Quotes Worth Reflecting On

Marcus Aurelius (Meditations):

Body, soul and mind. The body for sensation, the soul for the springs of actions, the mind for principles. Yet the capacity for sensation belongs also to the stalled ox; there is no wild beast or degenerate but obeys the twitchings of impulse; and even men who deny the gods, or betray their country, or perpetrate all manner of villainy behnd locked doors, have minds to guide them to the clear path of duty. Seeing then that all else is in common heritage of such types, the good man's only singularity lies in his approving welcome to every experience the looms of fate may weave for him, his refusal to soil the divinity seated in his breast or perturb it with disorderly impressions ...

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 (Third President of the United States):
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.

James Madison
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

And which nation has been, and remains, guilty of "continual warfare"?

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.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (The Mask of Anarchy):

 Rise like Lions after slumber,
 In unvanquishable number.
 Shake your chains to earth like dew
 Which in sleep had fallen on you.
 Ye are many — they are few.

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.

Søren Kierkegaard (Works of Love):

One can be deceived in many ways; one can be deceived in believing what is untrue, but on the other hand, one is also deceived in not believing what is true.

As when some people say of 9/11 truth: "Even if it's true, I refuse to believe it."

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.

Friedrich Nietzsche:

“I did that”, says my memory. “I could not have done that!”, says my conscience. Finally my memory yields.

E.L.Godkin, editor of the Nation, writing in 1895:

[The United States] finds itself in possession of enormous power and is eager to use it in brutal fashion against anyone who comes along without knowing how to do so and is therefore constantly on the brink of some frightful catastrophe.

Woodrow Wilson (28th U.S. President, 1913-1921):

Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.

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.

Wilfred Trotter (The Herd Instinct, 1908):

It needs but little imagination to see how great are the probabilities that after all man will prove but one more of nature's failures.

Karl Kraus:

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

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.

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.

Iranian journalist:

Does the freedom of opinion of the West permit the consideration of questions like the crimes of America and Israel or an event like the Holocaust?

Dewey Cheatum Howe:

The greatest weakness of humanity is its infinite symbolic language generating ability to come up with new words, along with changing old ones, to describe the same ideas over and over so it can keep lying to itself that something is other than what it is.

The Saker (commenting on what appears in Russian newspapers, talkshows and conferences):

[F]ar from fearing the West, most Russians find it crippled with narrow-minded consumerism, devoid of any real moral or ethical values, fantastically ignorant and provincial and suffering from terminal infantilism.

The author of this website agrees with the Russians.

Terence McKenna:

The further you go, the weirder it gets.

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

Malcolm X:

I am for truth, whoever tells it.

Gore Vidal:

'Conspiracy stuff' is now shorthand for unspeakable truth.

Someone who decries 'conspiracy stuff' is someone who has closed their mind to anything which opposes their emotionally-deep-seated refusal to consider facts that may conflict with what they desperately want to believe. Sad, really.

Morpheus (The Matrix):

You have to understand. Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so helplessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.

Francis J. Underwood, President of the United States (House of Cards):

We don't submit to terror. We make the terror.

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