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THOMPSON: The power of quotes to move you

May 07, 2018 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Somewhere - probably in Mesopotamia or Egypt or China - someone discovered writing. That was more than 5,000 years ago. I don’t know where or when the first person was ever quoted…or even why they were quoted or who wrote it.

But, you can bet that day’s readers were moved in some way. Maybe they laughed at its humour, pondered its wisdom or were inspired to new heights by its truth. Everybody has favourite quotes…and today…here are some of mine. I have so many favourites…and I’m leaving out more great ones than I’m including. They run the gamut…from serious to funny…from profound to shallow. But here - in no particular order - are some quotes you might find entertaining or thought-provoking.

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” How can you neither accept that truth nor love Dr. Suess?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians, The Bible. I’m not a regular in church (understatement)…but no wonder they call it The Good Book.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Always liked Oscar Wilde.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  Mahatma Gandhi’s sage advice still holds.

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”  Thomas Alva Edison captured precisely what every scientist and inventor lives with every day…and what every successful person I’ve ever met knows.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This truth from  “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is one of many from Maya Angelou.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
If this Groucho Marx witticism doesn’t bring a laugh…you simply have no sense of humour.

“Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” Mark Twain could barely open his mouth without being quoted…most of us can relate to these two. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

"Fade into Bolivian, I guess." Then Heavyweight Champion Boxer Mike Tyson answered this way when asked what he might do after retirement. I’m pretty sure he eventually faded away somewhere between Santa Cruz and La Paz.

NBA Power Forward Charles Shackleford touted his dexterity saying: “I can go right, I can go left, I’m amphibious.”

Baseball players are full of quotable lines. Ron Fairly played for a half dozen major league teams, including the Expos and the Blue Jays, but he said this as the announcer for the Mariners: “Last night I failed to mention something that bears repeating.”

New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel on the first day of Spring training one year advised players: “All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height.” And how can you argue with Yankees catcher Yogi Berra’s assessment: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you wind up somewhere else.” Stengel and Berra were together 11 years…and as amazing as it might seem…neither had a translator

In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s style overshadowed incumbent Jimmy Carter’s substance with two pithy lines during their only televised debate. Reagan made light of Carter’s truthful accusation by shaking his head incredulously and stating “There you go again,” before nailing the coffin shut by asking voters: “Are you better off than four years ago?”

John Kennedy described politics everywhere when he said, “Politics is a jungle…torn between doing the right thing and staying in office.”

The simplicity of Dante Alighieri’s observation that “Art imitates nature as well as it can, as a pupil follows his master; thus it is a sort of grandchild of God,” is art.

Britain’s Prime Minister William Gladstone’s “Justice delayed, is justice denied,” still holds.

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” I believe this quote has more weight simply because Wayne Gretzky said it.

The first lines from three great novels are among my favourite quotes. Zola Neale Hurston’s opening from “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” captivates: “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”

And, Charles Dickens’ opening from “A Tale of Two Cities” makes us consider how little has changed from then to now: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This opening line from Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” explains perfectly that there are more ways for a family to be unhappy than happy.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - maybe more than any writer - examined life with sheer eloquence. These two quotes are proof: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” And, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

I lived in Germany for two years and I’ll never forget the quote from George Santayana emblazoned on a stone at the entrance to the Nazi Concentration Camp at Dachau:
“Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

Everyone has favourite quotes…let me know some of yours by adding them to the comment section below.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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