This page lists quote of the day proposals specifically for dates in the month of December, and quotes proposed should ideally have some relation to the day, or persons born on it, though sometimes exceptions can be made, usually for notable quotes that relate to recent events, such as the death of prominent individuals. Developing ideas of people or works to quote on specific days can be explored through the Wikipedia page: List of historical anniversaries. The numeric section heading of each date is also a direct link to the Wikipedia list of births, deaths, and other events which occured on that date.
The important thing, I think, is not to be bitter... if it turns about that there is a God, I don't think that he is evil. I think that the worst thing you could say is that he is, basically, an under-achiever. ~ Woody Allen (born 1 December 1935)
There's an old joke... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life — full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness — and it's all over much too quickly. ~ Woody Allen
The AIDS crisis is evidence of a world in which nothing important is regional, local, limited; in which everything that can circulate does, and every problem is, or is destined to become, worldwide. ~ Susan Sontag (anniversary of World AIDS Day)
Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. ~ Helen Keller
I do not believe that friendship today can flower out — can come out — of political life. I do believe that if there is something like a political life-to-be — to remain for us, in this world of technology — then it begins with friendship. ~ Ivan Illich (died 2 December 2002)
The current search for new educational funnels must be reversed into the search for their institutional inverse: educational webs which heighten the opportunity for each one to transform each moment of his living into one of learning, sharing, and caring. ~ Ivan Illich (date of death)
Ultimately, leadership requires action: daring to take steps that are necessary but unpopular, challenging the status quo in order to reach a brighter future. And to push for peace is ultimately personal sacrifice, for leadership is not easy. It is born of a passion, and it is a commitment. Leadership is a commitment to an idea, to a dream, and to a vision of what can be. And my dream is for my land and my people to cease fighting and allow our children to reach their full potential regardless of sex, status, or belief. ~ Benazir Bhutto (became first female Prime Minister of Pakistan on 2 December 1988)
Learned and leisured hospitality is the only antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship. ~ Ivan Illich (date of death)
I do think that if I had to choose one word to which hope can be tied it is hospitality. A practice of hospitality— recovering threshold, table, patience, listening, and from there generating seedbeds for virtue and friendship on the one hand — on the other hand radiating out for possible community, for rebirth of community. ~ Ivan Illich
It is not enough to have a beautiful voice. What does that mean? When you interpret a role, you have to have a thousand colors to portray happiness, joy, sorrow, fear. How can you do this with only a beautiful voice? Even if you sing harshly sometimes, as I have frequently done, it is a necessity of expression. You have to do it, even if people will not understand. But in the long run they will, because you must persuade them of what you're doing. ~ Maria Callas
We're just a conceited naked ape, but in our minds we're some "divinelegend" and we see ourselves as some sort of god, seeing we can decide what will live and what will die, what will be saved and what will be destroyed, but honestly we're just a bunch of primates out of control.
After the use of this, the author's page was amended to read:
I think the problem is that we don't really understand what we are. In essence we're just a conceited, naked ape. But in our minds we're some sort of "divine legend", and we see ourselves as some sort of god. That we can walk around the earth deciding who will live and who will die and what will be destroyed and what will be saved. But the fact is we're just a bunch of primates out of control.
All creative art is magic, is evocation of the unseen in forms persuasive, enlightening, familiar and surprising, for the edification of mankind, pinned down by the conditions of its existence to the earnest consideration of the most insignificant tides of reality. ~ Joseph Conrad
The changing wisdom of successive generations discards ideas, questions facts, demolishes theories. But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom: to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition — and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation — and to the subtle but invincible, conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts: to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to each other, which binds together all humanity — the dead to the living and the living to the unborn. ~ Joseph Conrad in The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'
Truth shall prevail — don't you know Magna est veritas . . . Yes, when it gets a chance. There is a law, no doubt — and likewise a law regulates your luck in the throwing of dice. It is not Justice — the servant of men, but accident, hazard, Fortune — the ally of patient Time — that holds an even and scrupulous balance. ~ Joseph Conrad in Lord Jim
My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm — all you demand; and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.
Words, as is well known, are the great foes of reality. I have been for many years a teacher of languages. It is an occupation which at length becomes fatal to whatever share of imagination, observation, and insight an ordinary person may be heir to. To a teacher of languages there comes a time when the world is but a place of many words and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot
I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death. ~ George Carlin
selected by IP 18.104.22.168
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them suddenly
pressed me against his heart, I would perish
in the embrace of his stronger existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure and are awed
because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Each single angel is terrifying.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
You don't get very far in life without having to be brave an awful lot. Because we all have our frightening moments and difficult trials and we don't have much of a choice but to get through them, and it takes a lot of bravery to do that. The most important thing about bravery is this — It's not about not being scared — it's about being scared and doing it anyway — that's bravery. ~ Ysabella Brave
Is there any religion whose followers can be pointed to as distinctly more amiable and trustworthy than those of any other? If so, this should be enough. I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions. ~ Samuel Butler
Words, words, words, are the stumbling-blocks in the way of truth. Until you think of things as they are, and not of the words that misrepresent them, you cannot think rightly. Words produce the appearance of hard and fast lines where there are none. Words divide; thus we call this a man, that an ape, that a monkey, while they are all only differentiations of the same thing. To think of a thing they must be got rid of: they are the clothes that thoughts wear — only the clothes. I say this over and over again, for there is nothing of more importance. Other men's words will stop you at the beginning of an investigation. A man may play with words all his life, arranging them and rearranging them like dominoes. If I could think to you without words you would understand me better.
To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they can control it, wish to influence its direction. ~ Theodore Zeldin
Faith I have, in myself, in humanity, in the worthwhileness of the pursuits in entertainment for the masses. But wide awake, not blind faith, moves me. My operations are based on experience, thoughtful observation and warm fellowship with my neighbors at home and around the world. ~ Walt Disney
Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave. That is why I believe that this frightfulness we see everywhere today is only temporary. Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life. ~ Walt Disney
It is stern work, it is perilous work, to thrust your hand in the sun and pull out a spark of immortal flame to warm the hearts of men: but Prometheus, torn by the claws and beaks whose task is never done, would be tortured another eternity to go stealing fire again. ~ Joyce Kilmer (date of birth)
The Science of Language has taught us that there is order and wisdom in all languages, and even the most degraded jargons contain the ruins of former greatness and beauty. The Science of Religion, I hope, will produce a similar change in our views of barbarous forms of faith and worship. ~ Max Müller
Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases. The founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge, were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbors, examples of purity and unselfishness. What they desired to found upon earth was but seldom realized, and their sayings, if preserved in their original form, offer often a strange contrast to the practice of those who profess to be their disciples. ~ Max Müller
The position which believers and unbelievers occupy with regard to their various forms of faith is very much the same all over the world. The difficulties which trouble us, have troubled the hearts and minds of men as far back as we can trace the beginnings of religiouslife. The great problems touching the relation of the Finite to the Infinite, of the human mind as the recipient, and of the Divine Spirit as the source of truth, are old problems indeed; and while watching their appearance in different countries, and their treatment under varying circumstances, we shall be able, I believe, to profit ourselves, both by the errors which others committed before us, and by the truth which they discovered. We shall know the rocks that threaten every religion in this changing and shifting world of ours, and having watched many a storm of religious controversy and many a shipwreck in distant seas, we shall face with greater calmness and prudence the troubled waters at home.
It's an alethiometer. It's one of only six that were ever made. Lyra, I urge you again: keep it private. ... It tells you the truth. As for how to read it, you'll have to learn by yourself. Now go — it's getting lighter... ~ Philip Pullman (Quote from The Golden Compass (1995) the movie adaptation opening on 7 December 2007)
Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is. ~ Willa Cather
Being able to do as one pleases is the natural goal of the libertarian, but having nothing to do is not. While it may be correct to say that the human species is badly prepared for having nothing to do, it is quite a different matter to say that it is badly prepared for the freedom to do as one pleases. People who are able to do as they please may work very hard, given the opportunity to do interesting work. ~ Noam Chomsky
A hero is someone who rebels or seems to rebel against the facts of existence and seems to conquer them. Obviously that can only work at moments. It can't be a lasting thing. That's not saying that people shouldn't keep trying to rebel against the facts of existence. Someday, who knows, we might conquer death, disease and war. ~ Jim Morrison (born 8 December 1943)
The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself, but in so doing, he identifies himself with people — that is, people everywhere, not for the purpose of taking them apart, but simply revealing their true nature. ~ James Thurber
Better than a thousand hollow words
Is one word that brings peace.
Better than a thousand hollow verses
Is one verse that brings peace.
Better than a hundred hollow lines
Is one line of the law, bringing peace.
~ Gautama Buddha (Bodhi Day a traditional date of celebration of his enlightenment)
If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it, they are wrong. I do not say give them up, for they may be all you have, but conceal them like a vice lest they spoil the lives of better and simpler people. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
We take men for what they are worth — and that is why we hate the government of man by man, and that we work with all our might — perhaps not strong enough — to put an end to it. ~ Peter Kropotkin (born 9 December 1842)
Man is appealed to to be guided in his acts, not merely by love, which is always personal, or at the best tribal, but by the perception of his oneness with each human being. In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support not mutual struggle — has had the leading part. ~ Peter Kropotkin
A different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. ... Acknowledging, as a fact, the equal rights of all its members to the treasures accumulated in the past ... it seeks to establish a certain harmonious compatibility in its midst — not by subjecting all its members to an authority that is fictitiously supposed to represent society, not by trying to establish uniformity, but by urging all men to develop free initiative, free action, free association. ~ Peter Kropotkin
I neither oblige the belief of other person, nor overhastily subscribe mine own. Nor have I stood with others computing or collating years and chronologies, lest I should be vainlycurious about the time and circumstance of things, whereof the substance is so much in doubt. By this time, like one who had set out on his way by night, and travelled through a region of smooth or idle dreams, our history now arrives on the confines, where daylight and truth meet us with a clear dawn, representing to our view, though at a far distance, true colours and shapes.
As good almost kill a man as kill a good book. Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. ~ John Milton in Areopagitica
One single war — we all know — may be productive of more evil, immediate and subsequent, than hundreds of years of the unchecked action of the mutual-aid principle may be productive of good. ~ Peter Kropotkin
Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play on the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? ~ John Milton in Areopagitica
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. ~ John Milton in Areopagitica
He who thinks we are to pitch our tent here, and have attained the utmost prospect of reformation that the mortal glass wherein we contemplate can show us, till we come to beatificvision, that man by this very opinion declares that he is yet far short of truth.
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,
Now, therefore, The General Assembly, Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations...
~ From the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ~
Adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, 10 December 1948
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
~ Emily Dickinson (born 10 December 1830)
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference. ~ Elie Wiesel, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on this date in 1986.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. ~ Desmond Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on this day in 1984.
"Hope" is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all —
And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —
~ Emily Dickinson ~
We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. ~ Theodore Roosevelt, from his Nobel prize speech, the prize was awarded to him this day on 1906
The history of the human race has generated several papers articulating basic moral imperatives, or fundamental principles, of human coexistence that… substantially influenced the fate of humanity on this planet. Among these historic documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … holds a very special, indeed, unique position. It is the first code of ethical conduct that was not a product of one culture, or one sphere of civilization only, but a universal creation, shaped and subscribed to by representatives of all humankind. Since its very inception, the Declaration has thus represented a planetary, or global commitment, a global intention, a global guideline. For this reason alone, this exceptional document — conceived as a result of a profound human self-reflection in the wake of the horrors of World War II, and retaining its relevance ever since — deserves to be remembered today. ~ Václav Havel (quote from a speech on the 50th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, 10 December 1948)
THE BLUNDER is to estimate,—
“Eternity is Then,”
We say, as of a station.
Meanwhile he is so near,
He joins me in my ramble,
Divides abode with me,
No friend have I that so persists
As this Eternity.
- Emily Dickinson
The best thing you can do for your fellow, next to rousing his conscience, is — not to give him things to think about, but to wake things up that are in him; or say, to make him think things for himself.
I have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced that they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another. ~ Ellen Goodman
Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation's heart, the excision of its memory. ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (born 11 December 1918)
Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE. ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? ~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
There are metaphysical problems, which cannot be disposed of by declaring them meaningless. For, as I have repeatedly said, they are "beyond physics" indeed and demand an act of faith. We have to accept this fact to be honest. There are two objectionable types of believers: those who believe the incredible and those who believe that "belief" must be discarded and replaced by "the scientific method." ~ Max Born
The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments. ~ Gustave Flaubert (Date of birth)
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. ... I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. ~ William Lloyd Garrison
How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway... And you can always, always give something, even if it is only kindness! ~ Anne Frank
Mark this well, you proud men of action: You are nothing but the unwitting agents of the men of thought who often, in quiet self-effacement, mark out most exactly all your doings in advance. ~ Heinrich Heine
Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry... To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery. ~ George Pólya (date of birth)
Life's an awfully lonesome affair. You can live close against other people yet your lives never touch. You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even coming and going. ~ Emily Carr
If our animosities are born out of fear, then confidentgenerosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.
My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned but not bought. ~ Margaret Chase Smith (born 14 December 1897)
I had determined to go as far as declaring in abstruse and puzzling utterances the future causes of the "common advent", even those truly cogent ones that I have foreseen. Yet lest whatever human changes may be to come should scandalise delicate ears, the whole thing is written in nebulous form, rather than as a clear prophecy of any kind. ~ Nostradamus (born 14 December 1503)
The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting human beings out of their stupor. ~ Morihei Ueshiba (born 14 December 1883)
Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character. ~ Margaret Chase Smith
The project of organizing a democratic political movement entails the hope that one's ideas and beliefs are not merely idiosyncratic but speak to vital human needs, interests and desires, and therefore will be persuasive to many and ultimately most people. But this is a very different matter from deciding to put forward only those ideas presumed (accurately or not) to be compatible with what most people already believe. ~ Ellen Willis
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute. ~ Freeman Dyson (born 15 December 1923)
To talk about the end of science is just as foolish as to talk about the end of religion. Science and religion are both still close to their beginnings, with no ends in sight. ~ Freeman Dyson (date of birth)
It is not the right angle that attracts me,
Nor the hard, inflexible straight line, man-made.
What attracts me are free and sensual curves.
The curves in my country’s mountains,
In the sinuous flow of its rivers,
In the beloved woman’s body.
~ Oscar Niemeyer (his 100th Birthday — born 15 December 1907)
It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. ~ Freeman Dyson
A good cause can become bad if we fight for it with means that are indiscriminately murderous. A bad cause can become good if enough people fight for it in a spirit of comradeship and self-sacrifice. In the end it is how you fight, as much as why you fight, that makes your cause good or bad. ~ Freeman Dyson
In time of crisis, we summon up our strength.
Then, if we are lucky, we are able to call every resource, every forgotten image that can leap to our quickening, every memory that can make us know our power. And this luck is more than it seems to be: it depends on the long preparation of the self to be used.
In time of the crises of the spirit, we are aware of all our need, our need for each other and our need for our selves. We call up, with all the strength of summoning we have, our fullness.
Fear... can make you do more wrong than hate or jealousy. If you're afraid you don't commit yourself to life completely; fear makes you always, always hold something back. ~ Philip K. Dick (born 16 December 1928)
What renders man an imaginative and moral being is that in society he gives new aims to his life which could not have existed in solitude: the aims of friendship, religion, science, and art. ~ George Santayana (born 16 December 1863)
Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future. ~ Arthur C. Clarke
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ~ George Santayana
Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups … So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. ~ Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol (first published 19 December 1843, but mistakenly suggested for this date)
To even mention all the things the bird must constantly keep in mind in order to fly securely through the air would take a considerable part of the evening... The bird has learned this art of equilibrium, and learned it so thoroughly that its skill is not apparent to our sight. We only learn to appreciate it when we try to imitate it. ~ Wilbur Wright (designed the Wright Flyer which flew on 17 December 1903)
It is a queer and fantastic world. Why can't people have what they want? The things were all there to content everybody; yet everybody has got the wrong thing. Perhaps you can make head or tail of it; it is beyond me. ~ Ford Madox Ford
Alas for maiden, alas for Judge,
For rich repiner and household drudge!
God pity them both! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
~ John Greenleaf Whittier ~
All he desired in life was that — that he could pick himself together again and go on with his daily occupations if — the girl, being five thousand miles away, would continue to love him. He wanted nothing more, He prayed his God for nothing more. ~ Ford Madox Ford
Scrooge was better than his word. … He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, GodBless Us, Every One! ~ Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol (first published on 19 December 1843, but mistakenly suggested for this date)
You may well ask why I write. And yet my reasons are quite many. For it is not unusual in human beings who have witnessed the sack of a city or the falling to pieces of a people to set down what they have witnessed for the benefit of unknown heirs or of generations infinitely remote; or, if you please, just to get the sight out of their heads.
The Tree that was withered shall be renewed, and he shall plant it in the high places, and the City shall be blessed. Sing all ye people! ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
(From The Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King (Book VI, Chapter 5, "The Steward and the King"); in the novel this is a song of a great Eagle heralding the victory of Aragorn's forces against those of Sauron and the Dark Tower.)
Formerly we used to represent things visible on earth, things we either liked to look at or would have liked to see. Today we reveal the reality that is behind visible things, thus expressing the belief that the visible world is merely an isolated case in relation to the universe and that there are many more other, latent realities. Things appear to assume a broader and more diversified meaning, often seemingly contradicting the rational experience of yesterday. There is a striving to emphasize the essential character of the accidental. ~ Paul Klee (born 18 December 1879)
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new born King!"
~ Charles Wesley ~ (born 18 December 1707, and song for the Christmas season)
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations, rise.
Join the triumph of the skies.
With th'angelic hosts proclaim Christ is born in Bethlehem!
~ Charles Wesley ~ (born 18 December 1707, and song for the Christmas season)
In the winter season, for seven days of calm, Alcyone broods over her nest on the surface of the waters while the sea-waves are quiet. Through this time Aeolus keeps his winds at home, and ocean is smooth for his descendants’ sake. ~ Ovid
It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life. ~ Phil Ochs (born 19 December 1940)
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" ~ Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol (first published on this date in 1843)
And the evil is done in hopes that evil surrenders
but the deeds of the devil are burned too deep in the embers
and a world of hunger in vengeance will always remember
So please be reassured, we seek no wider war,
we seek no wider war.
"Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead", said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we? We find that we inhabit an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions, and by the depth of our answers. ~ Carl Sagan (died 20 December 1996)
This I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for it is the one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost. ~ John Steinbeck
I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. ~ John Steinbeck
Man is his own star, and the soul that can
Render an honest and a perfect man
Commands all light, all influence, all fate.
Nothing to him falls early, or too late.
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still.
~ John Fletcher (baptized 20 December 1579)
We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent "elementary parts" of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independent behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole. ~ David Bohm
You call me a Circle; but in reality I am not a Circle, but an infinitenumber of Circles... For even a Sphere — which is my proper name in my own country — if he manifest himself at all to an inhabitant of Flatland — must needs manifest himself as a Circle.
This is the stillness behind motion, when time itself stops; the center is also the circumference of all. We are awake in the night.
We turn the Wheel to bring the light.
We call the sun from the womb of night.
~ Starhawk ~
If there is a God, I don't think He would demand that anyone bow down or stand up to Him. I often have a suspicion that God is still trying to work things out and hasn't finished. ~ Rebecca West (born 21 December 1892)
All of us encounter, at least once in our life, some individual who utters words that make us think forever. There are men whose phrases are oracles; who condense in one sentence the secrets of life; who blurt out an aphorism that forms a character or illustrates an existence. ~ Benjamin Disraeli in Coningsby
The God of Peace, the God of Truth will shortly seal this truth, and confirm this witness, and make it evident to the whole world, that the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of ChristJesus the Prince of Peace. ~ Roger Williams ~
Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the center of the Universe. All this is suggested by the systematic procession of events and the harmony of the whole Universe, if only we face the facts, as they say, "with both eyes open."
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.
~ "All Hail to The Days" (or "The Praise of Christmas") ~
Traditional 17th century English carol
My own experience and development deepen every day my conviction that our moral progress may be measured by the degree in which we sympathize with individual suffering and individual joy. ~ George Eliot (died 22 December 1880)
God is not, as in scholasticism, the final subject of all predicates. He is being as unpredicable. The existence of the creature, in so far as it exists, is the existence of God, and the creature’s experience of God is therefore in the final analysis equally unpredicable. Neither can even be described; both can only be indicated. We can only point at reality, our own or God’s. The soul comes to the realization of God by knowledge, not as in the older Christian mysticism by love. Love is the garment of knowledge. The soul first trains itself by systematic unknowing until at last it confronts the only reality, the only knowledge, God manifest in itself. The soul can say nothing about this experience in the sense of defining it. It can only reveal it to others. ~ Kenneth Rexroth
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
~ Joseph Brackett ~
Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way . . . out of that a new holiday was born . . . a Festivus for the rest of us! ~ Jerry Stiller as "Frank Costanza" in Seinfeld (Festivus holiday)
The final frontier is perhaps the most difficult, but it's also the most important — and that's the frontier of the human spirit. For too long, people have allowed differences on the surface — differences of color, ethnicity, and gender — to tear apart the common bonds they share. And the human spirit suffers as a result.
Imagine a world in which we saw beyond the lines that divide us, and celebrated our differences, instead of hiding from them. Imagine a world in which we finally recognized that, fundamentally, we are all the same. And imagine if we allowed that new understanding to build relations between people and between nations. ~ Wesley Clark
I think we should be very clear on this... this country was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment... It was the idea that people could talk, reason, have dialogue, discuss the issues. It wasn't founded on the idea that someone would get struck by a divine inspiration and know everything right from wrong. I mean, people who founded this country had religion, they had strong beliefs, but they believed in reason, in dialogue, in civil discourse. We can’t lose that in this country. We've got to get it back. ~ Wesley Clark (born 23 December 1944)
Working together, we can build a world in which the rule of law — not the rule of force — governs relations between states. A world in which leaders respect the rights of their people, and nations seek peace, not destruction or domination. And neither we nor anyone else should live in fear ever again. ~ Wesley Clark
"Heaven helps those who help themselves" is a well-tried maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience. The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength. Help from without is often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably invigorates. Whatever is done for men or classes, to a certain extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively helpless. ~ Samuel Smiles
We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery. ~ Samuel Smiles
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.
I danced in the morning
When the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon
And the stars and the sun,
And I came down from heaven
And I danced on the earth,
I had my birth.
Dance, then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he.
~ Sydney Carter ~
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
~ "A Visit from St. Nicholas"
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. ~ John Muir
Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. ~ Francis Pharcellus Church in "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"
Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another. ~ John Muir (Date of death)
For poetry the idea is everything; the rest is a world of illusion, of divine illusion. Poetry attaches its emotion to the idea; the idea is the fact. The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry. ~ Matthew Arnold
If what distinguishes the greatestpoets is their powerful and profound application of ideas to life, which surely no goodcritic will deny, then to prefix to the word ideas here the term moral makes hardly any difference, because human life itself is in so preponderating a degree moral.
It is important, therefore, to hold fast to this: that poetry is at bottom a criticism of life; that the greatness of a poet lies in his powerful and beautiful application of ideas to life — to the question, How to live. Morals are often treated in a narrow and false fashion, they are bound up with systems of thought and belief which have had their day, they are fallen into the hands of pedants and professional dealers, they grow tiresome to some of us … the best cure for our delusion is to let our minds rest upon that great and inexhaustible word life, until we learn to enter into its meaning. A poetry of revolt against moral ideas is a poetry of revolt against life; a poetry of indifference towards moral ideas is a poetry of indifference towards life.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
~ Isaac Watts ~
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav'n and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
~ Isaac Watts ~ (traditional Christmas carol)
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of greatjoy, which shall be to allpeople. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earthpeace, good will toward men.
There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know that goddam secret yet? And don't you know — listen to me, now — don't you know who that Fat Lady really is? . . . Ah, buddy. Ah, buddy. It's Christ Himself. Christ Himself, buddy. ~ J. D. Salinger
Let us face squarely the paradox that the world which goes to war is a world, usually, genuinely desiring peace. War is the outcome, not mainly of evil intentions, but on the whole, of good intentions which miscarry or are frustrated. It is made, not usually by evil men knowing themselves to be wrong, but is the outcome of policies pursued by good men usually passionately convinced that they are right. ~ Norman Angell
Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, hear;
They breathe a soul to animate thy clay.
Bright Rapture calls, and soaring, as she sings,
Waves in the eye of Heav'n her many-colour'd wings.
~ Thomas Gray ~
The obstacles to peace are in the minds and hearts of men.
In the study of matter we can be honest, impartial, true. That is why we succeed in dealing with it. But about the things we care for — which are ourselves, our desires and lusts, our patriotisms and hates — we find a harder test of thinking straight and truly. Yet there is the greater need. Only by intellectual rectitude and in that field shall we be saved. There is no refuge but in truth, in human intelligence, in the unconquerable mind of man. ~ Norman Angell
To each his suff'rings: all are men,
Condemn'd alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain;
Th' unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
~ Thomas Gray ~
Except for the people who were there that one day they discovered the polio vaccine, being part of history is rarely a good idea. History is one war after another with a bunch of murders and natural disasters in between. ~ Sarah Vowell (born 27 December 1969)
I am utterly convinced that Science and Peace will triumph over Ignorance and War, that nations will eventually unite not to destroy but to edify, and that the future will belong to those who have done the most for the sake of suffering humanity. ~ Louis Pasteur
There never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost. ~ Harold Pinter (recent death)
selected by Kalki, — This statement has been discovered to very probably be a misattribution, and seems to have been created as part of a paraphrase of Feynman's note to the mother of Marcus Chown: "Tell your son to stop trying to fill your head with science — for to fill your heart with love is enough." ~ Kalki 01:29, 26 December 2008 (UTC)
No nation is fit to sit in judgement upon any other nation. ~ Woodrow Wilson, (born 28 December 1856)
The forces of moderation and democracy must, and will, prevail against extremism and dictatorship. I will not be intimidated. ... Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it. ~ Benazir Bhutto (recent death)
Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or, in other words, a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink and wear. ~ Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (Date of death)
At terrestrial temperatures matter has complex properties which are likely to prove most difficult to unravel; but it is reasonable to hope that in the not too distant future we shall be competent to understand so simple a thing as a star. ~ Arthur Stanley Eddington
The external world of physics has … become a world of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance is one of the greatest of our illusions. ... The sparsely spread nuclei of electric force become a tangible solid; their restless agitation becomes the warmth of summer; the octave of aethereal vibrations becomes a gorgeous rainbow. Nor does the alchemy stop here. In the transmuted world new significances arise which are scarcely to be traced in the world of symbols; so that it becomes a world of beauty and purpose — and, alas, suffering and evil.
The frank realisation that physical science is concerned with a world of shadows is one of the most significant of recent advances. ~ Arthur Stanley Eddington
A goodpoem is a tautology. It expands one word by adding a number which clarify it, thus making a new word which has never before been spoken. The seed-word is always so ordinary that hardly anyone perceives it. Classical odes grow from and or because, romantic lyrics from but or if. Immature verses expand a personal pronoun ad nauseam, the greatestworks bring glory to a common verb.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? There is a brotherhood among all men. This must be recognized if life is to remain. We must learn the love of man. ~ Pablo Casals
Yes, the springtime was in need of you. Often a star
waited for you to espy it and sense its light.
A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past,
or as you walked below an open window,
a violin gave itself to your hearing.
All this was trust. But could you manage it?
Were you not always distraught by expectation,
as if all this were announcing the arrival
of a beloved?
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
Saints are not made by accident. Still less is a Christianmartyrdom the effect of a man's will to become a Saint, as a man by willing and contriving may become a ruler of men. Ambition fortifies the will of man to become ruler over other men: it operates with deception, cajolery, and violence, it is the action of impurity upon impurity. Not so in Heaven. A martyr, a saint, is always made by the design of God, for His love of men, to warn them and to lead them, to bring them back to His ways. A martyrdom is never the design of man; for the true martyr is he who has become the instrument of God, who has lost his will in the will of God, not lost it but found it, for he has found freedom in submission to God. The martyr no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of martyrdom.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too...
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And — which is more — you'll be a Man, my son!
~ Rudyard Kipling ~ (born 30 December 1865)
The greatest book is not the one whose message engraves itself on the brain, as a telegraphic message engraves itself on the ticker-tape, but the one whose vital impact opens up other viewpoints, and from writer to reader spreads the fire that is fed by the various essences, until it becomes a vast conflagration leaping from forest to forest. ~ Romain Rolland (died 30 December 1944)
Justice has nothing to do with victor nations and vanquished nations, but must be a moral standard that all the world's peoples can agree to. To seek this and to achieve it — that is true civilization. ~ Hideki Tojo
Never do I hesitate to look squarely at the unexpected face that every passing hour unveils to us, and to sacrifice the false images of it formed in advance, however dear they may be. In me, the love of life in general predominates over love of my own life (that, indeed, would never have sufficed to bear me up). May life herself speak! However inadequate I may be in listening to her, and in repeating her words, I shall try to record them, even if they contradict my most secretdesires. In all that I write, may her will, not mine, be done!
Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:
And down the wave and in the flame was borne
A naked babe...
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson in Idylls of the King ~
At each stage I reach a balance, a conclusion. At the next sitting, if I find that there is a weakness in the whole, I make my way back into the picture by means of the weakness — I re-enter through the breach — and I reconceive the whole. Thus everything becomes fluid again. ~ Henri Matisse (born 31 December 1869)