Wisdom of the ages in sound bites™ (quotations)

The mission of Wisdom of the ages in sound bitesis to provide inspiration and motivation through quotations from diverse voices  as citizens work to restore democracy from the grass roots up to influencing the United States Congress and President in implementing public policy based on progressive values. This project builds on previous work by Paideia LLC marketed as Wisdom of the World in Sound Bites™ and used in cards, a book of quotations entitled Believe Again in America™ and calendars entitled Believe We Can Transform America™

 Quotations selected from the collection


Have you ever considered how complicated things can get, what with one thing always leading to another? E. B. White

Modern industrial society is a fanatical religion. We are demolishing, poisoning, destroying all life-systems on the planet. We are signing IOUs our children will not be able to pay…We are acting as if we were the last generation on the planet. Without a radical change in heart, in mind, in vision, the earth will end up like Venus, charred and dead. Jose Antonio Lutzenberger, Brazilian Minister for the Enviroment

Humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research.  Marie Curie

Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world.  Woodrow Wilson


Interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Even tiny insects survive by cooperating with each other. Our own survival is so dependent on the help of others that a need for love lies at the very core of our existence. This is why we need to cultivate a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others. Dalai Lama

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all of these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved with another. Thomas Merton

Values, morals, religion and spirituality

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. Proverbs 29:7

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from “Beyond Vietnam,” an address delivered to the Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, at Riverside Church, New York City on April 4, 1967

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.  Desmond Tutu


We have the right to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

All opinions are not created equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others. Douglas Adams

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. Isaac Asimov

Ignorance is a virus. Once it starts spreading, it can only be cured by reason for the sake of humanity. We must be that cure. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

It is not who is right, but what is right, that is important. Thomas H. Huxley

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back. Carl Sagan

The way to change things is to shine the light of truth upon them. Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Planet earth

Because past environmental destruction was the result of ignorance, we can easily forgive it. Today, we are better informed. Therefore, it’s essential that we make an ethical examination of what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations. Ours is clearly a pivotal generation. We have global communication and yet confrontation is more common than dialogue. Dalai Lama

I ask myself, have nations ever declined from a loss of moral sense rather than from physical reasons or the pressure of barbarians? I think that they have.  Barbara Tuchman

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? Robert Redford

Older men declare war. But is the youth who must fight and die. And it is the youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.  Herbert Hoover

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.  Marshall McLuhan


Civilization began the first time an angry person cast a word instead of a rock. Sigmund Freud

Education is the transmission of civilization. Ariel and Will Durant

I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Kindness and compassion toward all living things is the mark of a civilized society. Cesar Chavez

Society is indeed a contract. It becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Edmund Burke 

American culture – racial justice

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him someone to look down on and he’ll empty his pockets for you. Lyndon Johnson

Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition. Albert Einstein

Economic justice

Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all. John Maynard Keynes.

True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. Thomas Jefferson

Education and democracy have the same goals: the fullest possible development of human capabilities. Paul Wellstone

Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither permanent freedom or justice can be maintained. James Garfield

Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The secret of freedom lies in educating people whereas the secret of tyranny is keeping them ignorant. Maximilien Robespeierre


As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.  Gore Vidal

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one group of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. Aldous Huxley


Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell

Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going, but where we want to go. Bruce “Utah” Phillips


America has no functioning democracy. Jimmy Carter July 16, 2013

It is the evil in man that makes democracy necessary, and man’s belief in justice that makes democracy possible. Reinhold Neibuhr

We can have Democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both. Louis D. Brandeis

We must renew democracy itself. We have to fight cynicism and inertia and restore faith in the advancement of our country. Paul Wellstone

What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise. Barbara Jordan

Democracy assumes there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people. Harry Emerson Fosdick

If the predators of democracy are going to use brass knuckles to pulverize us, we have to fight back with sharp elbows. Bob Edgar

If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian values, because you don’t. Jimmy Carter

What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols. Molly Ivins

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power. Franklin D. Roosevelt

The world no longer has a choice between force and law; if civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law. Dwight D. Eisenhower


Activism is the price I pay for living on this planet. Alice Walker

As captains of our own character, it is essential we understand the great legacy of trust and integrity. We will be remembered for truthful disclosures and promises kept. John Huntsman

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences. Susan B. Anthony

Democracy doesn’t work without citizen activism and participation, starting at the community…What’s right and good doesn’t come naturally. You have to stand up and fight for it – as if the cause depends on you, because it does. Bill Moyers

I love this country more than any other country in this world, and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. James Baldwin

It must be laid down as a primary position and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a proportion of his property, George  Washington

Leaders are indispensable, but to produce a major social change many ordinary people must also be involved. Anne Firor Scott

Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act. Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes.   Maggie Kuhn

The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times. The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not. The Lorax, Dr. Suess – The Climate Reality Project

You are either on the side of the oppressed or on the side of the oppressor. You can’t be neutral.   Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs


Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of man will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint. Alexander Hamilton

Let us not be afraid to help each other – Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials but the voters of this country.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The government is us; we are the government, you and I. Theodore Roosevelt

The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport. Barbara Jordan

Truth is the glue that holds government together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go. Gerald Ford

What is the State? It is the duly constituted representative of an organized society of human beings, created by them for their mutual protection and well-being. One of the duties of the State is that of caring for those of its citizens who find themselves the victims of such adverse circumstances as make them unable to obtain even the necessities of mere existence without the aid of others. Franklin D. Roosevelt

We’ve been at war for 12 years now. Experts put the total cost at $4 – $6 trillion. Imagine if we had invested that in our own country and people. Linda Bilmes, Harvard Kennedy School, The Other 98%

Politics and power

Freedom isn’t free. It shouldn’t be a bragging point that “Oh, I don’t believe in politics” as if that somehow makes someone cleaner. No, that makes you derelict of duty. In a republic, liars and panderers would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and blindly agreeable.  Bill Maher

Politics is what we create out of what we do, what we hope for, what we dare to imagine. Paul Wellstone

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Frederick Douglass

There is no such thing as not being involved in politics. Not doing anything is a political act. Bill O’Keefe

A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. James Freeman Clarke


A liberal is someone who looks ahead, not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘Liberal,’ I’m proud to say I’m a Liberal. John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Conservatism is the vague fear that somewhere, someone you consider as your inferior is being treated as your equal. The Christian Left, Facebook post

Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone from bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering upon the already miserable.  Paul Krugman

Money in politics

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob. Franklin Roosevelt

The total amount of money that Wall Street handed out in bonuses last year was double the total income of ALL full-time minimum wage workers. That’s obscene. Elizabeth Warren

To destroy this invisible government, this unholy alliance between corrupt businesses and corrupt politics, is the first task in the democracy of today. Theodore Roosevelt

Progressive movement

Action without vision is merely passing time. Vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action will change the world. Nelson Mandela

Our great progressive struggles have been waged to make sure ordinary citizens, and not just the rich and privileged, share in the benefits of a free society. Bill Moyers

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. June Jordan

Moral politics

There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity — the law of nature and of nations. G.K. Chesterton

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. Susan B Anthony

I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it. The Rev. Billy Graham

It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In a way, the traditional notion of God is outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money – for many, nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history did not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name.  Pope Francis

My call for a spiritual revolution is not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow otherworldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather it is a call for a radical reorientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self. It is a call to turn toward the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own.  The 14th Dalai Lama

My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, with whatever I have to make a difference. Jimmy Carter

My faith has been the driving thing of my life. I think it is important that people who are perceived as liberals not be afraid of talking about moral and community values. Marian Wright Edelman

The Navajo do not have separate words to refer to religion and science. Instead, they have a single concept they call ‘the sacred depths of nature’ which encompasses their beliefs about the natural world. Dr. Fred Begay, Navajo Physicist

The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity — the law of nature and of nations.  G.K. Chesterton

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations may have their great human needs satisfied, that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address

We want people to rule the nation who care more for and love better the nation’s welfare than gold and silver, fame and popularity. Brigham Young


We must move forward in the days ahead with audacious faith. The moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It has taken thousands of years, but within the century both scientists and spiritual seekers alike have once again  begun to see the laws of nature and the laws of God as expressions of the same truth. Rosalyn L. Bruyere

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