The Examined Life

Published: May 2, 2011

By Jim Lichtman
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Ever since I began searching the Internet I started collecting quotes. Particularly interesting was to see the connective tissue of both knowledge and character that would emerge. It didn’t take long to discover a pattern – that true wisdom knows no period in history, religion, culture, race, age or gender. Here are just a few to consider:

“What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
– Confucius

“We should behave to others as we wish others to behave to us.”
– Aristotle

“Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not have him do to thee thereafter.”
– Mahabharata, ancient Indian spiritual epic

“As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
– Jesus

“When you perceive that an act done to another is done to yourself, you have understood the great truth.”
– Lao Tzu

“Do not hurt your neighbor, for it is not him you harm, but yourself.”
– Shawnee Proverb

“The object of the superior man is truth.”
– Confucius

“If you add to the truth, you subtract from it.”
– The Talmud

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”
– Chief Joseph

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  – Winston Churchill

“I never lie. I believe everything I say, so it’s not a lie.”
– Mark Wahlberg

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
– Mark Twain

“Good words do not last long until they amount to something.”
– Chief Joseph

“We have too many high sounding words and too few actions that correspond with them.”
– Abigail Adams

“Execute every act of thy life as if it were thy last.”
– Marcus Aurelius

“Good people nurture character with fruitful action.”
– Confucius

“Character is destiny.”
– Heraclitus, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher

“The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.”
– John Ruskin

“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.”
– Marcus Aurelius

“Be honorable yourself if you wish to associate with honorable people.”
Welsh proverb

“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  What I can do I should do and, with the help of God, I will do.”
– Everett Hale

“We cannot afford to say, ‘What can I do, I’m only one person?’  One person can do a lot!”
– Judy Meisel, Holocaust survivor

“When were the good and the brave ever in the majority?”
– Henry David Thoreau

“Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side.”
– Unknown

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
– Plato

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

“All a man can betray is his conscience.”
– Joseph Conrad

“Men never do evil so fully and so happily as when they do it for conscience’s sake.”
– Blaise Pascal  

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”
– Hannah Arendt

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
– Leo Tolstoy

“Adversity introduces a man to himself.”
– Anonymous

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“We cannot learn without pain.”
– Aristotle

“I’ll hold the ball Charlie Brown, and you come running up and kick it.”
– Lucy Van Pelt

“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”
– Japanese proverb

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
– Benjamin Franklin

“Endurance is nobler than strength and patience than beauty.”
– John Ruskin

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
– C.S. Lewis

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
– Winston Churchill

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
– John Wayne

“To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice.”
– Confucius

“We are not called to do great things, only little things with great love.”
– Mother Teresa

“The first and the best victory is to conquer self. To be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”
– Plato

“He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty.”
– Lao Tzu

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
– Jimi Hendrix

“Well done is better than well said.”
– Benjamin Franklin 

“A man of words and not deeds
Is like a garden full of weeds.”
– Anonymous Nursery rhyme

“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”
– Henri Bergson

“We must become the change we want to see.”
– Gandhi

“Tell me what company you keep, and I’ll tell you what you are.”
– Miguel de Cervantes

“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?  A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”
– Paul Simon

“We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.”
– Will Rogers

“Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.”
“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”
– from Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
– Mother Teresa

“The highest truth cannot be put into words.
Therefore the greatest teacher has nothing to say.
He simply gives himself in service and never worries.”
– Lao Tzu


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