Quotes Worth Reflecting On

Samuel Johnson (Rasselas):

Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal; and he may properly be charged with evil who refuses to learn how he might prevent it.

Tom Paine (Common Sense):

[Government is made] necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world ... [and] the design and end of government [is] freedom and security. ... [The] articles or charter of government should be formed first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards ... As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith.

Samuel Adams (American revolutionary):
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

Thomas Jefferson (American Declaration of Independence):
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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

James Madison (Fourth President of the United States):

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it compromises and develops the germ of every other. As the parent of armies, war encourages debts and taxes, the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended ... and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people ...

Percy Bysshe Shelley (Queen Mab):

                                           The man
 Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys.
 Power, like a desolating pestilence,
 Pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience,
 Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
 Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
 A mechanized automaton.

William Blake (Proverbs of Hell):

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.

Or for psychonauts: You never know what is enough until you know what is too much.

John Stuart Mill (Essay on Liberty):

[T]he sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. ... [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

Thomas Hardy (Far from the Madding Crowd):

Theirs [that of Gabriel and Bathsheba] was that substantial affection which arises (if any arises at all) when [a man and a woman] who are thrown together begin first by knowing the rougher sides of each other's character, and not the best till further on, the romance growing up in the interstices of a mass of hard prosaic reality. This good-fellowship — camaraderie — usually occurring through similarity of pursuits, is unfortunately seldom superadded to love between the sexes, because men and women associate, not in their labours, but in their pleasures merely. Where, however, happy circumstances permits its development, the compounded feeling proves itself to be the only love which is strong as death — that love which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown, beside which the passion usually called by the name is evanescent as steam.

Which is why so many modern ("romantic love") marriages end in divorce.

Karl Kraus:

How do wars begin? Wars begin when, first, politicians lie to journalists, then they believe what they read in the press!

Mahatma Gandhi:

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.

Bertrand Russell (Principles of Social Reconstruction):

Men fear thought more than they fear anything else on earth — more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages ...

But if thought is to become the possession of many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back — fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be.

T. S. Eliot (Burnt Norton):

... human kind cannot bear very much reality.

Bob Dylan:

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's Farm no more ...

George Orwell:

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

Dr Martin Luther King:

Let freedom ring!

Aldous Huxley (Brave New World Revisited):

Big Government and Big Business ... will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and our children for freedom and self-government. Such an education for freedom should be ... first of all in facts and in values — the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values of freedom, tolerance and mutual charity, which are the ethical corollaries of these facts.

Albert Einstein:

Only two things are unlimited, the universe and human stupidity
— though I'm not sure about the universe.

Bob Marley (Redemption Song):

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds ...

Freewheelin' Frank (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers):

Dope will get you through times of no money better than
money will get you through times of no dope.

Gore Vidal:

'Conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable truth.

Leuren Moret:

The legacy of the weapons proliferators, drug traffickers, sex traffickers, and gambling promoters of yesterday ... continues to enrich the same families. It is a culture of death and destruction which is turning Planet Earth into a death star.  ... The United States has become a fascist state where there is no clear distinction between legitimate and clandestine illegal organisations.

Margaret Atwood:

When things are really dismal, you can laugh or you can cave in completely. ... If you can laugh, you're still alive. You haven't given up yet.

Wright Morris:

It is not the fear of the bomb that paralyzes us, not fear that man has no future. Rather, it is the nature of the future, not its extinction, that produces such foreboding in the artist. It is a numbing apprehension that such future as man has may dispense with art, with man as we now know him, and such as art has made him. The survival of men who are strangers to the nature of this conception is a more appalling thought than the extinction of the species.

Doris Lessing (The Memoirs of a Survivor):

I think that all this time human beings have been watched by creatures whose perceptions and understanding have been so far in advance of anything we have been able to accept, because of our vanity, that we would be appalled if we were able to know, would be humiliated. We have been living with them as blundering, blind, callous, cruel murderers and torturers, and they have watched and known us. And this is the reason we refuse to acknowledge the intelligence of the creatures which surround us; the shock to our amour-propre would be too much, the judgement we would have to make on ourselves too horrible.

Citizen Spook:

Once the American people understand that they have been robbed blind and that the money they thought was being used to run the government is actually being funneled, in a manner that would make Enron's frauds seem paltry, to the vaults of a few private banking institutions, the people will wake up and join the million man petition for a redress of grievances. The power is with the people, but unless the people use that power it remains dormant.

Wade Frazier:

All those institutions that we have given our power away to — corporations, governments, churches, etc. — have largely enslaved us with our own power. The only path to true freedom is by reclaiming our power, responsibility and sovereignty, and doing it lovingly.

Paul Levy:

[The global financial system] is a magical display that captivates and holds spell-bound the credulous, semi-conscious masses, who are more than willing, based on their childlike need to hope and believe in an authority outside of themselves, to give away their power so as to quell their fear.

Terence McKenna:

The further you go, the weirder it gets.

Nature loves courage ... and rewards it with success.


A copy of the Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM.  Details here.

Serendipity Home Page