Josephson Institute  >  Quotations Bank

Quotations: Choice, freedom


Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
Napoleon Bonaparte, French general and emperor (1769-1821)

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.
Seneca, Roman statesman, dramatist and Stoic philosopher (4 B.C.-65 A.D.)

When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil.
Max Lerner, American editor and political columnist (1902-1992)

He who has a choice has trouble.
Dutch proverb

There is a point at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back. Life’s point of no return.
Dag Hammarskjold, Swedish diplomat, U.N. Secretary General (1905-1961)

Life is the sum of your choices.
Albert Camus, French existentialist novelist (1913-1960)

Liberty means responsibility. That’s why most men dread it.
George Bernard Shaw, Anglo-Irish dramatist and wit (1856-1950)

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling that desire.
Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher (c. 55-c. 135 A.D.)

Freedom means choosing your burden.
Hephzibah Menuhin, American pianist (1920-1981)

Hell begins the day that God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done, but did not do.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, novelist, playwright, scientist and philosopher (1749-1832)

In order to exist, man must rebel.
Albert Camus, French existentialist novelist (1913-1960)

Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.
Aristotle, Greek philosopher (384-322 B.C.)

The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.
Baron Thomas Babington Macauley, English historian and statesman (1800-1859)

Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.
Thomas Carlyle, Scottish historian and author (1795-1881)

It is with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French aviator and author (1900-1944), from The Little Prince

Rise above principle and do what is right.
Walter Heller, American economist (1915-1987)

Since changes are going on anyway, the great thing is to learn enough about them so that we will be able to lay hold of them and turn them in the direction of our desires. Conditions and events are neither to be fled from nor passively acquiesced in; they are to be utilized and directed.
John Dewey, American philosopher and education reformer (1859-1952)

Freedom and constraint are two aspects of the same necessity, the necessity of being the man you are and not another. You are free to be that man, but not another.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French aviator and author (1900-1944)

The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
Hannah Arendt, German-Jewish political philosopher and author (1906-1975)

No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.
Mary Wollstonecraft, English feminist and writer (1759-1797)

Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.
John Stuart Mill, 19th-century English philosopher and economist

What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.
Jean-Paul Sartre, French existentialist writer (1905-1980)

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Unknown

A politician would do well to remember that he has to live with his conscience longer than he does with his constituents.
Melvin R. Laird, 20th-century American secretary of defense

The duties which a police officer owes to the state are of a most exacting nature. No one is compelled to choose the profession of a police officer, but having chosen it, everyone is obliged to live up to the standard of its requirements. To join in that high enterprise means the surrender of much individual freedom.
Calvin Coolidge, 30th American president (1872-1933)

Every man, at the bottom of his heart, wants to do right. But only he can do right who knows right; only he knows right who thinks right; only he thinks right who believes right.
Tiorio

We demand entire freedom of action and then expect the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts.... Self-government means self-reliance.
Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. president (1872-1933)

The farther a man knows himself to be free from perfection, the nearer he is to it.
Gerard Groote, Dutch religious reformer (1340-1384)

A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai Stevenson II, American politician, presidential candidate (1900-1965)

A human being is a deciding being.
Viktor E. Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist (1905-1997)

If you decide to eat a toad, you should at least select one that is big.
Igbo proverb

I learn by going where I have to go.
Theodore Roethke, poet (1908-1963)

Hurrying does not result in success.
Swahili proverb

A wise man makes his own decisions; the ignorant goes with the crowd.
Chinese proverb

When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.
William James, American psychologist and philosopher (1842-1910)

Making a thousand decisions, even the wise will make a mistake.
Chinese proverb

Consider often. Decide once.
Latin proverb

He who has a choice has trouble.
Dutch proverb

When confronted with two courses of action I jot down on a piece of paper all the arguments in favor of each one, then on the opposite side I write the arguments against each one. Then by weighing the arguments pro and con and cancelling them out, one against the other, I take the course indicated by what remains.
Benjamin Franklin, author, printer, politician, scientist, inventor (1706-1790)

Before you make any decision, consider its effect on the next seven generations.
Hopi proverb

Choose your love, then love your choice.
American proverb

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.
Voltaire, French philosopher and writer (1694-1778)

Nice words are free, so choose ones that please another's ears.
Vietnamese proverb

The most important fact about Spaceship Earth: an instruction book didn't come with it.
R. Buckminster Fuller, engineer, author, designer, inventor (1895-1983)

A burden that one chooses is not felt.
Italian proverb

Between two stools one sits on the ground.
French proverb

Once the 'what' is decided, the 'how' always follows. We must not make the 'how' an excuse for not facing and accepting the 'what.'
Pearl S. Buck, American writer (1892-1973)

Life is not a continuum of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that call for strength, determination, and hard work.
Indian proverb

Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.
Samuel Butler, English writer (1735-1902)

A leader is judged not by the length of his reign but by the decisions he makes.
Klingon Proverb

The last, if not the greatest, of the human freedoms: to choose their own attitude in any given circumstance.
Bruno Bettelheim, Austrian-born American psychologist and writer (1903-1990)

Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian prime minister (1889-1964)

Rules of society are nothing; one's conscience is the umpire.
Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, French hostess and patron of the arts (1697-1780)

Choice of attention ... is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.
W.H. Auden, English-born American poet (1907-1973)

Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome.
Chinese proverb

Wise people care not for that which they cannot have.
Italian proverb

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.
Confucius (K'ung Fu-tzu), Chinese sage (551-479 B.C.)

One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little. They act impulsively without thinking. I always try to think before I talk.
Margaret Chase Smith, politician (1897-1995)

Before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.
Harper Lee, American writer

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If people speak or act with evil thoughts, pain follows them. If people speak or act with pure thoughts, happiness follows them, like a shadow that never leaves them.
Siddhartha Gautama, spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism (c. 563 – 483 BCE)

America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact - the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality.
–Adlai Stevenson, Governor of Illinois (1900-1965)