Life Quotes

Waterfall in Central Park, New York City

Here are many great quotations, gathered over years of reading and research. While this collection focuses especially on life-and-death issues, it is not restricted to them.

Citations are included for those who want to check the quotes, cite them in papers or articles, or read the entire articles or books from which they come. Where titles of speakers are given, they applied at the time the statements were made, but not necessarily later. Names of fictional characters--and of historical characters portrayed in works of fiction--are enclosed in quotation marks.

Archaic capitalization and punctuation are retained. There has been no effort to correct the unusual spelling, punctuation and grammar of Will Rogers; they were part of his style.

Unless otherwise identified, interviews were done by Mary Meehan.

PLEASE NOTE: When all pages of an article or book chapter are given, the page where the quote actually appears is in bold print.

Readers are welcome to cite individual quotations, but the collection as a whole is Copyright © 2004-2013 by Mary Meehan. It was first posted in December, 2004.







Civil Disobedience

Communism v. Capitalism


Consistent Life Ethic






Death Penalty




Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide



Foreign Policy





Good Will



Home Care


Human Rights







Joy of Life









Nuclear Weapons

Old Buildings








Power Elite


Public Speaking






Self Discipline



Social and Political Change









Writers and Writing


Long life to these American abolitionists. They are a glorious crew.

Irish Quaker Maria Waring, (1840), quoted in Clare Taylor, British and American Abolitionists (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1974), 97.


...sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.

Feminist leader Susan B. Anthony, quoted in Frances E. Willard, Glimpses of Fifty Years (Chicago: Woman's Temperance Publication Association/H. J. Smith, 1889; reprint, New York: Source Book Press/Collectors Editions, 1970), 598.

When I worked with Alice Paul [suffragist and leader of the National Woman's Party] I asked her about the abortion question - point blank. She said directly, "Abortion is just another way of exploiting women." Then she went on to explain that the National Woman's Party was organized for the benefit of women. Killing female babies was no way to benefit or protect women.

Feminist activist Evelyn K. Samras-Judge, letter to Mary Meehan, 21 March 1986.

...I fear the power of choice over life or death at human hands. I see no human being whom I could ever trust with such power--not myself, not any other. Human wisdom, human integrity are not great enough. Since the fetus is a creature already alive and in the process of development, to kill it is to choose death over life. At what point shall we allow this choice? For me the answer is--at no point, once life has begun. At no point, I repeat, either as life begins or as life ends, for we who are human beings cannot, for our own safety, be allowed to choose death, life being all we know.

Novelist Pearl S. Buck, Foreword to Robert E. Cooke and others, ed., The Terrible Choice: The Abortion Dilemma (New York: Bantam Books, 1968), ix-xi, x.

To talk about the "wanted" and the "unwanted" child smacks too much of bigotry and prejudice....Blacks were "wanted" when they could be kept in slavery. When that ceased, blacks became "unwanted"--in white suburbia, in white schools, in employment. Mexican-American (Chicano) farm laborers were "wanted" when they could be exploited by agri-business. Chicanos who fight for their constitutional rights are "unwanted" people....Human beings are not returnable items....Those with power in our society cannot be allowed to "want" and "unwant" people at will.

Hispanic activist Grace Olivarez, Separate Statement, in U. S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, Population and the American Future (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), 160-164, 161.

This business of the poor winding up on welfare rolls, in prisons, battered--it has nothing to do with who conceived the children. It has to do with the kind of opportunities Americans have. We do not have equal opportunities. Abortion is a cruel way out.

Grace Olivarez, quoted in Betty Liddick, "Abortion Foe Wants Equal Time," Los Angeles Times, 2 June 1972, part 4; 1, 4 & 5.

I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgment....As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but in my view its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.

Justice Byron R. White in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, and Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 at 221-222 (1973)(White, J. dissenting).

Under current U.S. law, which is not a person?
a) A Supreme Court judge
b) A corporation
c) An unborn child
Hint: Who can hire the fewest lawyers?

"Equal Rights: Or How Society Protects Almost Each and Every Person" (Minneapolis: SOUL, n.d.), 12.

Someone, probably Tom, has removed the sheet from the little cart at the foot of the operating table. It is full of gleaming, vicious-looking metal instruments. My heart begins to pound. This is for real. These people are not kidding....

Psychology professor Magda Denes, In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death in an Abortion Hospital (New York: Basic Books, 1976), 213.

Abortion is put forth as a solution for the poor, but I think the poor want better housing, more jobs and food on their tables. I don't think aborting their babies makes them any happier. I think it probably contributes to their misery.

Ellen McCormack (1976 Democratic presidential primary candidate), quoted in "She's Running 'to Defend the Unborn,'" San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle, 29 Feb. 1976, sec. A, 13.

The demand for abortion is a sell-out to male values and a capitulation to male life-styles rather than a radical attempt to renegotiate the terms by which women and men can live in the world as people with equal rights and equal opportunities.

Writer Daphne Clair de Jong, "The Feminist Sell-Out," New Zealand Listener, 14 Jan 1978, reprinted in Mary Krane Derr and others, Prolife Feminism Yesterday and Today (New York: Sulzburger and Graham, 1995), 171-174, 172.

Agitation for the imaginative use of glide time, shared jobs, shorter working weeks, good creches [daycare centers--Ed.], part-time education and job training, is more constructive for women--and men--torn between career and children, than agitation for abortion.

Daphne Clair de Jong, ibid., 173.

Human rights are not exclusive. Any claim to a superior or exceptional right inevitably infringes on the rights of someone else. To ignore the rights of others in an effort to assert our own is to compound injustice, rather than reduce it.

Daphne Clair de Jong, ibid., 174.

...who is this little boy or this little girl, who are they, and why are we telling them they can't come into the world?

Man waiting for his girlfriend at an abortion clinic, quoted by writer Linda Bird Francke, The Ambivalence of Abortion (New York: Random House, 1978), 119.

You will become suspicious of politicians who affirm their "personal" (or "religious") belief that the fetus is "a human being from the moment of conception," yet decline to support a constitutional amendment to forbid abortions. They are saying, exactly: "I think Charles is a human being, but since you don't necessarily agree with me, I think it should be legal for you to kill Charles." Either they are not very confident of Charles's humanity...or they do not believe in a rule of law. They are not the politicians you would want in power when somebody wants to kill or hurt you...

Attorney Grover Rees III, "The True Confession of One One-Issue Voter," National Review, 25 May 1979, 669 ff., 672.

Slaveholders before the Civil War would say, "Well, look, if you don't want to own slaves, you don't have to own slaves. But you can't expect to take away my freedom to own slaves. I just don't happen to believe they're human beings in the full sense of the word. So you have your beliefs, I have my beliefs, we live in a pluralistic society, don't bug me."

Peace/pro-life activist Juli Loesch, in roundtable discussion on "Abortion: A Question of Survival?" WIN, 1 Aug. 1980, 15-28, 18.

There isn't any societal consensus about abortion becoming illegal. But I think there will be a consensus someday. I think the consensus will be led by people on the Left. And I think they'll be led by feminists, and in particular by women who have had abortions, and by doctors and nurses who have participated in abortion but want to stop it.

Juli Loesch, ibid., 20.

...I was poor and was raised poor, too. In my neighborhood abortion was never anything anyone talked about, it was simply unknown. No one ever did it. No one ever heard of it....

Of all the rights that poor people have demanded, and we've demanded them all along, this is the right that we've never asked for but we got. You know, you can't get a house, but you can get your family cut down to size.

Juli Loesch, ibid., 23.

[About abortion for teenagers:] I worked in a group home for girls in Massachusetts. These kids were 13 or 14 years old....They weren't getting pregnant because they were deeply in love with some boyfriend. They were getting pregnant because they didn't know anything about it, and it was the thing to do. They were lonely. They wanted to be held. Something. They ended up getting pregnant.

I think that that's a much more crucial problem to be addressed than birth control. I don't think these kids should be having sex. They're not capable of that sort of a relationship at age 12 and 13, and I don't think that we should be encouraging that by providing them with birth control. I think that they should be doing things that kids do, like riding bikes.

Peace/pro-life activist Jo McGowan, ibid., 28.

If a man has sex and abandons the woman, and the woman abandons her child, who's the real abortionist?

Unnamed man in Chicago, letter to the editor, P.S., Dec. 1980, 7.

Abortion on demand is the ultimate State tyranny; the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), "Being Pro-Life Necessary to Defend Liberty," LFL Reports, (Libertarians for Life newsletter), no. 1, [1981], 1 & 3.

[Addressing people who oppose abortion but also oppose laws against it:] How many of you "no law" people would endorse a wiping out of such laws as the Bill of Rights, the Voting Rights Act, Fair Employment and Housing statutes, the Clean Air Act, or the Endangered Species Act? It really seems to me that we are being asked to have anarchism for the unborn and New Deal Liberalism for everyone and everything else!

Poet Jean Blackwood, letter to the editor, P.S., July 1982, 9 & 11.

And listen to the rationale for taking their lives: They are poor! As if poverty should be an excuse for taking a human being's life! And you can walk through the garbage cans in America and the lunchrooms in America and look at the food that's wasted....And that to me is the grossest form of racism: to take the life of a black child... And I am two descendants removed from slavery.

Social worker Erma Clardy Craven, Remarks at National Right to Life Convention, Cherry Hill, N.J., 15 July 1982, tape recording.

Thus Jewish law did not permit abortion except to save the life of the mother. Traditional Judaism takes the view that the fetus possesses a human dimension; it is human life on the way....

The tradition for which I speak shares with Christianity, Islam, and other religious traditions, too, a bias for life--a bias which must be invoked where life is threatened most. When there is any doubt, we should always choose the side of life.

The late Rabbi Seymour Siegel, "The Importance of Protecting Life 'at the Edges,'" National Right to Life News, 12 Aug. 1982, 6.

We are a people whose forbears with hope and faith, mine in chains, in small, frail, crowded boats, crossed the oceans...Each of us is the product of a distressful pregnancy at some point in our chain of existence. We were the unwanted of Europe, Asia, and Africa. If we betray our heritage of bravery, hardship, and honor by telling the child there is no room in the inn -- we will find we are a people without destiny, and there is no room for us in the stars.

Rev. Edward V. Hill, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Los Angeles, Calif., "Dear Senator X" [a letter to members of Congress and to President Ronald Reagan, n.d. distributed at press conference, Washington, D.C., 13 Sept. 1982].

As the most recent immigrants from non-personhood, feminists have traditionally fought for justice for themselves and the world....Rejecting male aggression and destruction, feminists seek alternative, peaceful, ecologically sensitive means to resolve conflicts while respecting human potentiality. It is a chilling inconsistency to see pro-choice feminists demanding continued access to assembly-line, technological methods of fetal killing...

Psychology professor Sidney Callahan, "Abortion & the Sexual Agenda," Commonweal, 25 April 1986, 232-238, 235.'s a lot easier for an atheist--at least, this atheist--to be against abortion because all I have is life, this life. All I can believe in is life. And once the society cheapens life--most horrendously through abortion on demand--then life all along the line will become cheapened. Including mine.

Writer/civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, "You Don't Have to Believe in God to Be Prolife," U.S. Catholic, March 1989, 28-30.

It is true that abortion will go on no matter what the law says. But the same is also true of rape, another violent assault on women and children that is deeply engrained in our culture. Though the law itself cannot eliminate such offenses against human beings, it can refuse to institutionalize them. In this way, it can provide a starting point for their eradication....Laws restricting abortion are not a sufficient condition for building a society that respects the lives of women and unborn children. However, they are a necessary one.

Writer & Feminists for Life activist Mary Krane Derr, "Prevent Unsafe Abortions," Chicago Sun-Times, 28 Oct. 1989, 16.

There is tremendous sadness, loneliness, in the cry, "A woman's right to choose." No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg. Abortion is a tragic attempt to escape a desperate situation by an act of violence and self-loss.

Writer Frederica Mathewes-Green, "Unplanned Parenthood," Policy Review, Summer 1991, 28-36.

The answer to a crisis pregnancy is to eliminate the crisis, not the child.

Frederica Mathewes-Green, "Marchers Don't Speak for Many Women," USA Today, 8 April 1992, 13-A.

Some people appeal to "neutrality" in order to sidestep the question of prenatal rights in the abortion debate. Their contention is that the "law should not get involved." There is a distinction, however: the state can be "neutral" regarding only the desirability of an act, not the right to perform the act. Obviously, the state is not neutral in practice when it enables killing by legalizing it, subsidizing it, and giving it police protection.

Doris Gordon (national coordinator of Libertarians for Life), "Abortion and Rights: Applying Libertarian Principles Correctly," International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 19, no. 3/4, 1999, 97-127, 101.

[On Roe v. Wade:] If the Court could have shown that abortion is not homicide, it would have done so. And that would have resolved the debate, at least for libertarians. Libertarians support the right to privacy. But homicide, the killing of one human being by another, is not a private matter. It is not a simple matter of choice. If it were, then "rights" would mean that the weak have no rights, and libertarianism and the very idea of rights would be meaningless.

Doris Gordon, ibid., 104. playing one's life in reverse, as if in a movie, getting younger day by day until we reach Day One, we find no way to identify any day when we were essentially different from the day before--until conception. The moment before, there was no "me." If a different sperm of my father had fused with my mother's ovum, it would not have been me but someone else, a boy perhaps.

Doris Gordon, ibid., 105

If personhood were developmental, then the right not to be killed (commonly called the right to life) would have to be developmental, too. But how can this right be developmental? Think of it this way: A human being cannot be partially killed and partially not killed....

A "developmental" approach to personhood makes no sense. If the so-called "potential person" may be killed at whim, it is simply a non-person....A potential, partial, or lesser individual right not to be killed that can be set aside is, in effect, a non-right. A being is a person or not; there is no in-between moral, or even logical, class of beings.

In Roe, however, the Court assumed that there is another category of human offspring: "potential life," which lies somewhere between "non-person" and "person."

Doris Gordon, ibid., 107.

[On Roe's viability standard:] The principle the Court advanced here is that if you need help, you can be killed, but if you can manage, you cannot be touched. Under viability, the more a child needs the womb, the less right she has to stay there.

Doris Gordon, ibid., 108.

No sperm or ovum can grow up and debate abortion; they are not "programmed" to do so. What sets the person aside from the non-person is the root capacity for reason and choice. If this capacity is not in a being's nature, the being cannot develop it. We had this capacity on Day One, because it came with our human nature.

Doris Gordon, ibid., 111.

To conceive and then abort one's child--even by mere eviction--is to turn conception into a deadly trap for the child. It is to set her up in a vulnerable position that is virtually certain to lead to her death. Conception followed by eviction from the womb could be compared to capturing someone, placing her on one's airplane, and then shoving her out in mid-flight without a parachute. The child in the womb is like a captive; she is in the situation involuntarily, and she cannot fend for herself. A captive is not trespassing on the captor's property, by definition.

Doris Gordon, ibid., 120. (For the complete text of this great article, and other fine ones, see:

In effect, Roe trashed the ethical principle of equal unalienable rights as set forth in The Declaration of Independence -- and imposed a two-tiered legal policy on human beings that defines a superior class as persons with rights and an inferior class that does not count. Such a double standard is not only unlibertarian, it puts all of us on a slippery slope. Yet to this day, the Court is unwilling to confront either philosophy or correct human embryology.

Doris Gordon, "A Libertarian Atheist Answers 'Pro-Choice Catholics'" (Wheaton, Md.: Libertarians for Life, Jan. 2003), 2.

[Responding to the slogan that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare":]

Have you ever heard of anything good that should be rare? Should wealth be rare? Should health? You only want bad things to be rare, like disease or poverty, or abortion.

Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, quoted in Tim O'Neil, "Society Must Offer More Help to Mothers, Feminists for Life President Says in Speech," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 Nov. 1999, B-1 & B-4.

I long for the day that justice will be done and the burden from all of these deaths will be removed from my shoulders. I want to do everything in my power to help women and their children.

Norma McCorvey (the former Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade), quoted in "Activism: Norma McCorvey," American Feminist, Summer 2003, 22-23.


While most teenagers perceive clothes and hairstyle as critical forms of self-expression, Quakers have traditionally emphasized expressing the inner self through deeds, not dress.

Retired educator Robert Lawrence Smith, A Quaker Book of Wisdom (New York: William Morrow, 1998), 149.


But he had not that supreme gift of the artist, the knowledge of when to stop. He wished to improve that which was already perfect...

"Sherlock Holmes" in A. Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder," The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1938), 592.

Sir John: The labour of two days, then, is that for which you ask two hundred guineas?

Whistler: No. I ask it for the knowledge of a lifetime.

Artist James McNeill Whistler to attorney Sir John Holker, quoted in Stanley Weintraub, Whistler: A Biography (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1974), 203.

Talent is the commonest thing in the world. The rare thing is character. It is character that gives one a point of view.

Irish artist John Butler Yeats, quoted in Van Wyck Brooks, An Autobiography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965), 187.

[Speaking of governmental and corporate subsidy of the arts:] Unfortunately, the toughest row for any artist to hoe, it seems to me, is that of having no talent, and the second toughest is having no soul, and the third is having no self-discipline. It is sometimes difficult to see just what the federal government and corporate America can do about that.

Columnist Dick Dabney, "The Official Culture," Washington Post, 15 July 1980, A-15.


Don't say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.

Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Social Aims," in The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1917), vol. 8, 96.

"We've gone an' fetched ye up the best we could, your mother an' me, an' you can't never say but you've started amongst honest folks. If a vessel's built out o' sound timber an' has got good lines for sailin', why then she's seaworthy; but if she ain't, she ain't; an' a mess o' preachin' ain't goin' to alter her over."

The "old seaman" to his grandson in Sarah Orne Jewett, "By the Morning Boat," Strangers and Wayfarers (New York: Garrett Press, 1969; reprint of 1890 Houghton- Mifflin ed.), 205.

If he were ten percent less brilliant and ten percent more honest, he would be a great man.

Philanthropist Nahum Goldmann, speaking of Henry Kissinger, quoted in Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 762.

I will plow a straight furrow right down to the end of my row.

Motto of late Sen. John C. Stennis (D-Miss.), quoted in "John C. Stennis; Longtime Senator," Los Angeles Times, 24 April 1995, A-18.

[A conversation on why his father, who worked two different jobs, never took sick leave:]

I was stunned. Although in all my years at home I had never seen him miss a day of work, I had never thought of it in terms of sick days.

"Dad, everybody takes sick days."

"Well, I didn't, and now I've got two hundred of them."

"Two hundred? Why didn't you take them?"

"Because I wasn't sick."

Television journalist Tim Russert, Big Russ and Me (New York: Miramax/Hyperion, [2004]), 72.

Civil Disobedience

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go....but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1849), in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 635-659, 644.

When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished.

Henry David Thoreau, ibid., 647.

...with every cowardly bone in my body I wished I hadn't had to do it. And that's been true every time I have been arrested, all those times. My stomach turns over. I feel sick. I feel afraid. I don't want to go through this again.

I hate jail. I don't do well there physically. But I can't not do it, because I have read that we must not kill if we are Christians. I have read that children, above all, are threatened by this. I have read that Christ our Lord rather underwent death than inflict it. And I am supposed to be a disciple. But the push of conscience is a terrible thing.

And at some point your cowardly bones get moving, and you say, "Here it goes again," and you do it. And you have a certain peace because you did it, as I do this morning in being with you.

Peace activist Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Testimony in 1981 Plowshares 8 Trial (involving damage to an unarmed nuclear missile cone), The Plowshares 8: The Crime, the Trial, the Issues [New York: Plowshares 8 Support Committee, 1981], 10-18, 13 (emphasis added).

It's very humiliating to be arrested. It's very degrading. It's humiliating to be in court....And I'm standing here today saying, "Lord, don't send anybody," because I really do not want to get arrested. However, if a girl comes on this parking lot, she has a right to this piece of material in my hand; she has a right to it.

Marilyn Szewczyk (a founder of pregnancy aid centers), interviewed while risking arrest for distributing pro-life literature at an abortion clinic, Wheaton, Md., 2 April 1983.

Communism v. Capitalism

As Russia's army of unpaid blue-collar workers is wont to observe, while watching the extravagant exploits of the nation's robber barons: Everything Marx told us about communism was false, but everything he told us about capitalism was true.

Chrystia Freeland, "In Communism, Capitalism, Only Russia's Elite Thrive," Washington Times, 5 Jan. 1998, A-9.

Conscience must understand that, in things touching conscience, every true and good subject is more bound to have respect to his said conscience and to his soul than to any other thing in all the world besides...

English statesman Sir Thomas More at his trial for high treason, quoted in E. E. Reynolds, The Trial of St Thomas More (New York: P. J. Kenedy, 1964), 87.

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1849), in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 635-659, 636-637.

It was perfectly observable that she had no conscience, and it irritated Olive deeply to see how much trouble a woman was spared when she was constructed on that system.

...she hurried along excited and dismayed, feeling that her insufferable conscience was bristling like some irritated animal...

"Olive Chancellor" in Henry James, The Bostonians (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1956), 162 & 321.

Consistent Life Ethic

There are a handful of people in Congress who deserve the label "pro-life" across a broad range of crucially important life-or-death issues....Most of the other candidates look like a cross between Francis of Assisi and Attila the Hun.

Peace/pro-life activist Juli Loesch, "Politics is War," Erie Christian Witness, (Erie, Pa.), July-Aug. 1979, 2-3.

I come to the abortion question by way of a long, long experience with the military and the mainline violence of the culture, expressed in war....So I go from the Pentagon and being arrested there, to the cancer hospital, and then I think of abortion clinics, and I see an "interlocking directorate" of death that binds the whole culture. That is, an unspoken agreement that we will solve our problems by killing people in various ways; a declaration that certain people are expendable, outside the pale.

Peace activist Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., interview by Lucien Miller, Reflections (Amherst, Mass.), vol. 2, no. 4 (Fall 1979), 1-2.

It is a hell of a way to spend one's life, as I do, objecting to the killing of people. It is like being in the stone age, pre-human. You would like to be building human community with certain common presuppositions, and you can't. You can't. It is like living in a cave, sitting around the fire arguing whether we should go out and club people and eat them. As if this were a serious choice.

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., ibid., 2.

At the time when I first became aware of public pressure for legal abortions, I was listening more intently to the body counts out of Vietnam. It struck me then that a society that counts human life in the same spirit as it measures ball scores ought to expect an outcry for legal abortions.

Peace activist Elizabeth McAlister, "The Concern Is for Human Life," Sojourners, Nov., 1980, 23-24.

...I started into this kind of agitation thinking I was going to be a bridge-builder--you know, a bridge-builder between peace and pro-life, a bridge-builder between feminism and pro-life. And what I experienced in the first few years of this [was] sometimes attracting bricks from both the right and the left coming at me simultaneously. And where those bricks came from was from the rift in the wall--from people's own consciences tearing in two....And it pleases me now to see that instead of being a bridge-builder, I started off being a wall-breaker. You take all those loose bricks, and that's what you make the bridge out of.

Peace/pro-life activist Juli Loesch, Remarks at National Right to Life Convention, Omaha, Neb., 18 June 1981, tape recording.

A primary objection, I was told, to the seamless-garment approach was that it would dilute the anti-abortion message, and that was more important than any other because the unborn were being killed right now....

I understand the point, but the anti-abortion movement would be stronger if it had more members--members across the spectrum of American politics, religion, and no religion....

It's worth remembering that even if the Supreme Court does in the years ahead add more restrictions to abortion and even if it were to reverse Roe v. Wade, the abortion battle would continue. All the more so if Roe v. Wade were overturned because then each state would have to decide whether or not it would permit abortion.

So larger and stronger alliances will be needed to deal with the ever-changing politics of the battle for life.

Writer/civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, "You Don't Have to Believe in God to Be Prolife," U.S. Catholic, March 1989, 28-30, 29 & 30.

Life must always be defended, welcomed with love and accompanied with constant respect....We must proclaim the inviolability of the right to life -- and to a life with dignity -- against abortion...We must proclaim this right against genetic manipulation which threatens the development of the person; against euthanasia and the rejection of those who are most feeble; against racism and homicidal violence of every kind. We must proclaim such a right against war -- against this war which is continuing to be fought in the Persian Gulf Region with increasing threat to all humanity.

Pope John Paul II, "Defend Life from All Threats," L'Osservatore Romano, English ed., 4 Feb. 1991, 1.


In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, 1798 draft of "The Kentucky Resolutions" (protesting the Alien and Sedition Laws), in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., The Portable Thomas Jefferson (New York: Viking, 1975), 281-289, 288.

A judge looking at a constitutional decision may have compulsions to revere past history and accept what was once written. But he remembers above all else that it is the Constitution which he swore to support and defend, not the gloss which his predecessors may have put on it.

Justice William O. Douglas, "Stare Decisis," Columbia Law Review 49 (June 1949), 735-755, 736.

[Referring to the Supreme Court:] Over the years, the Court has replaced the actual language of the Constitution with legal precedents. The Court has piled precedents one on top of another like a brick mason who builds a wall without a plumbline.

Michigan Judge Randall J. Hekman, Justice for the Unborn (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books, 1984), 88.


...he sometimes wondered, when he talked to his sons, whether they who seemed to have overcome so many of the old passionate prejudices of their ancestors had not also managed to overcome some of their old passionate virtues? In these neutral, tolerant times, did anyone really feel deeply about anything?

Reflection of "Nathaniel Gardiner" in Edwin O'Connor, The Last Hurrah (Boston: Little, Brown, 1956), 106.


There is a Tibetan saying: It is better to have lived one day as a tiger than 1,000 years as a sheep.

Jim Ballard (about the death of his wife, a mountain climber), quoted in "Quotable Notables on 1995's World Stage," Washington Times, 30 Dec. 1995, A-11.


The White House has had dealings with me before. I know the names of the people who can be hung, and they know I will hang them.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth (in case involving documents subpoenaed from the White House), quoted in Jerry Seper, "Judge Orders White House to Find E-Mails," Washington Times, 11 March 2000, A-1 & A-6.


Customers who complain are our best friends. They provide us with the opportunity to improve.

Sign at Giant grocery store, Rockville, Md., Jan. 1993.

Death Penalty

The laws...represent the general will, which is the aggregate of that of each individual. Did any one ever give to others the right of taking away his life?....If it were so, how shall it be reconciled to the maxim which tells us, that a man has no right to kill himself? Which he certainly must have, if he could give it away to another.

Cesare Beccaria (Italian jurist, writing in 1764), An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, trans. from the Italian (Brookline Village, Mass.: Branden Press, 1983, 4th ed.), 44-45.

...the laws, which are intended to moderate the ferocity of mankind, should not increase it by examples of barbarity, the more horrible, as this punishment is usually attended with formal pageantry.

Cesare Beccaria, ibid., 48.

Till the infallibility of human judgments shall have been proved to me, I shall demand the abolition of the penalty of death.

Marquis de Lafayette, 17 Aug. 1830, debate in French Chamber of Deputies, quoted in Charles C. Burleigh, "Where is the Boasted Justice" (1845), in Philip English Mackey, Voices Against Death: American Opposition to Capital Punishment, 1787-1975 (New York: Burt Franklin, 1976), 97-98.

As to the gallows, it is the torture of my life....I imagine the mortal agony, the death-struggle, and I know ten thousand mothers all over the land weep, and pray, and groan with me over every soul thus lost. Woman knows the cost of life better than man does. There will be no gallows, no dungeons, no needless cruelty in solitude, when mothers make the laws. God bless you in your noble work.

Feminist leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton to anti-death penalty activist Marvin H. Bovee, 1 Aug. 1868, in Philip English Mackey, ibid., 121-122, citing Martin Bovee, Christ and the Gallows (New York: Masonic Publishing Co., 1869), 173-175.

We know enough to say that this or that major criminal deserves hard labor for life. But we don't know enough to decree that he be shorn of his future--in other words, of the chance we all have of making amends.

French writer Albert Camus, "Reflections on the Guillotine," in his Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, trans. by Justin O'Brien (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 175-234, 230.

[Speaking before Israel's 1962 execution of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann:]

I do not accept the state's right to take the life of any man....Anyone who thinks that I wish us to be lenient to Eichmann does not understand my basic position....He should be sentenced to life imprisonment....Perhaps he should be put to work on the land--on a kibbutz. Farming the soil of Israel. Seeing young people around him. And realizing every day that we have survived his plans for us. Would not this be the ultimate and most fitting punishment?

But this is not easy. There are problems of security, of vengeance. It is not a simple matter to sentence a man to life imprisonment and yet not to lock him up. But I believe a way could be found. We should apply justice tempered with imagination.

Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, quoted in Aubrey Hodes, Martin Buber: An Intimate Portrait (New York: Viking Press, 1971), 113-114.

"Thou shalt not kill" is the shortest of the Ten Commandments, uncomplicated by qualification or exception....It is as clear and awesomely commanding as the powerful thrust of chain lightning out of a dark summer sky.

Sen. Harold Hughes (D-Iowa), 12 March 1974, death penalty debate, Congressional Record, vol. 120, part 5, 6432.

The calculated and organized killing of anybody, no matter how depraved, raises the level of depravity and violence in the atmosphere. The official, respectable nature of an execution, approved by judges and carried out by agents of the state, paid for with a bit of my money and a bit of yours, gives us all a stake in the killing.

Attorney Grover Rees III, "The True Confession of One One-Issue Voter," National Review, 25 May 1979, 669 ff.

You do not have to be a pacifist to be against killing convicts. It is one thing to kill someone who is trying to kill you, as in war. But it is another thing entirely, a thing dishonorable to any soldier, to kill your helpless, disarmed prisoner.

Political science professor James David Barber, 25 Oct. 1981, Duke University Chapel, Durham, N.C., AIUSA Matchbox, Feb. 1982, 4-6.

So I leave you with this charge, good Christian men and women. In the name of our Savior, do not pass by these prisoners in Raleigh Central Prison. When the time comes and the call goes out, you be there. Because it is your name that will be on that death warrant, whoever signs for you. Don't ever find yourself saying later, after someone has been killed in your name, "Well, I didn't know" -- because you'll know -- or "I wasn't sure what to do" -- because you know what to do: tell the governor to stop the execution.

James David Barber, ibid., 6.

What if the one innocent person executed this year was the person you loved most dearly and deeply in all the world?

Rev. Lawrence Davies (Mayor of Fredericksburg, Va.), "Unto the Least of These," theOtherSide, Sept. 1982, 15-16.

I'm opposed to the death penalty. As a political conservative, I oppose it because I don't want to give government that much power. Second, the criminal justice system is not universally fair. There is discrimination. Third, there's no evidence that it deters homicide.

Charles Colson (founder of Prison Fellowship), interview by Tom Gibson, USA Today, 27 Oct. 1982, 9-A.

I am morally opposed to capital punishment. Murder is the most terrible and devastating of crimes, but I believe that government-sanctioned killing is wrong.

Roberta Roper (whose daughter was murdered), quoted in Michel McQueen, "Roberta Roper Announces She Opposes Death Penalty," Washington Post, 2 March 1984, B-1 & B-11.

Stating that the death penalty "lowers society to the level of the murderer," Mrs. Roper said that "life without parole is an appropriately just and humane punishment for convicted murderers."

Roberta Roper, quoted in Norman McCarthy, "Justice, Not Vengeance," Catholic Standard (Washington, D.C.), 8 March 1984, 1 & 9.

When they call it capital punishment, that's true. If you don't have the capital, you'll get the punishment.

Rev. Joseph Lowery (president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference), quoted in Associated Press, "SCLC Leader Asks Blacks to Work for Moratorium on Death Penalty," Washington Post, 15 Aug. 1987, C-13.

[After attending a meeting of Parents of Murdered Children:] ...Elizabeth and Vernon walk with me over to my car. I thank them for inviting me to the meeting. They don't say much. They don't have to. Late have I loved thee -- the words of St. Augustine in his Confessions well up within me. I put the key into the door of the car to unlock it and decide that, whatever it takes, I am going to help murder victims' families -- as many as I can.

Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J. (anti-death penalty activist), Dead Man Walking (New York: Random House, 1993), 231.

Capital punishment is the only time when we punish the person in kind for a crime. We don't rape the rapist or rob the robber. But we kill the killer.

Sister Camille D'Arienzo (anti-death penalty activist), quoted in Associated Press, "Wallet Cards: A Way to Say No to the Death Penalty," Washington Post, 29 Nov. 1998, A-24.

[Referring to the book, Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted:] Conservatives, especially, should draw this lesson from the book: Capital punishment, like the rest of the criminal justice system, is a government program, so skepticism is in order.

Columnist George F. Will, "Innocent on Death Row," Washington Post, 6 April 2000, A-23.

It neither dramatizes the horror of crime nor speaks out for life. It was once thought to do both, but not in our brutal society. Capital punishment actually adds to the increasing anger and morbidness of society. America in its entertainments, it public ethics, and its culture is entoiled with death. Capital punishment adds to the death.

Columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., "Death Penalty Interregnum," Washington Times, 12 Dec. 2000, A-21.

If it happened to me, it could happen to you.

Kirk Bloodsworth (who was wrongly convicted of murder and spent years in prison--including time on death row--and was finally freed through DNA testing), quoted in Susan Levine, "Md. Man's Exoneration Didn't End Nightmare," Washington Post, 24 Feb. 2003, A-1 & A-8.


[Referring to a doctor who served people on islands off the coast of Maine:] "Old Dr. Bennett had a beautiful sailboat, didn't he?" responded Mrs. Todd. "And how well he used to brave the weather! Mother always said that in time o' trouble that tall white sail used to look like an angel's wing comin' over the sea to them that was in pain."

"Mrs. Almiry Todd" in Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Willa Cather, comp., The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1965, reprint, 2 vols. in 1), vol. 1, 113.

When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge.

"Sherlock Holmes" in A. Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1938), 307.


This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.

Former President Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, 27 December 1820, speaking of plans for the University of Virginia, in Andrew A. Lipscomb, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903-04), vol. 15, 303.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.

Historian Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1931), 300.

[Explaining why he became involved in a case:] Education, Gregson, education. Still seeking knowledge at the old university.

"Sherlock Holmes" in A. Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Red Circle," The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1938), 1074.

Everybody is ignorant only on different subjects.

Cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers (1924), in Paula McSpadden Love, comp., The Will Rogers Book (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961), 138.

[About an upper-class college senior who was not interested in social contact outside his class:] His blinders are on for life....He will never know the exhilaration and fascination of having as friends such colorful and often wonderfully articulate folks as clam diggers, house movers, volunteer fire chiefs, antique salesmen, mental-hospital nurses, bill collectors, farmers, marriage brokers, zoo keepers, divorce lawyers, airline hostesses, rare-bird collectors, and house detectives....

All of us might lead more effective lives, and quite probably more serene ones, if we sought to understand our whole society and not just our particular niche in it.

Writer Vance Packard, The Status Seekers (New York: David McKay, 1959), 332 & 340.


The problem, of course, was that people did not seem to understand the difference between right and wrong. They needed to be reminded about this, because if you left it to them to work out for themselves, they would never bother. They would just find out what was best for them, and then they would call that the right thing. That's how most people thought.

Reflection of detective "Precious Ramotswe" in Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (New York: Anchor Books/Random House, 2002), 35.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

(See, also: Infanticide)

When the state acts officially, all citizens are involved in its action; when a practice is institutionalized, all who participate in the relevant institution are pressed to cooperate in the practice. Those who advocate the legalization of euthanasia...evidence little respect for the right of those who consider this practice murder to keep their society and themselves clear of it.

Philosophy professor Germain Grisez, "Suicide and Euthanasia," in Dennis J. Horan and David Mall, ed., Death, Dying, and Euthanasia (Frederick, Md.: Aletheia Books/University Publications of America, 1980), 742-817, 799-800.

Indeed, I suspect that an important motivation, perhaps unconscious, of those who urge the legalization of euthanasia is precisely to generalize public cooperation in the deadly deeds of those who have assumed the character of killer. Generalizing participation not only serves the practical purpose of ensuring social acceptance of killing, but also serves the psychological purpose of establishing solidarity in guilt. In other words, just as some criminal organizations demand that new members commit a serious crime as part of the rite of initiation, so the proponents of legalized killing perhaps wish to abolish innocence, because when none is innocent, none is blameworthy.

Germain Grisez, ibid., 816, n. 38.

"You now have 'right to die' societies proliferating like Tupperware parties," he said. "There is a case in Arizona where a lower court created a list of people who could end a life, and it was a very long list. It almost included the janitor in the hospital...It's very dangerous because the parallels with what was going on in Nazi Germany are terrifying. The idea is that these (comatose or terminally ill) people are really in the way, they're very costly to keep up, so why not kill them?"

Writer/civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, quoted in Eugene Marino, "A Voice of Independence," Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, N.Y.), 24 March 1987, 1-C.

If I'm gonna die, Death's gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.

Actor Michael Landon (of his battle with cancer), in "I Want to See My Kids Grow Up," Life, June 1991, 24-32, 26.

There are many therapies to choose from besides extinction; there are treatments which do not annihilate.

Disability rights activist Mary Jane Owen, "A Tale of Chilling Charity," New Catholic Miscellany (Charleston, S.C.), 16 April 1992, 12.

We've got lots and lots of cases where people thought they wanted to kill themselves and then were educated, were supported, were given resources, and discovered again that life is truly an adventure.

I am most distressed because Dr. [Jack] Kevorkian gives no indication of seeing the joy of prevailing over the frailties of the human body. He seems to be dedicated to destroying those bodies which have developed flaws. of the greatest challenges that we face is the opportunity to prove to ourselves and to our families and our friends that developing a few glitches, developing impairments, is not the end of the joy of life; that we can enjoy life learning new functions and new ways of being.

Mary Jane Owen, interview, 31 July 1992.

[About feminists who support legalized euthanasia:] ...I blush or feel embarrassed for women being that gullible....And I think it's somewhat like the Pied Piper. If the Pied Piper is holding a banner that says "Choice," they don't bother to find out where the parade is going. They just get behind it blindly. And as they're tumbling over the cliff, they may realize exactly where it was headed.

Attorney & anti-euthanasia leader Rita Marker, interview, 27 May 1992.

The influence physicians hold in society as well as the control they have over information supplied to patients gives them great power. The very act of providing a prescription for a lethal dose of medication serves as confirmation that the patient is better off dead. Although viewed as respectable because it takes place in the professional physician-patient relationship, it could be likened to lifting a person to the narrow ledge of a tall building and then saying, "It's okay to jump."

Rita Marker, Deadly Compassion (New York: William Morrow, 1993), 144.

...most leaders of the euthanasia movement, such as the author Betty Rollin and the physician Dr. Timothy Quill, are people of the "overclass": well-off whites with a strong and supportive family or social structure who never believe they could be victimized or pressured into choosing an early death. They want what they want (to be able to die) when and how they want it. They downplay the harm that will follow for the poor, the uneducated, those without access to medical care, or the disabled, many of whom see themselves as being in the crosshairs on this issue. Not to worry, these leaders breezily assert, "protective guidelines" will fix everything.

Attorney & anti-euthanasia activist Wesley J. Smith, Forced Exit (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1997), 9-10.

You had the audacity to go on national TV, show the world what you did and dare the prosecution to stop you. Well, sir, consider yourself stopped.

Michigan Judge Jessica Cooper to Jack Kevorkian when sentencing him for murder, quoted in Edward Walsh, "Kevorkian Sentenced to Prison," Washington Post, 14 April 1999, A-2.


But as important as your obligations as a doctor, a lawyer, a business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections with spouses, with children, with friends are the most important investment you will ever make.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.

First Lady Barbara Bush, "Text of Mrs. Bush's Speech" at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass., Washington Post, 2 June 1990, C-4.


When you have enough fear, you don't need any other enemies. Fear can take you down all on its own.

Columnist Clarence Page, "When Justice Is Stalked By Fear," Washington Times, 16 Sept. 2000, A-12.

Foreign Policy

Separated as we are by a world of water from other Nations, if we are wise we shall surely avoid being drawn into the labyrinth of their politics and involved in their destructive wars.

Gen. George Washington, ret., to Chevalier de la Luzerne, 7 Feb. 1788, in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931-44), vol. 29, 404-407, 406.

Observe good faith and justice towds. [towards] all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all....The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible....Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course....Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?

President George Washington, "Farewell Address," 19 Sept. 1796, ibid., vol. 35, 214-238, 231, 233 & 234.

Why dont we let people alone and quit trying to hold what they call a protectorate over them? Let people do their own way and have their own form of government. We havent got any business in the Phillippines. We are not such a howling success of running our own government.

Cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers (1924), in Paula McSpadden Love, comp., The Will Rogers Book (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961), 36.

It will take America fifteen years steady taking care of our own business and letting everybody else's alone to get us back to where everybody speaks to us again.

Will Rogers (1926), ibid., 28.

I love this country. But when things go wrong here, other countries, smaller countries, suffer very, very badly.

British writer William Shawcross (speaking of the U.S.), quoted in Henry Allen, "Calling America's Bluff on Cambodia," Washington Post, 12 May 1979, B-1 & B-2.

The basic argument seems to be: I don't really like how we got here, but now that we are here, we have to win. We are in it, so we must win it. I keep hearing that over and over again. That is like saying when you are going in the wrong direction, keep going and speed up.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) on U.S. involvement in the Balkans, Congressional Record, daily ed., 3 May 1999, S4534.


Nobuddy ever fergits where he buried a hatchet.

Kin Hubbard [Frank McKinney Hubbard], Abe Martin's Broadcast (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1930), 52.

The heaviest burden you will ever carry is a grudge.

Sign posted at a church, early 1990s.

I know at times you feel a murderous rage toward him. You don't feel like forgiving, but you know the Lord wants it precisely because He wants you to be at peace....

Forgiveness is in the will and the will says yes or no. Even if your feelings have not caught up, forgiveness begins when you will it.

Rev. John Catoir (Director of the Christophers), "Forgiving the Unforgivable," New Catholic Miscellany (Charleston, S.C.), 1 Sept. 1994, 8.

Go out and do the nicest thing you can think of for someone else. That will restore the balance in the universe.

Arts patron Paul Rosenfeld, quoted in Van Wyck Brooks, An Autobiography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965), 563.


I do not see how he can ever die; Nature cannot spare him.

Writer Henry David Thoreau (of a philosopher-friend), Walden, in Brooks Atkinston, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 241.

I get by with a lot of help from my friends. The ones you've got, take care of. Friends will save your life.

Drummer Ringo Starr, quoted in Jeffrey Zaslow, "Straight Talk," USA Weekend, 2-4 May 1997, 30.


If you must have a slogan, search out something with the best personal identification. The best slogan I ever heard of, for instance, was used in Dayton when they ran a campaign to repair the ravages of the 1913 flood: "Remember what you promised when you were up in the attic."

Fund-raiser Harold J. Seymour, Designs for Fund-Raising (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), 81.


[Responding to a query from a new golfer who wondered why he had driven the ball only six inches:] "Your stance was wrong, and your grip was wrong, and you moved your head, and swayed your body, and took your eye off the ball, and pressed, and forgot to use your wrists, and swung back too fast, and let the hands get ahead of the club, and lost your balance, and omitted to pivot on the ball of the left foot, and bent your right knee."

He was silent for a moment.

"There is more in this pastime," he said, "than the casual observer would suspect."

The "Oldest Member" to "Mortimer Sturgis" in P. G. Wodehouse, "A Mixed Threesome," The Clicking of Cuthbert (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1978), 44-59, 52.

Good Will

I am, quoth I, the King's true faithful subject and daily bedesman and pray for his Highness and all his and all the realm. I do nobody harm, I say none harm, I think none harm, but wish everybody good. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive in good faith I long not to live. And I am dying already...And therefore my poor body is at the King's pleasure--would God my death might do him good.

English statesman Sir Thomas More to his daughter, Margaret Roper (describing an interrogation by Thomas Cromwell), 2 or 3 May 1535, in Elizabeth Frances Rogers, ed., St. Thomas More: Selected Letters (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1961), 245-248, 247-248.


....The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

Former President Thomas Jefferson to the Republican Citizens of Washington County, Md., 31 March 1809, in Andrew A. Lipscomb, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903-04), vol. 16, 358-359.

Anytime the House is in session, America is in danger.

Rep. Robert Bauman (R-Md.), quoted in Saundra Saperstein and Donald P. Baker, "Bauman in the Balance," Washington Post, 26 Oct. 1980, A-1 ff., A-12.

[During the British colonial era, when the British Commissioner told the chiefs what to do, some chiefs] were clever, and while the British said "You do this," they would say "Yes, yes, sir, I will do that" and all the time, behind their backs, they did the other thing or they just pretended to do something. So for many years, nothing at all happened. It was a good system of government, because most people want nothing to happen. That is the problem with governments these days. They want to do things all the time; they are always very busy thinking of what things they can do next. That is not what people want. People want to be left alone to look after their cattle.

Reflection of African farmer "Obed Ramotswe" in Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (New York: Anchor Books/Random House, 2002), 20-21.


"When this is all over, somebody should erect a monument to the people."

"Nobody will," said Dominic sourly. "Nobody ever did."

"Lowry" and "Dominic" in Walter Macken, The Scorching Wind (New York: Macmillan, 1964), 95.

Since all historical causes are presumably also the effects of other events, how do we know when we have arrived at the last analysis? It is not easy to find a hitching post in history.

Historian Richard Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968), 313.

Can the past be taught, can it even be known, by people who have no respect for it?

Farmer & writer Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition (Washington: Counterpoint/Perseus Books Group, 2000), 65.

Home Care

Oh! the heart that has truly loved, never forgets,

But as truly loves on to the close....

Irish poet Thomas Moore, "Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms," The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore (London: William P. Nimmo, 1875), 432.

When we said "for better or worse," we meant it.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, quoted in Michael K. Deaver, A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 218.


There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 297.

Last time I was up this way that tree was kind of drooping and discouraged. Grown trees act that way sometimes, same's folks; then they'll put right to it and strike their roots off into new ground and start all over again with real good courage....

There's sometimes a good hearty tree growin' right out of the bare rock....Every such tree has got its own livin' spring; there's folks made to match 'em.

"Mrs. Almiry Todd" in Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Willa Cather, comp., The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1965, reprint, 2 vols. in 1), vol. 1, 150 & 151.

To how many has it not seemed, at some one period of their lives, that all was over for them, and that to them in their afflictions there was nothing left but to die! And yet they have lived to laugh again, to feel that the air was warm and the earth fair, and that God in giving them ever-springing hope had given everything.

Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950), 715.

A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope.

Greek philosopher Epictetus, Fragments, in Charles W. Eliot, ed., The Harvard Classics (New York: P. F. Collier, 1937), vol. 2, 184.

Human Rights

Wherever 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....One person -- a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death.

Writer Elie Wiesel, "Wiesel's Speech at Nobel Ceremony," New York Times, 11 Dec. 1986, A-12.

You see, a nation is dying. My strength comes from the justice of my cause, and I think from my compassion, but I need help. Not just with a few nice words, but with some kind of action. I believe that usually young people are very good at action.

The XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet, 1996 address, quoted in Matthew E. Bunson, The Wisdom Teachings of the Dalai Lama (New York: Plume/Penguin Putnam, 1997), 127.


You want room for your thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they make their port.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 127.

"When a man ain't got no ideas of his own," said Scipio, "he'd ought to be kind o' careful who he borrows 'em from."

"Scipio le Moyne" in Owen Wister, The Virginian (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1911), 271.


(See, also: War for Eugene McCarthy quote)

He continued pacing through his cell. Since the bell of silence had sunk over him, he was puzzling over certain questions to which he would have liked to find an answer before it was too late. They were rather naïve questions; they concerned the meaning of suffering or, more exactly, the difference between suffering which made sense and senseless suffering....As a boy, he had believed that in working for the Party he would find an answer to all questions of this sort. The work had lasted forty years, and right at the start he had forgotten the question for whose sake he had embarked on it. Now the forty years were over, and he returned to the boy's original perplexity. The Party had taken all he had to give and never supplied him with the answer.

Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon, trans. by Daphne Hardy (New York: Macmillan, 1941), 254-255.


Our life is frittered away by detail.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 82.


(See, also: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide)

It cannot be right to deprive a human being of his right to life on the grounds that, in someone else's opinion, the amount of unhappiness he is likely to endure in living will probably be greater than the amount of happiness. No human being has the right to make any such judgment about another human being. Even if one had the right, there would be no guarantee of making a correct decision.

British writer Norman St. John-Stevas, The Right to Life (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), 15.

...I first became a prolifer after I reported for many months on helpless infants, some of whom were marked for killing as soon as they were born. I mean the Baby Does--the severely handicapped infants whose parents and physicians decide are below the quality of life they should have to survive. In reporting on this discarding of human life, I was stunned to hear civil libertarians and liberals tell me I was wasting my time. [They said that:] It would be very costly and emotionally painful to raise these children, and they themselves would be better off dead than living under handicaps.

Writer/civil libertarian Nat Hentoff, "You Don't Have to Believe in God to Be Prolife," U.S. Catholic, March 1989, 28-30, 28-29.


They are always under threat from the barbarians, and sometimes from the intellectuals. Once an institution is abused or destroyed, dangerous powers can be unleashed, sometimes from the masses and sometimes from people in high places of power....

Rather than destroy our institutions, what we must do is restore their integrity, perfect them, and preserve them for the long haul.

Former Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy (D-Minn.), The Hard Years (New York: Viking, 1975), xxi & xxii.


It is fortunate for this community that I am not a criminal.

"Sherlock Holmes" in A. Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans," The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1938), 1075.

If a man is built like that Prince boy was built (and it's away down deep beyond brains), he'll play winnin' poker with whatever hand he's holdin' when the trouble begins.

"The Virginian" in Owen Wister, The Virginian (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1911), 155.

[Of another literary critic:] ...his intelligence seemed to look down on his heart...nor did he seem to have a centre. He was afloat, his ship had no anchor.

Critic Van Wyck Brooks, An Autobiography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965), 640.

Maybe you're very clever. I don't know. But some people are clever and other people aren't clever. But I think you should try to be a little bit more kind to people. They never did anything to you personally. If you think they are slow, that's no reason for you to feel that you're God Almighty and look at them as if you were sorry for making them at all. If the Lord God thought that way, he'd say what's the use of making millions of morons when they are all inferior to Me? But sure He didn't. He took the broad view, and said, "Ah, God help the poor creatures. Sure we may as well let them have a bit of fun."

"Maeve Connolly" to "Tommy Mór" in Walter Macken, Rain on the Wind (New York: Macmillan, 1950), 262.

[About political people in Washington, D.C.:] There are some intelligent people in Washington. More of 'em in Kansas.

Former Kansas governor Alf Landon, quoted in George F. Will, "Alf Landon's 'Ice Cream Life,'" Washington Post, 9 Nov. 1974, A-11.

Joy of Life

You should work at the projects that will make your heart sing.

Lady Bird Johnson (former First Lady), quoted in Paul Hendrickson, "Lady Bird: The Heart and the Hurt," Washington Post, 8 Dec. 1983, D-1, ff.


Bumper sticker noted on car in Rockville, Md., July 2002.


...a society that has more justice needs less charity for social ills and deprivations.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Crashing the Party (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002), xiv.


Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you--where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast--man's laws, not God's--and if you cut them down--and you're just the man to do it--d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

"William Roper" and "Sir Thomas More," in Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons (New York: Vintage Books, 1962), Act 1, pp. 37-38.

Gentlemen, bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. In such a country as this they are of all bad things the worst, worse by far than anywhere else; and they derive a particular malignity even from the wisdom and soundness of the rest of our institutions.

British statesman Edmund Burke, "Speech Previous to the Election," 6 Sept. 1780, in Edward Bergin, S.J., ed., Burke's Speeches at Bristol (New York: American Book, 1916), 95-144, 119.

The contrast between morality professed by society and immorality practiced on its behalf makes for contempt of law. Respect for law cannot be turned off and on as though it were a hot-water faucet.

Justice Felix Frankfurter in Lee v. United States, 343 U.S. 747 at 758-759 (1952)(Frankfurter, J. dissenting).


Oh, Heaven! grant Us one great Soul!

John Adams, 21 Sept. 1777, diary entry, in L. H. Butterfield, ed., Diary and Autobiography of John Adams (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961), vol. 2, 265.

When there's trouble waitin' for you, you jest as good go to meet it.

"Penny Baxter" in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1938), 145.

I'll be the first up front and the last to abandon ship.

Polish union leader Lech Walesa, after his election as chairman of Solidarity, quoted in Michael Dobbs, "Walesa Defeats Three Radicals to Head Union," Washington Post, 3 Oct. 1981, A-1 & A-19.


[Of writer Hendrik van Loon:] ..."the last of the old-fashioned liberals" whom the Smithsonian wanted to buy, as he said once, for its collection.

Literary critic Van Wyck Brooks, An Autobiography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965), 379.


The god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

Thomas Jefferson, "A Summary View of the Rights of British America" (July 1774), in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., The Portable Thomas Jefferson (New York: Viking, 1975), 1-21.

My country, 'tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty,

Of thee I sing....

Rev. Samuel F. Smith, "America" (1832)


"L'chayim" ("To life")

Traditional Jewish toast.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...

Second Continental Congress, "The Declaration of Independence," Philadelphia, Pa., 4 July 1776.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 81.

I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.

Henry David Thoreau, ibid., 288.

Who shall say what prospect life offers to another?

Henry David Thoreau, ibid., 9.

"The great p'int about gittin' on in life is bein' able to cope with your headwinds," continued the old man earnestly... "Any fool can run before a fair breeze, but I tell ye a good seaman is one that gits the best out o' his disadvantages."

The "old seaman" to his grandson in Sarah Orne Jewett, "By the Morning Boat," Strangers and Wayfarers (New York: Garrett Press, 1969; reprint of 1890 Houghton-Mifflin ed.), 204-205.

[As "Ralph Touchett" lay dying:]

"Is there really no hope?" our young woman asked as she stood before her.

"None whatever. There never has been. It has not been a successful life."

"No -- it has only been a beautiful one."

"Isabel Archer Osmond" and "Mrs. Lydia Touchett" in Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1951, 2 vols. in 1), vol. 2, 405.

I didn't realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed....Good-by, Grover's Corners...Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking...and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

"Emily Webb Gibbs" in Thornton Wilder, Our Town, (New York: Coward McCann, 1938), act 3, p. 124.

I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,

I made the garden, and for holiday

Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,

And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,

And many a flower and medicinal weed --

Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green


What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,

Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?

Degenerate sons and daughters,

Life is too strong for you --

It takes life to love Life.

Edgar Lee Masters, "Lucinda Matlock," Spoon River Anthology (New York: Macmillan, 1916), 230.

There is thus a will to live without rejecting anything of life, which is the virtue I honor most in this world.

French writer Albert Camus, "Return to Tipasa," The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, trans. by Justin O'Brien (New York: Vintage Books, 1955), 139-146, 145.

When a baby is born here, it creates an emotional boost like no tomorrow. You see so much of life going out that it's an extreme pleasure to see a life coming in.

Lucille Frank (emergency room chief nurse, D.C. General Hospital), quoted in Sandra R. Gregg, "D.C. General: Emergency's Chief Nurse," Washington Post, 16 July 1981, D.C. 1 & D.C. 7.

My goal is to cheat death.

Lucille Frank, ibid., D.C. 7.

What enhances life? What protects life? What fosters and nourishes life? What gives life a chance?

Peace activist Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Testimony at 1981 Plowshares 8 Trial, The Plowshares 8: The Crime, the Trial, the Issues [New York: Plowshares 8 Support Committee, 1981], 11.

One's life, viewed as a whole, is always the answer to the most important questions....Who are you?...What did you actually want?...What could you actually achieve?...At what point were you loyal or disloyal or brave or a coward?....What's important is that finally one answers with one's life.

The old "General" in Sándor Márai, Embers, trans. by Carol Brown Janeway (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 120.


We thought we were made for each other. For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.

Former President Calvin Coolidge, The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge (New York: Cosmopolitan Book, 1929), 93.

Even when I was at my lowest, June saw the best in me, and fought for that side to win.

Singer Johnny Cash, quoted in Patrick Butters, "Johnny Cash: Paid His Dues for Country," Washington Times, 1 Dec. 1996, D-2 & D-6 (citing the Guardian newspaper, 1994).


In Worcestershire the life of a man seems a great and a sacred thing; but it is very different when there is fire and blood all round you, and you have been used to meeting death at every turn. Whether Achmet the merchant lived or died was a thing as light as air to me, but at the talk about the treasure my heart turned to it...

"Jonathan Small," speaking about a murder in India, in A. Conan Doyle, "The Strange Story of Jonathan Small," The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1938), 162.

Nuclear Weapons

For decades Americans believed that there was nothing wrong with America, or the world, that technology and science couldn't cure. So science gave us all those lovely nuclear bombs, which more perhaps than anything else have turned so much of the American dream into the American nightmare....Our faith--which had virtually become a religious faith--in salvation by science and technology probably began to collapse when we realized that we didn't know--we still don't know--how to get the nuclear genie back into the bottle."

Clare Boothe Luce (former congresswoman & diplomat), interview with U.S. News & World Report, 24 June 1974, 52-58, 53.

These things are the hammers of hell. These things are the hammers of the end of the world. These things are the hammers that will break the earth to bits and all life within....These things carry a universal plague of cancer to the point where...the living will envy the dead after one of these falls. The living will envy the dead.

Peace activist Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Testimony at 1981 Plowshares 8 Trial (involving damage to an unarmed nuclear missile cone), The Plowshares 8: The Crime, the Trial, the Issues [New York: Plowshares 8 Support Committee, 1981], 10 & 14.

Old Buildings

"What I like about the English rural districts," he went on, "is that when the authorities have finished building a place they stop. Somewhere about the reign of Henry the Eighth, I imagine that the master-mason gave the final house a pat with his trowel and said, 'Well, boys, that's Market Blandings.' ....And they went away and left it, and nobody has touched it since. And I, for one, thoroughly approve. I think it makes the place soothing."

"Psmith" in P. G. Wodehouse, Leave It to Psmith (New York: A. L. Burt, 1924), 245.


Happy days...when the young republic delighted the soul of Tocqueville and every American morning was a Fourth of July!

Literary critic Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1952), 138.  

By the suffering I felt at not being able to approve the things that were done and said in the name of France I was able to measure my love for my country.

French writer André Gide, 19 July 1943, The Journals of André Gide, trans. by Justin O'Brien (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947-51), vol. 4, 223.

"No," I told you, "I cannot believe that everything must be subordinated to a single end. There are means that cannot be excused. And I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice. I don't want just any greatness for it, particularly a greatness born of blood and falsehood. I want to keep it alive by keeping justice alive."

French writer Albert Camus, "Letters to a German Friend," Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, trans. by Justin O'Brien (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 5-32.

I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe. I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place. They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries in their lives. That is what I am called to do.

Detective "Precious Ramotswe" in Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (New York: Anchor Books/Random House, 2002), 4.


(See, also: Nuclear Weapons and War)

For certainly it is more consonant to all the principles of reason and religion (natural and revealed) to replenish the earth with inhabitants, rather than to depopulate it by killing those already in existence, besides it is time for the age of Knight-Errantry and mad-heroism to be at an end. Your young military men, who want to reap the harvest of laurels, don't care (I suppose) how many seeds of war are sown; but for the sake of humanity it is devoutly to be wished, that the manly employment of agriculture and the humanizing benefits of commerce, would supersede the waste of war and the rage of conquest; that the swords might be turned into plough-shares, the spears into pruning hooks, and, as the Scripture expresses it, "the nations learn war no more."

Gen. George Washington, ret., to Marquis de Chastellux, 25 April [-1 May] 1788, in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931-44), vol. 29, 483-486, 484-485.

And I should like, of course, to give you this one conviction of my own: that all men, all masses, do truly long for peace. They want you to win the struggle you are waging. It is only governments that are stupid, not the masses of people. Governments may seek for power, for the right to dominate, to extend their authority over others. Free people do not seek that.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at World Christian Endeavor Convention, Washington, D.C., 25 July 1954, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office), 652-655, 654.

I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Broadcast with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, London, 31 August, 1959, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office), 621-628, 625.

Like a cathedral, peace has to be constructed patiently and with unshakeable faith.

Pope John Paul II, address in Coventry, England, 30 May 1982, quoted in Rita Dallas, "Pope Issues Call to Reject War, End Arms Race," Washington Post, 31 May 1982, A-1 & A-18.

We must control the anger and hatred in ourselves. And as we learn to remain in peace, then we can demonstrate in society in a way that makes a real statement for world peace. If we ourselves remain always angry and then sing world peace, it has little meaning. So, you see, first our individual self must learn peace. This we can practice. Then we can teach the rest of the world.

The XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet, 1984 address, quoted in Matthew E. Bunson, The Wisdom Teachings of the Dalai Lama (New York: Plume/Penguin Putnam, 1997), 149-150.


I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in Brooks Atkinson, Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 64.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, ibid., 290.

Each individual should develop his own powers to the uttermost, not try to imitate those of someone else. I do not wish you to be a second and inferior Poirot. I wish you to be the supreme Hastings.

"Hercule Poirot" to his friend "Captain Hastings," in Agatha Christie, Lord Edgeware Dies (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1960), 129.


Prairie avenger, mountain lion,

Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan....

Election night at midnight:

Boy Bryan's defeat....

Defeat of my boyhood, defeat of my dream.

Vachel Lindsay, "Bryan, Bryan, Bryan, Bryan," Collected Poems (New York: Macmillan, 1925), 96-105, 99, 103 & 104.

A politician is not as narrow-minded as he forces himself to be.

Cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers (1932), in Paula McSpadden Love, comp., The Will Rogers Book (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961), 50.

This running a Government is kinder like our movie business. You are only as good as your last picture.

Will Rogers (1935), ibid., 37.

"....I watched you on television last night, my dear man; I took down every word you said on the tape recorder. Marvelous! Verbatim! Every last word! It doesn't stand up, my dear man....Grand delivery, but poverty of thought. I played it back three times on the tape recorder and realized it more each time. Yes, yes!"

"Charlie, that's unfair," Skeffington said reproachfully. "You listened."

"Charlie Hennessey" and "Frank Skeffington" in Edwin O'Connor, The Last Hurrah (Boston: Little, Brown, 1956), 202.

And now he said to himself what he had said, in equal privacy, so often before: If only he had not been such a rogue... But then he reminded himself, as he had done before, in that case he would not have been Skeffington at all, but someone quite different....The old buccaneer, for all his faults, had at least been a capable, vivid, unforgettable personality; he had been succeeded by the spearhead of a generation of ciphers.

Reflection of "Nathaniel Gardiner" in Edwin O'Connor, ibid., 409 & 410.

...politicians should leave the soul of man alone, and not tamper with it.

Writer Henry Fairlie, The Kennedy Promise: The Politics of Expectation (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973), 223.


(See, also: Golf)

Politics is still the greatest and the most honourable adventure.

John Buchan (Lord Tweedsmuir, a former Member of Parliament), Pilgrim's Way (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1940), 232.

...we prod him [President Dwight Eisenhower] into doing everything we can get him to do, and when he does something good we give him a 21-gun salute.

Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Tex.), when Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, quoted in Ralph K. Huitt, "Democratic Party Leadership in the Senate," American Political Science Review 55, no. 2 (June 1961), 333-344, 337.

[Referring to President Lyndon B. Johnson:] He had experience in driving cattle, where the technique is to start the cattle slowly and then stampede them at the end. But when you deal with Congress, you should know about the psychology of pigs, which is opposite that of cattle. In driving hogs, you start them as fast as you can, you make all kinds of noise, and you try to panic them....But once they are started, you slow them as you go along. When you get them right up to the pen you want them in, you come to a stop. The pigs will then look right and left and think that they have discovered it. And in they go.

Former Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy (D-Minn.), "Changes in the Congress," The Hard Years (New York: Viking, 1975), 19-27, 23.

[About Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, after a rodeo in which Baldridge took part:]

Every time we come up to a real problem, he has the same solution: "I'll rope 'em; you tie 'em."

President Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a White House Barbecue for the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, 24 Sept. 1983, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1983, book 2, 1345-1346.

We often campaign in poetry, but then we're always required to govern in prose.

Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, quoted in Edward Walsh, "Cuomo Sees 'Convergence' of Superpower Interests," Washington Post, 29 May 1987, A-4.

To me it's like Hollywood, except they have to sustain their roles for two years, or four years, or six years. Sometimes even longer if the audience really enjoys the performance. There always seems to be a lot of bustle...

Actor Kirk Douglas, quoted in "Kirk Douglas," Washington Times, 1 Dec. 1994, C-10 ff., C-16.

We are living in an era dominated by the political right and the cultural left.

Columnist John Leo, "New Scores in the Culture War," Washington Times, 18 Feb. 1998, A-16.

He doesn't understand that you gotta be in the streets. ...showing up is 85 percent of the game.

Maryland State Senator Perry Sfikas, about Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening, quoted in Donald P. Baker, "Baltimore Unsure of Glendening," Washington Post, 2 Nov. 1998, C-1 & C-5.


[Of "Tiny Tim":]

"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh no, kind Spirit! say he will be spared.

"If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race," returned the Ghost, "will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child."

"Ebenezer Scrooge" and the "Ghost of Christmas Present" in Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (London: J. M. Dent, 1905), 92.


However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names....Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. ...a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden, in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 292.

Power Elite

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1953), 158.


[Of President George Washington:] He seeks information from all quarters, and judges more independently than any man I ever knew.

Vice President John Adams to Silvanus Bourn, 30 Aug. 1789, The Works of John Adams...with a Life of the Author, Notes, and Illus. by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams (n.p., 1850-56, 10 vols.; reprint, Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1969), vol. 9, 561.

Before I end my Letter I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.

President John Adams (writing from what is now called the White House) to Abigail Adams, 2 Nov. 1800, from microfilm of Adams manuscripts, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.

Vachel Lindsay, "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight," Collected Poems (New York: Macmillan, 1925), 53-54.

While I felt qualified to serve, I was also aware that there were many others who were better qualified....It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.

Former President Calvin Coolidge, The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge (New York: Cosmopolitan Book, 1929), 173.

The words of the President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately.

Calvin Coolidge, ibid., 184.

We have lived under over 30 Presidents. They couldn't have all been great. In fact if we told the truth about 'em, maybe some of 'em was pretty punk. But we drug along in spite of 'em.

Cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers (1931), in Paula McSpadden Love, comp., The Will Rogers Book (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961), 97.

Mr. Roosevelt [FDR] made us a mighty fine speech over the radio Sunday night.

He spoke our language....

And in addition to all this, he has the best radio voice in America.

Course he just read the minutes of the last meeting, but he did it so nice that we didn't hardly notice that he forgot to mention what might be in his mind for the future.

Will Rogers, "Mr. Rogers Adds to the Praise of the President's Speech," New York Times, 9 May 1933, 19.

I must say that I had no boyhood dream of being President of the United States. I wanted to be the first baseman for the New York Yankees. I think that's the kind of dream you ought to have when you're young.

Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy (D-Minn.), Philadelphia, Pa., 19 April 1968, quoted in Carol E. Rinzler, Frankly McCarthy (Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1969), 39.

Public Speaking

"Always believe yourself down into the marrow of your bones the truth of what you're talkin' about, then let 'em have it, straight from the shoulder, and look 'em in the eye while you're sayin' it."

"Mr. Litchford" to "Andy Johnson" in J. Walker McSpadden, Storm Center (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1947), 18.

Mr. Roosevelt [FDR] stepped to the microphone last night and knocked another home run.

His message...pointed a lesson to all radio announcers and public speakers what to do with a big vocabulary--leave it at home in the dictionary.

Some people spend a lifetime juggling with words, with not an idea in a carload.

Cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers, "Will Rogers Claps Hands for the President's Speech," New York Times, 14 March 1933, 17.


...these disputing, contradicting, and confuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of more use to them.

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (New York: Walter J. Black, 1941), 208-209.

It was impossible to quarrel around his good nature.

Of "Penny Baxter" in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1938), 325.


...common sense in religion is rare, and we are too often trying to be heroic instead of just ordinarily good and kind.

Catholic Worker leader Dorothy Day, quoted in William D. Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982), 449 (citing Catholic Worker, May 1958).


I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see.

"Sherlock Holmes" in A. Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier," The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing, 1938), 1180.


Wes Jackson of the Land Institute said once, thinking of the nuclear power and genetic engineering industries, "We ought to stay out of the nuclei." I remember that because I felt that he was voicing...a wise instinct: an intuition, common enough among human beings, that some things are and ought to be forbidden to us, off-limits, unthinkable, foreign, properly strange....One can hardly find a better example of modern science as a public predicament. For modern scientists work with everybody's proxy, whether or not that proxy has been given. A good many people, presumably, would have chosen to "stay out of the nuclei," but that was a choice they did not have. When a few scientists decided to go in, they decided for everybody. This "freedom of scientific inquiry" was immediately transformed into the freedom of corporate and/or governmental exploitation. And so the freedom of the originators and exploiters has become, in effect, the abduction and imprisonment of all the rest of us. Adam was the first, but not the last, to choose for the whole human race.

Farmer & writer Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition (Washington: Counterpoint/Perseus Books Group, 2000), 76-77.


Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,

Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain wall....

John Greenleaf Whittier, "Barbara Frietchie," The Complete Poetical Works of Whittier (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1894), 342-343.

It was one of those raw October days that should be shut out by fires and curtains and cheerful voices.

Mary O'Hara, Thunderhead (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1943), 248.

One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away. A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky....At the hitch-bars along the street a few heavy work-horses, harnessed to farm wagons, shivered under their blankets.

Willa Cather, O Pioneers! (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941), 3 & 4.

And what is so rare as a day in June?

Then, if ever, come perfect days....

No matter how barren the past may have been,

'T is enough for us now that the leaves are green;

We sit in the warm shade and feel right well

How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;

We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing

That skies are clear and grass is growing....

James Russell Lowell, "The Vision of Sir Launfaul," The Complete Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1896), 106-111, 107.


Oh, I may still have a black dog in me. He barks once in a while. Everybody's got a black dog in them.

But I manage to keep him corralled.

Singer Johnny Cash, quoted in Patrick Butters, "Johnny Cash: Paid His Dues for Country," Washington Times, 1 Dec. 1996, D-2 & D-6 (citing the London Daily Telegraph).


I was wondering today what the religion of the country is--and all I could come up with was sex.

Clare Boothe Luce (former congresswoman & diplomat), quoted in Paul Hendrickson, "The Quintessential Clare Boothe Luce," Washington Post, 10 Oct. 1987, B-1 & B-4.


His words counted; he never spoke except he had to.

"Mrs. Bickford," speaking of her late husband, in Sarah Orne Jewett, "The Only Rose," Willa Cather, comp., The Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1965, reprint, 2 vols. in 1), vol. 2, 109-136, 124.

Some things aren't true till they're said.

"Hazel Bradfield" in John le Carré, A Small Town in Germany (New York: Coward-McCann, 1968), 204.

Some of the teachers view our children as not being educated when they don't speak up or aren't aggressive. But in Indian culture, you're taught that words are powerful and you choose your words very carefully. Quietness and being able to listen [have] a very high value.

Ann French, a Cherokee & president of the North American Indian Women's Association, quoted in Leila Fiester, "A Plea to Indian Women," Washington Post, 24 June 1993, Md.-1 & Md.-10.

[When someone speaks too long during Quaker Meeting:] A senior member of the Meeting may "elder" the speaker by interrupting with "Friend, please bring thy message to a conclusion."

Retired educator Robert Lawrence Smith, A Quaker Book of Wisdom (New York: William Morrow, 1998), 22.

Social and Political Change

Let your life speak.

Society of Friends (Quaker) founder George Fox, quoted in Robert Lawrence Smith, A Quaker Book of Wisdom (New York: William Morrow, 1998), xi.

I rest assured that time will vindicate our own position. I accept all things patiently, for I see that human nature is the same inside and outside the reform world. Our abolitionists are just as sectarian in their association as the methodists [sic] in their church, and divisions are always the most bitter where there is the least to differ about. But in spite of all, the men and women who have been battling for freedom in this country, are as grand and noble as any that have ever walked the earth. So we will forget their faults and love them for their many virtues.

Feminist leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton to T. W. Higginson, 22 May 1868, Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., microfilm ed., reel 1.

Miss Chancellor would have been much happier if the movements she was interested in could have been carried on only by the people she liked, and if revolutions, somehow, didn't always have to begin with one's self--with internal convulsions, sacrifices, executions....

If Olive's was a high nature and so was hers, the fault was in neither; it was only an admonition that they were not needed as landmarks in the same part of the field.

About "Olive Chancellor," in Henry James, The Bostonians (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1956), 113 & 165.

It isn't much--only I tried to take hold....You mustn't think there's no progress because you don't see it all right off; that's what I wanted to say. It isn't till you have gone a long way that you can feel what's been done.

"Miss Birdseye," an old activist as she lay dying, in Henry James, ibid., 411.

God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.

Writer/editor Elbert Hubbard, quoted in Orlando R. Petrocelli, ed., The Elbert Hubbard Notebook (New York: Petrocelli Books, 1980), 25.

For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice....But in order to keep justice from shriveling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light....In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.

French writer Albert Camus, "Return to Tipasa," The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, trans. by Justin O'Brien (New York: Vintage Books, 1955), 139-146, 144.

[Citing Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., about an incident during the 1955-56 Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott:]

I happened to be in church that day when we had a meeting....Martin asked this old lady, he said, "Now have been with us all along, so now you go on and start back to ridin' the bus, 'cause you are too old to keep walking...."

She said, "Oh, no." She said, "Oh, no." Said, "I'm gonna walk just as long as everybody else walks. I'm gonna walk till its over."

So he said, "But aren't your feet tired?"

She said, "Yes, my feets is tired, but my soul is rested."

Civil rights activist Yancey Martin, interview in Howell Raines, My Soul Is Rested (New York: Penguin Books, 1983), 58-61. King himself attributed to Mother Pollard the quote, "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested," in his Strength to Love (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 116.

You have to know when you're doing the planting and when you're doing the harvesting. Maybe we haven't even planted yet. Maybe so far, all we've done is clear the field.

Activist Dick Gregory, quoted in Lynn Darling, "Discipline and Dick Gregory," Washington Post, 29 Aug. 1979, B-1 & B-13.

Let the thick curtain fall;
I better know than all
How little I have gained,
How vast the unattained....

Others shall sing the song,
Others shall right the wrong,--
Finish what I begin,
And all I fail of win....

Hail to the coming singers!
Hail to the brave light-bringers!
Forward I reach and share
All that they sing and dare....

Ring, bells in unreared steeples,
The joy of unborn peoples!
Sound, trumpets far off blown,
Your triumph is my own!

Abolitionist poet John Greenleaf Whittier, "My Triumph," The Complete Poetical Works of Whittier (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1894), 406-407.


(See, also, Politicians for Henry Fairlie quote)

....I count life just a stuff

To try the soul's strength on...

"Norbert" in Robert Browning, "In a Balcony," lines 651-652, The Works of Robert Browning (London: Smith Elder, 1912; reprint, New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966), vol. 4, 183-212, 203.

We live in our own souls as in an unmapped region, a few acres of which we have cleared for our habitation...

Edith Wharton, The Touchstone (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1900; reprint, Grosse Pointe, Mich.: Scholarly Press, 1968), 82.

His soul, as he knew, having lived a lifetime with it, was a good enough soul, as souls went, but not by any means the kind you hang out flags about.

P. G. Wodehouse, The Butler Did It (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), 136.

You should take that soul of yours around the corner, J. B., and have it thoroughly cleaned and pressed.

"Joss Weatherby" to "J. B. Duff," in P. G. Wodehouse, Quick Service (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1960), 153.

Statistics resurrects the eternal caution given years ago by an English official.

"The Government are very keen on amassing statistics," he said. "They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn well pleases."

Columnist Robert J. Samuelson, "Discovering America in the Abstract," Washington Post, 22 March 1983, C-7 & C-8.


(See, also: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide)

If a man destroys his body, and so his life, he does it by the use of his will, which is itself destroyed in the process....We shrink in horror from suicide because all nature seeks its own preservation; an injured tree, a living body, an animal does so; how then could man make of his freedom, which is the acme of life and constitutes its worth, a principle for his own destruction?

German philosopher Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics, trans. by Louis Infield (London: Methuen, 1930; reprint, New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 148 & 150-151.

One who commits suicide breaks off relations definitively; he does not go gently and reluctantly from our midst, but leaves willingly, as it were slamming the door as he departs....Moreover, each individual who willingly abandons the project of human life in community makes it more difficult for others to carry on. This is especially so for others who also are discouraged. Each fresh example of self-destruction compels many sensitive people to think once more about the unthinkable. Thus, one who commits suicide bequeaths his own misery to others and intensifies their suffering.

Philosophy professor Germain Grisez, "Suicide and Euthanasia," in Dennis J. Horan and David Mall, Death, Dying, and Euthanasia (Frederick, Md.: Aletheia Books/University Publications of America, 1980), 742-817, 780.

Suicide prevention consists essentially in recognizing that the potential victim is "in balance" between his wishes to live and his wishes to die, then throwing one's efforts on the side of life....Each individual can be a lifesaver, a one-person committee to prevent suicide. Happily, elaborate pieces of mechanical equipment are not needed; "all" that is required are sharp eyes and ears, good intuition, a pinch of wisdom, an ability to act appropriately, and a deep resolve.

Psychology professor Edwin S. Shneidman, "Preventing Suicide," American Journal of Nursing 65, no. 5 (May 1965), 111-116, 111 & 116.

I asked myself a question. "Who am I?"

I decided that I was an inventory of experiences. And if I did away with myself I might get rid of some connecting link of experience in the universe that would turn out to be important.

Writer & inventor R. Buckminster Fuller, quoted in Martin Weil, "R. Buckminster Fuller Dies at 87 of Heart Attack," Washington Post, 3 July 1983, B-6.


Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, Walden in Brooks Atkinson, ed., Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 88.

We in Ireland feel that when God made time He made plenty of it.

Irish teacher Bryan Sammon, quoted in Isabelle Shelton, "Nixons' Evening with Tricia and Ed," Washington Evening Star, 5 Aug. 1971, D-2.


Meanwhile I sit among droves of overdriven clerks and underpaid workmen in a tube or a tram; I read of the great conception of Men Like Gods and I wonder when men will be like men.

English writer G. K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity (Norfolk, Va.: IHS Press, 2001; first published in London, 1926), 182.

It is hard to doubt that Lenin was seeking happiness on earth, happiness for the people, or rather those he called proletarians. But he thought it was perfectly normal to build this "happiness" on blood, violence and lack of freedom.

Russian historian Dmitry Volkogonov, quoted in Dave Carpenter, "Russian Historian Is Harsh on Lenin," Washington Times, 24 June 1994, A-19.


Jim said, "Y'ought to think only of the end, Doc. Out of all this struggle a good thing is going to grow. That makes it worthwhile."

"Jim, I wish I knew it. But in my little experience the end is never very different in its nature from the means. can only build a violent thing with violence."

"Jim Nolan" and "Dr. Burton" in John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle (New York: P. F. Collier, 1936), 253.

But I believe in democracy and not in dictators; and in government by principles and not by men; and in less government if possible, rather than more; and that power always means injustice and so should be as little concentrated as is compatible with the good of the majority; and that violence breeds more evils than it kills...

Editor Maxwell E. Perkins to writer Thomas Wolfe, 16 Jan. 1937, in John Hall Wheelock, ed., Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1950), 121-126, 124.

Deep inside every civilized being there lurks a tiny Stone Age man, dangling a club to rob and rape, and screaming an eye for an eye. But we would rather not have that little fur-clad figure dictate the law of the land....The point is not to deny the existence of the fur-clad little man in us, but to accept him as part of the human condition, and to keep him under control.

Writer Arthur Koestler, Reflections on Hanging (New York: Macmillan, 1957), 100 & 168.

There is a spoonful of sadism at the bottom of every human heart.

Arthur Koestler, ibid., 167.

People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?.... keep going on like this and to see this security guard shot on the ground, it's just not right. It's just not right because those people will never go home to their families again.

I mean, please, we can get along here. We can all get along. We've just got to. I mean, we're all stuck here for a while. Let's try to work it out....

Rodney King (trying to stop the Los Angeles riots that followed acquittal of police officers who had beaten him the previous year), "Rodney G. King's Statement," Washington Post, 2 May 1992, A-15.

Murder is the most brutal form of censorship.

Harold Pinter (about a fellow playwright's execution), in "Quotable Notables on 1995's World Stage," Washington Times, 30 Dec. 1995, A-11.

We might ask why the 20th century was so barbaric....Part of the answer is that during earlier times there wasn't the kind of concentration of power that emerged during the 20th century.

Columnist Walter Williams, "Departing a Brutal Century," Washington Times, 8 January 2000, A-12.

Who are the superheroes in our culture? They're people who go around shooting people.

Daphne Whites, (activist against violent entertainment for children), quoted in Darragh Johnson and Michael E. Ruane, "Residents' Theories Run Gamut," Washington Post, 9 Oct. 2002, A-15.


(See, also: Nuclear Weapons and Peace)

For every wounded man we happen to look after, for every child we feed, indefatigable war makes hundreds of wounded, of sick and homeless people, every day. All our efforts are vain. War has more power than anything when it comes to making people took work and more work to make the crop grow. And all that is needed to set a crop ablaze is a flint. It takes years and years to make a man grow, it took bread and more bread to feed him, and work and more work, and all kinds of work. And all that is needed to kill him is one blow. One sword thrust and it's done.

"Jeannette" in Charles Péguy, The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc, trans. by Julian Green (New York: Pantheon Books, n.d.), 27.

There seems to be a great deal of bloody work cut out for this summer in the North of Europe. If war, want and plague are to desolate those huge armies that are assembled, who that has the feelings of a man can refrain from shedding a tear over the miserable victims of Regal Ambition? It is really a strange thing that there should not be room enough in the world for men to live, without cutting one another[']s throats.

Gen. George Washington, ret., to Marquis de Lafayette, 19 June 1788, in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931-44), vol. 29, 522-526, 523.

If, in my retirement to the humble station of a private citizen, I am accompanied with the esteem and approbation of my fellow citizens, trophies obtained by the blood-stained steel...will never be envied. The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

Former President Thomas Jefferson to the Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, 31 March 1809, in Andrew A. Lipscomb, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903-04), vol. 16, 358-359.

They were right, tight boys, never sulky or slow,

A fruitful, a goodly muster.

The eldest died at the Alamo.

The youngest fell with Custer.

Stephen Vincent Benét, "The Ballad of William Sycamore," Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benét (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1942), vol. 1, 368-370, 369.

[Referring to the late Sen. Richard B. Russell (D-Ga.):] As a young legislator, Russell expressed irritation that his committee was devoting so much time and attention to the question of benefits for the widows of those killed in the Spanish-American War. Complained young Sen. Russell: "I don't see how you can call it much of a war; there were only 385 people killed in the whole affair." Sen. Thomas Gore of Oklahoma, who was both old and blind, responded, "Son, for those 385 it was a hell of a war."

Quoted by columnist Mark Shields, "I Miss the Gipper," Washington Post, 25 Dec. 1990, A-19.

[About Sen. Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (R-Wis.) and his friend, labor leader Andrew Furuseth, when La Follette organized a successful filibuster against President Woodrow Wilson's Armed Ship Bill in 1917:]

That morning before Bob had gone to the floor, expecting to speak until adjournment, Furuseth had been in the office, pacing silently up and down. Suddenly he had turned and said in a tense, almost angry, voice, "Bob, if you defeat that bill, they'll crucify you." "I know it," Bob replied curtly, as he left. When he returned to his office, he said: "That bill meant war. I had only two choices, to resign or defeat it." Furuseth went over and put his arm around him. "Bob," he said, "they'll crucify you. But God bless you."

Quoted in Belle Case La Follette and Fola La Follette, Robert M. La Follette (New York: Macmillan, 1953), vol. 1, 624-625.

[La Follette after the First World War:] In 1922 he returned to Madison for his first speech there in four years. Friends warned him to ignore the war issue and not revive the old charges that he had been a traitor. La Follette thanked them and began his speech by praising the city where he still lived. Suddenly he raised a clenched fist, shook it, and shouted: "I do not want the vote of a single citizen under any misapprehension of where I stand. I would not change my record on the war for that of any man, living or dead." At first stunned, the audience suddenly erupted into the greatest ovation of La Follette's life.

David P. Thelen, Robert M. La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit (Boston: Little, Brown, 1976), 180.

You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.

Cowboy-philosopher Will Rogers, "Will Rogers Has an Idea about Disarmament Plans," New York Times, 23 Dec. 1929, 23.

"Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come."

A "little girl" in Carl Sandburg, The People, Yes (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1936), stanza 23, line 23, p. 43.

...every war already carries within it the war which will answer it. Every war is answered by a new war, until everything, everything is smashed.

German artist Kaethe Kollwitz to "Ottilie," 21 Feb. 1944, in The Diary and Letters of Kaethe Kollwitz (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1955), 183-184.

ideologies can make a war

last long and go far....

ideologies do not bleed

they only blood the world.

Sen. Eugene McCarthy, "Ares," Other Things and the Aardvark (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970), 67-70, 67 & 68.

Too little has been said about the responsibility of the state to the soldier. This goes beyond the obligation for the soldier's welfare if he is wounded or when he retires. It goes beyond the obligation for the care and support of his dependents. The state has a more fundamental obligation to look to the justice and wisdom of the cause in which the soldier is committed.

Former Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy (D-Minn.), "A Kind Word for the Military," The Hard Years (New York: Viking, 1975), 45-48.

While some military terms were softened for use in Vietnam, others were used in their original sense to describe our domestic programs. Thus we had a war on poverty, followed at various times by a war on ignorance, a war on hunger, a war on cancer, a war on drug abuse. Efforts to end such afflictions might proceed more intelligently if separated from the military psychology.

....And it is not particularly helpful to speak of a communications system that is aimed at a "target population."

Eugene J. McCarthy, "Language and Politics," ibid., 130-134, 133-134.

Why are conservatives so often hawks? In this century at least, war always favors the political Left. (The Russian Revolution was tried again and again: it succeeded in 1917. When did we British first elect a fully and solidly left-wing government? In 1945. Portugal had three unwinnable Vietnams in Africa: their outcome was to radicalize -- of all things -- the Portuguese officer corps! And what did Vietnam itself do? It Communized Southeast Asia and radicalized a whole generation of American youth. This list could be a long one.)

British writer Christopher Derrick, "Bombs and Babies: Three Baffling Questions," New Oxford Review, Sept. 1981, 2-3.

Apart from politics, war also tends to destroy everything that conservatives would wish to "conserve" at the social, cultural, moral, and religious levels. For the present cultural breakdown of the West, two World Wars are very considerably responsible....Their own values ought to make conservatives into near-pacifists.

Christopher Derrick, ibid., 3.

no more war, an adventure without return,
no more war, a spiral of death and violence;
no war in the Persian Gulf,
a threat against all your creatures
in heaven, on the earth and in the sea....
Give our era days of peace.
War no more.

Pope John Paul II, "Pope's Prayer," L'Osservatore Romano, English ed., 21 Jan. 1991, 1. the cathedrals of Europe, in the vaults and crypts and on plaques on the damp walls, I see countless names of countless dead and try to remember the war or the battle and why it was fought. The answers are often obscure--a threat to an empire that is now gone anyway, a challenge to a principle that no one now cares about, an upsetting of a balance that, once it was upset, turned out not to have mattered. These are the things men have died for. These are the things they have killed for.

Columnist Richard Cohen, "The Ungrateful Dead," Washington Post Magazine, 14 June 1992, 5.

They live in a competitive world where success is measured by delivering bombs to targets. "My job is to hit whatever target I've been assigned to hit," Cmdr. Jeff Penfield, the commanding officer of the Super Hornet squadron said. "I don't think about it as human life. I aim at hard things, and if there are people around, I don't think about it."

Reporter Lyndsey Layton, "Causing Death and Destruction, but Never Seeing It," Washington Post, 3 April 2003 [during U.S. war in Iraq], A-31.

On the sun-baked sand of one of the world's largest cemeteries, Ali Kadhim Subhi walked today along a row of 10 coffins allocated to the corpses who were once his family.

"There's my father," he said, pointing to a body wrapped in a soiled red blanket. He walked a few steps, grief tearing at the dignity of his weathered face. "That's my mother." Breathing deeply, he stopped. "That's my wife," he said...

In a U.S. bombing March 23 that left the wreckage of his home smoldering for six days, Subhi was the only one of 26 in his family in the southern city of Nasiriyah to escape death or injury.

Reporter Anthony Shadid, "Pilgrimage of Sorrow: Shiite Faithful Bury Dead," Washington Post, 19 April 2003, A-1 & A-18.


Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.

Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, "Labour," Past and Present (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), 202-206, 203.

It is remarkable that there is little or nothing to be remembered written on the subject of getting a living; how to make getting a living not merely honest and honorable, but altogether inviting and glorious; for if getting a living is not so, then living is not.

Writer Henry David Thoreau, "Life Without Principle," in Brooks Atkinson, Walden and Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1937), 716.

Ten thousand times I've done my best

And all's to do again.

A. E. Housman, "XI," Last Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1922), 27.

Oh, it was done beautiful--beautiful!....By the Shadow of Death, but he's a lightning pilot!....That's the sweetest piece of piloting that was ever done on the Mississippi River!

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1917), 60, 62 & 96.

[Of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.:] I remember he said, "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets as Michelangelo carved marble," said Martin Luther King III. "Sweep streets as Shakespeare wrote Beethoven composed Rafael painted pictures. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven will have to say, 'Here lives a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"

Quoted in Ken Ringle, "King's Son Gives Audience Here Idea of his Father's Challenge for Today," Washington Post, 11 Jan. 1984, B-3.

To watch him at work was to see a master carpenter. He seldom missed a nail, never gouged wood, even if it was interior framing that would soon be covered with wallboard. Corners were somehow mystically important to him, even those no one would see. I can recall [his] taking great pains to bevel perfectly the edges of two pieces of baseboard that would be all but hidden from view...The workday was over, and I was impatient for him to get finished, but he wouldn't do a slipshod job. "They ain't gonna know the difference, Butch, but this guy knows," he said, thumb pointed toward his chest.

Writer Paul Wilkes, speaking of his father, in "Truths My Father Never Told Me," America, 27 June 1987, 497-498.

I mean that I didn't talk good, so I had to hit good....If you look different, talk different, and swing different, you had better hit good.

Retired baseball player Yogi Berra with Tom Horton, Yogi: It Ain't Over... (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1989), 76 & 78.

Once you have a skill you can fold up with your tent, you can go anywhere. You can follow your heart's desire.

Television journalist Bill Moyers, interview with Stephen Banker, Washington Post, 26 Feb. 1984, D-3.

Writers and Writing

[Of Sophocles:] Who saw life steadily and saw it whole....

Matthew Arnold, "To a Friend," in C. B. Tinker and H. F. Lowry, ed., The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold (London: Oxford University Press, 1950), 2.

[Of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:] ...his mind rode quietly at anchor.

Literary critic Van Wyck Brooks, The Flowering of New England (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1952), 173.

[Of Henry David Thoreau:] He liked to see a sentence run clear through to the end, as deep and fertile as a well-drawn furrow....Music was perpetual for Henry. He heard it in the softened air, the wind, the rain, the running water.

Van Wyck Brooks, ibid., 300 & 311.

A second chance--that's the delusion. There never was to be but one. We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have.

"Dencombe" (a writer), in Henry James, "The Middle Years," Clifton Fadiman, ed., The Short Stories of Henry James (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1945), 293-315.

He's perfectly welcome not to like me; I don't want every one to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did. A journalist can't hope to do much good unless he gets a good deal hated; that's the way he knows how his work goes on.

"Henrietta Stackpole" in Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (New York: Modern Library/Random House, 1951, 2 vols. in 1), vol. 2, 231.

With the best that I have in me, I have tried to write more happiness into the world.

Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of The Secret Garden and other children's books), quoted in Ann Thwaite, Waiting for the Party: The Life of Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1849-1924 (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1974), 247.

[Willa Cather as editor:] Would I consent to cuts? She said rather casually that all good writers did consent--they knew there were plenty more words where those came from.

Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, Willa Cather: A Memoir (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1953), 42.

[Cather's role in S. S. McClure's Autobiography:] She admitted to having a hand in it. She could, she laughed, writer better and truer McClure than McClure himself--and that was just the result of listening to him attentively. Having an ear--

Ibid., 125.

[Cather as novelist:] She then suddenly leaned over...and set an old Sicilian apothecary jar of mine, filled with orange-brown flowers of scented stock, in the middle of a bare, round, antique table.

"I want my new heroine to be like this--like a rare object in the middle of a table, which one may examine from all sides."

She moved the lamp so that light streamed brightly down on my Taormina jar, with its glazed orange and blue design.

"I want her to stand out--like this--like this--because she is the story."

Ibid., 139.

Heaven knows I know the appalling uncertainty of trying to write and having to live while you're doing it. But the ravens do generally arrive, though often just as you are eating your cufflinks.

Stephen Vincent Benét to George Abbe [n.d., received by Abbe in 1935], in George Abbe, ed., Stephen Vincent Benét on Writing (Brattleboro, Vt.: Stephen Greene Press, 1964), 60-61.

[Advice on a novel:] Think it over, think the plan of it over. Think of it as a house and try and see if you've got too many windows and doors.

Stephen Vincent Benét to George Abbe [n.d., received by Abbe in Fall 1936], ibid., 64-70, 69.

Great writing is seldom, if ever, biggity. Let your story grow out of the situation and the characters. But be sure you have a situation first, or a ground-plan for your construction, and, once the story is started, keep it moving in a direction, toward an end.

Stephen Vincent Benét to George Abbe [n.d., received by Abbe in 1939], ibid., 82-85.

If the last book was good the next one must be as good, or better. To relax is fatal. To bask in the warm glow of praise makes for flabby muscles. A trapeze performer might as well say, contentedly, "I made the leap yesterday, and very good it was, too. How they applauded! If I try to make it today, and miss, it really won't matter."

Edna Ferber, A Peculiar Treasure (New York: Literary Guild, 1939), 175.

[Of Robert Frost:] He had a good-natured scorn for the New York critics and laughed at them for wishing to be "first among the seconds, as we say about the apple barrels"...

Literary critic Van Wyck Brooks, An Autobiography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1965), 461.

When I started reading my stories aloud for a living and I'd hear myself, I would think, "Good heavens, that needs to be pointed up," or "That should be cut." Now, as I go to colleges to do readings, I have revised a lot of my early stories so that they read more succinctly. I wish I had learned early on what a good test reading aloud was....

I know I can never get it perfect. You just have to know when you've done it the best way. A friend of mine who is a writer said he kept 13 drafts of a story and put them all in a drawer. Years later he went back, and it was No. 7 that was the right one. That taught me a real, true lesson.

Eudora Welty, "I Know I Can Never Get it Perfect," Conversation with Alvin P. Sanoff, U.S. News & World Report. 18 Aug. 1986, 54.

With the possible exception of Emily Dickinson, it can be said of just about all of us who write that we write too much....

Certainly that was the case with the two books I have thus far inflicted upon the world. Looking back at the first, I regret most of all that its editor was not more insistent that it be cut; I now realize that were the book 10 or 15 percent leaner, it would be 20 or 30 percent better.

Literary critic Jonathan Yardley, "The Eclipse of Editing," Washington Post, 6 Aug. 1990, B-2.

I always write the old-fashioned way--soul to pen.

Songwriter Stephen Bishop, quoted in Ted Anthony, "From Mangoes to Money," Washington Times, 28 July 1996, D-5.

Little evergreen tree in the snow, Cumberland, Md.