Activism Quotations

  • - It’s difficult to change the world. You have to make sacrifices.

          - Many revolutionaries are difficult. Progress tends to start with people who are obstinate and obnoxious and deliberately rock the boat. 
           - Doing good doesn’t mean you’re perfect. The heroes of history were rarely as squeaky clean as they’re later made out to be.

From Difficult Women, by British journalist Helen Lewis

  • “Act I: The views of crackpots like myself are avoided.

    Act II: The defenders of the orthodox faith become uncomfortable because the ideas seem to have an element of truth.

    Act III: People say, ‘We all know that this is an impractical and theoretically extreme view – but of course we have to look at more moderate ways to move in this direction.’

    Act IV: Opponents convert my ideas into untenable caricatures so that they can move over and occupy the ground where I formerly stood.”

    Economist Milton Friedman:

  • Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil. ~ Elie Wiesel
  • ....replace the voice that only whispers about your pain and loss with a strong and unwavering one, and be prepared to tell your story with courage and conviction, to add your voice to all the others, never to be silenced again. ~ Pemina Yellow Bird (2000) 
  • Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire
  • There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. ~Elie Wiesel
•    You are not obliged to complete the task, neither are you free to neglect it. ~Talmudic adage attributed to Pirke Avot, Sayings of the Fathers

•    The people are the only ones capable of transforming society. ~ Rigoberta Manchu

•    To believe in something and not live it, is dishonest. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

•        We each need to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that    guidance directly and fearlessly."
~ Shakti Gawain

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

•    Fighting crime by building more jails is like fighting cancer by building more cemeteries. ~ Paul Kelly

•    The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do. ~ Samuel P. Huntington

•    Too see right and not do it is want of courage.   ~ Confucius

•    The most human thing we have to do in life is to learn to speak our honest convictions and feelings and live with the consequences.  ~ Father William DuBay

•    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world.  Indeed it's the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

•    When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons.  We cease to grow. ~ Asais Nin

•    Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. ~ Thomas Jefferson

•    A patriot must be ready to defend his country against his government. ~  Edward Abbey

•    The problems we face will not be solved by the minds that created them ~ Albert Einstein
•    Rebels and dissidents challenge the complacent belief in a just world, and...they are usually denigrated for their efforts. While they are alive, they may be called "cantankerous", "crazy", "hysterical", "uppity", or "duped". Dead, some of them become saints and heroes, the sterling characters of history. It's a matter of proportion. One angry rebel is crazy, three is a conspiracy, fifty is a movement.  ~ Carol Travis

•    The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not deter us from support of a cause we believe to be just.   ~ A. Lincoln

•    The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed. ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1776

•    I never gave them hell.  I just told the truth and they thought it was hell. ~ H. Truman

•    To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but morally treasonable to the American public. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

•    First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Gandhi

•    All that the evil forces need to win the world is for good men to do nothing.  ~ Edmund Burke

•    One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the oval office and in Congress. ~ Bill Moyers

•    The hottest places on earth are reserved for those who in times of crisis, maintain their neutrality. ~ Dante

•    Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for.  ~ Chief Justice Earl Warren

•    The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

•    Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. ~ Robert F. Kennedy

•    You must do the thing you think you cannot do.  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

•    When anyone steps out of the system and tells the truth, lives the truth, that person enables everyone else to peer behind the curtain too.  ~ Walter Wink

•    We will either find a way, or we will make one.  ~ Hannibal 210 BC

•    Every great achievement was once considered impossible.  ~ H.J. Brown

•    Eem lo akhshav, matay? If not now, when? ~ Hillel

•    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence....~ Albert Einstein

•    A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity. ~ Robert Frost

•    If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right-side up again. And now that they are asking to do it the men better let them. ~ Sojourner Truth, 1851

•    There are no passengers on spaceship earth.  We are all crew. ~ Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

•    Under communism man exploits man, under capitalism the reverse is true.

•    The only things that exists are atoms and opinions. ~ Democratis

•    The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. ~ Oscar Wilde

•    No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency. ~ Theodore Roosevelt, 'The Strenuous Life,' 1900

•    You always miss 100% the shots you don’t take. ~ Gretsky

•    It is the silent acquiescence of millions that supports the system.  When you don't oppose a system, your silence becomes approval, for it does nothing to interrupt the system...Many people say it is insane to resist the system, but actually, it is insane not to.  ~ Mumia Abu-Jamal

•    The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people. ~ Noam Chomsky

•    Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people…it is true that most stupid people are conservatives. ~ John Stuart Mill

•    Life has taught me one supreme lesson.  This is that we must -- if we are really to live at all, if we are to enjoy the life more abundant promised by the Sages of Wisdom -- we must put our convictions into action. ~ Margaret Sanger

•    When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist. ~ Dom Hleder Camara

•    Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they have resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress.  ~ Frederick Douglas

•    All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. ~ Schoepenhauer

•    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect on your position. ~ Mark Twain

•    An error does not become truth by multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. ~ M.K. Ghandi

•    The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. ~ William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist (1564-1616)

•    Words form the thread on which we string our experiences. ~ Aldous Huxley, author and critic (1894-1963)

•    If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one - if he had the power - would be justified in silencing mankind. ~ John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

•    By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest. ~ Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478 BCE)

•    Clay is molded to make a vessel, but the utility of the vessel lies in the space where there is nothing. Thus, taking advantage of what is, we recognize the utility of what is not. ~ Lao Tzu, philosopher (circa 600 BCE)

•    This society began with stolen labor on stolen land, which makes all such claims to a tradition of freedom, null and void. It must also be said, that democracy and slavery cannot exist side by side. Nor can democracy and capitalism for that matter. No class society, based on exploitation of the many to enrich a greedy few, can properly claim to be a democracy. ~ Ron Wilkins

•    So act that your principle of action might safely be made a law for the whole world. ~Immanuel Kant, philosopher (1724-1804)

•    ...We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together.... you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others.... the whole structure of American life must be changed.... ~Anon

•    The Seven Deadly Social Sins: Politics without Principle; Wealth without Work; Commerce without Morality; Pleasure without Conscience; Education without Character; Science Without Humanity; Worship without Sacrifice. ~ Gandhi

•    A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.  ~ Albert Einstein

•    It is dangerous to be right  when the government is wrong. ~Voltaire


Archibald Macleish:

    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.

Barbara Ehrenreich:

    No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

David Ogilvy:

    Talent ... is most likely to be found among non-conformists, dissenters, and rebels.

Edward R. Murrow:

    We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

Edward R. Murrow:

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices. (about Senator Joseph McCarthy's accusations about Communism in the American government)

Eleanor Holmes Norton:

    The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don't agree with.

Eric Hoffer:

    The beginning of thought is in disagreement -- not only with others but also with ourselves.

Florynce Kennedy:

    You've got to rattle your cage door. You've got to let them know that you're in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you'll sure have a lot more fun.

George Orwell:

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

Harry S Truman:

    Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.

J. William Fulbright:

    In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.

John F. Kennedy:

    Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed -- and no republic can survive

Martin Luther King Jr.:

    Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

Mohandas K. Gandhi:

    Non-cooperation is a measure of discipline and sacrifice, and it demands respect for the opposite views.

Vaclav Havel:

    You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.

William O. Douglas:

    Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

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