I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of humans; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow creatures happy.
  • What is it the Bible teaches us? – raping, cruelty, and murder. What is it the New Testament teaches us? – to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.
  • The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.
  • Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course; but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time.
  • The New Testament rests itself for credulity and testimony on what are called prophecies in the Old Testament, of the person called Jesus Christ; and if there are no such things as prophecies of any such person in the Old Testament, the New Testament.
  • …Thomas did not believe the resurrection [John 20:25], and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I, and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.
  • The countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous.
  • We do not admit the authority of the church with respect to its pretended infallibility, its manufactured miracles, its setting itself up to forgive sins. It was by propagating that belief and supporting it with fire that she kept up her temporal power.
  • What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
  • But in addition to all the moral evidence against the Bible, I will, in the progress of this work, produce such other evidence as even a priest cannot deny; and show, from that evidence, that the Bible is not entitled to credit, as being the word of God.
  • What more does man want to know than that the hand or power that made these things is divine, is omnipotent? Let him believe this with the force it is impossible to repel, if he permits his reason to act, and his rule of moral life will follow of course.
  • Each government accuses the other of perfidy, intrigue and ambition, as a means of heating the imagination of their respective nations, and incensing them to hostilities. Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of government.

 

  • Let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarcy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.
  • Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now, will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters.
  • Those words, temperate and moderate, are words either of political cowardice, or of cunning, or seduction. A thing, moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper, is always a virtue; but moderation in principle, is a species of vice.
  • A constitution defines and limits the powers of the government it creates. It therefore follows, as a natural and also a logical result, that the governmental exercise of any power not authorized by the constitution is an assumed power, and therefore illegal.
  • A world of little cares is continually arising, which busy or affluent life knows nothing of, to open the first door to distress. Hunger is not among the postponable wants; and a day, even a few hours, in such a condition is often the crisis of a life of ruin.
  • If anything had or could have a value equal to gold and silver, it would require no tender law; and if it had not that value it ought not to have such a law; and, therefore, all tender laws are tyrannical and unjust and calculated to support fraud and oppression.
  • The moral duty of man consists of imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God, manifested in the creation towards all his creatures. Everything of persecution and revenge between man and man, and everything of cruelty to animals is a violation of moral duty
  • It is not the nature of avarice to be satisfied with anything but money. Every passion that acts upon mankind has a peculiar mode of operation. Many of them are temporary and fluctuating; they admit of cessation and variety. But avarice is a fixed, uniform passion.
  • All the religions known in the world are founded, so far as they relate to man or the unity of man, as being all of one degree. Whether in heaven or in hell, or in whatever state man may be supposed to exist hereafter, the good and the bad are the only distinctions.
  • The essential psychological requirement of a free society is the willingness on the part of the individual to accept responsibility for his life. – Edith Packer When the government fears the people, it is liberty. When the people fear the government, it is tyranny.
  • In Deism our reason and our belief become happily united. The wonderful structure of the universe, and everything we behold in the system of the creation, prove to us, far better than books can do, the existence of a God, and at the same time proclaim His attributes.
  • We ought therefore to suspect that a great mass of information respecting the Bible, and the introduction of it into the world, has been suppressed by the united tyranny of Church and State, for the purpose of keeping people in ignorance, and which ought to be known.
  • I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
  • …the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
  • Call to mind the sentiments which nature has engraved on the heart of every citizen, and which take a new force when they are solemnly recognised by all:-For a nation to love liberty, it is sufficient that she knows it; and to be free, it is sufficient that she wills it.
  • Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange believe that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies.
  • From whence, then, could arise the solitary and strange conceit that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependant on His protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world, because, they say, one man and one woman had eaten an apple?
  • Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.
  • If any generation of men ever possessed the right of dictating the mode by which the world should be governed for ever, it was the first generation that existed; and if that generation did it not, no succeeding generation can show any authority for doing it, nor can set any up.
  • The duty of man is not a wilderness of turnpike gates, through which he is to pass by tickets from one to the other. It is plain and simple, and consists but of two points–his duty God, which every man must feel; and, with respect to his neighbor, to do as he would be done by.
  • The aristocracy are not the farmers who work the land, and raise the produce, but are the mere consumers of the rent; and when compared with the active world, are the drones, a seraglio of males, who neither collect the honey nor form the hive, but exist only for lazy enjoyment.
  • The case, however, is, that the Bible will not bear examination in any part of it, which it would do if it was the Word of God. Those who most believe it are those who know least about it, and priests always take care to keep the inconsistent and contradictory parts out of sight.
  • Prejudice, like the spider, makes everywhere its home. It has neither taste nor choice of place, and all that it requires is room. If the one prepares her food by poisoning it to her palate and her use, the other does the same. Prejudice may be denominated the spider of the mind.
  • It is not because a part of the government is elective, that makes it less a despotism, if the persons so elected, possess afterwards, as a parliament, unlimited powers. Election, in this case, becomes separated from representation, and the candidates are candidates for despotism.
  • Government is not a trade which any man or body of men has a right to set up and exercise for his own emolument, but is altogether a trust, in right of those by whom that trust is delegated, and by whom it is always resumable. It has of itself no rights; they are altogether duties.
  • Government has no right to make itself a party in any debates respecting the principles or mode of forming or of changing, constitutions. It is not for the benefit of those who exercise the powers of government, that constitutions, and the governments issuing from them, are established.
  • Natural rights are those which always appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the rights of others.
  • Universal empire is the prerogative of a writer. His concerns are with all mankind, and though he cannot command their obedience,he can assign them their duty. The Republic of Letters is more ancient than monarchy, and of far higher character in the world than the vassal court of Britain.
  • If, to expose the fraud and imposition of monarchy . . . to promote universal peace, civilization, and commerce, and to break the chains of political superstition, and raise degraded man to his proper rank; if these things be libellous . . . let the name of libeller be engraved on my tomb
  • Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will recollect that his mind was forever young, his temper ever serene; science, that never grows gray, was always his mistress. He was never without an object, for when we cease to have an object, we become like an invalid in a hospital waiting for death.
  • Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
  • For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have the right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others forever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his cotemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them.
  • As my object was not myself, I set out with the determination, and happily with the disposition, of not being moved by praise or censure, friendship or calumny, nor of being drawn from my purpose by any personal altercation; and the man who cannot do this, is not fit for a public character.
  • Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another. It is impossible to discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man.
  • A government on the principles on which constitutional governments arising out of society are established, cannot have the right of altering itself. If it had, it would be arbitrary. It might make itself what it pleased; and wherever such a right is set up, it shows there is no constitution.
  • The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.
  • It has been the scheme of the Christian Church, and of all the other invented systems of religion, to hold man in ignorance of the Creator, as it is of Government to hold man in ignorance of his rights. The systems of the one are as false as those of the other, and are calculated for mutual support.
  • There now remain only a few books, which they call books of the lesser prophets; and as I have already shown that the greater are impostors, it would be cowardice to disturb the repose of the little ones. Let them sleep, then, in the arms of their nurses, the priests, and both be forgotten together.
  • There is a happiness in Deism, when rightly understood, that is not to be found inany other system of religion. All other systems have something in them that either shock our reason, or are repugnant to it, and man, if he thinks at all, must stifle his reason in order to force himself to believe them.
  • It is, I believe, impossible to find in any story upon record so many and such glaring absurdities, contradictions, and falsehoods, as are in the books [The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John]. They are more numerous and striking than I had any expectation of finding, when I began this examination.
  • They took care to represent government as a thing made up of mysteries, which only themselves understood, and they hid from the understanding of the nation, the only thing that was beneficial to know, namely, that government is nothing more than a national association acting on the principles of society.
  • Public money ought to be touched with the most scrupulous conscientiousness of honor. It is not the produce of riches only, but of the hard earnings of labor and poverty. It is drawn even from the bitterness of want and misery. Not a beggar passes, or perishes in the streets, whose mite is not in that mass.
  • EVERY national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet; as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.
  • A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.
  • It can only be by blinding the understanding of man, and making him believe that government is some wonderful mysterious thing, that excessive revenues are obtained. Monarchy is well calculated to ensure this end. It is the popery of government; a thing kept up to amuse the ignorant, and quiet them into taxes.
  • We still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute.
  • Toleration is not the opposite of intoleration, but it is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope, armed with fire and fagot, and the other is the pope selling or granting indulgences.
  • I have never made it a consideration whether the subject was popular or unpopular, but whether it was right or wrong; for that which is right will become popular, and that which is wrong, though by mistake it may obtain the cry or fashion of the day, will soon lose the power of delusion, and sink into disesteem.
  • The burden of the national debt consists not in its being so many millions, or so many hundred millions, but in the quantity of taxes collected every year to pay the interest. If this quantity continue the same, the burden of the national debt is the same to all intents and purposes, be the capital more or less.
  • That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of nations, is as shocking as it is true; but when those who are concerned in the government of a country, make it their study to sow discord and cultivate predjudices between nations, it becomes the more unpardonable.
  • Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins … Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.
  • Change of ministers amounts to nothing. One goes out, another comes in, and still the same measures, vices, and extravagances are pursued. It signifies not who is minister. The defect lies in the system. The foundation and superstructure of the government is bad. Prop it as you please, it continually sinks and ever will.
  • The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world not destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside … Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them … the weak will become prey to the strong.
  • As property, honestly obtained, is best secured by an equality of rights, so ill-gotten property depends for protection on a monopoly of rights. He who has robbed another of his property, will next endeavor to disarm him of his rights, to secure that property; for when the robber becomes the legislator he believes himself secure.
  • A government of our own is our natural right; and when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance.
  • Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to “bind me in all cases whatsoever” to his absolute will, am I to suffer it?
  • Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of Government. Instead, therefore, of exclaiming against the ambition of kings, the exclamation should be directed against the principle of such governments; and instead of seeking to reform the individual, the wisdom of a nation should apply itself to reform the system.
  • Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.
  • When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honor and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.
  • Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind.
  • Now, which am I to believe, a book that any impostor might make and call the Word of God, or the creation itself which none but an Almighty Power could make? For the Bible says one thing; and the creation says the contrary. The Bible represents God with all the passions of a mortal, and the creation proclaims him with all the attributes of a God.
  • Panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstone of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might have lain forever undiscovered.
  • Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
  • This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.
  • The Christian religion and Masonry have one and the same common origin: Both are derived from the worship of the Sun. The difference between their origin is, that the Christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.
  • Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death, and religiosu wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man?
  • It is a fool only, and not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man, that will live as if there were no God… Were a man impressed as fully and strongly as he ought to be with the belief of a God, his moral life would be regulated by the force of belief; he would stand in awe of God and of himself, and would not do the thing that could not be concealed from either.
  • The continual whine of lamenting the burden of taxes, however successfully it may be practiced in mixed governments, is inconsistent with the sense and spirit of a republic. If taxes are necessary, they are of course advantageous, but if they require an apology, the apology itself implies an impeachment. Why, then, is man imposed upon, or why does he impose upon himself?
  • The fable of Christ and his twelve apostles is a parody of the sun and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, copied from the ancient religions of the Eastern world. Every thing told of Christ has reference to the sun. His reported resurrection is at sunrise, and that on the first day of the week; that is, on the day anciently dedicated to the sun, and from thence called Sunday.
  • Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication- after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
  • Money, when considered as the fruit of many years’ industry, as the reward of labor, sweat and toil, as the widow’s dowry and children’s portion, and as the means of procuring the necessaries and alleviating the afflictions of life, and making old age a scene of rest, has something in it sacred that is not to be sported with, or trusted to the airy bubble of paper currency.
  • The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of men change also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it. That which may be thought right and found convenient in one age, may be thought wrong and found inconvenient in another. In such cases, who is to decide, the living, or the dead?
  • To bring the matter to one point, Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says, No, to this question, is an independent, for independency means no more than this, whether we shall make our own law, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy which this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us there shall be no laws but such as I like.
  • Government ought to be as much open to improvement as anything which appertains to man, instead of which it has been monopolized from age to age, by the most ignorant and vicious of the human race. Need we any other proof of their wretched management, than the excess of debts and taxes with which every nation groans, and the quarrels into which they have precipitated the world?”
  • It requires but a very small glance of thought to perceive, that although laws made in one generation often continue in force through succeeding generations, yet that they continue to derive their force from the consent of the living. A law not repealed continues in force, not because it cannot be repealed, but because it is not repealed; and the non repealing passes for consent.
  • ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
  • In the first part of ‘Rights of Man’ I have endeavoured to show…that there does not exist a right to establish hereditary government…because hereditary government always means a government yet to come, and the case always is, that the people who are to live afterwards, have always the same right to choose a government for themselves, as the people had who have lived before them.
  • It is not a charity but a right, not bounty but justice, that I am pleading for. The present state of civilization is as odious as it is unjust. It is absolutely the opposite of what it should be, and it is necessary that a revolution should be made in it. The contrast of affluence and wretchedness continually meeting and offending the eye, is like dead and living bodies chained together
  • A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.
  • The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are themselves evidences that human language, whether in speech or print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God.
  • When it shall be said in any country in the world my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: When these things can be said, there may that country boast its Constitution and its Government
  • In a general view, there are few conquests that repay the charge of making them, and mankind are pretty well convinced that it can never be worth their while to go to war for profit’s sake. If they are made war upon, their country invaded, or their existence at stake, it is their duty to defend and preserve themselves, but in every other light, and from every other cause, is war inglorious and detestable.
  • I had come to realize the importance of the Nation, and of shared, communal, social responsibility, to be held as equally important as individual concerns. The elderly, the widowed, newly married couples, the poor, the unemployed, disbanded soldiers and children, who would be required to attend school, must be provided for from state funds. And all this support is not the nature of charity, but of a right.
  • Could the peaceable principle of the Quakers be universally established, arms and the art of war would be wholly extirpated: But we live not in a world of angels…I am thus far a Quaker, that I would gladly agree with all the world to lay aside the use of arms, and settle matters by negotiation: but unless the whole will, the matter ends, and I take up my musket and thank Heaven He has put it in my power.
  • I wish most anxiously to see my much loved America – it is the Country from whence all reformations must originally spring – I despair of seeing an Abolition of the infernal trafic in Negroes – we must push that matter further on your side the water – I wish that a few well instructed Negroes could be sent among their Brethren in Bondage, for until they are enabled to take their own part nothing will be done.
  • The prejudice of unfounded belief often degenerates into the prejudice of custom, and becomes at last rank hypocrisy. When men, from custom or fashion or any worldly motive, profess or pretend to believe what they do not believe, nor can give any reason for believing, they unship the helm of their morality, and being no longer honest to their own minds they feel no moral difficulty in being unjust to others.
  • Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.
  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
  • It is for the good of nations, and not for the emolument or aggrandizement of particular individuals, that government ought to be established, and that mankind are at the expense of supporting it. The defects of every government and constitution both as to principle and form, must, on a parity of reasoning, be as open to discussion as the defects of a law, and it is a duty which every man owes to society to point them out.
  • Each of those churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say, that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say, that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
  • In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and repossession, and suffer his reason and feelings to determine for themselves; and that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of man, and generously enlarge his view beyond the present day.
  • But there are times when men have serious thoughts, and it is at such times, when they begin to think, that they begin to doubt the truth of the Christian religion; and well they may, for it is too fanciful and too full of conjecture, inconsistency, improbability and irrationality, to afford consolation to the thoughtful man. His reason revolts against his creed. He sees that none of its articles are proved, or can be proved.
  • The most extraordinary of all the things called miracles, related in the New Testament, is that of the devil flying away with Jesus Christ, and carrying him to the top of a high mountain; and to the top of the highest pinnacle of the temple, and showing him and promising to him all the kingdoms of the world . How happened it that he did not discover America? or is it only with kingdoms that his sooty highness has any interest.
  • But though every created thing is, in this sense, a mystery, the word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than obscurity can be applied to light. … Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.
  • It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.
  • There never did, there never will, and there never can exist a parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the ‘end of time,’ or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it.
  • Uncritical reverence for the Founding Fathers was less ubiquitous while they actually lived. . . . “The Reign of Terror that raged in America during the latter end of the Washington Administration, and the whole of that of Adams, is enveloped in mystery to me. That there were men in the Government hostile to the representative system, was once their toast, though it is now their overthrow, and therefore the fact is established against them.”
  • The Almighty Lecturer, by displaying the principles of science in the structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to imitation. It is as if He has said to the inhabitants of this globe that we call ours, “I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and I have rendered the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts. He can now provide for his own comfort, and learn from my munificence to all to be kind to each other.
  • These proceedings may at first seem strange and difficult, but like all other steps which we have already passed over, will in a little time become familiar and agreeable: and until an independence is declared, the Continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.
  • Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
  • Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together.
  • But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into kings and subjects. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.
  • The Christian religion is derogatory to the Creator in all its articles. It puts the Creator in an inferior point of view, and places the Christian devil above him. It is he, according to the absurd story in Genesis, that outwits the Creator in the Garden Eden, and steals from Him His favorite creature, man, and at last obliges Him to beget a son, and put that son to death, to get man back again; and this the priests of the Christian religion call redemption.
  • Had the news of salvation by Jesus Christ been inscribed on the face of the sun and the moon, in characters that all nations would have understood, the whole earth had known it in twenty-four hours, and all nations would have believed it; whereas, though it is now almost two thousand years since, as they tell us, Christ came upon earth, not a twentieth part of the people of the earth know anything of it, and among those who do, the wiser part do not believe it.
  • The mere man of pleasure is miserable in old age, and the mere drudge in business is but little better, whereas, natural philosophy, mathematical and mechanical science, are a continual source of tranquil pleasure, and in spite of the gloomy dogmas of priests and of superstition, the study of these things is the true theology; it teaches man to know and admire the Creator, for the principles of science are in the creation, and are unchangeable and of divine origin.
  • Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods. It would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but “to bind us in all cases whatsoever,” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
  • Men who are sincere in defending their freedom, will always feel concern at every circumstance which seems to make against them; it is the natural and honest consequence of all affectionate attachments, and the want of it is a vice. But the dejection lasts only for a moment; they soon rise out of it with additional vigor; the glow of hope, courage and fortitude, will, in a little time, supply the place of every inferior passion, and kindle the whole heart into heroism.
  • One of the evils of paper money is that it turns the whole country into stock jobbers. The precariousness of its value and the uncertainty of its fate continually operate, night and day, to produce this destructive effect. Having no real value in itself it depends for support upon accident, caprice, and party; and as it is the interest of some to depreciate and of others to raise its value, there is a continual invention going on that destroys the morals of the country.
  • People in general know not what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it, and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! It is quite another thing; it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy.
  • Paper money is like dram-drinking, it relieves for a moment by deceitful sensation, but gradually diminishes the natural heat, and leaves the body worse than it found it. Were not this the case, and could money be made of paper at pleasure, every sovereign in Europe would be as rich as he pleased. But the truth is, that it is a bubble and the attempt vanity. Nature has provided the proper materials for money: gold and silver, and any attempt of ours to rival her is ridiculous.
  • It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says, that God spake unto Mahomet, do you believe that too? No. Why not? Because, you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don’t is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?
  • Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.
  • I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils.
  • Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but “show your faith by your works,” that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all.
  • The most horrible wickedness and cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have troubled the human race began with this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. … It would be far, far better for us to let a thousand devils roam the world, and publicly preach the doctrine of devils (if there were such a thing, which there isn’t), than to let one impostor and monster such a Moses, Joshua, Samuel or the Bible prophets come speaking the so-called word of God, and causing men to believe it.
  • It is unnatural that a pure stream should flow from a foul fountain its vices are but a continuation of the vices of its origin. A man of moral honor and good political principles, cannot submit to the mean drudgery and disgraceful arts, by which such elections are carried. To be a successful candidate, he must be destitute of the qualities that constitute a just legislator: and being thus disciplined to corruption it is not to be expected that the representative should be better than the man.
  • The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds, such as that called the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicean Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.
  • It is never to be expected in a revolution that every man is to change his opinion at the same moment. There never yet was any truth or any principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other to the final establishment of any principle; and therefore those who may happen to be first convinced have not a right to persecute others, on whom conviction operates more slowly. The moral principle of revolutions is to instruct, not to destroy.
  • Never, I say, had a country so many openings to happiness as this…. Her cause was good. Her principles just and liberal. Her temper serene and firm…. The remembrance then of what is past, if it operates rightly must inspire her with the most laudable of an ambition, that of adding to the fair fame she began with. The world has seen her great adversity…. Let then, the world see that she can bear prosperity; and that her honest virtue in time of peace is equal to the bravest virtue in time of war.
  • The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.
  • There are a set of men who go about making purchases upon credit, and buying estates they have not wherewithal to pay for; and having done this, their next step is to fill the newspapers with paragraphs of the scarcity of money and the necessity of a paper emission, then to have a legal tender under the pretense of supporting its credit, and when out, to depreciate it as fast as they can, get a deal of it for a little price, and cheat their creditors; and this is the concise history of paper money schemes.
  • The intellectual part of religion is a private affair between every man and his Maker, and in which no third party has any right to interfere. The practical part consists in our doing good to each other. But since religion has been made into a trade, the practical part has been made to consist of ceremonies performed by men called priests … By devices of this kind true religion has been banished, and such means have been found out to extract money, even from the pockets of the poor, instead of contributing to their relief.
  • When the rich plunder the poor of his rights, it becomes an example for the poor to plunder the rich of his property, for the rights of the one are as much property to him as wealth is property to the other, and the little all is as dear as the much. It is only by setting out on just principles that men are trained to be just to each other; and it will always be found, that when the rich protect the rights of the poor, the poor will protect the property of the rich. But the guarantee, to be effectual, must be parliamentarily reciprocal.
  • America could carry on a two years’ war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.
  • The earth, in its natural, uncultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race.” As the land gets cultivated, “it is the value of the improvement, only, and not the earth itself, that is in individual property. Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated lands, owes to the community a ground-rent..to every person, rich or poor…because it is in lieu of the natural inheritance, which, as a right, belongs to every man, over and above the property he may have created, or inherited from those who did
  • As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
  • The only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensibly difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time.
  • The Creation speaks a universal language, independent of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they be. It is an ever-existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this Word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.
  • It appears to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.
  • Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.
  • As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism ‚Äî a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
  • If men will permit themselves to think, as rational beings ought to think, nothing can appear more ridiculous and absurd, exclusive of all moral reflections, than to be at the expence of building navies, filling them with men, and then hauling them into the ocean, to try which can sink each other fastester. Peace, which costs nothing, is attended with infintely more advantage than any victory with all its expence. But this, though it best answers the purpose of Nations, does not that of Court Governments, whose habited policy is pretence for taxation, places, and offices.

 

 

Elie Wiesel (quotes)

  • Think higher, feel deeper.
  • No human being is illegal.
  • For me, every hour is grace.
  • The danger lies in forgetting.
  • Questions outlive the answers.
  • Every moment is a new beginning.
  • Peace is our gift to each other.
  • Humanity would never tolerate it
  • How can a human being be illegal?
  • A man can laugh while he suffers.
  • Not to remember is not an option.
  • Love makes everything complicated.
  • A word is worth a thousand pictures.
  • Holy War is a contradiction of terms.
  • I do not believe in collective guilt.
  • To forget a Holocaust is to kill twice
  • When adults wage war, children perish.
  • I was never without a book in my hand.
  • It always hurts when you lose a secret.
  • God means movement, and not explanation.
  • That [Exodus] occurred, I have no doubt.
  • Every moment contains a spark of eternity.
  • Some stories are true that never happened.
  • What I do, I want to do with all my being.
  • After all, God is God because he remembers.
  • Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.
  • I think [teacher] is the noblest profession.
  • In Jewish history there are no coincidences.
  • The whole community must be saved [in Tibet].
  • One person of integrity can make a difference.
  • Not to transmit an experience is to betray it.
  • Even in darkness it is possible to create light.
  • Naturally, the human being wants to forget pain.
  • An indifference to suffering makes humans inhuman
  • There are real people behind the [Bible] stories.
  • God made (human beings) because he loves stories.
  • I write to understand as much as to be understood.
  • For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.
  • War is like night, she said. It covers everything.
  • My anger rises up within faith and not outside it.
  • Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love.
  • When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.
  • Tibet’s a tragedy. It’s an insult to human decency.
  • I don’t want my past to become anyone else’s future.
  • There is no word in Hebrew for religion, by the way.
  • Each man was his own executioner and his own victim.
  • [The Bible] is been my passion almost from my youth.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
  • And to write is to sow and to reap at the same time.
  • It’s not hatred that kills people, it’s indifference
  • The opposite of faith is not heresy but indifference
  • The opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
  • There are no accidents, only encounters with destiny!
  • If the victims are my problem, the killers are yours.
  • Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
  • Occasionally, I come to moments of anguish in the text.
  • When our center is strong, everything else is secondary.
  • Music does not replace words, it gives tone to the words
  • After my father’s death, nothing could touch me any more.
  • The sins I regret the most are the one’s I didn’t commit.
  • Which is worse? Killing with hate or killing without hate?
  • Warmed-over loves and soups are generally not recommended.
  • I do not recall a Jewish home without a book on the table.
  • Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.
  • Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies.
  • Life belongs to man, but the meaning of life is beyond him.
  • I spent most of my time talking to God more than to people.
  • The yellow star? Oh well, what of it? You dont die of it.
  • Whatever you think in life… think higher and feel deeper.
  • To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.
  • What would the future of man be if it were devoid of memory?
  • Had the situation not been so tragic, we might have laughed.
  • What do all my books have in common? A commitment to memory.
  • Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.
  • I have one request: may I never use my reason against truth.
  • I had my religious crisis after the war, not during the war.
  • Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
  • Eternity is the place where questions and answers become one.
  • The primary task of a Jew in turbulent times is to be Jewish.
  • People become the stories they hear and the stories they tell.
  • [Moses] Mendelssohn was a religious Jew. I felt sorry for him.
  • Which is better, truth that is a lie or the lie that is truth?
  • I have a tremendous respect for Professor [Frank Moore] Cross.
  • To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
  • Memory feeds a culture, nourishes hope and makes a human, human.
  • My God was never happiness, but to understand and be understood.
  • I believe in the story [ of Adam and Eve]. For me, it’s a story.
  • Because I survived, I must do everything possible to help others.
  • We’ve sort of agreed that the account of Adam and Eve is a story.
  • I will say, with memoir, you must be honest. You must be truthful.
  • I have to be self-conscious of what I’m trying to do with my life.
  • every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer . . .
  • I think that human beings are capable of the worst things possible.
  • The more you ask certain questions, the more dangerous they become.
  • In Jewish tradition the Talmud is said to have been given on Sinai.
  • When I see a child who is hungry, I see a person who is humiliated.
  • Not all games are innocent. Some come dangerously close to cruelty.
  • In order to fly, you have to give up the ground you are standing on.
  • In the face of suffering, one has no right to turn away, not to see.
  • What is man? Ally of God or simply his toy? His triumph or his fall?
  • It’s not only America. Terrorism now is a threat to the whole world.
  • I respect scholarship. But I don’t like to do things half-heartedly.
  • The philosophers are wrong: it is not words that kill, it is silence.
  • I shall always remember that smile. From what world did it come from?
  • Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.
  • ‘Indifference to evil is equal to evil’ because it strengthens people.
  • Weapons means killing. Weapons is ah, I’m simply sensitive to the word.
  • Next to him lay his violin, trampled, an eerily poignant little corpse.
  • Memory is the keyword which combines past with present, past and future.
  • Since God is, He is to be found in the questions as well as the answers.
  • Today, as yesterday, a nation is judged by its attitude towards refugees.
  • We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children.
  • I learned to trust the threats of enemies before the promises of friends.
  • You’re at the bottom of the mountain. May you climb up without suffering.
  • If we want to know history, I would think there would be every reason to.
  • You cannot write in more than one language. Words don’t come out as well.
  • In the word question, there is a beautiful word – quest. I love that word.
  • Drawn to childhood, the old man will seek it in a thousand different ways.
  • What is man? Hope turned to dust. No. What is man? Dust turned to hope.
  • Take sides. Neutrality always serves the oppressor and never the oppressed.
  • Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming.
  • I describe incidents which may or may not have happened but which are true.
  • I’m not a military man. I wish I were, then maybe I could give some advice.
  • What is Scripture? The Hebrew word is torah. Torah means teaching, learning.
  • It is true that not all the victims were Jews, but all the Jews were victims
  • I’ve given my life to the principle and the ideal of memory, and remembrance.
  • One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.
  • A religious person answers to God, not to the elected or non-elected official.
  • No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has escaped the kingdom of night.
  • A destruction, an annihilation that only man can provoke, only man can prevent.
  • For in my tradition, as a Jew, I believe that whatever we receive we must share.
  • And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.
  • Life is not a fist. Life is an open hand waiting for some other hand to enter it.
  • Human beings should be held accountable. Leave God alone. He has enough problems.
  • There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.
  • When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.
  • Only the guilty are guilty: the children of killers are not killers, but children.
  • For me democracy is the only way of life. The opposite is dictatorship or anarchy.
  • [ Rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac] was the greatest commentator [of the Bible] we ever had.
  • Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story. That is his duty.
  • Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.
  • I personally have no doubt that the Exodus occurred. How it occurred, I don’t know.
  • The story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac are nowhere in any other tradition.
  • You take a text, you explore it, you enter it with all your heart and all your mind.
  • Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.
  • did everything I could in my life to be immune to hatred, because hatred is a cancer.
  • Knowledge does not corrupt, unless it is arrogant; but then it is not true knowledge.
  • Perhaps fate isn’t blind after all. Perhaps it’s capable of fantasy, even compassion.
  • Christians call it the “Sacrifice of Isaac,” and Jews call it the “Binding of Isaac.”
  • There is one right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be indifferent.
  • Judaism is in a sense a Rabbinic, Talmudic religion, rather than a Biblical religion.
  • My faith is a wounded faith, but it’s not without faith. My life is not without faith.
  • If God exists, how can we lay claim to freedom, since He is its beginning and its end?
  • Some events do take place but are not true; others are, although they never occurred.
  • No one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions.
  • The story [of the Sacrifice of Isaac ] is much more a part of theology than of history.
  • I think [Sacrifice of Isaac] is the most important event in the Bible except for Sinai.
  • Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to life as long as God himself
  • In those dark times, one rose to the very heights of humanity by simply remaining human.
  • Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another.
  • I am much more afraid of my good deeds that please me than of my bad deeds that repel me.
  • This is the role of writers: to turn their tears into a story – and perhaps into a prayer.
  • The Jewish tradition of learning-is learning. Adam chose knowledge instead of immortality.
  • You shouldn’t act as a spokesperson for someone who’s trying to impose his will on you.
  • I think so. 9/11 has been a turning point in American history, there’s no doubt about that.
  • I don’t believe in collective guilt. The children of killers are not killers, but children.
  • Indifference is the sign of sickness, a sickness of the soul more contagious than any other.
  • ..you do not leave a library; if you do what it wants you to do, you are taking it with you.
  • You know, words have strange destiny, too. They grow. They get old. They die. They come back.
  • I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.
  • Humanity? Humanity is not concerned with us. Today anything is allowed. Anything is possible.
  • Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.
  • The only way for us to help ourselves is to help others and to listen to each other’s stories.
  • Life is really fascinated only by death. It vibrates only when it comes in contact with death.
  • I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.
  • I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both.
  • Man walks the moon but his soul remains riveted to earth. Once upon a time it was the opposite.
  • It’s easier to be conformist naturally; it’s easier except for those who don’t like conformism.
  • I belong to a tradition that believes that the death of a single child is a blemish on creation.
  • I’ll tell you what: I believe mysticism is a very serious endeavor. One must be equipped for it.
  • What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.
  • Whether every story that’s there [in the Bible] is a historic truth … Again, I’m not concerned.
  • The world? The world is not interested in us. Today, everything is possible, even the crematoria.
  • Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.
  • Never shall I forget those moments that murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to ashes.
  • Oh, it is not death that frightens me, but the impossibility of imparting some meaning to my past.
  • Moses was the greatest legislator and the commander in chief of perhaps the first liberation army.
  • I’m not a political person, and their ambitions are not mine. They want power. I don’t want power.
  • One can do without solutions. Only the questions matter. We may share them or turn away from them.
  • The most important question a human being has to face… What is it? The question, Why are we here?
  • The sincere Christian knows that what died in Auschwitz was not the Jewish people but Christianity.
  • Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life.
  • I needed to know that there was such a thing as love and that it brought smiles and joy in its wake.
  • Whenever an angel says “Be not afraid!” you’d better start worrying. A big assignment is on the way.
  • I was 15, not 14, when I was inside there [Auschwitz], 15, and for me both were actually a surprise.
  • Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.
  • The Holocaust is not a cheap soap opera. The Holocaust is not a romantic novel. It is something else.
  • Only fanatics in religion as well as in politics can find a meaning in someone else’s death.
  • We still are looking for someone who knows the secret of immortality. Only God is immortal; we are not.
  • Every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.
  • The deeper the nostalgia and the more complete the fear, the purer, the richer the word and the secret.
  • There is not anti-semitism as an ideology. The civilized world must think that anti-semitism is stupid.
  • Anything you want to say about God you better make sure you can say in front of a pit of burning babies.
  • For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and its magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.
  • When I say it doesn’t make much difference, I mean in terms of the importance of the piece of literature.
  • There is much to be done, there is much that can be done… one person of integrity can make a difference.
  • Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?
  • Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.
  • A holy war is a contradiction in terms. War dehumanizes, war diminishes, war debases all those who wage it.
  • Once upon a time refugee meant somebody who has a refuge, found a place, a haven where he could find refuge.
  • Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the happiness and humanity of the human being.
  • [Tibet] is a small country based on religious principle, religious traditions. It never wanted any conquest.
  • I wrote my first book, I published it in 1955, it was in Yiddish and it was called And The World Was Silent.
  • I come from a tradition – from the Jewish tradition, which believes in words, in language, in communication.
  • He explained to me with great insistence that every question posessed a power that did not lie in the answer.
  • Even if people tell me they have historical proof [that it is not historical], that doesn’t really bother me.
  • If you ask me what I want to achieve, it’s to create an awareness, which is already the beginning of teaching.
  • In the beginning there was faith – which is childish; trust – which is vain; and illusion – which is dangerous.
  • A man who is fighting for the future of mankind is not waiting for torture, he’s waiting for — the Revolution.
  • Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of madness?
  • My ambition really was, even as a child, to be a writer, a commentator, and a teacher, but a teacher of Talmud.
  • We didn’t really differ [with Frank Moore Cross] because we have the same love of the text. We share that love.
  • It is by his freedom that a man knows himself, by his sovereignty over his own life that a man measures himself.
  • Certain things, certain events, seem inexplicable only for a time: up to the moment when the veil is torn aside.
  • It was the beginning of the war. I was twelve years old, my parents were alive, and God still dwelt in our town.
  • Except that a human being is both the public and the private. We are both, private and public in the same person.
  • It takes more than a few generations to change a human nation. Those who are intent to bring (change) will do so.
  • Politicians, they give the visible aspect of the change, but the change, the root, the anchor are in young people.
  • Abraham is trying to obey God, but not to kill. I feel that moment is one of the defining moments of Jewish faith.
  • I developed an anger at [Moses] Mendelssohn. Later, I read the book. I realized there was nothing subversive in it.
  • Suffering pulls us farther away from other human beings. It builds a wall made of cries and contempt to separate us.
  • I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.
  • When has religion ever been unifying? Religion has introduced many wars in this world, enough bloodshed and violence.
  • I told him that I did not believe that they could burn people in our age, that humanity would never tolerate it . . .
  • Sometimes I think I prefer the storyteller in [Roman Vishniac] to the photographer. But aren’t they one and the same?
  • There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
  • All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them. No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior.
  • My teachers [ had the most impact in my life]. Of course, my father and grandfather, but after my family, my teachers.
  • For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.
  • Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.
  • Man, as long as he lives, is immortal. One minute before his death he shall be immortal. But one minute later, God wins.
  • You know how many reasons we have to be desperate and despairing, the world is not learning anything. We have seen that.
  • We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.
  • Therefore, all my adult life, since I began my life as an author, or as a teacher, I always try to listen to the victim.
  • Just as man cannot live without dreams, he cannot live without hope. If dreams reflect the past, hope summons the future.
  • I never compared Nazis into communism, but communism was the same thing, the end justifies the means. Whatever the means.
  • Personally, as a student who loves words, who loves texts, I am concerned with finding something in the text from within.
  • Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
  • We believed in God, trusted in man, and lived with the illusion that every one of us has been entrusted with a sacred spark.
  • I believe in God–in spite of God! I believe in Mankind–in spite of Mankind! I believe in the Future–in spite of the Past!
  • From the depths of the mirror, a corpse gazed back at me. The look in his eyes, as they stared into mine, has never left me.
  • I remember when I heard the words “Biblical criticism” in my town, it was with disdain: “Biblical criticism? How dare you?”.
  • I came to the conclusion that I am free to choose my own suffering. But I am not free to consent to someone else’s suffering.
  • Simply because, one hand, there are the haters, The hater has power. All we can do is oppose it, or one becomes an accomplice.
  • All I hope is that the American coalition is doing its best to prevent civilian casualties and the killing of innocent people.
  • It was like a page torn from a history book, from some historical novel about the captivity of babylon or Spanish Inquisition.
  • Words can be turned into spears. They can be turned into prayers. It’s a strange world that you are in. But you deal with words.
  • Look, if I were alone in the world, I would have the right to choose despair, solitude and self-fulfillment. But I am not alone.
  • My students are very special. They are my source of pride, my source of joy, my source of hope. I am terribly fond of my students.
  • For the good of all, I say: Be careful, the brutality of the world must not be more powerful or attractive than love and friendship.
  • Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.
  • Granted that every war is madness-civil war, fratricide, is the worst of all; it reaches deeper into ugliness, cruelty and absurdity.
  • Fanaticism in many lands has surfaced as the greatest threat to the world. Indifference to its consequences would be a serious mistake.
  • I’m not a political person. I usually beware of political persons. I know many, but I’m not one of them. I have no political ambitions.
  • Except if it has some historical meaning for them to have Tibet under their control. I don’t understand why [ Chinese] want it so much.
  • I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone – terribly alone in a world without God and without (hu)man(ity).
  • The Biblical text does not have punctuation marks like periods and question marks. Where we end sentences is a matter of interpretation.
  • Man asks and God replies but we don’t understand his replies because they dwell in the depths of our souls and remain there until we die.
  • The more we know, the more pain we have. But because we are human beings, this must be. Otherwise we become objects rather than subjects.
  • I had to be honest with myself and that I felt hatred then, but as children say “I hate you”, it’s not really hate, you know, it’s anger.
  • Writing is like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate, in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain
  • I believe a human being – if he or she wants to remain human, then he or she must do something with what we have seen, endured, witnessed.
  • Education in the key to preventing the cycle of violence and hatred that marred the 20th century from repeating itself in the 21st century.
  • I have tried to keep memory alive… I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
  • I was convinced that hatred among nations and among people perished in Auschwitz. It didn’t. The victims died but the haters are still here.
  • This day I ceased to plead. I was no longer capable of lamentation. On the contrary, I felt very strong. I was the accuser, God the accused.
  • That is my major preoccupation, memory, the kingdom of memory. I want to protect and enrich that kingdom, glorify that kingdom and serve it.
  • More people are aware of the consequences of hatred. People are aware. Therefore more people are engaged in fighting … racism and so forth.
  • First we must understand that there can be no life without risk – and when our center is strong, everything else is secondary, even the risks.
  • What I don’t like today is, to put it coarsely, the phony Hasidism, the phony mysticism. Many students say, “Teach me mysticism.” It’s a joke.
  • [Adolf] Hitler needed, he didn’t want to kill Jews, he wanted to expel German Jews, and therefore it’s not entirely corroborating your theory.
  • Human beings all change. Not what they are but who they are. We have the power to change what we do with our life and turn it into our destiny.
  • I don’t think I should accept other people’s suffering because I suffered. Just the opposite, because I suffered I don’t want others to suffer.
  • We are all teachers, or should be. Anyone who relays experience to another person is a teacher. Not to transmit your experience is to betray it.
  • [Friedrich] Nietzsche said something marvellous, he said “Madness is not a consequence of uncertainty but of certainty”, and this is fanaticism.
  • In the concentration camps, we discovered this whole universe where everyone had his place. The killer came to kill, and the victims came to die.
  • Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed.
  • For nearly 3,500 years Exodus has left such an imprint on people’s memories that I cannot imagine it had been invented just as a legend or a tale.
  • The Holocaust is a sacred subject. One should take off one’s shoes when entering its domain, one should tremble each time one pronounces the word.
  • The impact of the holocaust on believers as well as unbelievers, on Jews as well as Christians, has not yet been evaluated. Not deeply, not enough.
  • When I began teaching you hardly could find a university in America or a college where they would teach either Jewish studies or Holocaust studies.
  • For us it’s not easy to be conformist, I cannot stand to be conformist, I don’t accept what it is, I like to say no. If I see an injustice I scream.
  • For me [Patriarchs] exist. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob exist today. They are people that you see with white beards. I have no doubt of their existence.
  • Writing should not be routine; writing should actually be the opposite of procedural because otherwise the written word would become a routine word.
  • Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace. Does that seem paradoxical? Well, war is not afraid of paradoxes.
  • Better that one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all.
  • You’re shaking,¶ so am I. It’s because of Jerusalem, isn’t it? One doesn’t go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That’s one of its mysteries.
  • One thing is that [Tibetans] should not give up hope. That’s – even [if] it lasts a century. My discussions with the Dalai Lama always were about that.
  • I really don’t teach the way Professor [Frank Moore] Cross does. I don’t teach the text the same way he does. I teach Biblical themes, Biblical events.
  • That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal.
  • We’re both [with Elie Wiesel] a long way from the position of the so-called Biblical minimalists. Some of them see no history in the Bible until Josiah.
  • Bread, soup – these were my whole life. I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach. The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time.
  • I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.
  • Pain is essential. Often I cannot avoid it.Therefore all one can do is redeem it; and the only way to redeem it is through literature, art, poetry, music.
  • The sky is so close to the sea that it is difficult to tell which is reflected in the other, which one needs the other, which one is dominating the other.
  • As you know, I describe Shirat ha-Yam as part of an epic story that has qualities of history and which also has qualities of the mythological, of an epic.
  • My faith is a wounded faith, but my life is not without faith. I didn’t divorce God, but I’m quarrelling and arguing and questioning, it’s a wounded faith.
  • I became one of [Moses Mendelssohn] defenders. But then I heard the words “Biblical criticism” again. And, of course, afterward, I studied it more closely.
  • If there is a single theme that dominates all my writings, all my obsessions, it is that of memory-because I fear forgetfulness as much as hatred and death.
  • The stars were only sparks of the fire which devoured us. Should that fire die out one day, there would be nothing left in the sky but dead stars, dead eyes.
  • I’ve worked with five Presidents in America, all of them I ask the same question always: Why didn’t the American allies bomb the railways going to Auschwitz?
  • Every single human being is a unique human being. And, therefore, it’s so criminal to do something to that human being, because he or she represents humanity.
  • Josiah has a tremendous reputation in the text. He rediscovered the Book of the Law; you remember how Hilkiah the High Priest somehow found it [2 Kings 22:8].
  • In Talmudic literature, certainly in the beginning, he was like a human being – except he was a serpent. But he was talking and walking and probably dreaming.
  • I don’t think [governments] use [religious repression ] as a weapon, they use it as a as a means of – of oppression. To stifle opposition. To mute resistance.
  • Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate – healthy virile hate – for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German.
  • If life is not a celebration, why remember it ? If life — mine or that of my fellow man — is not an offering to the other, what are we doing on this earth?
  • We are all brothers and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive. (pg. 39)
  • None of us is in a position to eliminate war, but it is our obligation to denounce it and expose it in all its hideousness. War leaves no victors, only victims.
  • Whatever we thought was certain is no longer certain, and therefore in science probably certain things must be correct, but in human behaviour I am not so sure.
  • Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
  • No commandment surpasses the one concerning the liberation of hostages, for they are among the starving, the thirsting, the stripped, always in danger of death.
  • For the dead and the living, we must bear witness. Not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are responsible for what we do with those memories
  • The only place where I felt at home, on familiar ground, was the Jewish cemetery. And yet I had never set foot in it before. Children had been forbidden to enter.
  • Do you know what laughter is? I’ll tell you. It’s God’s mistake. When God made man in order to bend him to his wishes he carelessly gave him the gift of laughter.
  • I do not deal with the text [of the Bible] scientifically. I read it, I’m interested in its layers of meaning, but my relation to it is much more an emotional one.
  • Bite your lips, little brother…Don’t cry. Keep your anger, your hate, for another day, for later. The day will come but not now…Wait. Clench your teeth and wait.
  • I think that human beings are capable of the worst things possible and they show that there were times, and there probably are times, that it is human to be inhuman.
  • I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again.
  • I try to see their moral relevance [in the Bible] and, of course, to admire the literary beauty of the text. Prophetic poetry: No one has written the way Isaiah does.
  • Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.
  • I imagine, like all his predecessors, Barak Obama would like to achieve greatness in bringing peace in the Middle East. I hope it will not be at the expense of Israel.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Indifference creates evil. Hatred is evil itself. Indifference is what allows evil to be strong, what gives it power.
  • Perhaps some day someone will explain how, on the level of man, Auschwitz was possible; but on the level of God, it will forever remain the most disturbing of mysteries.
  • I was there when God was put on trial….At the end of the trial, they used the word chayav, rather than ‘guilty’. It means ‘He owes us something’. Then we went to pray.
  • A voice behind me asked, “Where is God? Where is He? Where can He be now?” and a voice within me answered: “Where? Here He is – He has been hanged here, on these gallows.”
  • I come from a very religious background.And actually I remained in it. All my anger I describe in my quarrels with God in Auschwitz, but you know I used to pray every day.
  • Sometimes I am asked if I know ‘the response to Auschwitz; I answer that not only do I not know it, but that I don’t even know if a tragedy of this magnitude has a response.
  • In my tradition, one must wait until one has learned a lot of Bible and Talmud and the Prophets to handle mysticism. This isn’t instant coffee. There is no instant mysticism.
  • [Shirat ha-Yam ] is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, pieces of Biblical literature that we possess. It is much closer to history than later traditions of the Exodus.
  • There is a coalition of anti-Semitism today, the extreme left, the extreme right and in the middle the huge corpus of Islam. I’m worried, I go around with a very heavy heart.
  • What does mysticism really mean? It means the way to attain knowledge. It’s close to philosophy, except in philosophy you go horizontally while in mysticism you go vertically.
  • The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, and so are you.
  • His cold eyes stared at me. At last, he said wearily: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
  • I would hesitate to give advice to the Dalai Lama and his people because they are suffering. The Dalai Lama suffered from exile and the people in Tibet suffer from oppression.
  • There is divine beauty in learning… To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps.
  • Man, by definition, is born a stranger: coming from nowhere, he is thrust into an alien world which existed before him-a world which didn’t need him. And which will survive him.
  • In my little town, Sighet, which is in Romania, Hungary-Romania, but a real shtetl, a little [Jewish] village – and we began with the Chumash [Pentateuch], probably at age four.
  • I’ve organised for the last years, since I got the Nobel Prize actually, Anatomy of Hate Conferences all over the world, what is hate. Didn’t help but at least they explored it.
  • Emphasis must be put on learning: there is no substitute to education. It can be briefly formulated in a few words: always, whatever you do in life, think higher and feel deeper.
  • Mankind needs peace more than ever, for our entire planet, threatened by nuclear war, is in danger of total destruction. A destruction only man can provoke, only man can prevent.
  • The Holocaust is the most documented tragedy in recorded history. And therefore, later on, if there will be a later on, anyone wishing to know will know where to go for knowledge.
  • Of course, afterward, I studied [commentary on the Bible by a Rabbi Moshe Dessauer] more closely. But, in truth, it doesn’t touch me. It doesn’t change my attitude toward the text.
  • Paris: city of encounters, of furtive and painful discoveries. All isms converge there, including the anti-isms, all the revolutionaries too, including the counterrevolutionaries .
  • I feel very close to French culture and to the French humanism, which occasionally one finds, even in the highest places. And therefore, all of my books have been written in French.
  • I remember, May 1944: I was 15-and-a-half, and I was thrown into a haunted universe where the story of the human adventure seemed to swing irrevocably between horror and malediction.
  • Only one enemy is worse than despair: indifference. In every area of human creativity, indifference is the enemy; indifference of evil is worse than evil, because it is also sterile.
  • I thought that culture and education are the shield. An educated person cannot do certain things and, and be educated, you cannot, and there they were, killing children day after day.
  • The darkness enveloped us. All I could hear was the violin and it was as if Juliek’s soul had become the bow. He was playing his life…He played that which he would never play again.
  • What is being lost is the magic of the word. I am not an image person. Imagery belongs to another civilization: the caveman. Caveman couldn’t express himself so he put images on walls.
  • In spite of despair, hope must exist. In spite of suffering, humanity must prevail. And in spite of all the differences in the world, the worst enemy, the worst peril, is indifference.
  • It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
  • I say to myself, if the text was good enough for my father and grandfather, it must be good enough for me. I admit, that is a rather personal way of approaching the text – or a prayer.
  • I think those governments who resent religion, they’re afraid of religion because religion may be in their eyes, in their views be seen as a counter government or a parallel government.
  • I make a difference between genocide and Holocaust. Holocaust was mainly Jewish, that was the only people, to the last Jew, sentenced to die for one reason, for being Jewish, that’s all.
  • They are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions. (v)
  • I’ve been fighting my entire adult life for men and women everywhere to be equal and to be different. But there is one right I would not grant anyone. And that is the right to be indifferent.
  • Now, when I hear that Christians are getting together in order to defend the people of Israel, of course it brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history.
  • Why is war such an easy option? Why does peace remain such an elusive goal? We know statesmen skilled at waging war, but where are those dedicated enough to humanity to find a way to avoid war
  • It’s not a weapon, [governments] don’t kill, they don’t conduct massacres, although massacres have been committed and many people were killed, but they stifle religion, they’re afraid probably.
  • I don’t see the junk youth. I only meet students, and even those who are not formally at the university, if they come to listen to me, they come to read me, it means they are not junk students.
  • [Memory] is a passion no less powerful or pervasive than love. It is [the ability] to live in more than one world, to prevent the past from fading, and to call upon the future to illuminate it.
  • For the purpose of my life, I don’t ask the question. First of all, I believe. I think the Five Books of Moses are inspired. Call it divine. I don’t know. But I would certainly call it inspired.
  • If you make a determination that [story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac] is not historical, do you throw it away? I don’t think we can say whether it’s precisely, scientifically historical.
  • Usually I get up early every morning and from 6:00 to 10:00 I write. The rest of the time I study and prepare my work or I do other things. But four hours a day are exclusively devoted to writing.
  • Go over to Greece with the Iliad and Odyssey. These have elements of history, and they have non-historical elements. It’s very difficult to pull them apart. And I think there’s not much reason to.
  • We know, for instance, of “The Book of the Wars of the Lord.” It is mentioned in the text [Numbers 21:14]. There was a book: Where is it? One day you will dig and you will maybe find it. [Laughter]
  • The knowledge that I have acquired must not remain imprisoned in my brain. I owe it to many men and women to do something with it. I feel the need to pay back what was given to me. Call it gratitude.
  • Terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations ¬ó not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.
  • Worse still is that mankind – the non-Jewish world – learned nothing from the Holocaust: The event which had no precedent in history, which should be equal to the Revelation at Sinai in significance.
  • If there is one person on the planet who still is suffering from loneliness and from pain or despair, and we don’t know about it, or we don’t want to know about it, then something is wrong with the world.
  • [Chinese] are a huge empire now, you’ll soon be – in a few years two billion people in the world. So, you should be more compassionate, more understanding. And above all, you don’t need all their trouble.
  • Philosophy is a slow process of logic and logical discourse: A bringing B bringing C and so forth. In mysticism you can jump from A to Z. But the ultimate objective is the same. It’s knowledge. It’s truth.
  • We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.
  • Everybody around us was weeping. Someone began to recite Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I don’t know whether, during the history of the Jewish people, men have ever before recited Kaddish for themselves.
  • I have an open mind – – I read, I study, I study your work and the work of other people with less talent. But that is not what I do in my writing and teaching. Still the love for the text we have in common.
  • The criminal is not alone when he returns to the scene of the crime; he is joined there by his victim, and both are driven by the same curiosity: to relive that moment which stamped past and future for each.
  • It is up to us to determine whether the years ahead will be for humankind a curse or a blessing. We always must remember that it is given to men and women to choose life and living, not death and destruction.
  • I’d rather speak as a student of philosophy. Philosophically it makes no sense, absolutely makes no sense. Why should people inherit evil things when their memories could contain and should invoke good things?
  • I cannot cure everybody. I cannot help everybody. But to tell the lonely person that I am not far or different from that lonely person, that I am with him or her, that’s all I think we can do and we should do.
  • No human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?
  • [Tibet] never sought any territory. All it wanted is the conquest of the soul, that people should attain a kind of inner sovereignty, inner independence, inner freedom. And inner strength to attain the absolute.
  • What [Franz] Kafka says about the Tower of Babel: In the beginning there were actually many languages, and then as a punishment God gave the world a single language. And then they stopped understanding each other.
  • My interpretation is different. God asks Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” [Genesis 4:9] And Cain answers “Lo yadati, “I don’t know” or “I didn’t know.” Then comes a period, followed by “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
  • A Jew must be sensitive to the pain of all human beings. A Jew cannot remain indifferent to human suffering… The mission of the Jewish people has never been to make the world more Jewish, but to make it more human.
  • The Vietnam War ended because of the campus situation. And so many other injustices have been corrected in the World today only thanks to the young people. So, young people especially have a responsibility for Tibet.
  • It is obvious that the war which Hitler and his accomplices waged was a war not only against Jewish men, women, and children, but also against Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish tradition, therefore Jewish memory.
  • Nobody is stronger, nobody is weaker than someone who came back. There is nothing you can do to such a person because whatever you could do is less than what has already been done to him. We have already paid the price.
  • Be careful with words, they’re dangerous. Be wary of them. They begat either demons or angels. It’s up to you to give life to one or the other. Be careful, I tell you, nothing is as dangerous as giving free rein to words
  • I rarely speak about God. To God yes. I protest against Him. I shout at Him. But open discourse about the qualities of God, about the problems that God imposes, theodicy, no. And yet He is there, in silence, in filigree.
  • He wants to see whether we are capable of overcoming out base instincts, of killing the Satan within ourselves. We have no right to despair. And if he punishes us mercilessly, it is a sign that He loves us that much more.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.
  • you can do something. You can, even for one person Don’t turn away; help. Because those who suffer, often suffer not because of the person or the group that inflicts the suffering; they seem to suffer because nobody cares.
  • There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don’t see them.
  • Yet another last night. The last night at home, the last night in the ghetto, the last night in the train, and, now, the last night in Buna. How much longer were our lives to be dragged out from one ‘last night’ to another?
  • I would say to [Chinese government], You don’t need Tibet really. You don’t need all the problems Tibet creates for you. It’s so small, so far away. Give them their religious freedom and I know that they wouldn’t misuse it.
  • Always remember, my good friends, that there is one sin we must never commit and it is to humiliate another person or to allow another person to be humiliated in our presence without us screaming and shouting and protesting.
  • You cross a border and the policeman or the frontier policeman look at you, What are you doing here? Why are you coming? How long will you stay? Well, if I had nearly enough years, I would write a novel about being a refugee.
  • I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
  • Often I say to myself “Really, what are we doing on this planet?” We are passing the message as well as we can, communicating our fears, our hopes … Day in day out, week after week and year after year, people kill each other.
  • I was very, very religious. And of course I wrote about it in ‘Night.’ I questioned God’s silence. So I questioned. I don’t have an answer for that. Does it mean that I stopped having faith? No. I have faith, but I question it.
  • Nevertheless, we are led to believe that true words can communicate more than truth, they communicate what life is all about, that it’s threatened, when it’s threatened, when it’s in danger, then it becomes a curse or a blessing.
  • All those who love thrillers will find in Michael Alexiades’s first novel a source of great pleasure and satisfaction. It combines suspense and knowledge, experience and imagination. His grateful readers will now wait for the next.
  • There is Israel, for us at least. What no other generation had, we have. We have Israel in spite of all the dangers, the threats and the wars, we have Israel. We can go to Jerusalem. Generations and generations could not and we can.
  • I am not so na√Øve as to believe that this slim volume will change the course of history or shake the conscience of the world. Books no longer have the power they once did. Those who kept silent yesterday will remain silent tomorrow.
  • We are heading towards catastrophe. I think the world is going to pieces. I am very pessimistic. Why? Because the world hasn’t been punished yet, and the only punishment that could be adequate is the nuclear destruction of the world.
  • We live in the age of communication. Write letters to the editor. Speak to your congressman, to your senator. If you are young, especially young people are taken by this human rights activities. They should organize the universities.
  • Some of the men spoke of God: His mysterious ways, the sins of the Jewish people, and the redemption to come. As for me, I had ceased to pray. I concurred with Job! I was not denying His existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
  • I want to go back to the child I used to be, and to read with the same naivet√© [the Pentateuch]. I want to leave science aside and go back to the pure perception offered to me in the text that is waiting there for me year after year.
  • [Moishe] explained to me, with great emphasis, that every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer…. And why do you pray, Moishe?’ I asked him. I pray to the God within me for the strength to ask Him the real questions.
  • In my town we studied the five Books of Moses, but rarely the prophets. We studied the Talmud so much that I sometimes knew the prophets because of the prophetic quotations in the Talmud. We almost never studied the prophets themselves.
  • Fanaticism is the greatest threat today. Literally, the 21st century threatened by fanatics, and we have fanatics in every religion, unfortunately, and what can we do against them? Words nothing else, I’m against violence but only words.
  • At Auschwitz, not only man died, but also the idea of man. To live in a world where there is nothing anymore, where the executioner acts as god, as judge-many wanted no part of it. It was its own heart the world incinerated at Auschwitz.
  • I did not weep, and it pained me that i could not weep. But I had no more tears. And, in the depths of my being, in the recesses of my weakened conscience, could I have searched it, I might perhaps have found something like–free at last!
  • I think the Messianic concept, which is the Jewish offering to mankind, is a great victory. What does it mean? It means that history has a sense, a meaning, a direction; it goes somewhere, and necessarily in a good direction–the Messiah.
  • I was inspired by the marvelous example of Giacometti, the great sculptor. He always said that his dream was to do a bust so small that it could enter a matchbook, but so heavy that no one could lift it. That’s what a good book should be.
  • No one has written the way Isaiah does. The royal style, the majesty of the language. He is called the prince of the prophets. No one has written like that. I’ve studied ancient literature, Homer, for example, but it’s not the same thing.
  • All those – or most of those – who went through the experience during the Second World War – they want to remember more – more and more. It’s never enough because we feel that we have to tell the story. And no one can tell the story fully.
  • When you die and go to heaven our maker is not going to ask, ‘why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such? why didn’t you become the Messiah?’ The only question we will be asked in that precious moment is ‘why didn’t you become you?’
  • Just as there are predatory birds, so there are predatory ideas: I came under their spell. . . .Just as the survivors say that no one will ever understand the victims, what I must tell you is that you will never understand the executioners.
  • Even in darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. That it is possible to feel free inside a prison. That even in exile, friendship exists and can become an anchor. That one instant before dying, man is still immortal.
  • Man prefers to blame himself for all possible sins and crimes rather than come to the conclusion that God is capable of the most flagrant injustice. I still blush every time I think of the way God makes fun of human beings, his favorite toys.
  • With every cell of my being and with every fiber of my memory I oppose the death penalty in all forms. I do not believe any civilized society should be at the service of death. I don’t think it’s human to become an agent of the angel of death.
  • Refugee today means somebody who has no home. No homeland. No security. No government to protect him or her. And it is of course one feels not only uprooted, one feels useless. One feels always surrounded by hostile forces. Arousing suspicion.
  • When I see what is happening all over the world today – the violence – the stupid, arrogant, grotesque violence that is dominating humankind. I cannot not remember that there were other times, of course [the Second World War]. I never compare.
  • Hunger is isolating; it may not and cannot be experienced vicariously. He who never felt hunger can never know its real effects, both tangible and intangible. Hunger defies imagination; it even defies memory. Hunger is felt only in the present.
  • I have absolutely no problem with the young Germans. I even feel sorry for the young Germans because to be maybe sons or daughters of killers is different than them to be sons and daughters of the victims. And I felt sorry for them. I still do.
  • We must choose between the violence of adults and the smiles of children. Between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it. Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves.
  • I think this century more than any other really has seen the phenomenon of people being uprooted in such numbers, such a degree. They even have a word for it: The refugees. It’s a new word, a 20th Century word, but refugee is actually a misnomer.
  • I believe that all the survivors are mad. One time or another their madness will explode. You cannot absorb that much madness and not be influenced by it. That is why the children of survivors are so tragic. I see them in school. They don’t know how
  • I think he is condemned by himself to loneliness. God is One: he was, he is, he will be always One. One is so lonely. Maybe that is why he created human beings–to feel less lonely. But as human beings betray his creation, he may become even lonelier.
  • When I have my manuscript finished, more or less, I type it myself, with two fingers. I type fast with two fingers. And then when it’s ready, I reread, recorrect, and retype it. Everything is my own work. I do not give it to secretaries or to typists.
  • What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.
  • One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.
  • We’re alone, but we are capable of communicating to one another both our loneliness and our desire to break through it. You say, ‘I’m alone.’ Someone answers, ‘I’m alone too.’ There’s a shift in the scale of power. A bridge is thrown between the two abysses.
  • We were masters of nature, masters of the world. We had forgotten everything–death, fatigue, our natural needs. Stronger than cold or hunger, stronger than the shots and the desire to die, condemned and wandering, mere numbers, we were the only men on earth.
  • “Am I my brother’s keeper?” There you have the whole Biblical understanding that you are your brother’s keeper. You also have a whole other understanding in which you are not your brother’s keeper. And I’ve heard some extremely bright people take this position.
  • From time immemorial, people have talked about peace without achieving it. Do we simply lack enough experience? Though we talk peace, we wage war. Sometimes we even wage war in the name of peace. . . . War may be too much a part of history to be eliminated¬óever.
  • Today there isn’t a university where they don’t have special courses [Jewish studies or Holocaust studies], hundreds and hundreds of universities, young people today want to know more than their elders did, much more, and therefore I am very optimistic about young people.
  • Young people want to learn, they are thirsty for knowledge, they want to understand and remember. The main thing is to teach them where not to go. Oppression, not to go; dictatorship, not to go; racism and prejudice, absolutely not to go. This is a moral plan [for society].
  • I remember those faces of people who were good I saw that. I saw a father who gave his bread to his son and his son gave back the bread to his father. That, to me, was such a defeat of the enemies, will of the enemies, theories of the enemies, aspirations, here [in Auschwitz].
  • What of the Exodus? That too, is a wonderful story, but from the viewpoint of an historian, it is – to use a word scholars love – problematic. Let’s say there are doubts, to say the least, among many scholars, as to whether the Exodus actually occurred. That’s a historical issue.
  • A Jew who converted, who simulated, was, at least in some periods, safe. Hitler in the beginning did not want to kill all the Jews but he wanted us to have a Germany free of Jews. If America had allowed Jews to come in, the British had accepted Jews from Palestine, they were safe.
  • Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning; it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor – never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.
  • Man’s strength resides in his capacity and desire to elevate himself, so as to attain the good. To travel step by step toward the heights. And that is all he can do. To reach heaven and remain there is beyond his powers: Even Moses had to return to earth. Is it the same for evil?
  • Today again the teacher is the important thing, but on the other hand anti-Semitism is growing today. No doubt about it. All over the world, especially in Europe, and it’s true they begin with anti-Israeli attitudes and then it’s so strong that it runs over and becomes anti-Semitic.
  • Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently, in the Bible. It is incumbent upon us to remember the good we have received, and the evil we have suffered.
  • In the word question, there is a beautiful word – quest. I love that word. We are all partners in a quest. The essential questions have no answers. You are my question, and I am yours – and then there is dialogue. The moment we have answers, there is no dialogue. Questions unite people.
  • How could I say to Him: Blessed be Thou, Almighty, Master of the Universe, who chose us among all nations to be tortured day and night, to watch as our fathers, our mothers, our brothers end up in furnaces? Praised be Thy Holy Name, for having chosen us to be slaughtered on Thine altar?
  • I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.
  • The act of writing is for me often nothing more than the secret or conscious desire to carve words on a tombstone: to the memory of a town forever vanished, to the memory of a childhood in exile, to the memory of all those I loved and who, before I could tell them I loved them, went away.
  • No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.
  • I wanted to come back to Sighet to tell you the story of my death. So that you could prepare yourselves while there was still time. To live? I don’t attach any importance to my life any more. I’m alone. No, I wanted to come back, and to warn you. And see how it is, no one will listen to me.
  • I don’t speak about my pain. My pain is something that doesn’t need to be purged. I want to prevent people from suffering. I don’t speak about my suffering. Suffering is something personal and discreet. Also, I know it will never leave me. I don’t want it to leave me. It would be a betrayal.
  • But where was I to start? The world is so vast, I shall start with the country I knew best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large. I had best start with my street. No, my home. No, my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself.
  • Every nation has its prestigious military academies – or so few of them – that reach not only the virtues of peace but also the art of attaining it? I mean attaining and protecting it by means other than weapons, the tools of war. Why are we surprised whenever war recedes and yields to peace?
  • I remember one day I came home and shouted to my grandmother, “Grandma, Sarah is pregnant!” Poor Sarah! For weeks before I had read how difficult it was for her to get pregnant. “Grandma! I have news for you!” “What did you learn?” “I have news, Grandma: Sarah is pregnant!” [Genesis 16 – 21].
  • There are moments when I think it will never end, that it will last indefinitely. It’s like the rain. Here the rain, like everything else, suggests permanence and eternity. I say to myself: it’s raining today and it’s going to rain tomorrow and the next day, the next week and the next century.
  • The night was gone. The morning star was shining in the sky. I too had become a completely different person. The student of the Talmud, the child that I was, had been consumed in the flames. There remained only a shape that looked like me. A dark flame had entered into my soul and devoured it.
  • I listen to music when I write. I need the musical background. Classical music. I’m behind the times. I’m still with Baroque music, Gregorian chant, the requiems, and with the quartets of Beethoven and Brahms. That is what I need for the climate, for the surroundings, for the landscape: the music.
  • My loyalty to my people, to our people, and to Israel comes first and prevents me from saying anything critical of Israel outside Israel. As a Jew I see my role as a melitz yosher, a defender of Israel: I defend even her mistakes must identify with whatever Israel does even with her errors.
  • If the Book of the Law could be forgotten for so many years, who knows what was done to it during those years? Maybe it was lost later, too. And another one replaced it, and that one is no longer the original text. These are questions that perturb me much more than whether it’s history or not history.
  • It may well be that our means are fairly limited and our possibilities restricted when it comes to applying pressure on our government But is this a reason to do nothing? Despair is nor an answer Neither is resignation Resignation only leads to indifference, which is not merely a sin but a punishment.
  • I was involved in trying to save the Rwandan people and Sudan now. It’s a mass murder. Mass murder is a terrifying word. We don’t have to go further than that. Cambodia came close to, but what was it, Cambodians killing Cambodians after all. So therefore I think we should be very careful with vocabulary.
  • As for the discipline, we [me and Frank Moore Cross] belong to two different disciplines. One involves research and archaeological materials. Mine is more interpretive. But it is the love for the text that is there, and that is what makes the whole adventure of reading and studying and sharing worthwhile.
  • Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.
  • I shall never forget Juliek. How could I forget this concert given before an audience of the dead and dying? Even today, when I hear that particular piece by Beethoven, my eyes close and out of the darkness emerges the pale and melancholy face of my Polish comrade bidding farewell to an audience of dying men.
  • Writers write because they cannot allow the characters that inhabit them to suffocate them. These characters want to get out, to breathe fresh air and partake of the wine of friendship; were they to remain locked in, they would forcibly break down the walls. It is they who force the writer to tell their stories.
  • In the face of suffering, one has no right to turn away, not to see. In the face of injustice, one may not look the other way. When someone suffers, and it is not you, that person comes first.  One’s very suffering gives one priority. . . . To watch over one who grieves is a more urgent duty than to think of God.
  • I have no doubt that faith is only pure when it does not negate the faith of another. I have no doubt that evil can be fought and that indifference is no option. I have no doubt that fanaticism is dangerous. And of all the books in the world on life, I have no doubt that the life of one person weighs more than them all.
  • The darkest days in my life after the war, after the war, was when I discovered that the … most of the members and commanders of the Einsatz group that were doing the killings, not even in gas chambers, but killing with machine guns, had college degrees from German universities and PhD’s and MD’s. Couldn’t believe it.
  • How can one explain the attraction terror holds for some minds and why for intellectuals? . . .In a totalitarian and terrorist regime, man is no longer a unique being with infinite possibilities and limitless choices but a number, a puppet, with just this difference numbers and puppets are not susceptible to fear.
  • For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.
  • Tibet, why is it occupied? For political reasons maybe they have a reason. I don’t know. But religiously, why? The fact that the religious community is being oppressed and persecuted is something that every single person in the world who has any religious faith and religious feeling for – for people who have faith should speak up.
  • I don’t know the real answer, my answer to anything which is essentially human relations is education. Whatever the answer is, education must be its measured component and if you try to educate with generosity not with triumphalism I think sometimes it works, especially young people, that’s why I teach, I’ve been teaching all my life.
  • This is the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century – solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.
  • If you read Exodus 15 carefully, it describes a storm at sea. This is the old Yahwistic source. In the retelling of the story in the later Priestly source, it is more miraculous: The water stands up on either side like a wall. There are walls of water standing up. As you move back in time, oddly enough, the story becomes more historical.
  • If anyone had told us in 1945 that there are certain battles we’ll have to fight again we wouldn’t have believed it. Racism, anti-Semitism, starvation of children and, who would have believed that? At least I was convinced then, naively, that at least something happened in history that, because of myself, certain things cannot happen again.
  • Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.
  • A disciple came to the celebrated Master of the Good Name with a question. Rabbi, how are we to distinguish between a true master and a fake? And the master of the good name said, When you meet a person who poses as a master, ask him a question: whether he knows how to purify your thoughts. If he says that he knows, then he is a fake.
  • I am looking for the word which is there and shouldn’t be there. I wonder, why is it there? Or I look for problems: the Akedah [the Binding of Isaac – Genesis 22]. It still baffles me. Each time I read it – and I read it at least twice a year – each time I discover new layers in it. Always. So this is of more concern to me than the minimalists.
  • But the forces of evil have not abdicated. The malevolent ghosts of hatred are resurgent with a fury and a boldness that are as astounding as they are nauseating: ethnic conflicts, religious riots, anti-Semitic incidents here, there, and everywhere. What is wrong with these morally degenerate people that they abuse their freedom, so recently won?
  • I was working as a journalist for an Israeli paper in Paris, and my salary at the highest was fifty dollars a month. At the end of the month I always had palpitations; I didn’t know how to pay my rent. Even after the war, I was often hungry. But that’s part of the romantic condition of a student. To be a student in Paris and not be hungry is wrong.
  • Night is purer than day; it is better for thinking and loving and dreaming. At night everything is more intense, more true. The echo of words that have been spoken during the day takes on a new and deeper meaning. The tragedy of man is that he doesn’t know how to distinguish between day and night. He says things at night that should only be said by day.
  • We cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly it it is true, and in the subsequent quarter century the world has had to hear a story it would have preferred not to hear – the story of how a cultured people turned to genocide, and how the rest of the world, also composed of cultured people, remained silent in the face of genocide. (v)
  • One day – I remember it was a Sabbath afternoon – I came to the synagogue with a book in my hand. I saw a commentary on the Bible by a certain Rabbi Moshe Dessauer, better known as Moses Mendelssohn. An elderly man came up to me – I was then maybe 10 or 12. “What are you studying?” he said. “Dessauer’s commentaries,” I said. So he gave me a slap on my face.
  • The Bible is interpreted by the Talmud. Except, in Rabbinic tradition, a Talmudic law has the weight of the Biblical law. Sometimes we say in a prayer, “Blessed are Thou, O God, who has ordered us and commended us,” to do something. But you don’t find that “something” in the Bible; you find it in the Talmud. So Talmudic law becomes as important as Biblical law.
  • I would not like to draw analogies, with the past.Governments, leaders, intellectuals, mainly intellectuals who should know the ethical dimensions, are so important, so essential to culture, religion, to civilization, and to our own lives. And that means what? It means not to be indifferent, not to stand idly by. That is a biblical commandment that we are committed.
  • Remember also that it is not knowledge but the yearning for knowledge that makes for a complete, accomplished man. Such a man does not stand still but perseveres in the face of adversity, nor does he remain untouched by the pain cause by absence. On the contrary, he recognizes himself in each cry, uttered or repressed, in the smallest rift, in the most pressing need.
  • The term is piqua nevish [?] it means to save a soul, to save a life. And that commandment supersedes all others. It means literally you may violate almost everything except, I think, three commandments of the heart, 613, – you may do anything, violate any commandment and the injunction simply to save a human life. And there are enough lives to be saved in – in Tibet.
  • Still I believe that Hanna Arendt, she was wrong when she tried to say that we are all actually capable of this, it’s not true. I think it’s not true. There are certain things human beings are not capable of. I mean people, even normal human beings. You have to do certain things in order to become what the enemy was and I didn’t accept her philosophical outlook on that.
  • I still believe in man in spite of man. I believe in language even though it has been wounded, deformed, and perverted by the enemies of mankind. And I continue to cling to words because it is up to us to transform them into instruments of comprehension rather than contempt. It is up to us to choose whether we wish to use them to curse or to heal, to wound or to console.
  • Acutely aware of the poverty of my means, language became obstacle. At every page I thought, ‘That’s not it.’ So I began again with other verbs and other images. No, that wasn’t it either. But what exactly was that it I was searching for? It must have been all that eludes us, hidden behind a veil so as not to be stolen, usurped and trivialized. Words seemed weak and pale.
  • John XXI was a very great pope and he’s the one who actually corrected the liturgy. He did so because of his friend Jules Isaac, a French Jewish historian who was a friend of John Paul, of John 23rd, and he convinced him and he changed the liturgy, no more Jew, the perfidious Jew and so forth and now, and don’t speak any more of the Jews killing Christ. Things have changed.
  • Take the story of Cain and Abel. Why were we given that story? Scientifically, you may have an explanation for it, but I’m not approaching it from the scientific point of view. I’m saying: Why do we need that? It’s a sordid story, a depressing story, a dark story. Why should I believe that I’m a descendant of either Cain or Abel? Thank God there is a third son! [Genesis 4:25]
  • In the beginning was belief, foolish belief, and faith, empty faith, and illusion, the terrible illusion. … We believed in God, had faith in man, and lived with the illusion that in each one of us is a sacred spark from the fire of the shekinah, that each one carried in his eyes and in his soul the sign of God. This was the source‚ if not the cause, of all our misfortune.
  • The American and the British armies liberated camps, there wasn’t a single order of the day: Let’s go and liberate the camp. They stumbled upon the camps. Same thing with the Russians, I asked the Colonel who liberated Auschwitz, they didn’t, there wasn’t a priority. But I feel that that was a mistake, it was a sin because they could have saved so many people and they didn’t.
  • The Tibetan religion has a past. And furthermore it has such an appeal. There again young people today are drawn to Buddhism and to Tibet. It’s not only because of the Dalai Lama. It’s because of what Tibet represents. There is a vast reservoir of knowledge, of mystical knowledge, which can be found in Tibet.The Chinese shouldn’t be afraid of that really. They have other means of survival.
  • My good friends, we are all waiting. We are waiting, if not for the Messiah, as such, we are waiting for the messianic moment. And the messianic moment is what each and every one of us tries to build, meaning a certain area of humanity that links us to all those who are human and, therefore, desperately trying to fight despair as humanly as possible and – I hope – with some measure of success.
  • Everything is in it: the promise and the hope and the fear and the challenge and the defiance. The test is a double test: Just as God tested Abraham, Abraham tested God: “Let’s see if you really want me to go ahead with it and kill my son.” Then the angel says, “Do not raise your hand against the boy” [Genesis 22:12]. It was the Angel of God who says this, not God. God was embarrassed. [All laugh]
  • My approach is not a scientific approach. For that, we have greater minds than mine. My approach is: I am in the possession of a text, it has survived so many centuries, and it is my task, my pleasure, to try to decipher it and find all the things that have been said about these few words by generations and generations of commentators. That is what I’m doing. I don’t innovate anything. I’m just repeating.
  • [My approach to the Bible, history does really matter.] Everything matters. But I have priorities. For instance, for me to know whether there were two Isaiahs or one is less important than the text itself. Of course I read the arguments for and against. But it’s not my task in life to say there were two or three authors of Isaiah’s book, or how many authors there were of Deuteronomy. This is not what I’m doing.
  • My faceless neighbor spoke up: Don’t be deluded. Hitler has made it clear that he will annihilate all Jews before the clock strikes twelve. I exploded: “What do you care what he said? Would you want us to consider him a prophet?” His cold eyes stared at me. At last he said, wearily: I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.
  • I make a difference between genocide and Holocaust. Holocaust was mainly Jewish, that was the only people, to the last Jew, sentenced to die for one reason, for being Jewish, that’s all. Genocide is something else. Genocide has been actually codified by the United Nations. It’s the intent of killing, the intent of killing people, a community in this culture so forth, but no other people has been really interested.
  • It has become increasingly clear that Hungarian authorities are encouraging the whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary’s past, namely the wartime Hungarian governments’ involvement in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens. I found it outrageous that the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly could participate in a ceremony honoring a Hungarian fascist ideologue
  • For one who is indifferent, life itself is a prison. Any sense of community is external or, even worse, nonexistent. Thus, indifference means solitude. Those who are indifferent do not see others. They feel nothing for others and are unconcerned with what might happen to them. They are surrounded by a great emptiness. Filled by it, in fact. They are devoid of all hope as well as imagination. In other words, devoid of any future.
  • It was pitch dark. I could hear only the violin, and it was as though Juliek’s soul were the bow. He was playing his life. The whole of his life was gliding on the strings–his last hopes, his charred past, his extinguished future. He played as he would never play again…When I awoke, in the daylight, I could see Juliek, opposite me, slumped over, dead. Near him lay his violin, smashed, trampled, a strange overwhelming little corpse.
  • I’m a privileged person, I feel privileged because of who I am. I write books, I write novels, I write essays and I teach and I go from university to university. I’m one of the old, but I still go around, but I only see those who are not like that, I don’t see the junk youth. I only meet students, and even those who are not formally at the university, if they come to listen to me, they come to read me, it means they are not junk students.
  • I read the text; and then I come to the Shirat ha-Yam, to the Song of the Sea [Exodus 15], to the poetry. Who could have written such a poem except someone who went through it? It is so full of life, so full of truth, of passion, of concern. And the thousands and thousands of commentaries in the Talmudic tradition that have been written on it. It had to have happened. But even if not, I would attribute the same beauty to the text as I do now.
  • I believe in books. And when our people [coughing] – our people of Jerusalem, let’s say after the Romans destroyed the temple and the city, all we took is a little book, that’s all. Not treasures, we had no treasures. They were ransacked, taken away. But the book – the little book – and this book produced more books, thousands, hundreds of thousands of books, and in the book we found our memory, and our attachment to that memory is what kept us alive.
  • But because of his telling, many who did not believe have come to believe, and some who did not care have come to care. He tells the story, out of infinite pain, partly to honor the dead, but also to warn the living – to warn the living that it could happen again and that it must never happen again. Better than one heart be broken a thousand times in the retelling, he has decided, if it means that a thousand other hearts need not be broken at all. (vi)
  • Listen to me, kid. Don’t forget that you are in a concentration camp. In this place, it is every many for himself, and you cannot think of others. Not even you father. In this place, there is no such thing as father, brother, friend. Each of us lives and dies alone. Let me give you good advice: stop giving your ration of bread and soup to your old father. You cannot help him anymore. And you are hurting yourself. In fact, you should be getting his rations.
  • There are so many who know more than I do, who understand the world better than I do. I would be truly learned, a great scholar, if only I could retain everything I’ve learned from those I have known. But then would I still be me? And isn’t all that only words? Words grow old, too; they change their meaning and their usage. They get sick just as we do; they die of their wounds and then they are relegated to the dust of dictionaries. And where am I in all this?
  • The Pope going to Jerusalem, the Pope recognising the State of Islam, the Pope going to the wall organising a concert for the Holocaust in the Vatican, going to the synagogue in Vatican, and that happens in Protestant service as well. That doesn’t mean that anti-Semitism disappear, but it is on certain level that Jews all the time, or with Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, meeting all the time, studying together, signing petitions for all kinds of causes.
  • If enough people are sensitive to the tragedy of Tibet, I think it will produce a change politically as well. But furthermore, it’s important for the people in Tibet. Now communication is such [that] people know what is happening. Even Tibetan people would know that the Interfaith or the international group of religious people – that everybody who is religious is taking up their cause. It would help them a lot if we give them courage, and that in itself is enough.
  • I’d almost say hope isn’t what it used to be. It’s very difficult today to be a teacher. I speak to children. And tell them, look, no matter what, you must have hope. You must. When I invoke Camus, who said when there is no hope, you must invent hope. . .hope is something that is not what God gives us. It’s like peace. It’s a gift that one can give to one another. Only another person can push me to despair. And only another person can push me to hope. Its my choice.
  • And I, the for¬≠mer mys¬≠tic, was think¬≠ing: Yes, man is stronger, greater than God. When Adam and Eve de¬≠ceived You, You chased them from par¬≠adise. When You were dis¬≠pleased by Noah’s generation, You brought down the Flood. When Sodom lost Your fa¬≠vour, You caused the heav¬≠ens to rain down fire and damna¬≠tion. But look at these men whom You have be¬≠trayed, al¬≠low¬≠ing them to be tortured, slaugh¬≠tered, gassed, and burned, what do they do? They pray be¬≠fore You! They praise Your name!
  • I may be a descendant of Seth. I say to myself, What does [the story of Cain and Abel] teach me? So I go back to all the interpretations in the Talmud, which to me are a source of pleasure and joy. Then I say, maybe this story is not for then; maybe it’s for now! It’s possible for brothers to kill one another in civil wars. But most important, whoever kills, kills his brother. That’s a moral conclusion that may not be there; but that must be my conclusion. Otherwise, why read it? Whoever kills, kills his brother.
  • In my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one. Just as the past Lingers in the present, all my writings after night, including those that deal with biblical, Talmudic, or Hasidic themes, profoundly bear it’s stamp, and cannot be understood if one has not read this very first of my works. Why did I write it? Did I write it so as not to go mad or, on the contrary, to go mad in order to understand the nature of the madness, the immense, terrifying madness that had erupted in history and in the conscience of mankind?
  • There is much to be done, there is much that can be done… One person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our lives will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.
  • [The Book of the Law]was lost for so many years. And then Josiah decided to celebrate Passover. The text says that “The Passover sacrifice had not been offered in that way … during the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah” [2 Kings 23:22]. What do you mean? Not in the days of David and Solomon? Never before? And what of the days of the prophets? What happened? That’s what I’m anguishing over. If the Book of the Law could be forgotten for so many years, who knows what was done to it during those years? Maybe it was lost later, too.
  • … True, we are often too weak to stop injustices; but the least we can do is to protest against them. True, we are too poor to eliminate hunger; but in feeding one child, we protest against hunger.  True, we are too timid and powerless to take on all the guards of all the political prisons in the world; but in offering our solidarity to one prisoner we denounce all the tormentors.  True, we are powerless against death; but as long as we help one man, one woman, one child live one hour longer in safety and dignity, we affirm  man’s [woman’s] right to live.

 

 

Martin Luther King (quotes)

  • I have a dream today!
  • Violence is not the way.
  • You’re as good as anybody.
  • Find a voice in a whisper.
  • Hate destroys the hater…
  • I’ve been to the Mountaintop
  • We must use time creatively.
  • Violence multiplies violence.
  • Rioting is not revolutionary.
  • I just want to do God’s will.
  • But by all means, keep moving.
  • What are you doing for others?
  • Let’s build bridges, not walls.
  • I just want to do God’s will.
  • You have to keep moving forward
  • Seeing is not always believing.
  • America, you must be born again!
  • Be the best of whatever you are.
  • I’ve decided to stick with love.
  • Unity has never meant uniformity.
  • unearned suffering is redemptive.
  • We ain’t goin’ study war no more.
  • There is no gain without struggle.
  • Be true to what you said on paper.
  • A right delayed is a right denied.
  • Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.
  • You only need a heart full of grace
  • How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’!
  • We must follow nonviolence and love.
  • Don’t let anybody take your manhood.
  • In Christ there is no East nor West.
  • I am not afraid of the word tension.
  • Riots are the voices of the unheard.
  • No one is free until we are all free.
  • A riot is the language of the unheard.
  • A time comes when silence is betrayal.
  • Friends are forever Boys are whatever.
  • The Universe is on the side of Justice
  • Without justice, there can be no peace.
  • Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.
  • Truth crushed to earth will rise again.
  • We must substitute courage for caution.
  • Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?
  • Is is always time to do the right thing.
  • Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
  • Some of my best friends are Oscar Wilde.
  • Power is the ability to achieve purpose.
  • I am what I am because of who we all are.
  • An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.
  • Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.
  • Courage faces fear and thereby masters it
  • Be The Peace You Wish To See In The World!
  • Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.
  • Never, never be afraid to do what’s right.
  • Returning hate for hate multiplies hate…
  • Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.
  • Without love, benevolence becomes egotism.
  • We have guided missiles and misguided men.
  • Justice too long delayed is justice denied.
  • War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.
  • My place is in the sunlight of opportunity.
  • Whom you would change, you must first love.
  • Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
  • Only in the darkness can you see the stars.
  • Love is the most durable power in the world.
  • The greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.
  • Procrastinatio n is still the thief of time.
  • A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.
  • There comes a time when silence is betrayal.
  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • I just want to leave a committed life behind.
  • The self cannot be self without other selves.
  • Violence is not only impractical but immoral.
  • My faith in man is, at bottom, a faith in God.
  • Violence often brings about momentary results.
  • Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
  • To be Negro in America is to hope against hope.
  • Jazz speaks for life. This is triumphant music.
  • Love is the supreme unifying principle of life.
  • To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.
  • I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself.
  • Right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
  • Injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.
  • Jesus recognized that love is greater than like,
  • We must shift the arms race into a ‘peace race’.
  • The poor never get the job done they are sleepy.
  • Our children need our presence, not our presents.
  • Music is the best consolation for a despaired man
  • Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.
  • Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
  • The truth may hurt, but love helps ease the pain.
  • In a real sense faith is total surrender to God .
  • Whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward!
  • It is always the right time to do the right thing.
  • Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.
  • We can never travel beyond the arms of the Divine.
  • If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable.
  • Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.
  • Quietly endure, silently suffer and patiently wait.
  • The ability to lead a happy life is made, not found
  • Every man is somebody because he is a child of God.
  • Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come.
  • We must pursue peaceful end through peaceful means.
  • Our age is one of guided missiles and unguided men.
  • It’s not how long you live, it’s how well you live.
  • Nothing pains some people more than having to think
  • Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
  • Voting is the foundation stone for political action.
  • Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.
  • Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation.
  • Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
  • The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.
  • I judge people by their own principles..not by my own
  • We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
  • We as Christians have a mandate to be nonconformists.
  • We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.
  • Babies, we are told, are the latest news from heaven.
  • A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.
  • One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
  • Whatever effects one directly, effects all indirectly.
  • To sway an audience, you must watch them as you speak.
  • Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.
  • You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.
  • We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.
  • Unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
  • The Negro’s problem will not be solved by running away.
  • With the tough mind, there must also be a tender heart.
  • We live in a world of guided missiles and misguided men.
  • Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you’re nobody.
  • The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.
  • Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable . . .
  • The best way to solve any problem is to remove its cause.
  • Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
  • Unarmed love is the most powerful force in all the world.
  • It is Love that will save our world and our civilization.
  • It all boils down to this: that all life is interrelated.
  • When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind.
  • All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
  • Freedom is one thing. You have it all or you are not free.
  • There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.
  • Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness.
  • We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
  • Jesus Christ was an extremist for love, truth and goodness.
  • At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.
  • I have a dream, that one day on the red hills of Georgia…
  • The modern choice is between non-violence or non-existence.
  • The surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
  • Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.
  • The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.
  • One of these days I’m going to put my body where my mind is.
  • What affects one in a major way, affects all in a minor way.
  • As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free.
  • Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.
  • It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.
  • I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism.
  • I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.
  • Intelligence plus character is the true meaning of education.
  • [nonviolence] seeks to secure moral ends through moral means.
  • Be sure to play “Blessed Lord” tonight – play it real pretty.
  • Why is the church always a taillight rather than a headlight?
  • Power at its best is love implementing the demand of justice.
  • We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
  • There is a more excellent way, of love and nonviolent protest.
  • The great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct.
  • We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters.
  • I would rather be a man of conviction than a man of conformity
  • Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.
  • A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right.
  • What you get with violence can be maintained only with violence
  • To deny a man a job is to say that a man has no right to exist.
  • .. is one of the great outpost of democracy in the world
  • There is within human nature an amazing potential for goodness.
  • Perhaps the worst sin in life is knowing right and not doing it.
  • Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
  • Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.
  • It’s just as evil to kill Vietnamese as it is to kill Americans.
  • In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self.
  • Is your heart right? If your heart isn’t right, fix it up today.
  • Lukewarm acceptance is more bewildering than outright rejection.
  • There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
  • Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater.
  • What seems so necessary today may not even be desirable tomorrow.
  • Some things are right, whether nobody sees you doing them or not.
  • If a man has not discovered anything so dying is not worth living
  • The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites.
  • Your truth will increase as you know listen to the truth of others
  • The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
  • Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist.
  • Faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future.
  • The United States is the largest exporter of violence in the world
  • So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
  • We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
  • The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.
  • My obligation is to do the right thing. The rest is in God’s hands.
  • Every man [human being] is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth
  • History has thrust something upon me from which I cannot turn away.
  • If I knew that the world ends tomorrow, I, even today, plant a tree
  • Carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.
  • Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.
  • You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
  • Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
  • Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
  • The body is God’s temple, but we are to worship God, not the temple.
  • Love is a usually force able of transforming an rivalry into friend.
  • The law of “An eye for an eye” will eventually leave everyone blind.
  • Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
  • No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity
  • I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.
  • Let us be practical and ask the question: How do we love our enemies?
  • As marvelous as the stars is the mind of the person who studies them.
  • Lord help me to see M. L. King as M. L. King in his true perspective.
  • My soul is too glad and too great to be at heart the enemy of any man
  • A man who hasn’t found anything he’d die for doesn’t deserve to live.
  • There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will.
  • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die
  • I have an ultimate faith in America and an audacious faith in mankind.
  • Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties.
  • We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
  • If you haven’t found something worth dying for, you’re not fit to live.
  • We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.
  • You cannot defect form an insight. You cannot unsee what you have seen.
  • I don’t think you can be in public life without being called bad names.
  • One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it.
  • There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us.
  • Life isn’t worth living until you have found something worth dying for.
  • We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
  • Nonviolence is an imperative in order to bring about ultimate community.
  • The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live.
  • He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  • The church must be the critic and guide of the state, and never its tool.
  • Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
  • Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up.
  • Today, is a great day to make a difference for someone. ‘I have a dream’.
  • Our problem is not to be rid of fear but rather to harness and master it.
  • Mass civil disobedience can use rage as a constructive and creative force.
  • It’s not how long a man lives, but how well he uses the time allotted him.
  • There are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls.
  • [I] know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems….
  • Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
  • A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
  • The strong man is the man who can stand up for his rights and not hit back.
  • ..the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
  • If you’ve got nothing worth dying for, you’ve got nothing worth living for.
  • My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.
  • Through violence, you may murder the hater, but you do not murder the hate.
  • A man who has nothing he is willing to die for has nothing worth living for
  • From my Christian formation’ve gotten my ideals and technique Gandhi action
  • Look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin,…
  • No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.
  • Love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power, in the universe.
  • You can have no influence over those for whom you have underlying contempt.
  • We stand in life at midnight; we are always at the threshold of a new dawn.
  • Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the struggle for equal rights.
  • It’s not the violence of the few that scares me, it’s the silence of the many
  • The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions.
  • To other countries, I may go as a tourist, but to India, I come as a pilgrim.
  • Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.
  • True sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.
  • I have condemned any organizer of war, regardless of his rank or nationality.
  • But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.
  • What good does it do to sit at the counter when you cannot afford a hamburger?
  • If you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl, but keep moving forward!
  • Make no mistake about those who call themselves anti Zionist are anti Semitic.
  • When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.
  • Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problems of our world.
  • It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.
  • Judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.
  • But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.
  • There is no sound more powerful than the marching feet of a determined people.
  • Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.
  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
  • I was not afraid of the words of the violent, but of the silence of the honest.
  • Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.
  • Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.
  • There is a type of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth
  • Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political moral questions of our time.
  • Nothing degrades a man do more than the allowed stoop so low as to hate someone
  • A productive and happy life is not something you find; it is something you make.
  • If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
  • The government can’t make people love me, but it can keep them from lynching me.
  • I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown.
  • We still have a choice today: nonviolence coesistence or violent coannihilation.
  • Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace.
  • Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.
  • If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
  • Black Power alone is no more insurance against social injustice than white power.
  • The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
  • It’s not burn baby burn, but learn, baby, learn, so that you can earn, baby, earn.
  • There is nothing more tragic in all the world than to know right and not to do it.
  • School takes 13 years, because that is how long it takes to break a child’s spirit.
  • Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all men, so that you love everybody.
  • Be concerned about your brother…eithe r we go up together, or we go down together.
  • It is a cruel injustice to tell a bootless man to pull himself up by his bootstraps.
  • In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law . . That would lead to anarchy.
  • Every person must stand up and be accountable, but be responsible for their actions.
  • If a man hasn’t found anything worth dying for, he hasn’t anything worth living for.
  • Education without morals is like a ship without a compass, merely wandering nowhere.
  • The SILENCE of the good people is more DANGEROUS than the BRUTALITY of the bad people
  • I am convinced that…in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship.
  • There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong.
  • Everyone has an opportunity to be great because everyone has an opportunity to serve.
  • A riot is the language of the unheard. On blacks in America; address at Birmingham AL
  • It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless.
  • I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.
  • Evil must be attacked by. . . the day to day assault of the battering rams of justice.
  • Our nettlesome task is to discover how to organize our strength into compelling power.
  • …and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky…
  • The road to freedom is a difficult, hard road. It always makes for temporary setbacks.
  • Your self-image should not come from the job you do but from how well you do your job.
  • Every genuine expression of love grows out of a consistent and total surrender to God.
  • It is a cruel injustice to tell a bootless man to pull himself up by his bootstraps.
  • The question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be.
  • Segregation is the adultery of an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality.
  • I may be crucified for my beliefs and, if I am, you can say, “He died to make men free.
  • War is the greatest plague that can afflict mankind… Any scourge is preferable to it.
  • The job of the school is to teach so well that family background is no longer an issue.
  • We all can’t be famous but we can all be great and we become great when we serve others
  • Alienation is a form of living death. It is the acid of despair that dissolves society.
  • America, how you’ve taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.
  • I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity
  • The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent.
  • Worship is as natural to the human family as the sing of the sun is to the cosmic order.
  • Brutality was imprisoned in a lumious glare revealing the naked truth to the whole world
  • Peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but the existence of justice for all people.
  • In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.
  • Without God, all of our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrise into the darkest of nights.
  • Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
  • Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
  • In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
  • Everybody can be great because everybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace.
  • Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear always precedes the crown we wear.
  • it is just as wrong, or even perhaps more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.
  • We can either walk the highroad of brotherhood or the low road of man’s inhumanity to man.
  • Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
  • The group consisting of mother, father and child is the main educational agency of mankind.
  • My uncertainty disappeared. Segregation is evil, and I cannot, as a minister, condone evil.
  • As the weeks and months unfolded, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise.
  • We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free market capitalism for the poor.
  • The greatness of our God lies in the fact that [He] is both tough minded and tender hearted.
  • Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential.
  • If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.
  • Even if I were certain that the world would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree this very day
  • I criticize America because I love her. I want her to stand as a moral example to the world.
  • The only time people do not like praise is when too much of it is going toward someone else.
  • The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.
  • The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.
  • The beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.
  • Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
  • Violence is anything that denies human integrity, and leads to hopelessness and helplessness.
  • God made the world from nothing, and if we can be nothing, then God can make something of us.
  • Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves.
  • Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
  • Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
  • Though we live in the colony of time, we are ultimately responsible to the empire of eternity.
  • The failures of the past must not be an excuse for the inaction of the present and the future.
  • If you have not discovered something you are willing to die for, then you are not fit to live.
  • One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong
  • Our generation will not have regretted both perverse crimes, and the eerie silence of the kind
  • There comes a time when a moral man can’t obey a law which his conscience tells him is unjust.
  • Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? – “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.”
  • Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. […] You only need a heart full of grace.
  • Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
  • A strong man must be militant as well as moderate. He must be a realist as well as an idealist.
  • A man does not measure its height in moments of comfort, but in terms of change and controversy
  • What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?
  • You have very little morally persuasive power with people who can feel your underlying contempt.
  • My charge as prime minister is to take any decision that is in the best interest of the country.
  • Nonviolence is the most potent technique for oppressed people. Unearned suffering is redemptive.
  • In this world is a God whose matchless strength is a fit contrast to the sordid weakness of man.
  • When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
  • It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.
  • Every crisis has both its dangers and its opportunities. Each can spell either salvation or doom.
  • By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up.
  • Our lives are not fully lived if we’re not willing to die for those we love, for what we believe.
  • We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.
  • It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of high maturity, to rise to the level of self-criticism.
  • The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.
  • Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
  • Courage faces fear and thereby masters it. Cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it.
  • I hate it when people quote me on the internet, claiming I said things that I never actually said.
  • Ten cures for depression are to go out and do something for someone else and repeat it nine times.
  • Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself.
  • A Church that has lost its voice for justice is a Church that has lost its relevance in the world.
  • Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.
  • Money, like any other force such as electricity, is amoral and can be used for either good or evil.
  • The ultimate solution to the race problem lies in the willingness of men to obey the unenforceable.
  • To have serpentlike qualities devoid of dovelike qualities is to be passionless, mean, and selfish.
  • This is the unusual thing about nonviolence — nobody is defeated, everybody shares in the victory.
  • We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.
  • Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
  • The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.
  • We can dream of an America, and a world, in which love and not money are civilization’s bottom line.
  • The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
  • I decide on the basis of conscience. A genuine leader doesn’t reflect consensus, he molds consensus.
  • Never could I advocate nonviolence in this country and not advocate nonviolence for the whole world.
  • The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.
  • Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” and “Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail?”
  • If we are going to achieve a real equality, the U.S. will have to adopt a modified form of Socialism.
  • We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the postive affirmation of peace.
  • I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
  • I may not get there with you, but I believe that we as a people will someday reach the promised land.
  • Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality.
  • For you will never be what you ought to be until they [your fellow humans] are what they ought to be.
  • Vanity asks, is it popular? Politics ask, will it work? But conscience and morality ask, is it right?
  • The reason I can’t follow the old eye-for-an-eye philosophy is that it ends up leaving everyone blind.
  • I’m grateful to God that, through the Negro church, the dimension of nonviolence entered our struggle.
  • The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.
  • By nonviolent resistance, the Negro can also enlist all men of good will in his struggle for equality.
  • This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.
  • The potential beauty of human life is constantly made ugly by man’s ever-recurring song of retaliation.
  • I have a dream… I have a dream today… And if America is to be a great nation this must become true.
  • The softminded person always wants to freeze the moment and hold life in the gripping yoke of sameness.
  • One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.
  • We must have our freedom now. We must have the right to vote. We must have equal protection of the law.
  • We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.
  • It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.
  • Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.
  • The labor movement was the principal force that transforme­d misery and despair into hope and progress.
  • The labor movement was the principal force that transforme¬≠d misery and despair into hope and progress.
  • Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.
  • All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
  • Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself..
  • Personality is like a charioteer with two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in different directions.
  • Three hundred years of humiliation, abuse and deprivation cannot be expected to find voice in a whisper.
  • America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’
  • There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.
  • We must face the appalling fact that we have been betrayed by both the Democratic and Republican Parties.
  • Something should remind us once more that the great things in this universe are things that we never see.
  • We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream.
  • The question is no longer between violence and non-violence it is between non-violence and non-existence.
  • Just as it is the duty of all men to obey just laws, so it is the duty of all men to disobey unjust laws.
  • People with good intentions but limited understanding are more dangerous than people with total ill will.
  • Returning violence for violence multiplies violence… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
  • Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
  • Be an artist at whatever you do. Even if you are a street sweeper, be the Michelangelo of street sweepers.
  • It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.
  • Ten thousand fools proclaim themselves into obscurity, while one wise man forgets himself into immortality.
  • To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.
  • It is hardly a moral act to encourage others patiently to accept injustice which he himself does not endure.
  • Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? – “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
  • We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.
  • If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.
  • We can walk through the darkest night with the radiant conviction that all things work together for the good.
  • There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.
  • When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom,
  • So when Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition.
  • The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven.
  • Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service.
  • Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
  • The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.
  • The principle of self defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned, even by Gandhi.
  • Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
  • You know my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by the iron feet of oppression
  • Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order —in short, of government.
  • I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable
  • Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
  • We were not unmindful of the difficulties involved. So we decided to go through a process of self-purification.
  • The idea of a superior or inferior race is a myth that has been completely refuted by anthropological evidence.
  • I would suffer all the humiliation, all the torture, the absolute ostracism and even death, to prevent violence
  • I refuse to accept the view . . . that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
  • I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.
  • Nothing is so much needed as a secure family life for a people seeking to rise out of poverty and backwardness.
  • We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.
  • All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
  • To have peace in the world, men & nations must embrace the nonviolent assertion that ends and means must cohere.
  • Power is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice is love correcting everything that goes against love.
  • I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.
  • We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war.
  • Power is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice is love correcting everything that goes against love.
  • I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
  • Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars…
  • We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
  • We must have the faith that things will work out somehow, that God will make a way for us when there seems no way.
  • Often the oppressor goes along unaware of the evil involved in his oppression so long as the oppressed accepts it.
  • While the question of who killed President Kennedy is important, the question ‘what killed him’ is more important.
  • Mother Dear, one day I’m going to turn this world upside down.” –From My Brother Martin, by Christine King Farris
  • The Negro needs the white man to free him from his fears. The white man needs the Negro to free him from his guilt.
  • You can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.
  • Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.
  • Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
  • Set yourself earnestly to discover what you are made to do, and then give yourself passionately to the doing of it.
  • History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.
  • I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
  • We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.
  • The words ‘I will forgive you, but I’ll never forget what you’ve done’ never explain the real nature of forgiveness.
  • I feel that segregation is totally unchristian, and that it is against everything the Christian religion stands for.
  • When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city.
  • Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world.
  • You can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.
  • We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
  • One of the greatest casualties of the war in Vietnam is the Great Society… shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam.
  • Today we know with certainty that segregation is dead. The only question remaining is how costly will be the funeral.
  • … the right to defend one’s home and one’s person when attacked has been guaranteed through the ages by common law.
  • The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.
  • “Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;

 

  • Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances.”
  • We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.
  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
  • Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.
  • The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
  • [E]very human life is a reflection of divinity, and… every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man.
  • I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.
  • The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open
  • The greatness of man cannot be seen in the hours of comfort and convenience, but rather in moments of conflict/adversity
  • We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.
  • I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.
  • A second way that oppressed people sometimes deal with oppression is to resort to physical violence and corroding hatred.
  • My parents would always tell me that I should not hate the white man, but that it was my duty as a Christian to love him.
  • There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion.
  • Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
  • The Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest has been substituted by a philosophy of the survival of the slickest.
  • If the Negro is to achieve the goal of integration, he must organize himself into a militant and nonviolent mass movement.
  • When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.
  • Whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth.
  • Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
  • Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.
  • Whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth,
  • The church must be reminded that it is not the master, or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.
  • Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
  • Time has been used destructively by people of ill will much more than it has been used constructively by those of good will.
  • When I am commanded to love, I am commanded to restore community, to resist injustice, and to meet the needs of my brothers.
  • We cannot be truly Christian people so long as we flaunt the central teachings of Jesus: brotherly love and the Golden Rule.
  • The purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
  • Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.
  • A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.
  • In the struggle for human rights and justice, Negros will make a mistake if they become bitter and indulge in hate campaigns.
  • The world in which we live is geographically one. The challenge that we face today is to make it one in terms of brotherhood.
  • Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul-saving music of eternity?
  • Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.
  • Your self-sacrificin g devotion to your purpose in life and your unwavering faith will carry you through times of difficulty.
  • The Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor’s arrogance and contempt.
  • Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until I am seventy five and yet not ever truly to have lived.
  • Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.
  • To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.
  • Was not Jesus an extremist in love? – “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.”
  • We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.
  • Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.
  • There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.
  • Our loyalties must transend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.
  • We must move forward in the days ahead with audacious faith. The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.
  • One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change.
  • One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying.
  • The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
  • Whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent
  • We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade.
  • Science investigates religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power religion gives man wisdom which is control.
  • It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
  • Racial understanding is not something we find, but something that we must create. Through education, we seek to change attitudes.
  • Darkness cannot be overcome with more darkness, only with light. Violence cannot be overcome with more violence, only with peace.
  • A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt. A movement that changes both people and institutions is a revolution.
  • Every [person] of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits [his or her] convictions, but we must all protest.
  • Slaves do not always welcome their deliverers. They become accustomed to being slaves. They would rather gear those ills they have
  • If a person sweeps streets for a living, he should sweep them as Michelangelo painted, as Beethoven composed, as Shakespear wrote.
  • I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three …
  • My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure.
  • Without love, there is no reason to know anyone, for love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts.
  • Don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world.
  • Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
  • There is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.
  • I have a dream! To be free at last! Free at last! Free at last. And if a man has nothing to die for, Then his life is worth nothing.
  • Education without direction is a one-sided social value. Direct action without education is a meaningless expression of pure energy.
  • True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
  • We need not join the mad rush to purchase an earthly fallout shelter. God is our eternal fallout shelter. From Strength to Love, 1963
  • Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo,  good men must seek to bring into being  a real order of justice.
  • Freedom only comes through persistent revolt, through persistent agitation, through persistently rising up against the system of evil.
  • The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
  • The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber. Religion reminds every man that he is his brother’s keeper.
  • It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence. That is where we are today.
  • Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
  • Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace.
  • So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
  • We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.
  • The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has the right to exist, and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.
  • The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
  • There is nothing more majestic than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for their freedom and dignity.
  • If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
  • Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.
  • When people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.
  • We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.
  • Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
  • Great people aren’t those who are happy at times of convienience and content, but of how they are in times of catastrophy and controversy.
  • We aren’t going to let any mace stop us. We are masters in our nonviolent movement in disarming police forces; they don’t know what to do.
  • The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.
  • It is a tragic mix-up when the United States spends 500,000 for every enemy soldier killed, and only 53 annually on the victims of poverty.
  • Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  • And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
  • I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so that we can make of this old world a new world.
  • The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch supporter of the status quo.
  • In the current struggle, there is one positive course of action. There is no alternative, for the alternative would connote a rear march…
  • In our society, it is psychological murder to deprive a man of a job…you are in substance saying to that man “You have no right to exist.
  • In order to be true to one’s conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.
  • Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the political leaders consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.
  • Like anybody, I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.
  • Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.
  • We must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers .
  • In this Revolution, no plans have been written for retreat. Those who will not get into step will find that the parade has passed them by….
  • Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.
  • We know of no more crucial civil rights issue facing Congress today than the need to increase the federal minimum wage and extend its coverage.
  • Moral principles have lost their distinctiveness. For modern man, absolute right and absolute wrong are a matter of what the majority is doing.
  • If your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi and nonviolence. But if your enemy has no conscience like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer.
  • Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love
  • A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
  • In some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
  • Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.
  • Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit testimony to the fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial.
  • We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny . . . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.
  • He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lives a great street-sweeper who did his job well’
  • I have a dream, one dream, keep dreaming. Dream of freedom, justice dreaming, dreaming of equality and hopefully no longer required to dream them
  • Racial segregation must be seen for what it is, and that is an evil system, a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexity.
  • And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land
  • Capital punishment is against the best judgment of modern criminology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God.
  • Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of [people] willing to be co-workers with God.
  • Love is the most durable power in the world. This creative force is the most potent instrument available in mankind’s quest for peace and security.
  • Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
  • We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
  • Before it is too late, we must narrow the gaping chasm between our proclomations of peace and our lowly deeds which precipitate and perpetuate war.
  • God is not merely interestd in the freedom of brown men, yellow men, red men and black men.He is interested in the freedom of the whole human race.
  • The movement for equality and justice can only be a success if it has both a mass and militant character; the barriers to be overcome require both.
  • If I wish to compose or write or pray or preach well, I must be angry. Then all the blood in my veins is stirred, and my understanding is sharpened.
  • Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.
  • The hope of the world is still in dedicated minorities. The trail-blazers in human, scientific and religious freedom have always been in a minority.
  • There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.
  • They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.
  • I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.
  • We in the West must bear in mind that the poor countries are poor primarily because we have exploited them through political or economic colonialism.
  • In the final analysis the weakness of Black Power is its failure to see that the black man needs the white man and the white man needs the black man.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
  • We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters
  • Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace.
  • The more I thought about human nature, the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin/mistakes causes us to use our minds to rationalize our action.
  • For years now I have heard the word “wait.” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.”
  • An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
  • The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
  • I never cease to wonder at the amazing presumption of much of white society, assuming that they have the right to bargain with the Negro for his freedom.
  • Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change.
  • I know that God is not going to willfully hurt us. Why there is suffering is the business of the Lord, but He never seems to give us more than we can bear.
  • Through nonviolent resistance the Negro will be able to rise to the noble height of opposing the unjust system while loving the perpetrators of the system.
  • Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it.
  • Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.
  • The poor in our countries have been shut out of our minds and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible.
  • The problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.
  • Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
  • The problem with hatred and violence is that they intensity the fears of the white majority, and leave them less ashamed of their prejudices toward Negroes.
  • I say to you that our goal is freedom, and I believe we are going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of America is freedom.
  • We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
  • God has given each normal person a capacity to achieve some end. True, some are endowed with more talent than others, but God has left none of us talentless.
  • A true revolution of values will see that the western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
  • I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.
  • A second basic fact that characterizes nonviolence is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.
  • The Curse of poverty has no justification in our age…The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.
  • The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
  • We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.
  • Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives.
  • One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust … is in reality expressing the highest respect for law … We will not obey your evil laws.
  • Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the instruments of love.
  • I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission – a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man”.
  • There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
  • We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
  • We have genuflected before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.
  • If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.
  • It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present.
  • The more there are riots, the more repressive actin will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society.
  • I’m concerned about justice. I’m concerned about brotherhood. I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about these, he can never advocate violence.
  • It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes; but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.
  • If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over.
  • It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.
  • We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.
  • The sooner our society admits that the Negro Revolution is no momentary outburst soon to subside into placid passivity, the easier the future will be for us all.
  • Nonviolent resistance makes it possible for the Negro to remain in the South and struggle for his rights. The Negro’s problem will not be solved by running away.
  • Even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.
  • Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.
  • Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny. To a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.
  • You cannot solve the problem by turning to communism, for communism is based on an ethical relativism and a metaphysical materialism that no Christian can accept.
  • We must stand up and say, “I’m black and I’m beautiful,” and this self-affirmation is the black man’s need, made compelling by the white man’s crimes against him.
  • Our goal is to create a beloved community,” said Dr. King, “and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
  • I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
  • Millions of citizens are deeply disturbed that the military-industrial complex too often shapes national policy, but they do not want to be considered unpatriotic.
  • Once you become dedicated to a cause, personal security is not the goal. What will happen to you personally does not matter. My cause, my race, is worth dying for.
  • Injustice and corruption will never be transformed by keeping them hidden, but only by bringing them out into the light and confronting them with the power of love.
  • Many white Americans of good will have never connected bigotry with economic exploitation. They have deplored prejudice but tolerated or ignored economic injustice.
  • Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.
  • In any civilized society, it is every citizen’s responsibility to obey just laws. But at the same time, it is every citizen’s responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
  • My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
  • Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love harmonies it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
  • Three simple words can describe the nature of the social revolution that is talking place and what Negroes really want. They are the words “all,” “now,” and “here.”
  • I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘is-ness’ of a man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the ‘ought-ness’ that forever confronts him.
  • If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.
  • Within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals.
  • Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.
  • We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
  • Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.
  • The principle of nonviolent resistance seeks to reconcile the truths of two opposites-Acquiescence and violence -while avoiding the extremes and immoralities of both.
  • It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
  • In the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and, ultimately, destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.
  • There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.
  • I firmly believe that the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolent resistance is the only logical and moral approach to the solution of the race problem in the United States.
  • Without hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
  • I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal
  • It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
  • Even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.
  • If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
  • But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
  • In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.
  • Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.
  • Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.
  • Life’s piano can only produce melodies of brotherhood (and sisterhood) when it is recognized that the black keys are as basic, necessary and beautiful as the white keys.
  • We can’t slow up because of our love for democracy and our love for America. Someone should tell Faulkner that the vast majority of the people on this globe are colored.
  • I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
  • He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
  • Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
  • Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.
  • I think that we must face the fact that in reality, you cannot have economic and political equality without having some form of social equality. I think this is inevitable.
  • Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s often vocal sanction of things as they are.
  • When I am angry I can write, pray, and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart.
  • Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
  • Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
  • I’ve always tried to be what I call militantly nonviolent. I don’t believe that anyone could seriously accuse me of not being totally committed to the breakdown of segregation.
  • The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea.
  • I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
  • Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man.
  • Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself.
  • The Negro is the child of two cultures – Africa and America. The problem is that in the search for wholeness all too many Negroes seek to embrace only one side of their natures.
  • Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.
  • If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.
  • Pity may represent little more than the impersonal concern which prompts the mailing of a check, but true sympathy is the personal concern which demands the giving of one’s soul.
  • What is more tragic than to see a person who has risen to the disciplined heights of tough-mindedness but has at the same time sunk to the passionless depths of hard-heartedness?
  • The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood.
  • Like a boil that must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed to the light of human conscience before it can be cured.
  • If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws.
  • Too often an institution serves to bless the majority opinion. Today when too many move to the rhythmic beat of the status quo, whoever would be a Christian must be a nonconformist.
  • Even though I have never had an abrupt conversion experience, religion has been real to me and closely knitted to life. In fact the two cannot be separated; religion for me is life.
  • A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.
  • History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
  • There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer
  • This Revolution is genuine because it was born from the same womb that always gives birth to massive social upheavals – the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations.
  • I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.
  • I may not be the man I want to be; I may not be the man I ought to be; I may not be the man I could be; I may not be the man I truly can be; but praise God, I’m not the man I once was
  • And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job.
  • I” cannot reach fulfillment without “thou.” The self cannot be self without other selves. Self-concern without other-concern is like a tributary that has no outward flow to the ocean.
  • Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.
  • If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.
  • [W]e are the heirs of a past of rope, fire, and murder. I for one am not ashamed of this past. My shame is for those who became so inhuman that they could inflict this torture upon us.
  • As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.
  • If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work.
  • One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.
  • Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, we were here.
  • The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
  • Sooner or later, all the peoples of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.
  • Now a lot of us are preachers, and all of us have our moral convictions and concerns, and so often have problems with power. There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly.
  • I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed, without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.
  • I’ll tell you, I’ve seen the lightning flash. I’ve heard the thunder roll. I felt sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on.
  • Good and just society is neither the thesis of capitalism nor the antithesis of communism, but a socially conscious democracy which reconciles the truths of individualism and collectivism.
  • It will be one of the tragedies of Christian history if future historians record that at the height of the twentieth century the church was one of the greatest bulwarks of white supremacy.
  • At the heart of all that civilization has meant and developed is ‘community’ – the mutually cooperative and voluntary venture of man to assume a semblance of responsibility for his brother.
  • Nonviolent action, the Negro saw, was the way to supplement, not replace, the progress of change. It was the way to divest himself of passivity without arraying himself in vindictive force.
  • Ordinarily, a person leaving a courtroom with a conviction behind him would wear a somber face. But I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime.
  • Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.
  • True compassion is more than throwing a coin to a beggar. It demands of our humanity that if we live in a society that produces beggars, we are morally commanded to restructure that society.
  • Whatever my doubts, however heavy the burden, I feel that I must accept the task of helping to make this nation and this world a better place to live in – for all men, black and white alike.
  • Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.
  • I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.
  • Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.
  • I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.
  • I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering in the heat of injustice and oppression, will one day be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
  • A woman can have a smile, and a woman can have a large backside, but I have been to the mountain and I am here to tell you that when a woman has both of those things she is not to be trusted.
  • I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
  • Put yourself in a state of mind where you say to yourself, ‘Here is an opportunity for me to celebrate like never before, my own power, my own ability to get myself to do whatever is necessary.
  • America must begin the struggle for democracy at home. The advocacy of free elections in Europe by American officials is hypocrisy when free elections are not held in great sections of America.
  • But alas! Science cannot now rescue us, for even the scientist is lost in the terrible midnight of our age. Indeed, science gave us the very instruments that threaten to bring universal suicide.
  • It is our experience that the nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.
  • There are two types of laws: there are just laws and there are unjust laws… What is the difference between the two?…An unjust law is a man-made code that is out of harmony with the moral law.
  • We must recognize that we can’t solve our problems now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power…. a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society.
  • When we see social relationships controlled everywhere by the principles which Jesus illustrated in life — trust, love, mercy, and altruism — then we shall know that the kingdom of God is here.
  • We had no alternative except that of preparing for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and national community.
  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others? Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.
  • When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.
  • I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent, we are interdependent.
  • Each one of us has the power to make others feel better or worse. Making others feel better is much more fun than making others feel worse. Making others feel better generally makes us feel better
  • The negro cannot win the respect of the white people of the south or the peoples of the world if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.
  • For all of us today, the battle is in our hands. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways to lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. We must keep going.
  • Please be peaceful. We believe in law and order. We are not advocating violence, I want you to love your enemies… for what we are doing is right, what we are doing is just — and God is with us.
  • Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals.
  • If I were constantly worried about death, I couldn’t function. After a while, if your life is more or less constantly in peril, you come to a point where you accept the possibility philosophically.
  • Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
  • Hate destroys the very structure of the personality of the hater…. when you start hating anybody, it destroys the very center of your creative response to life and the universe; so love everybody.
  • When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
  • The great military leaders of the past have gone, their empires have crumbled and burned to ashes. But the empire of Jesus, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing.
  • He who is greatest among you shall be a servant. That’s the new definition of greatness. … By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.
  • One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.
  • And so we shall have to do more than register and more than vote; we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with enthusiasm.
  • the universe is under the control of a loving purpose, and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship (angels). Behind the harsh appearance of the world there is a benign power.
  • [Nonviolence] is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil. It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil.
  • So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.
  • The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cutthroat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.
  • If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets as Raphael painted pictures, sweep streets as Michelangelo carved marble, sweep streets as Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
  • Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.
  • If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas.
  • When Negroes looked for the second phase, the realization of equality, they found that many of their white allies had quietly disappeared…. To stay murder is not the same thing as to ordain brotherhood.
  • The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.
  • We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters.
  • Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.
  • We did not hesitate to call our movement an army. But it was a special army, with no supplies but its sincerity, no uniform but its determination, no arsenal except its faith, no currency but its conscience.
  • Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
  • If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person.
  • I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too small in quantity, but they are big in quality.
  • One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘ an unjust law is no law at all.
  • Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • I think the first reason that we should love our enemies, and I think this was at the very center of Jesus’ thinking, is this: that hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe.
  • I plan to stand by nonviolence, because I have found it to be a philosophy of life that regulates not only my dealings in the struggle for racial justice, but also my dealings with people, and with my own self.
  • Let us say boldly, that if the total slum violations of law by the white man over the years were calculated and compared with the lawbreaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man.
  • Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
  • ..not only harms one physically but injures one spiritually…It scars the soul…It is a system which forever stares the segregated in the face, saying ‘You are less than…”You are not equal to…’
  • But I say to you, my friends, there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize.
  • It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.
  • We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience… But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.
  • When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.
  • There is no truth to the myth that Negroes depreciate property. The fact is that most Negroes are kept out of residential neighborhoods so long that when one of us is finally sold a home, it’s already depreciated.
  • If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.
  • The method of nonviolence seeks not to humiliate and not to defeat the oppressor, but it seeks to win his friendship and his understanding. And thereby and therefore the aftermath of this method is reconciliation.
  • He (Jesus) knew that the old eye-for-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good. Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love.
  • We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way.
  • We must work passionately and unrelentingly for the goal of freedom, but we must be sure that our hands are clean in the struggle. We must never struggle with falsehood, hate, or malice. We must never become bitter.
  • A final victory is an accumulation of many short-term encounters. To lightly dismiss a success because it does not usher in a complete order of justice is to fail to comprehend the process of achieving full victory.
  • People are often led to causes and often become committed to great ideas through persons who personify those ideas. They have to find the embodiment of the idea in flesh and blood in order to commit themselves to it.
  • If our economic system is to survive, there has to be a better distribution of wealth … we can’t have a system where some people live in superfluous, inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.
  • We should never forget that everything Adolph Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighers did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.
  • White man and black man, jew and gentile, protestant and catholic, will be able to hold hands and sing in the words of the ancient negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty! We are free at last!”
  • We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.
  • Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.
  • I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
  • Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore Gandhi at our own risk.
  • Unless you have found something in life to live for that is more important to you than your own life, you will always be a slave. For all another man needs to do is threaten to take your life to get you to do his bidding.
  • We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words ‘Too Late’.
  • If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.
  • I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds of energies in rehabilitation of its poor as long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.
  • As television beamed the image of this extraordinary gathering across the border oceans, everyone who believed in man’s capacity to better himself had a moment of inspiration and confidence in the future of the human race.
  • If you want to be important-wonderful. If you want to be recognized-wonderful. If you want to be great-wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.
  • In spite of the fact that the law of revenge solves no social problems, men continue to follow its disastrous leading. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path.
  • We may win a battle, but if in doing so we have planted thousands of seeds of hatred and fear..the war is not over- only the present conflict has ceased. There will be no peace as long as we react to violence with violence.
  • The Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, and to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise, and to absorb the most intense pain without abandoning our sense of hope.
  • One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart-intelligence and goodness-shall man rise to a fulfillment of his true nature.
  • Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
  • Black Power is a nihilistic philosophy born out of the conviction that the Negro can’t win… the view that American society is so hopelessly corrupt and enmeshed in evil that there is no possibility of salvation from within.
  • In spite of its glowing talk about the welfare of the masses, Communism’s methods and philosophy strip man of his dignity and worth, leaving him as little more than a depersonalized cog in the ever-turning wheel of the state.
  • Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.
  • The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’
  • Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. you only need a heart full of grace. a soul generated by love.
  • A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay.
  • It is not only poverty that torments the Negro; it is the fact of poverty amid plenty. It is a misery generated by the gulf between the affluence he sees in the mass media and the deprivation he experiences in his everyday life.
  • We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate.
  • The existence of poverty in the US should not be accepted as a necessary evil or insoluble problem, but should be considered a crisis requiring emergency measures. It is a matter of will and priorities, not a matter of resources.
  • The richer we have become materially, the poorer we become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.
  • There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminates even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good.
  • I’m very glad Christ tells us to love our neighbor and not to like our neighbor because it’s hard to like someone threatening your children and throwing fire bombs through your window, but He asks us to love them and that I can do
  • I have come to see more and more that one of the most decisive steps that the Negro can take is that little walk to the voting booth. That is an important step. We’ve got to gain the ballot, and through that gain, political power.
  • A piece of freedom is no longer enough for human beings…unlike bread, a slice of liberty does not finish hunger. Freedom is like life. It cannot be had in installments. Freedom is indivisible–we have it all, or we are not free.
  • Liberalism provided me with an intellectual satisfaction that I never found in fundamentalism. I became so enamored of the insights of liberalism that I almost fell into the trap of accepting uncritically everything it encompassed.
  • As I like to say to the people in Montgomery: “The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.
  • There is a magnificent new militancy within the Negro community all across this nation. And I welcome this as a marvelous development. The Negro of America is saying he’s determined to be free and he is militant enough to stand up.
  • For you all think God is one who rewards good and punishes evil, but I say to you that God is one who loves you and has compassion for everyone. You just have to pray to Him and believe in Him. He will always be your guiding light.
  • Too unconcerned to love and too passionless to hate, too detached to be selfish and too lifeless to be unselfish, too indifferent to experience joy and too cold to express sorrow, they are neither dead nor alive; they merely exist.
  • Any nation or government that deprives an individual of freedom is in that moment committing an act of moral and spiritual murder. Any individual who is not concerned about his freedom commits an act of moral and spiritual suicide.
  • If you want to move people, it has to be toward a vision that’s positive for them, that taps important values, that gets them something they desire and it has to be presented in a compelling way so that they feel inspired to follow.
  • The time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us today… …some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak.
  • We are challenged to develop a world perspective. No individual can live alone, no nation can live alone, and anyone who feels that he can live alone is sleeping through a revolution. The world in which we live is geographically one.
  • I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.
  • When we rise in the morning… at the table we drink coffee which is provided to us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African; before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world.
  • But while so many white Americans are unaware of conditions inside the ghetto, there are very few ghetto dwellers who are unaware of the life outside. The television sets bombard them day by day with the opulence of the larger society.
  • Without denying the value of scientific endeavor, there is a striking absurdity in committing billions to reach the moon where no people live, while only a fraction of that amount is appropriated to service the densely populated slums.
  • The decision we must make now is whether we will give our allegiance to outmoded and unjust customs or to the ethical demands of the universe. As Christians we owe our allegiance to God and His will, rather than to man and his folkways
  • If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
  • Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
  • In every age and every generation, men have envisioned a promised land. Some may have envisioned it with the wrong ideology, with the wrong philosophical presupposition. But men in every generation thought in terms of some promised land.
  • As a young man with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
  • Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God.
  • As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.
  • I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
  • I still have a dream today that one day war will come to an end, that men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, that nations will no longer rise up against nations, neither will they study war any more.
  • Loving Your Enemies… Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this demand is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes it is love that will save our world and civilization; love even for our enemies.
  • The non-violent resistor not only avoids external, physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. And he stands with understanding, goodwill at all times.
  • Communism will never be defeated by atomic bombs. Our greatest defense against Communism is to take offensive action on behalf of justice and righteousness. We must seek to remove conditions of poverty, injustice, and racial discrimination.
  • If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.
  • I am indebted to my wife Coretta, without whose love, sacrifices, and loyalty neither life nor work would bring fulfillment. She has given me words of consolation when I needed them and a well-ordered home where #Christian love is a reality.
  • The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.
  • There are often multiple sources for some famous statements by King; as a professional speaker and minister he used some significant phrases with only slight variation many times in his essays, books, and his speeches to different audiences.
  • The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of nonviolence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.
  • It was argued that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham…. The greatest blasphemy of the whole ugly process was that the white man ended up making God his partner in the exploitation of the Negro.
  • Courageous men never lose the zest for living even though their life situation is zestless; cowardly men, overwhelmed by the uncertainties of life, lose the will to live. We must constantly build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
  • Truth is not to be found either in traditional capitalism or in Marxism. Each represents a partial truth. Historically, capitalism failed to discern the truth in collective enterprise and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise.
  • You see, my friends…you begin to ask the questions, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that is two-thirds water?’
  • Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
  • We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy
  • Even if they try to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for. And if a person has not found something to die for, that person isn’t fit to live!
  • I could never adjust to the separate waiting rooms, separate eating places, separate rest rooms, partly because the separate was always unequal, and partly because the very idea of separation did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect.
  • Agape means recognition of the fact that all life is interrelated. All humanity is involved in a single process, and all men are brothers. To the degree that I harm my brother, no matter what he is doing to me, to that extent I am harming myself.
  • When the Negro finds the courage to be free, he faces dogs and guns and clubs and fire hoses totally unafraid, and the white men with those dogs, guns, clubs and fire hoses see that the Negro they have traditionally called “boy” has become a man.
  • All life is interrelated. The agony of the poor impoverishes the rich; the betterment of the poor enriches the rich. We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
  • I was in the kitchen drinking coffee when I heard Coretta cry, “Martin, Martin, come quickly!” I put down my cup and ran toward the living room. As I approached the front window Coretta pointed joyfully to a slowly moving bus: “Darling, it’s empty!
  • The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
  • An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
  • Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.
  • I would urge you to give priority to the search for God. Allow his spirit to permeate your being. … If you do not have a deep and patient faith in God, you will be powerless to face the delays, disappointments, and vicissitudes that inevitably come.
  • For years, I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions in the South, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire system, a revolution of values.
  • We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or we will all perish together as foolsFor some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.
  • Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh.
  • Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
  • Our world hinges on moral foundations. God has made it so. God has made the universe to be based on a moral law. So long as man disobeys it he is revolting against God. That’s what we need in the world today: people who will stand for right and goodness.
  • The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself. It, too, is based on a lack of faith. We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.

 

  • We decided to set our direct-action program around the Easter season, realizing that, with exception of Christmas, this was the largest shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action.
  • I question and soul-search constantly into myself to be as certain as I can that I am fulfilling the true meaning of my work, that I am maintaining my sense of purpose, that I am holding fast to my ideals, that I am guiding my people in the right direction.
  • To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be longer-lasting, costly to the society but not wantonly destructive, moreover, it is more difficult for Government to quell it by superior force.
  • Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.
  • The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage they did not know they had.
  • We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
  • Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called jazz, there is a stepping-stone to all of these.
  • Through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighborhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers-or we will all perish together as fools.
  • I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
  • A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up the state’s segregation laws was democratically elected?
  • It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch-antirevolutionaries.
  • As a teenager I had never been able to accept the fact of having to go to the back of a bus or sit in the segregated section of a train. The first time I had been seated behind a curtain in a dining car, I felt as if the curtain had been dropped on my selfhood.
  • What I’m saying to you this morning is that Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.
  • The early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles o popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
  • I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
  • How hard it is for people to live without someone to look down upon-really to look down upon. It is not just that they feel cheated out of someone to hate. It is that they are compelled to look more closely into themselves and what they don’t like about themselves.
  • We were all involved in the death of John Kennedy. We tolerated hate; we tolerated the sick stimulation of violence in all walks of life; and we tolerated the differential application of law, which said that a man’s life was sacred only if we agreed with his views.
  • Normal fear protects us; abnormal fear paralyses us. Normal fear motivates us to improve our individual and collective welfare; abnormal fear constantly poisons and distorts our inner lives. Our problem is not to be rid of fear but, rather to harness and master it.
  • Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? There is no deficit in human resources. The deficit is in human will.
  • The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.
  • We aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.
  • The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
  • So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind – it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact – I can only submit to the edict of others.
  • It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’
  • We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say we will not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace
  • It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life.
  • All too many of those who live in affluent America ignore those who exist in poor America; in doing so, the affluent Americans will eventually have to face themselves with the question that Eichman chose to ignore: How responsible am I for the well-being of my fellows?
  • We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear. That old law about “an eye for an eye” leaves everybody blind… The time is always right to do the right thing. Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
  • In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
  • From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania, let freedom ring. But not only that: Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
  • Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude. That which I was not but could have been. That which I would have done but did not do. Can I find the fortitude to remember in truth,to understand, to submit, to forgive and to be free to move on in time?
  • Make your way to death row and speak with the tragic victims of criminality. As they prepare to make their pathetic walk to the electric chair, their hopeless cry is that society will not forgive. Capital punishment is society’s final assertion that it will not forgive.
  • A world war – God forbid! – will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to untimely death. Yet there are those who sincerely feel that disarmament is an evil and international negotiation is an abominable waste of time.
  • Every man lives in two realms: the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live.
  • In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining…. We demand this fraud be stopped.
  • It’s wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong. It’s wrong in America, it’s wrong in Germany, it’s wrong in Russia, it’s wrong in China. It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it’s wrong in 1954 A.D. It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong.
  • Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world.
  • In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no ‘rights’ and no ‘works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining.¶. We demand this fraud be stopped.
  • I feel that the time is always right to do what is right. Where progress for the Negro in America is concerned, there is a tragic misconception of time among whites. They seem to cherish a strange, irrational notion that something in the very flow of time will cure all ills.
  • I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end (purpose) of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.
  • As we have seen, the first public expression of disenchantment with nonviolence arose around the question of ‘self-defense.’ In a sense this is a false issue, for the right to defend one’s home and one’s person when attacked has been guaranteed through the ages by common law.
  • For more than two centuries our foreparents labored here without wages; they made cotton king; and they built the homes of their masters in the midst of brutal injustice and shameful humiliation – and yet out of a bottomless vitality our people continue to thrive and develop.
  • The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws. (from “Rediscovering Lost Values”)
  • I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled.
  • Resistance and nonviolence are not in themselves good. There is another element that must be present in our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.
  • Man is not made for the state; the state is made for man. To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as a means to the end of the state, but always as an end within himself.
  • These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
  • There are always those who say legislation can’t solve the problem. There is a half-truth involved here. It is true that legislation cannot solve the whole problem. It can solve some of the problem. It may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated.
  • Curtailment of free speech is rationalized on grounds that a more compelling American tradition forbids criticism of the government when the nation is at war… Nothing can be more destructive of our fundamental democratic traditions than the vicious effort to silence dissenters.
  • There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; it is worth going to jail for. I would rather be a free pauper than a rich slave. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self respect.
  • I would be the last to condemn the thousands of sincere and dedicated people outside the churches who have labored unselfishly through various humanitarian movements to cure the world of social evils, for I would rather a man be a committed humanist than an uncommitted Christian.
  • I admire the good samaritan, but I don’t want to be one.I don’t want to spend my life picking up people by the side of the road after they have been beaten up and robbed.I want to change the Jericho road, so that everybody has an opportunity for a job, education, security, health.
  • Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.
  • Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
  • We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you….Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you.
  • Mankind’s survival is dependent on man’s ability to solve the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war; the solution of these problems is in turn dependent upon man’s squaring his moral progress with his scientific progress, and learning the practical art of living in harmony.
  • Agape is disinterested love. . . . Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. . . . Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friend and enemy; it is directed toward both.
  • Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard?
  • The Negro has no room to make any substantial compromises because his store of advantages is too small. He must press unrelentingly for quality, integrated education or his whole drive for freedom will be undermined by the absence of a most vital and indispensable element – learning.
  • When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, it loses its social perspective…. There is something about a war like this that makes people insensitive. It dulls the conscience. It strengthens the forces of reaction, and it brings into being bitterness and hatred and violence.
  • Hate is just as injurious to the hater as it is to the hated. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Many of our inner conflicts are rooted in hate. This is why the psychiatrists say, “Love or perish.” Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word . . . Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests. Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ.
  • It is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.
  • I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love, I’m talking about a strong, demanding love.
  • We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and postive action.
  • The Negroes of America had taken the President, the press and the pulpit at their word when they spoke in broad terms of freedom and justice. But the absence of brutality and unregenerate evil is not the presence of justice. To stay murder is not the same thing as to ordain brotherhood.
  • If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say, “There lived a great people-a black people-who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.
  • Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.
  • We must develop a federal program of public works, retraining, and jobs for all – so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened . . . There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum and livable income for every American family.
  • We must develop a federal program of public works, retraining, and jobs for all – so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened. . . There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum and livable income for every American family.
  • In our society it is murder, psychologically, to deprive a man of a job or an income. You are in substance saying to that man that he has no right to exist. You are in a real way depriving him of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, denying in his case the very creed of his society.
  • We must see the great distinction between a reform movement and a revolutionary movement. We are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society . . . . What America must be told today is that she must be born again. The whole structure of American life must be changed.
  • The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It destroys communities and makes humanity impossible. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers… In winning our freedom, we will so appeal to you heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.
  • True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.
  • I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had a great ability to put his finger on the existence and the root of the problem. He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems we face as a race.
  • Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.
  • Personalism’s insistence that only personality-finite and infinite-is ultimately real strengthened me in two convictions: it gave me metaphysical and philosophical grounding for the idea of a personal God, and it gave me a metaphysical basis for the dignity and worth of all human personality.
  • I would not hesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say in more emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.
  • This faith transforms the whirlwind of despair into a warm and reviving breeze of hope. The words of a motto which a generation ago were commonly found on the wall in the homes of devout persons need to be etched on our hearts: Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.
  • We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
  • I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life’s blueprint. Number one…should be a deep belief in your own dignity. Your worth and your own somebodiness… Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.
  • All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives eternally ‘in the red.’ We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women.
  • The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late…’
  • Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.
  • I must face the fact, as all others in positions of leadership must do, that America today is an extremely sick nation, and that something could well happen to me at any time. I feel, though, that my cause is so right, so moral, that if I should lose my life, in some way it would aid the cause.
  • When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty & shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up & express their anger & frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard.
  • If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.
  • We have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifices. Capitalism was built on the exploitation of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.
  • Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism…We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today and we are faced with the fierce urgency of now.
  • This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the dream of American democracy – a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.
  • Christianity affirms that at the heart of reality is a Heart, a loving Father who works through history for the salvation of His children. Man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of all things and humanity is not God. Bound by the chains of his own sin and finiteness, man needs a Savior.
  • And one day we must ask the question, “Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.
  • The unemployed, poverty-stricken white man must be made to realize that he is in the very same boat with the Negro. Together, they could exert massive pressure on the government to get jobs for all. Together, they could form a grand alliance. Together, they could merge all people for the good of all.
  • The conservatives who say, “Let us not move so fast,” and the extremists who say, “Let us go out and whip the world ,” would tell you that they are as far apart as the poles. But there is a striking parallel: They accomplish nothing; for they do not reach the people who have a crying need to be free.
  • Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.
  • The spirit of Lincoln still lives; that spirit born of the teachings of the Nazarene, who promised mercy to the merciful, who lifted the lowly, strengthened the weak, ate with publicans, and made the captives free. In the light of this divine example, the doctrines of demagogues shiver in their chaff.
  • If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
  • Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism… We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
  • When the Negro was completely an underdog, he needed white spokesmen. Liberals played their parts in this period exceedingly well…. But now that the Negro has rejected his role as an underdog, he has become more assertive in his search for identity and group solidarity; he wants to speak for himself.
  • I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate, adding deeper darkness to a night that is already void of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
  • May I stress the need for courageous, intelligent, and dedicated leadership… Leaders of sound integrity. Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause.
  • A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.
  • This will be the day when we shall bring into full realization the dream of American democracy — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few….
  • A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look on uneasily upon the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation.
  • It’s wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong! It’s wrong in America, it’s wrong in Germany, it’s wrong in Russia, it’s wrong in China! It was wrong in two thousand B.C., and it’s wrong in nineteen fifty-four A.D.! It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong!
  • Wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force If we assume that life is worth living, if we assume that mankind has the right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war.
  • Make a career of humanity… It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man… You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.
  • There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that that have nothing to lose. People who have stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.
  • We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can’t reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.
  • There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion. Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up…. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber…. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.
  • The end of violence or the aftermath of violence is bitterness. The aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of a beloved community. A boycott is never an end within itself. It is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor but the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption.
  • ..our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim; by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing…we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.
  • I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest.
  • The thing that we need in the world today is a group of men and women who will stand up for right and to be opposed to wrong, wherever it is. A group of people who have come to see that some things are wrong, whether they’re never caught up with. And some things are right, whether nobody sees you doing them or not.
  • Love is basic for the very survival of mankind. I’m convinced that love is the only absolute ultimately; love is the highest good. He who loves has somehow discovered the meaning of ultimate reality. He who hates does not know God; he who hates has no knowledge of God. Love is the supreme unifying principle of life.
  • The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
  • Being a Negro in America means trying to smile when you want to cry. It means trying to hold on to physical life amid psychological death. It means the pain of watching your children grow up with clouds of inferiority in their mental skies. It means having their legs off, and then being condemned for being a cripple.
  • A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions….A ny religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.
  • There is no easy way to create a world where men and women can live together… But if such a world is created in our lifetime, it will be done by rejecting the racism, materialism, and violence that has characterized Western civilization and especially by working toward a world of brotherhood, cooperation, and peace.
  • The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!
  • Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  • The words ‘bad timing’ came to be ghosts haunting our every move in Birmingham. Yet people who used this argument were ignorant of the background of our planning…they did not realize that it was ridiculous to speak of timing when the clock of history showed that the Negro had already suffered one hundred years of delay.
  • The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.
  • There is something in this universe that justifies the biblical writer in saying, “You shall reap what you sow.” This is a law-abiding universe. This is a moral universe. It hinges on moral foundations. If we are to make of this a better world, we’ve got to go back and rediscover that precious value that we’ve left behind.
  • By opening our lives to God in Christ, we become new creatures. This experience, which Jesus spoke of as the new birth, is essential if we are to be transformed nonconformists . . . Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.
  • With all of its false assumptions and evil methods, communism grew as a protest against the hardships of the underprivileged. Communism in theory emphasized a classless society, and a concern for social justice, though the world knows from sad experience that in practice it created new classes and a new lexicon of injustice.
  • I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” – one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
  • Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.
  • Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges. There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people from their apathetic indifference…. In the past, apathy was a moral failure. Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.
  • My friends, all I’m trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind. That’s the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be and the real purpose and meaning of it.
  • The time has come for an all-out war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”.
  • There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will. We must never adjust ourselves to racial segregation. We must never adjust ourselves to religious bigotry. We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.
  • Unfortunately, most of the major denominations still practice segregation in local churches, hospitals, schools, and other church institutions. It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, the same hour when many are standing to sing: “In Christ There Is No East Nor West.
  • The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life.
  • I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we are moving against wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who has love has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.
  • [I]t must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight.
  • When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.
  • Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten….America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness-justice.
  • The majority of the Negroes who took part in the year-long boycott of Montgomery’s buses were poor and untutored; but they understood the essence of the Montgomery movement; one elderly woman summed it up for the rest. When asked after several weeks of walking whether she was tired, she answered: “My feet is tired, but my soul is at rest.
  • Jesus reminds us that the good life combines the toughness of the serpent and the tenderness of the dove. To have serpent-like qualities devoid of dovelike qualities is to be passionless, mean, and selfish. To have dovelike without serpent-like qualities is to be sentimental, anemic and aimless. We must combine strongly marked antitheses.
  • This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.
  • We can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world.
  • Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: — we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
  • We have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We are still called upon to give aid to the beggar who finds himself in misery and agony on life’s highway. But one day, we must ask the question of whether an edifice which produces beggars must not be restructured and refurbished.
  • Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.
  • A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought, within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.
  • Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. Our hope for creative living lies in our ability to reestablish the spiritual needs of our lives in personal character and social justice. Without this spiritual and moral reawakening we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our own instruments.
  • Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts, and pray long prayers?
  • Every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral. … Every now and then I ask myself, ‘What is it that I want said?’ I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to love somebody.
  • If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, Maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. … But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.
  • When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact…that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance; We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.
  • White Americans must be made to understand the basic motives underlying Negro demonstrations. Many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations are boiling inside the Negro, and he must release them. It is not a threat but a fact of history that if an oppressed people’s pent-up emotions are not nonviolently released, they will be violently released.
  • And violence is impractical, because the old eye for an eye philosophy ends up leaving everybody blind .. It is immoral because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for everybody. Means and ends are inseparable. The means represent the ideal in the making; in the long run of history destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.
  • I often feel like saying, when I hear the question ‘People aren’t ready,’ that it’s like telling a person who is trying to swim, ‘Don’t jump in that water until you learn how to swim.’ When actually you will never learn how to swim until you get in the water. And I think people have to have an opportunity to develop themselves and govern themselves.
  • Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the qu icksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
  • When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact…that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance; We’ve learned to fly the air like birds, we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters…
  • In his essay ‘Self-Reliance’ Emerson wrote, ‘Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.’ The Apostle Paul reminds us that whoso would be a Christian must also be a a nonconformist. Any Christian who blindly accepts the opinions of the majority and in fear and timidity follows a path of expediency and social approval is a mental and spiritual slave.
  • There is little hope for us until we become tough-minded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of soft mindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.
  • Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them.
  • What the Negro wants – and will not stop until he gets – is absolute and unqualified freedom and equality here in this land of his birth, and not in Africa or in some imaginary state. The Negro no longer will be tolerant of anything less than his due right and heritage. He is pursuing only that which he knows is honorably his. He knows that he is right.
  • I choose to identify with the underprivileged, I choose to give my life for the hungry, I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity . . . this is the way I’m going. If it means suffering, I’m going that way. If it means dying for them, I’m going that way, because I heard a voice saying DO SOMETHING FOR OTHERS.
  • One of the most persistent ambiguities that we face is that everybody talks about peace as a goal. However, it does not take sharpest-eyed sophistication to discern that while everbody talks about peace, peace has become practically nobody’s business among the power-wielders. Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace.
  • I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.
  • But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’
  • Somewhere somebody must have some sense. Men must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love.
  • …we must realize that a vast majority of believers are still searching and will continue to search for the being who is the “source of human good.” Those who seek with clear heads and sincere hearts will in some measure find. Of course the true seeker will realize that there is no one way to find God. To be sure, there are many possible ways of finding God.
  • Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method…is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community…Yes , love-which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies-is the solution
  • President Lyndon Johnson’s high spirits were marked as he circulated among the many guests whom he had invited to witness an event he confidently felt to be historic, the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act…. The bill that lay on the polished mahogany desk was born in violence in Selma, Alabama, where a stubborn sheriff… had stumbled against the future.
  • I’ve told the kids in the ghettos that violence won’t solve their problems, but then they ask me, and rightly so; “Why does the government use massive doses of violence to bring about the change it wants in the world?” After this I knew that I could no longer speak against the violence in the ghettos without also speaking against the violence of my government.
  • A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.
  • History will have to recordThat the greatest tragedy of this period of social transitionWas not the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad peopleBut the appalling silence and indifference of the good.Our generation will have to repent notOnly for the words and actions of the children of darknessBut also for the fears and apathy of thechildren of light.
  • Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.
  • Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the fight with fire’ method…is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community…Yes , love-which means understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill, even for one’s enemies-is the solution
  • History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.
  • We must work passionately and indefatigably to bridge the gulf between our scientific progress and our moral progress. One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually.
  • We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land.
  • Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, he will lift some bruised and beaten brother to a higher and more noble life.
  • If an American is concerned only about his nation, he will not be concerned about the peoples of Asia, Africa, or South America. Is this not why nations engage in the madness of war without the slightest sense of penitence? Is this not why the murder of a citizen of your own nation is a crime, but the murder of citizens of another nation in war is an act of heroic virtue?
  • Let the Negro march. Let him make pilgrimages to city hall. Let him go on freedom rides. And above all, make an effort to understand why he must do this. For if his frustration and despair are allowed to continue piling up, millions of Negroes will seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies. And this, inevitably, would lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
  • On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.
  • We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed…. This strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage.
  • I said to my children, ‘I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.
  • Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different.
  • I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation… I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow… I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed.
  • I was much more afraid in Montgomery when I had a gun in my house. When I decided that I couldn’t keep a gun, I came face-to-face with the question of death and I dealt with it. From that point on, I no longer needed a gun nor have I been afraid. Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors.
  • We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and for justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
  • It is precisely because education is the road to equality and citizenship, that it has been made more elusive for Negroes than many other rights. The walling off of Negroes from equal education is part of the historical design to submerge him in second class status. Therefore, as Negroes have struggled to be free they have had to fight for the opportunity for a decent education.
  • Worship at its best is a social experience with people of all levels of life coming together to realize their oneness and unity under God. Whenever the church, consciously or unconsciously caters to one class it loses the spiritual force of the “whosoever will, let him come, doctrine and is in danger of becoming a little more than a social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.
  • I will always remember my delight when Mrs. Georgia Gilmore – an unlettered woman of unusual intelligence – told how an operator demanded that she get off the bus after paying her fare and board it again by the back door, and then drove away before she could get there. She turned to Judge Carter and said: “When they count the money, they do not know Negro money from white money.
  • I was much more afraid in Montgomery when I had a gun in my house. When I decided that I couldn’t keep a gun, I came face-to-face with the question of death and I dealt with it. From that point on, I no longer needed a gun nor have I been afraid. Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors.
  • The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites. The idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at it’s best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.
  • Whatever we do, we must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all of our actions. But I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about love, love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian face, faith. There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.
  • And I say to you, I have decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. For I have seen too much hate… every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love.
  • In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the inter-related structure of reality.
  • Capitalism is always in danger of inspiring men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life. We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity-thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.
  • The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.
  • World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.
  • This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great ‘world house’ in which we have to live together– black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu– a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.
  • My study of Gandhi convinced me that true pacifism is not nonresistance to evil, but nonviolent resistance to evil. Between the two positions, there is a world of difference. Gandhi resisted evil with as much vigor and power as the violent resister, but True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power. It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love. . . .
  • It is purposeless to tell Negroes they should not be enraged when they should be. Indeed, they will be mentally healthier if they do not suppress rage, but vent it constructively and use its energy peacefully but forcefully to cripple the operations of an oppressive society. Civil disobedience can utilize the militance wasted in riots to seize clothes or groceries many do not even want.
  • There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, ‘This isn’t the way.’
  • This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great ‚ ‘world house’ in which we have to live together‚ black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu‚ a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.
  • The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery.
  • Nonviolence is a powerful as well as a just weapon. If you confront a man who has long been cruelly misusing you, and say, “Punish me, if you will; I do not deserve it, but I will accept it, so that the world will know I am right and you are wrong,” then you wield a powerful and a just weapon. This man, your oppressor, is automatically morally defeated, and if he has any conscience, he is ashamed.
  • A host of positive psychological changes inevitably will result from widespread economic security. The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has the means to seek self-improvement. Personal conflicts among husbands, wives and children will diminish when the unjust measurement of human worth on the scale of dollars is eliminated.
  • The white poor also suffer deprivation and the humiliation of poverty if not of color. They are chained by the weight of discrimination though its badge of degradation does not mark them. It corrupts their lives, frustrates their opportunities and withers their education. In one sense it is more evil for them because it has confused so many by prejudice that they have supported their own oppressors.
  • No man (sic) has learned to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Length without breadth is like a self-contained tributary having no outward flow to the ocean. Stagnant, still and stale, it lacks both life and freshness. In order to live creatively and meaningfully, our self-concern must be wedded to other concerns.
  • An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.
  • The Negro who experiences bitter and agonizing circumstances as a result of some ungodly white person is tempted to look upon all white persons as evil, if he fails to look beyond his circumstances. But the minute he looks beyond his circumstances and sees the whole of the situation, he discovers that some of the most implacable and vehement advocates of racial equality are consecrated white persons.
  • In the event of a violent revolution, we would be sorely outnumbered. And when it was all over, the Negro would face the same unchanged conditions, the same squalor and deprivation-the only difference being that his bitterness would be even more intense, his disenchantment even more abject. Thus, in purely practical as well as moral terms, the American Negro has no rational alternative to nonviolence.
  • Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.
  • In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified…. All three were crucified for the same crime-the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
  • One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.
  • Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was seen sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks, before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman empire.
  • I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
  • Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. … We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode.
  • In struggling for human dignity the oppressed people of the world must not allow themselves to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns. To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.
  • Do to us what you will, and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and as difficult as it is, we will still love you. But we assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.
  • Somebody must have sense enough to meet hate with love. Somebody must have sense enough to meet physical force with soul force. If we will but try this way, we will be able to change these conditions and yet at the same time win the hearts and souls of those who have kept these conditions alive a way as old as the insights of Jesus of Nazareth, as modern as the techniques of Mohandas K. Gandhi. There is another way.
  • We have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. Our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and maintain social stability for our investments. This tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and Peru. Increasingly the role our nation has taken is the role of those who refuse to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
  • And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
  • There’s another reason why you should love your enemies, and that is because hate distorts the personality of the hater. We usually think of what hate does for the individual hated or the individuals hated or the groups hated. But it is even more tragic, it is even more ruinous and injurious to the individual who hates. … For the person who hates, the true becomes false and the false becomes true. That’s what hate does.
  • One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were in reality standing up for the best in the American dream and the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, and thusly, carrying our whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
  • Most of these people will never make the headlines and their names will not appear in Who’s Who. Yet when years have rolled past and when the blazing light of truth is focused on this marvelous age in which we live – men and women will know and children will be taught that we have a finer land, a better people, a more noble civilization – because these humble children of God were willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake.
  • Non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored… I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly worked and preached against violent tension, and there is a type of constructive tension that is necessary for growth.
  • When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
  • The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.
  • Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Your ability to overcome unfavorable situations will provide you with time to demonstrate your true strength and determination for success. Always set your standards high, your greatest achievements lie within the infinite feats you achieve in your life.
  • We come humbly to say to the men in the forefront of our government that the civil rights issue is not an Ephemeral, evanescent domestic issue that can be kicked about by reactionary guardians of the status quo; it is rather an eternal moral issue which may well determine the destiny of our nation in the ideological struggle with communism. The hour is late. The clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now, before it is too late.
  • We’ve been in the mountain of war. We’ve been in the mountain of violence. We’ve been in the mountain of hatred long enough. It is necessary to move on now, but only by moving out of this mountain can we move to the promised land of justice and brotherhood and the Kingdom of God. It all boils down to the fact that we must never allow ourselves to become satisfied with unattained goals. We must always maintain a kind of divine discontent.
  • I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.
  • It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.
  • Science investigates, religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power, religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts, religion deals with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from singing into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzingly obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.
  • In a world facing the revolt of ragged and hungry masses of God’s children; in a world torn between the tensions of East and West, white and colored, individuals and collectivists; in a world whose cultural and spiritual power lags so far behind her technological capabilities that we live each day on the verge of nuclear co-annihilation; in this world, nonviolence is no longer an option for intellectual analysis, it is an imperative for action
  • I think that my strong determination for justice comes from the very strong, dynamic personality of my father … I have rarely ever met a person more fearless and courageous than my father … The thing that I admire most about my dad is his genuine Christian character. He is a man of real integrity, deeply committed to moral and ethical principles. He is conscientious in all of his undertakings … If I had a problem I could always call Daddy.
  • And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
  • But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence. Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering.
  • Segregation, as even the segregationists know in their hearts, is morally wrong and sinful. If it weren’t, the white South would not be haunted as it is by a deep sense of guilt for what it has done to the Negro – guilt for patronizing him, degrading him, brutalizing him, depersonalizing him, thingifying him; guilt for lying to itself. This is the source of the schizophrenia that the South will suffer until it goes through its crisis of conscience.
  • Education without social action is a one-sided value because it has no true power potential. Social action without education is a weak expression of pure energy. Deeds uninformed by educated thought can take false directions. When we go into action and confront our adversaries, we must be as armed with knowledge as they. Our policies should have the strength of deep analysis beneath them to be able to challenge the clever sophistries of our opponents.
  • This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred, and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; and men do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
  • The intellectual and moral satisfaction that I failed to gain from the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill, the revolutionary methods of Marx and Lenin, the social contract theory of Hobbes, the “back to nature” optimism of Rousseau, and the superman philosophy of Nietzsche, I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi. I came to feel that this was the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.
  • The use of violence in our struggle would be both impractical and immoral. To meet hate with retaliatory hate would do nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love; we must meet physical force with soul force. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.
  • Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word Black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word White, it’s always something pure, high and clean. Well I want to get the language right tonight. I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful!’
  • I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture of their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land.
  • I am convinced that it is one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world. Our involvement in the war in Vietnam has torn up the Geneva Accord. It has strengthened the military-industrial complex; it has strengthened the forces of reaction in our nation. It has put us against the self-determination of a vast majority of the Vietnamese people, and put us in the position of protecting a corrupt regime that is stacked against the poor.
  • It is a strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
  • Slavery in America was perpetuated not merely by human badness but also by human blindness. … Men convinced themselves that a system that was so economically profitable must be morally justifiable. … Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro. Even philosophical logic was manipulated [exemplified by] an Aristotlian syllogism: All men are made in the image of God; God, as everyone knows, is not a Negro; Therefore, the Negro is not a man.
  • The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
  • We must dispel the negative and harmful atmosphere that has been created by avaricious and unprincipled realtors who engage in “blockbusting.” If we had in America really serious efforts to break down discrimination in housing, and at the same time a concerted program of government aid to improve housing for Negroes, I think that many white people would be surprised at how many Negroes would choose to live among themselves, exactly as Poles and Jews and other ethnic groups do.
  • You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.
  • The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate… Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
  • I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.
  • I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.
  • A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will “thingify” them and make them things. And therefore, they will exploit them and poor people generally economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and it will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. What I’m saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, “America, you must be born again!”
  • I would be misleading you if I made you feel that we could win a violent campaign. It’s impractical even to think about it. The minute we start, we will end up getting many more people killed unnecessarily. Now, I’m ready to die myself. Many other committed people are ready to die. If you believe in something firmly, if you believe in it truly, if you believe it in your heart, you are willing to die for it, but I’m not going to advocate a method that brings about unnecessary death.
  • Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.
  • The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.
  • …love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive…
  • But there is another way. And that is to organize mass non-violent resistance based on the principle of love. It seems to me that this is the only way as our eyes look to the future. As we look out across the years and across the generations, let us develop and move right here. We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way.
  • I cannot make myself believe that God wanted me to hate. I’m tired of violence, I’ve seen too much of it. I’ve seen such hate on the faces of too many sheriffs in the South. And I’m not going to let my oppressor dictate to me what method I must use. Our oppressors have used violence. Our oppressors have used hatred. Our oppressors have used rifles and guns. I’m not going to stoop down to their level. I want to rise to a higher level. We have a power that can’t be found in Molotov cocktails.
  • In our struggle against racial segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, I came to see at a very early stage that a synthesis of Gandhi’s method of nonviolence and the Christian ethic of love is the best weapon available to Negroes for this struggle for freedom and human dignity. It may well be that the Gandhian approach will bring about a solution to the race problem in America. His spirit is a continual reminder to oppressed people that it is possible to resist evil and yet not resort to violence.
  • I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government…. There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward Jim Clark,’ but will curse and damn you when you say, ‘Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children!’ There is something wrong with that press….
  • The Christians who engaged in infamous persecutions and shameful inquisitions were not evil men but misguided men. The churchmen who felt they had an edict from God to withstand the progress of science, whether in the form of a Copernican revolution or a Darwinian theory of natural selection, were not mischievous men but misinformed men. And so Christ’s words from the cross are written in sharp-edged terms across some of the most inexpressible tragedies of history: ‘They know not what they do’.
  • As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good checkup at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent.
  • We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If todayI lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.
  • I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
  • I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human systems it falls victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.
  • Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths of both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.
  • On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. “A Time to Break Silence,” at Riverside Church
  • They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today-my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.
  • At times, life is hard, as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and painful moments. Like the ever flowing water of a river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changin cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of the summers and the piercing chill of its winters. But through it all, God walks with us. Never forget that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.
  • I also came to see that liberalism’s superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin. The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to justify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations.
  • The nation is sick; trouble is in the land, confusion all around…But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee, the cry is always the same: ‘We want to be free.’
  • I also came to see that liberalism’s superficial optimism concerning human nature caused it to overlook the fact that reason is darkened by sin. The more I thought about human nature the more I saw how our tragic inclination for sin causes us to use our minds to rationalize our actions. Liberalism failed to see that reason by itself is little more than an instrument to justify man’s defensive ways of thinking. Reason, devoid of the purifying power of faith, can never free itself from distortions and rationalizations….
  • 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.
  • Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
  • A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift, is approaching spiritual death.I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor.
  • In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black men as well as white men – would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’
  • The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more that three centuries American Negroes have been frustrated by day and bewilderment by night by unbearable injustice, and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.
  • I feel that non-violence is really the only way that we can follow because violence is just so self-defeating. A riot ends up creating many more problems for the negro community than it solved. We can through violence burn down a building, but you can’t establish justice. You can murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder through violence. You can murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. And what we’re trying to get rid of is hate, injustice, and all of these other things that continue the long night of man’s inhumanity to man.
  • Truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism. Each represents a partial truth. Historically capitalism failed to see the truth in collective enterprise, and Marxism failed to see the truth in individual enterprise. Nineteenth century capitalism failed to see that life is social and Marxism failed and still fails to see that life is individual and personal. The Kingdom of God is neither the thesis of individual enterprise nor the antithesis of collective enterprise, but a synthesis which reconciles the truths of both.
  • When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also declare that the white man does not abide by law in the ghettos. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions of civil services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them, but they do not make them, any more than a prisoner makes a prison.
  • History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
  • I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day, even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into a oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by content of their character. I have a dream today!
  • We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living. If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, brethren! Be careful, teachers!
  • Violence never really deals with the basic evil of the situation. Violence may murder the murderer, but it doesn’t murder murder. Violence may murder the liar, but it doesn’t murder lie; it doesn’t establish truth. Violence may even murder the dishonest man, but it doesn’t murder dishonesty. Violence may go to the point of murdering the hater, but it doesn’t murder hate. It may increase hate. It is always a descending spiral leading nowhere. This is the ultimate weakness of violence: It multiplies evil and violence in the universe. It doesn’t solve any problems.
  • Join with the Earth and each other, to bring new life to the land, to restore the waters, to refresh the air, to renew the forests, to care for the plants, to protect the creatures, to celebrate the seas, to rejoice in the sunlight, to sing the song of the stars, to recall our destiny, to renew our spirits, to reinvigorate ur bodies, to recreate the human community, to promote justice and peace, to love our children and love one another, to join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery, for the healing of the Earth and the renewal of all life.
  • Join with the Earth and each other, to bring new life to the land, to restore the waters, to refresh the air, to renew the forests, to care for the plants, to protect the creatures, to celebrate the seas, to rejoice in the sunlight, to sing the song of the stars, to recall our destiny, to renew our spirits, to reinvigorate our bodies, to recreate the human community, to promote justice and peace, to love our children and love one another, to join together as many and diverse expressions of one loving mystery, for the healing of the Earth and the renewal of all life.
  • We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. . . . Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’ … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.
  • We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was ‘well timed,’ according to the timetable 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 a piercing familiarity. This ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never.’ We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’
  • Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose… one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites — polar opposites — so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love… What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
  • And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?
  • Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve .. one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites — polar opposites — so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love… What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
  • Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi (quotes)

Principles for living

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Love

  • Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart.
  • Exercise of faith will be the safest where there is a clear determination summarily to reject all that is contrary to truth and love. 
  • Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love. 
  • I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings.  My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love. 
  • In doing something, do it with love or never do it at all.     
  • Man’s nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been know to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.
  • Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.  
  • The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.  
  • The person who discovered the law of love was a far greater scientist than any of our modern scientists. Only our explorations have not gone far enough and so it is not possible for everyone to see all its workings.
  • When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it– always. 
  • Where love is, there God is also. 
  • Where there is love there is life.
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Service

  • A friend inquired if ‘s objectives in serving the poor were purely humanitarian.   replied, “Not at all.  I am here to serve no one else but myself, to find my own self-realization through the service of these village folk.” Wayne Muller
  • All our philosophy is as dry as dust if it is not immediately translated into some act of living service. 
  • Service can have no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. When it is done for show or for fear of public opinion it stunts the man and crushes his spirit. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.  Mahatma K. 
  • The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. 
  • To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer. 
  • Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.
  • That service is the noblest which is rendered for its own sake.
  • Man can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.
  • I am endeavouring to see God through service of humanity; for I know that God is neither in heaven, nor down below, but in everyone.
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Action

  • Action expresses priorities.  
  • Action is my domain. 
  • An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.  
  • Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy.
  • It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. 
  • The future depends on what we do in the present.
  • To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer. 
  • What is faith worth if it is not translated into action? 
  • Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. 
  • Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.
  • God never occurs to you in person but always in action.
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Compassion

  • I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.
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Kindness

  • The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane. 
  • The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful then a thousand heads bowing in prayer. 
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Understanding

  • Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.  
  • Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world would disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint. 
  • Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation.
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Forgiveness

  • An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. 
  • Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love. 
  • The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  
  • An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
  • To forgive is not to forget. The merit lies in loving in spite of the vivid knowledge that one that must be loved is not a friend. There is not merit in loving an enemy when you forget him for a friend.
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Non-violence

  • I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary, the evil it dose is permanent.
  • It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence. 
  • My nonviolence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach nonviolence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes.
  • Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.
  • Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence. 
  • Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always. 
  • Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat for it is momentary.
  • We should meet abuse by forbearance. Human nature is so constituted that if we take absolutely no notice of anger or abuse, the person indulging in it will soon weary of it and stop.
  • When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it– always.  
  • There is no such thing as ‘too insane’ unless others turn up dead due to your actions. 
  • Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.
  • I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.
  • Non-violence is the article of faith.
  • Non-violence requires a double faith, faith in God and also faith in man. 
  • Nonviolence being the mightiest force in the world and also the most elusive in its working, demands the greatest exercise of faith.
  • Civil disobedience does not admit of any violence or countenancing of violence directly or indirectly.
  • Creation of effective public opinion depends on the cultivation of true courage, born of truthfulness and nonviolence.
  • If there is violence, it will certainly be crushed because violence can only end in a disgraceful rout.
  • In a society based on nonviolence, the smallest nation will feel as tall as the tallest.
  • In the application of the method of non-violence, one must believe in the possibility of every person, however depraved, being reformed under humane and skilled treatment.
  • Is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater courage? Without her, man would not be. If nonviolence is to be the law of our being, the future is with women.
  • My mission is to convert every Indian, every Englishman and finally the world to nonviolence for regulating mutual relations, whether political, economic, social or religious.
  • My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him.
  • Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.
  • Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
  • Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
  • Nonviolence becomes meaningless if violence is permitted for self-defence.
  • Nonviolence is a universal principle and its operation is not limited by a hostile environment.
  • Peace through superior violence inevitably leads to the atom bomb and all that it stands for.
  • The nation cannot be kept on the nonviolent path by violence.
  • The pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one’s opponent.
  • Violence is the weapon of weak, non-violence that of the strong.
  • We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.
  • A nonviolent life is an act of self-examination and self-purification, whether by an individual, group or nation.
  • A nonviolent system of government is clearly an impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists.
  • For the nonviolent person, the whole world is one family. He will fear none, nor will others fear him.
  • Nonviolent action means mobilization of world opinion in our favour.
  • Nonviolent attainment of self-government presupposes a non-violent control over the violent elements in the country.
  • Violent means will give violent freedom. That would be a menace to the world and to India herself.
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Peace

  • Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
  • How can I make difference so that I may bring peace to this world that I love and cherish so much? A name flickers instantly in my mind.
  • I am a man of peace. I believe in peace. But I do not want peace at any price.
  • If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering.
  • My doctrine means that I must identify myself with life, with everything that lives, that I must share the majesty of life in the presence of God. The sum-total of this life is God. .. Man is not at peace with himself until he has become like unto God. The endeavor to reach this state is the supreme, the only ambition worth having. And this is self-realisation. This self-realisation is the subject of the Gita, as it is of all scriptures… to be a real devotee is to realise oneself. Self-realisation is not something apart.
  • Peace between countries must rest on the solid foundation of love between individuals.
  • Peace is its own reward.
  • Peace is the most powerful weapon of mankind.
  • The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.  
  • There is no path to peace; peace is the path.
  • There is no yajna (sacrifice) greater than spinning calculated to bring peace to the troubled spirit, to soothe the distracted student’s mind, to spiritualize his life.
  • With every true friendship, we build more firmly the foundations on which the peace of the whole world rests.
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Gentleness

  • In a gentle way, you can shake the world. 
  • Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.  
  • Civility does not …mean the mere outward gentleness of speech cultivated for the occasion, but an inborn gentleness and desire to do the opponent good.
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Courage

  • A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
  • My nonviolence does not admit of running away from danger and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence to cowardice. I can no more preach nonviolence to a coward than I can tempt a blind man to enjoy healthy scenes.
  • To run away from danger, instead of facing it, is to deny one’s faith in man and God, even one’s own self. It were better for one to drown oneself than live to declare such bankruptcy of faith. 
  • A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
  • We may stumble and fall but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle.
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Speaking out

  • A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.  
  • Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.
  • Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.
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Being the change you want to see

  • We must be the change we wish to see in the world.  
  • My life is my message. 
  • Change from within
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world.
  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves. 
  • Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.  
  • A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes. 
  • Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.
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Listening to the inner voice

  • The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience. 
  • The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority. 
  • The inner voice is something which cannot be described in words. But sometimes we have a positive feeling that something in us prompts us to do a certain thing. The time when I learnt to recognise this voice was, I may say, the time when I started praying regularly.  
  • A leader is useless when he acts against the promptings of his own conscience.
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Will

  • Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. 
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Potential

  • The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem. 
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Purity

  • Purity of mind and idleness are incompatible.
  • Purity of personal life is the one indispensable condition for building up a sound education. 
  • Morality which depends upon the helplessness of a man or woman has not much to recommend it. Morality is rooted in the purity of our hearts. 
  • Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well. 
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Learning

  • Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.   
  • Learning takes us through many states of life, but it fails utterly in the hour of danger and temptation. Then faith alone saves.
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Truth

  • All truths, not merely ideas, but truthful faces, truthful pictures, or songs, are highly beautiful. 
  • All faiths constitute a revelation of Truth, but all are imperfect and liable to error.  
  • An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.  
  • Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.   
  • Exercise of faith will be the safest where there is a clear determination summarily to reject all that is contrary to truth and love. 
  • In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. 
  • Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.  
  • Truth never damages a cause that is just.
  • Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.    
  • It is not given to man to know the whole Truth. His duty lies in living up to the truth as he sees it, and in doing so, to resort to the purest means, i.e., to non-violence. God alone knows absolute truth. Therefore, I have often said, Truth is God. It follows that man, a finite being, cannot know absolute truth. Nobody in this world possesses absolute truth. This is God’s attribute alone. Relative truth is all we know. Therefore, we can only follow the truth as we see it. Such pursuit of truth cannot lead anyone astray.
  • Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.
  • I am a humble but very earnest seeker after truth.
  • Every fight is one between different angles of vision illuminating the same truth.
  • God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
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Faith

  • A man with a grain of faith in God never loses hope, because he ever believes in the ultimate triumph of Truth.
  • A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history. 
  • Faith is not a delicate flower which would wither away under the slightest stormy weather. 
  • Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.  
  • Faith must be enforced by reason.  When faith becomes blind it dies. 
  • My faith is brightest in the midst of impenetrable darkness. 
  • There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever. 
  • What is faith worth if it is not translated into action? 
  • When every hope is gone, ‘when helpers fail and comforts flee,’ I find that help arrives somehow, from I know not where. Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal. 
  • You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. 
  • There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.
  • A man of faith does not bargain or stipulate with God.
  • A man of faith will remain steadfast to truth even though the whole world might appear to be enveloped in falsehood.
  • Fear of death makes us devoid both of valour and religion. For want of valour is want of religious faith.
  • God cannot be realized through the intellect. Intellect can lead one to a certain extent and no further. It is a matter of faith and experience derived from that faith.
  • Learning takes us through many states of life, but it fails utterly in the hour of danger and temptation. Then faith alone saves.
  • My faith runs so very much faster than my reason that I can challenge the whole world and say, ‘God is, was and ever shall be’.
  • Non-violence is the article of faith.
  • Non-violence requires a double faith, faith in God and also faith in man. 
  • Nonviolence being the mightiest force in the world and also the most elusive in its working, demands the greatest exercise of faith.
  • Only he can take great resolves who has indomitable faith in God and has fear of God.
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Prayer

  • It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.  
  • Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.       
  • Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. 
  • Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
  • The inner voice is something which cannot be described in words. But sometimes we have a positive feeling that something in us prompts us to do a certain thing. The time when I learnt to recognise this voice was, I may say, the time when I started praying regularly.  
  • Prayer is a confession of one’s own unworthiness and weakness.
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Self-belief

  • If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning. 
  • People often become what they believe themselves to be.  If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it.  But when I  believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning. 
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Self-respect

  • I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect. 
  • Self-respect knows no considerations.  
  • They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.   
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Positivity

  • Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.
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Unity

  • Life is one indivisible whole.
  • I believe in the absolute oneness of God and therefore also of humanity.  What though we have many bodies?  We have but one soul.  
  • The purpose of life is undoubtedly to know oneself.  We cannot do it unless we learn to identify ourselves with all that lives.  The sum-total of that life is God. 
  • Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.
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Simple living

  • Increase of material comforts, it may be generally laid down, does not in any way whatsoever conduce to moral growth.
  • Let us learn to live simply, so that others may simply live. 
  • Seek not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity.  
  • There is more to life than increasing its speed. 
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Silence

  • In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. 
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Freedom

  • The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within.
  • You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind. 
  • Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. 
  • I want freedom for the full expression of my personality.  
  • Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?
  • Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.
  • No charter of freedom will be worth looking at which does not ensure the same measure of freedom for the minorities as for the majority.
  • No man loses his freedom except through his own weakness.
  • The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. Freedom and slavery are mental states.
  • We want freedom for our country, but not at the expense or exploitation of others, not so as to degrade other countries.
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Harmony of thoughts, feelings and actions

  • Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed.  
  • Happiness is when what you think and what you say and what you feel are in harmony. 
  • To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest. 
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Beauty

  • When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.
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Health

  • It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. 
  • As a rule, the mind, residing in a body that has become weakened by pampering, is also weak, and where there is no strength of mind there can be no strength of soul. 
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Being in the present

  • I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.
  • The future depends on what we do in the present.
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Duty

  • People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights.  
  • If co-operation is a duty, I hold that non-co-operation also under certain conditions is equally a duty.
  • Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless or corrupt.
  • Man is sent into the world to perform his duty even at the cost of his life.
  • Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having.
  • The true source of rights is duty.
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Quality

  • It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity. 
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Wisdom and knowledge

  • Knowledge gained through experience is far superior and many times more useful than bookish knowledge.  
  • It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. 
  • My wisdom flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together for unity and love.
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Interdependence

  • Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.
  • It is man’s social nature which distinguishes him from the brute creation. If it is his privilege to be independent, it is equally his duty to be inter-dependent. Only an arrogant man will claim to be independent of everybody else and be self-contained.
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Patience

  • If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.
  • To lose patience is to lose the battle.
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Adaptability

  • Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.
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Humour

  • If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide. 
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Effort

  • Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory. 
  • Unwearied ceaseless effort is the price that must be paid for turning faith into a rich infallible experience.
  • It is for us to make the effort. The result is always in God’s hands.
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The importance of small and ordinary things

  • All big things are made up of trifles.  My entire life has been built on trifles.  
  • A great man may not do great things but they do ordinary things greatly.
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Non-attachment

  • A burning passion coupled with absolute detachment is the key to all success.
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Things that limit us

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Greed

  • The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.
  • There’s enough on this planet for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.  
  • Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed. 
  • There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
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Poverty

  • Poverty is the worst form of violence. 
  • There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. 
  • To a man with an empty stomach food is God. 
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Anger

  • I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world. 
  • Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.  
  • Man should forget his anger before he lies down to sleep.  
  • Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.
  • I know, to banish anger altogether from one’s breast is a difficult task. It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort. It can be done only by God’s grace.
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Cruelty to animals

  • Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that man’s supremacy over lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man. They had also brought out the truth that man eats not for enjoyment but to live. 
  • I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man. 
  • I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such beings as crawl on earth. 
  • The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. 
  • To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. 
  • The good man is the friend of all living things.
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Cowardice

  • Cowardice is impotence worse than violence. The coward desires revenge but being afraid to die, he looks to others, maybe to the government of the day, to do the work of defense for him. A coward is less than a man. He does not deserve to be a member of a society of men and women.
  • To run away from danger, instead of facing it, is to deny one’s faith in man and God, even one’s own self. It were better for one to drown oneself than live to declare such bankruptcy of faith. 
  • A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
  • Cowards can never be moral.
  • Fear has its use but cowardice has none. 
  • I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment.
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Hypocrisy

  • Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today.  
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Intolerance

If we want to cultivate a true spirit of democracy we cannot afford to be intolerant. Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.

Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

Once one assumes an attitude of intolerance, there is no knowing where it will take one. Intolerance, someone has said, is violence to the intellect and hatred is violence to the heart.

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Thoughts on general issues

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Thoughts on morality

  • Morality which depends upon the helplessness of a man or woman has not much to recommend it. Morality is rooted in the purity of our hearts. 
  • One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.
  • True morality consists not in following the beaten track, but in finding out the true path for ourselves and fearlessly following it.  
  • In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.  
  • It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts. 
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Thoughts on God

  • God has no religion.
  • God speaks to us every day only we don’t know how to listen. 
  • I believe in the absolute oneness of God and therefore also of humanity.  What though we have many bodies?  We have but one soul.  
  • My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.   
  • When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.
  • Where love is, there God is also. 
  • God cannot be realized through the intellect. Intellect can lead one to a certain extent and no further. It is a matter of faith and experience derived from that faith.
  • God is the hardest taskmaster I have known on this earth, and he tries you through and through. And when you find that your faith is failing or your body is failing you, and you are sinking, he comes to your assistance somehow or other and proves to you that you must not lose your faith and that he is always at your beck and call, but on his terms, not on your terms. So I have found. I cannot really recall a single instance when, at the eleventh hour, he has forsaken me.
  • To me, God is Truth and Love; God is ethics and morality: God is fearlessness. God is the source of Light and Life and yet He is above and beyond all these. God is conscience… He is a personal God to those who need His personal presence. He is embodied to those who need His touch. He is the purest essence. He simply is to those who have faith. He is all things to all men.
  • God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
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Thoughts on religion

  • A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.  
  • All faiths constitute a revelation of Truth, but all are imperfect and liable to error.  
  • Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal assent. 
  • For me, the different religions are beautiful flowers from the same garden, or they are branches of the same majestic tree. Therefore, they are equally true, though being received and interpreted through human instruments equally imperfect.
  • Hypocrisy and distortion are passing currents under the name of religion.
  • I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. 
  • If we are to respect others’ religions as we would have them to respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religion is a sacred duty.
  • It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends.  But to befriend those who regard themselves as your enemies is the quintessence of all religion.  The other is merely business.  
  • It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others’ religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world’s religions is a sacred duty. 
  • Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is. 
  • After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that (1) all religions are true; (2) all religions have some error in them; (3) all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one’s own close relatives.
  • All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.
  • Everything I have personally experienced, and that also has been expressed by the leaders of the great religions points to the fact that a global spirituality already exists and was intrinsically there from the start as God (by whatever name) is one and is indivisible – everywhere outside time and place.
  • I came to the conclusion long ago that all religions were true and that also that all had some error in them, and while I hold by my own religion, I should hold other religions as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we were Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu; but our innermost prayer should be that a Hindu should become a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, and a Christian a better Christian.
  • I claim to represent all the cultures, for my religion, whatever it may be called, demands the fulfilment of all the cultures.
  • I have felt that the Gita teaches us that what cannot be followed in day-to-day practice cannot be called religion.
  • If a man reaches the heart of his own religion, he has reached the heart of the others, too. There is only one God, and there are many paths to him.
  • If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody’s personal concern!
  • In nature there is a fundamental unity running through all the diversity we see about us. Religions are given to mankind so as to accelerate the process of realisation of fundamental unity.
  • It is impossible that God, who is the God of Justice, could have made the distinctions that men observe today in the name of religion.
  • It is pleasant that there will be no religions in heaven.
  • My religion has no geographical limits.
  • My religion teaches me that whenever there is distress which one cannot remove, one must fast and pray.
  • One’s own religion is after all a matter between oneself and one’s Maker and no one else’s.
  • Religion is a matter of the heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.
  • Religion is a thing to be lived. It is not merely sophistry.
  • Religion is more than life. Remember that his own religion is the truest to every man even if it stands low in the scales of philosophical comparison.
  • Religion of our conception, thus imperfect, is always subject to a process of evolution and re-interpretation.
  • Religions are different roads converging on the same point. What does it matter that we take different roads so long as we reach the same goal? I believe that all religions of the world are true more or less. I say “more or less” because I believe that everything the human hand touches, by reason of the very fact that human beings are imperfect, becomes imperfect.
  • Religions are not for separating men from one another, they are meant to bind them.
  • The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
  • The most heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives.
  • Those who believe religion and politics aren’t connected don’t understand either.
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Thoughts on Christianity

  • I did once seriously think of embracing the Christian faith. The gentle figure of Christ, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek – I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man.
  • I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
  • Though I cannot claim to be a Christian in the sectarian sense, the example of Jesus suffering is a factor in the composition of my undying faith in non-violence which rules all my actions, worldly and temporal.
  • Jesus was the most active resister known to history. His was nonviolence par excellence.
  • You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.
  • Yes I am, I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew.
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Thoughts on women

  • To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?
  • Is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater courage? Without her, man would not be. If nonviolence is to be the law of our being, the future is with women.
  • Man can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.
  • I have worshipped woman as the living embodiment of the spirit of service and sacrifice.
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Thoughts on death

  • Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state.    
  • Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn. 
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Thoughts on sin

  • Seven Deadly Sins: Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Science without humanity. Knowledge without character. Politics without principle. Commerce without morality. Worship without sacrifice.  

Hate the sin, love the sinner.  

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Thoughts on democracy

  • A democrat should not rely upon the force of the arms his state could flaunt in the face of the world, but on the moral force his state could put at the disposal of the world.
  • Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today.
  • Democracy comes naturally to him who is habituated normally to yield willing obedience to all laws, human or divine.
  • Democracy disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing in the world. A democracy prejudiced, ignorant, superstitious, will land itself in chaos and may be self-destroyed.
  • Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.
  • Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.
  • My notion of democracy is that under it the weakest shall have the same opportunities as the strongest… no country in the world today shows any but patronizing regard for the weak… Western democracy, as it functions today, is diluted fascism… true democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below, by the people of every village.
  • The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.
  • The spirit of democracy… requires change of the heart… requires the inculcation of the spirit of brotherhood.
  • To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness.
  • Under democracy, individual liberty of opinion and action is jealously guarded.
  • What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
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More thoughts

  • First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. 
  • Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.
  • I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another.   
  • I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet. 
  • It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
  • Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: I shall not fear anyone on Earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering. 
  • Nobody can hurt me without my permission. 
  • Not to have control over the senses is like sailing in a rudderless ship, bound to break to pieces on coming in contact with the very first rock. 
  • Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul. 
  • The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted. 
  • The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles.
  • There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent. 
  • What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another. 
  • When the ego dies, the soul awakes.  
  • You don’t know who is important to you until you actually lose them.  
  • A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
  • I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
  • Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.
  • A principle is the expression of perfection, and as imperfect beings like us cannot practise perfection, we devise every moment limits of its compromise in practice.
  • A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.
  • A small group of determined and like-minded people can change the course of history.
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On a lighter note

  • I believe in equality for everyone except reporters and photographers.   
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Nelson Mandela (quotes)

What Nelson Mandela believed in

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Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to freedom and equal rights for all …

  • During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
  • I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
  • Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.
  • Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.  
  • I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man.  
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… and to freedom from poverty  

  • There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a program that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources, those who are poor, illiterate, and ridden with terminal disease.  
  • Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.  
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His journey was a long and hard one  

  • I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.  
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His belief in and hope for freedom was unwavering  

  • For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.  
  • Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.  
  • Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.   
  • There is no such thing as part freedom.
  • Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.
  • Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual.  
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Mandela had a great love and concern for his continent and its people  

  • I dream of the realisation of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.  
  • The titanic effort that has brought liberation to South Africa, and ensured the total liberation of Africa, constitutes an act of redemption for the black people of the world.   
  • I have always regarded myself, in the first place, as an African patriot.  
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A great part of Mandela’s greatness was his amazing power to forgive …  

  • If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named goodnesss and Forgiveness.
  • Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.  
  • Forget the past.
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… to let go of bitterness and hatred …  

  • You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.
  • As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.
  • Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.  
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… as well as his great humility…  

  • Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake.
  • I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.
  • I stand here before you not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people.
  • I have never cared very much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.
  • I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
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… and the way he never let his hope and faith die, no matter how dark things got  

  • I’ve never had a single moment of depression, because I know my cause will triumph.  
  • I am not an optimist, but a great believer of hope.
  • One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.
  • I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death. 
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Mandela believed in the inherent goodness of people  

  • If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named goodnesss and Forgiveness.
  • Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.
  • My wish is that South Africans never give up on the belief in goodness, that they cherish that faith in human beings as a cornerstone of our democracy.
  • A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.   
  • We signal that good can be achieved amongst human beings who are prepared to trust, prepared to believe in the goodness of people.
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He believed that people learn to hate and they can be taught to love  

  • No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Nelson Mandela
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He believed that education is the most powerful tool to change the world  

  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.  
  • No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.  
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He believed that how we treat our nation’s children is everything  

  • We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizens in any society – a life free from violence and fear.
  • There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.  
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He believed a nation reveals itself in how it treats its weakest and lowest citizens  

  • There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.  
  • It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.
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He believed that courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it  

  • I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
  • The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
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Lessons that Mandela taught us

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Know that you can make a difference  

  • We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference.
  • What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.
  • Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation.  
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Stand up for the weak and poor  

  • Where globalisation means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom.   
  • If you are poor, you are not likely to live long.  
  • To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.  
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Do what is right  

  • We must use time wisely and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.
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Know that vision and action can change the world  

  • Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.
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Don’t play small  

  • There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.  
  • Your playing small does not serve the world.
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Let your light shine  

  • And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  
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Make the most of what you have  

  • It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.  
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Determine to help yourself and others  

  • Once a person is determined to help themselves, there is nothing that can stop them.  
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Achieve great things by working collectively  

  • No single person can liberate a country. You can only liberate a country if you act as a collective.
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Turn misfortune into triumph  

  • There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal trimuph if you have the iron will and the neccessary skill.
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Change yourself before you try to change others  

  • One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.
  • As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.
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Dedicate your life to a purpose for then death will hold no fear  

  • Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.
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If you’re going to lead, then lead from behind  

  • It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.  
  • A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.  
  • A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.
  • Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.
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Bind yourself to others through compassion  

  • Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
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Work with your enemy and turn him into a partner  

  • Know your enemy — and learn about his favourite sport.
  • If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.  
  • Keep your friends close — and your rivals even closer.
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Never, never give up  

  • After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.  
  • It always seems impossible until its done.
  • There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.  
  • A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.
  • I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
  • The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
  • Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
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More observations and advice that Mandela shared  

  • If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.  
  • Intervention only works when the people concerned seem to be keen for peace.
  • It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.
  • When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.  
  • Success in politics demands that you must take your people into confidence about your views and state them very clearly, very politely, very calmly, but nevertheless, state them openly.  
  • Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening.  
  • Appearances matter — and remember to smile.  
  • Where you stand depends on where you sit.
  • There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.  
  • A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
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Quotes that give some interesting insights into Mandela  

  • I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.  
  • I love playing and chatting with children…feeding and putting them to bed with a little story, and being away from the family has troubled me throughout my…life. i like relaxing at the house, reading quietly, taking in the sweet smell that comes from the pots, sitting around a table with the family and taking out my wife and children. when you can no longer enjoy these simple pleasures something valuable is taken away from your life and you feel it in your daily work.
  • I am confident that nobody… will accuse me of selfishness if I ask to spend time, while I am still in good health, with my family, my friends and also with myself.   
  • Before I went to jail, I was active in politics as a member of South Africa’s leading organization – and I was generally busy from 7 A.M. until midnight. I never had time to sit and think.   
  • Sometimes, I feel like one who is on the sidelines, who has missed life itself.
  • I have retired, but if there’s anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do.   
  • When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.  
  • I have been influenced in my thinking by both west and east.   
  • In my country, we go to prison first and then become President.
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