Some Quotes to (Hopefully) Guide Us Towards a Better 2024

I thought I'd put together some quotes that resonated with me in 2023 and I thought could be used for education, motivation, reflection, and more in 2024. These came from lists I've gathered from my readings. There's a mixture of quotes but if I had to some up the common thread it's that maybe we could all do better to learn to listen and discuss things. It's not always easy but it may really be worth it. We're all guessing on a lot of things and it would be good for us to keep that in mind.

I thought I'd put together some quotes that resonated with me in 2023 and could be used for education, motivation, reflection, and direction in 2024. These came from lists I've gathered from my readings. There's a mixture of quotes but if I had to some up the common thread it's that maybe we could all do better to learn to listen and discuss things. It's not easy but may be worth it. We're all guessing on a lot of things and we should always keep that in mind.

Some will help us to better ourselves.

Some will help how we view and treat others.

Some may give us more compassion and understanding.

Some could help us to better look at situations and slow down our opinions.

Some may help us adjust to our ever changing reality.

A few would really make our world a better place, but I'm not expecting to see it in my lifetime.

In the end it is on each of us to use them in the way that's right for us.

I intend to review these quotes during the year and will be sharing my further reflections on them. There was no target number or any sort of analysis in choosing them. Just ones that have spent some time in my brain this past year. They're presented in no particular order.

"In truth, however, one should always ask oneself, "What would happen if everyone did what I am doing?" —Jean-Paul Sartre

"Don't be so open-minded that your brains fall out." —Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“From this we conclude, that, to live in harmony and peace, we must agree never to decide on such subjects, and to attach to them no importance; in a word, we must trace a line of distinction between those that are capable of verification, and those that are not; and separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities; that is to say, all civil effect must be taken away from theological and religious opinions.” —C.-F. Volney. “The Ruins; Or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires and the Law of Nature

“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” — Robert G. Ingersoll

"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy." —Thomas Paine *I would change that to humankind, and believe Thomas Paine would be okay with that.*

“It is amazing to me that a difference of opinion upon subjects that we know nothing with certainty about, should make us hate, persecute, and despise each other.” —Robert G. Ingersoll

“The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”—Carl Sagan

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture." —Thomas Paine

“No system would have ever been framed if people had been simply interested in knowing what is true, whatever it may be. What produces systems is the interest in maintaining against all comers that some favorite or inherited idea of ours is sufficient and right.” —George Santayana

"He who dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use, he who is master of the press and radio, is master of the mind." —Joost A.M. Meerloo, M.D.

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, who opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” —Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.” —Allen Ginsberg

"If a person's religious ideas correspond not with your own, love him nevertheless. How different would yours have been, had the chance of birth placed you in Tartary or India!" —Percy Bysshe Shelley

"It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life had to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning." —Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”― Walt Whitman

"We often use strong language not to express a powerful emotion or conviction but to evoke it in us. It is not only other people's words that can rouse feeling in us; we can talk ourselves into a rage or an enthusiasm" —Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

"It may be considered as a plain proof of the hollowness of any proposition if power be used to enforce instead of reason to persuade its admission." —Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

"Repeat mechanically your assumptions and suggestions diminish the opportunity of communicating dissent and opposition. This is the simple formula for political conditioning of the masses." —Joost A.M. Meerloo, M.D.

No man has a right to be respected for any other possessions, but those of virtue and talents. Titles are tinsel, power a corruptor, glory a bubble, and excessive wealth, a libel on its possessor. —Percy Bysshe Shelley

"The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim." —Gustave Le Bon

"Arguments from authority carry little weight - authorities have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts." —Carl Sagan

"No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge" —Jack Kerouac, Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently." —Friedrich Nietzsche

"When someone is honestly 55% right, that's very good and there's no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it's wonderful, it's great luck, and let him thank God. But what's to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he's 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal." —Czesław Miłosz An Old Jew in Galicia

Here are several insights from Baltasar Gracián for The Art of Worldly Wisdom and The Pocket Mirror for Heroes that I use as a guide.

  • Moderation in forming opinions. Everyone forms ideas as they see fit and has abundant reasons for their views. In most people, judgement yields to feeling. Often two people meet who have opposite views, and each thinks reason is on their side, but reason, ever true, never serves two masters. A wise person should proceed cautiously in such a delicate situation. Cast doubt on your own position and so reform your opinion of your opponent’s. You should see things on occasion from the other’s point of view and examine their reasons. You’ll thereby neither condemn the other person, nor defend yourself so blindly.
  • Never exaggerate. Take great care not to speak in superlatives, whether to avoid offending truth or tarnishing your good sense. Exaggeration is an excess of esteem and indicates a lack of knowledge and taste.
  • Exaggeration is a form of lying; using it, you lose your reputation for having good taste, which is bad, and for being knowledgeable, which is worse.
  • Fight a clean fight. A sensible person can be forced to fight, but not fight dirty; each person must act according to who they are, not who others force them to be.
  • Pride yourself on the fact that if gallantry, generosity, and fidelity disappeared from the world, they could be found in you.
  • Trust nothing completely, not even the clearest water; for its very transparency alters things, making them larger than they are and changing their shape, or hiding them in its depths, smiling and murmuring as any politician would.
  • The ignorant are the many, fools are infinite, and the person who has them on his side will rule the entire world.
  • Don’t expose your sore finger, or everything will knock against it. Don’t complain about your sore points, for malice always attacks where our weaknesses hurt most. Getting annoyed will only serve to spur on someone else’s enjoyment. The ill-intentioned are searching for a pretext to get your back up. 
  • You should therefore never reveal what causes you pain or pleasure, so that the former may quickly end and the latter long continue.
  • The wise cannot be identified by what they say in public, since they never speak there with their own voice but following common stupidity.
  • Thought is free; it cannot and should not be coerced.

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