The Quote Garden
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Quotations about Society
and Modern Living

Related Quotes      Civilization      Curmudgeon      Humankind      Justice

As I write, the world is in an ungentle mood. The result is the crisis psychology of our time, with its characteristic brink-of-war and brink-of-fascism mentality. Anything, we feel, may happen any day. Each day may spell the difference between the status quo and disaster. ~Max Lerner, "History if Written by the Survivors," It Is Later Than You Think: The Need for a Militant Democracy, 1938–1943

Men would not live long in society, were they not the mutual dupes of each other. ~François VI de la Rochefoucault (1613–1680)

I wish I could go back to the old me. This modern world has torn me apart. ~Making History, "Body Trouble" [S1, E9, 2017], written by Isaiah Lester, spoken by the time-traveling character Sam Adams

I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance. ~Reuben Blades

When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat? ~Chuck Palahniuk

One of the misfortunes of our time is that in getting rid of false shame, we have killed off so much real shame as well. ~Louis Kronenberger, Company Manners, 1954

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. ~Krishnamurti

Our modern society is engaged in polishing and decorating the cage in which man is kept imprisoned. ~Swami Nirmalananda, Enlightened Anarchism

Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness. ~George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists

The wisdom of the world is sued for breach of promise. The lore of the ages is bankrupt. It cannot pay its debts. It is powerless to release a soul from pain, unable to mend a little broken heart, and even the hungry it cannot save from starvation. Strange situation, yet we explain it; we tell all who, like ourselves, are puzzled and perplexed, and content to remain so, that it is the problem of the ages. Are we not wise to use such words? We offer no solution, but give the problem a name.... why this abyss between the thought and the deed? Has not humanity been dreaming too much with its hands in its pockets? Has not the mind worked overtime and permitted the indolence of the body?... What is it we believe in? ~Bernard G. Richard, "Life and the Theories of Life," To‑Morrow, June 1905  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Our democratic capitalist society has converted Eros into an employee of Mammon. ~Octavio Paz

The first gold star a child gets in school for the mere performance of a needful task is its first lesson in graft. ~Philip Wylie, Generation of Vipers, 1942

I think God's going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding. ~Steven Wright

What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? ~Henry David Thoreau

It's a sad and stupid thing to have to proclaim yourself a revolutionary just to be a decent man. ~David Harris

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It'll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers. ~Unknown author, quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. ~Author Unknown

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. ~Jackie Gleason

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams. ~Mary Ellen Kelly

Are right and wrong convertible terms, dependent upon popular opinion? ~William Lloyd Garrison

Society is composed of two great classes — those who have more dinners than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinners. ~Sébastien-Roch Nicolas (Chamfort)

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower, first inaugural address, 20 January 1953

It is the safest of times, it is the riskiest of times.... What the Dickens is going on here? ~Denton Morrison, on chemicals, technology, and risk, quoted in National Academy of Sciences, Improving Risk Communication, 1989

When a man finds that photographers are willing to take his likeness for nothing — he has arrived. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

Few great men could pass Personnel. ~Paul Goodman, Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized Society, 1956

[I]t's getting harder and harder to worry needlessly. ~Robert Brault,

I see vulgarity is becoming more fashionable than ever. ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885

It is a bad sign when men do not like to hear of warnings in a world of danger. ~Rev. William Borrows, M.A., Minister of St. Paul's Chapel, Clapham

You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world. ~Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden, "The Mission"

It would be a service to mankind if the pill were available in slot machines and the cigarette were placed on prescription. ~Malcolm Potts, MD

There is no hope for a civilization which starts each day to the sound of an alarm clock. ~Author Unknown

Here's a brave earth to sin and suffer on....
We'll sow it thick enough with graves as green
Or greener certes, than its knowledge-tree.
We'll have the cypress for the tree of life,
More eminent for shadow: for the rest,
We'll build it dark with towns and pyramids,
And temples, if it please you:—we'll have feasts
And funerals also, merrymakes and wars,
Till blood and wine shall mix and run along
Right o'er the edges...
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "A Drama of Exile"

The present age, for all its cosmopolitan hustle, is curiously suburban in spirit. ~Norman Douglas

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. ~Bill Vaughn

That ridiculous goose, the Public! Sometimes I wonder if the whole world is n't an idiot asylum for the castaways of happier planets. ~Malheureuse, "Four For a Cent," in The Overland Monthly, January 1893

[S]o far as I personally am concerned the public can go to the devil. It is the function of the public to prevent the artist's expression by hook or by crook.... we're in such a beautiful position to save the public's soul by punching its face that it seems a crime not to do so. ~Ezra Pound, letter to Harriet Monroe, December 1912

The time is ripe, and rotten-ripe, for change;
Then let it come: I have no dread of what
Is called for by the instinct of mankind.
Nor think I that God's world would fall apart
Because we tear a parchment more or less.
Truth is eternal, but her effluence,
With endless change, is fitted to the hour;
Her mirror is turned forward, to reflect
The promise of the future, not the past.
I do not fear to follow out the truth...
~James Russell Lowell, "A Glance Behind the Curtain"

We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship. ~C.S. Lewis

Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots. ~Erich Fromm

We create an environment where it is alright to hate, to steal, to cheat, and to lie if we dress it up with symbols of respectability, dignity and love. ~Whitney Moore, Jr.

When people go to work, they shouldn't have to leave their hearts at home. ~Betty Bender

The choice so often these days is to believe something that seems insane or go insane. ~Robert Brault,

Widespread caffeine use explains a lot about the twentieth century. ~Greg Egan, "Distress"

In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning. ~Carl Sandburg, New York Post, 9 September 1960

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money. ~Author Unknown

Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favor.
~Robert Frost, "The Black Cottage," North of Boston, 1914

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
~T.S. Eliot, Choruses from The Rock

Today the world changes so quickly that in growing up we take leave not just of youth but of the world we were young in. ~Peter Medawar

Mammalia, A family of vertebrate animals whose females in a state of nature suckle their young, but when civilized and enlightened put them out to nurse, or use the bottle. ~Ambrose Bierce

Choice has always been a privilege of those who could afford to pay for it. ~Ellen Frankfort

You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it. ~Art Buchwald

Those persons who are burning to display heroism may rest assured that the course of social evolution will offer them every opportunity. ~Havelock Ellis

The trouble with our age is that it is all signposts and no destination. ~The War Cry

Tolerance is like alcohol: in moderate amounts, it softens hard edges, and lubricates the machinery of social interaction; in excess, it leads to foolishness, incoherence, the annihilation of principle, and the destruction of the essential self. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

It isn't so much that hard times are coming; the change observed is mostly soft times going. ~Groucho Marx

We have produced a world of contented bodies and discontented minds. ~Adam Clayton Powell, Keep the Faith, Baby!, 1967

The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. ~Omar Bradley

I do not want you to believe any of this because it is all crap, but it is the crap in which the piles of our pseudo-European culture are embedded, so you had better understand it because no one who does not understand the history and taxonomy of crap will ever come to know the difference between crap and pseudocrap and noncrap. ~Louis de Bernières, Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord (Dionisio Vivo)

Speed kills colour... the gyroscope, when turning at full speed, shows up gray. ~Paul Morand

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman

Is it my imagination, or does shipping and handling settle a box of crackers more than it used to? ~Robert Brault,

The thoughts of Plato and Machiavelli... don't seem quite enough armor for a world beset with splitting the atoms, urban guerrillas, nineteen varieties of psychotherapists, amplified guitars, napalm, computers, astronauts, and an atmosphere polluted simultaneously with auto exhaust and TV commercials. ~John Fischer

Nothing can be more readily disproved than the old saw, "You can't keep a good man down." Most human societies have been beautifully organized to keep good men down. ~John W. Gardner

The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be. ~Paul Valery

What's wrong with this world is, it's not finished yet. It is not competed to the point where man can put his final signature to the job and say, "It is finished. We made it and it works." ~William Faulkner, address, Wellesley, Massachusetts, 8 June 1952

Most people are willing to pay more to be amused than to be educated. ~Robert C. Savage, Life Lessons

We feed on the world in increasingly desperate attempts to compensate for feelings of incompleteness, separation, and alienation. This is a sorry way to live. ~Ken McLeod, Wake Up To Your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention

Life has been reduced to getting food out of cans. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Yet every year the girls are more beautiful, the athletes are better. So the dilemma remains. Is the curse on the world or on oneself? Does the world get better, no matter how, getting better and worse as part of the same process, or does the world get better in spite of the fact it is getting worse, and we are approaching the time when an apocalypse will pass through the night? ~Norman Mailer, Cannibals and Christians, 1966

When we think of the past, we forget the fools and remember the sage. We reverse the process for our own time. ~George Boas

A man, to be happy in this world, needs to have been born a fool. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. ~Gertrude Stein

Yes, I am positive that one of the great curatives of our evils, our maladies, social, moral, and intellectual, would be a return to the soil, a rehabilitation of the work of the fields. ~Charles Wagner

You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion. ~Garrison Keillor

      Appearances for them are absolute. So, like savages before their gods, they worship facts. And in return, the facts hit them like hailstones. Life is just one damned fact after another. They turn to collecting facts—laying them down—making "Outlines" of every real and fancied fact in the universe, until "truth" becomes an endless succession of stepping-stones that have a way of disappearing into a bog as soon as they are passed over, and the living and ever-present eternity is an abysmal void on the far horizon.
      No doubt about it, we live in a fact-ridden world. Any man who has gathered a handful of facts now fancies himself a competent authority; and slinging facts at one another is the whole occupation of our second-rate scientists, politicians and economists, who trail behind them a vast horde of camp-followers trampling the living relationship of truth underfoot while they vociferate their "confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning." What wonder that human values are regarded as outworn?
      ~Max Plowman, "The Adelphi Forum: Keyserling's Challenge," December 1932

Commuter — one who spends his life
In riding to and from his wife;
A man who shaves and takes a train,
And then rides back to shave again.
~E. B. White, "The Commuter," 1925

Unhappy is a people that has run out of words to describe what is going on. ~Thurman Arnold

Nowadays you envy a manic-depressive. Half the time he's happy, the other half he's right. ~Robert Brault,

Fame is proof that the people are gullible. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. ~Edward R. Murrow

I believe that one of the great problems for us as individuals is the depression and the tension resulting from existence in a world which is increasingly less pleasing to the eye. ~Lady Bird Johnson

People had been working for so many years to make the world a safe organized place. Nobody realized how boring it would become. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

So long as all the increased wealth which modern progress brings goes but to build up great fortunes, to increase luxury and make sharper the contrast between the House of Have and the House of Want, progress is not real and cannot be permanent. ~Henry George, Progress and Poverty, 1879

One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we'll need a new definition. ~Alvin Toffler

The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain. ~Ronald Firbank

Anyone else tired of how media eats your brain? ~Daniel, @blindedpoet

We get lost in a fog of abstractions and easily forget that man is a bloodhound sniffing out the real. ~Robert C. Pollock

Failure seems to be regarded as the one unpardonable crime, success as the all-redeeming virtue, the acquisition of wealth as the single worthy aim of life. The hair-raising revelations of skullduggery and grand-scale thievery merely incite others to surpass by yet bolder outrages and more corrupt combinations. ~Charles Francis Adams

The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it. ~Daniel Webster

What they sell to the masses are the chains you must break if you are ever to be in control of your life. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife

The tragedy of it is that nobody sees the look of desperation on my face. Thousands and thousands of us, and we're passing one another without a look of recognition. ~Henry Miller

Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence — those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. ~Aldous Huxley, Island

Wall Street criminality is growing by leaps. There are no bounds. ~Robert Brault,

People haven't time to learn anything. They buy things ready-made in stores. But since there are no stores where you can buy friends, people no longer have friends. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, translated from French by Richard Howard

The gods are satisfied when a man does his best, but the neighbors may still find fault with him. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The human race has had long experience and a fine tradition in surviving adversity. But we now face a task for which we have little experience, the task of surviving prosperity. ~Alan Gregg

Fame consists in dying in action and getting your name misspelled on the casualty lists. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Beautiful world! I see you. One day I shall comprehend you.
Wondrous life! We all allow it to become so marred.
How life would touch us with fond caress, and our cold hands but chill her.
We shout at her. Maybe if we would whisper she would hear. Her soul is not attuned to raucous sound.
~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: V," A Soul's Faring, 1921  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I don't believe medical discoveries are doing much to advance human life. As fast as we create ways to extend it we are inventing ways to shorten it. ~Christiaan Barnard

Society is always engaged in a vast conspiracy to preserve itself — at the expense of the new demands of each new generation. ~John Haynes Holmes

The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded. ~Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

Information and communications technology unlocks the value of time, allowing and enabling multi-tasking, multi-channels, multi-this and multi-that. ~Li Ka Shing

The West has enough technology, enough science, enough affluence, enough money, but something of the inner is missing. There is no peace, no silence, no joy, no bliss, no meditativeness, no experience of godliness. ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

When with a tired soul Thou stand'st apart
      And life's most busy nothingness dost see,
      When the hard question rises in thy heart
      What all these contradictions here may be;
When thou dost see God's glorious world defaced,
      As though the very sun should hide his light,
      Ashamed at all the black lines man has traced
      Upon the things that were so pure and bright;
When man's unkindness to his brother man,—
      Not the great wars that shake a nation's weal,
      But that indifference with which they fan
      The flame of anguish which they do not feel;—
~Fanny Charlotte Wyndham Montgomery (1820–1893), "When with a tired soul," 1846

Western laziness.... consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time left to confront the real issues. ~Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse After Glimpse: Daily Reflections on Living and Dying

[The] men of the technostructure are the new and universal priesthood. Their religion is business success; their test of virtue is growth and profit. Their bible is the computer printout; their communion bench is the committee room. ~J.K. Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty, 1977

If living conditions don't stop improving in this country, we're going to run out of humble beginnings for our great men. ~Russell P. Askue

The wise man takes note of the spirit of the age, the politician panders to it, the statesman guides it. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

      When I imagine the sixties and seventies, I am filled with a sad sense that something important has been lost — something that connected people, regardless of their many directions. Growing up in the aftermath of the "hippie movement" has fragmented youth identity. We are propelled headlong into the age of anxiety, afflicted with tunnel vision and distrust of our neighbors.... It was a movement in the truest sense of the word, a collective effort toward a common goal: personal freedom.
      Now there are only separate movements in opposing directions and a seeming ambiguity of purpose. My generation has been characterized as thoughtless, cynical, unmotivated, apathetic and generally uninterested.... During the past twenty years, technological innovation has become the dominant factor in defining the pace of our culture. Perhaps our brains seem a bit numb because they are saturated with too much information, too many media images repeating themselves in the reflective surfaces of our shiny new world....
      So here I am, driving through a landscape that has seen the last thirty years go whirling by in a blur of ever increasing traffic, rising decibels and thickening exhaust. ~Cecily Schmidt, "Common Threads," in Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counterculture edited by Chelsea Cain, 1999

I prefer Grimm's fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Possibilities," 1997, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak

Things happen too quickly, crisis follows crisis, the soil of our minds is perpetually disturbed. Each of us, to relieve his feelings, broadcasts his own running commentary on the preposterous and bewildering events of the hour: and this, nowadays, is what passes for conversation. ~Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver, 1930s

[T]he devil... seldom leads people astray anymore, finding it easier to just follow along in their footsteps. ~Robert Brault,

Copyrights Are All Reserved
Confidential And Preserved
Science, Fiction, Law And Art
All The Brain Is Kept Apart
Talents Of The World Exist
What Is Good Is Never Missed
Knowledge There, Is So Immense
Without It, Life, Would Not Make Sense
So Cultural So Refined
The World Is Left Behind
Copyrights Have All The Brain
      Ever Known
            Plus Its Own.
~Victor Derlatka, "Library Of Congress," in Our Western World's Most Beautiful Poems, edited and published by John Campbell, World of Poetry Press, 1985

The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life. ~Theodore Roosevelt

It is one of the maladies of our age to profess a frenzied allegiance to truth in unimportant matters, to refuse consistently to face her where graver issues are at stake. ~Norman Douglas

There's a standard formula for success in the entertainment medium, and that is: "Beat it to death if it succeeds." ~Ernie Kovacs

[H]istory assures us that civilizations decay quite leisurely. ~Will and Ariel Durant, Lessons of History

Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things. ~Russell Baker

Society is now one polish'd horde,
Formed of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.
~Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto XIII, stanza 95

I've been reading a lot lately about Indian captives. One woman who had been captured by the Indians and made a squaw was resentful when she was rescued because she'd found that there was a lot more work to do as the wife of a white man. ~Stephen Vincent Benét

Information should be used as food for thought, not poison to the soul. ~Shellie R. Warren

The art of living is the art of knowing how to believe lies. ~Cesare Pavese

During the Depression, or back when we were fighting Hitler, people didn't have time to sue a company if the coffee was too hot. There were urgent, pressing problems. If you think you have it tough, read history books. ~Bill Maher

      But fully to digest the spirit of this dicephalous diffusion, it is necessary to escalate retrospectively to the earliest instance of daylight-slaving, consequent on Uncle Adam's paucity of perception in failing to swallow the core. The occasion, besides establishing the fact that it was the serpent who first slipped over the slogan "Eat More Fruit," proved to be an ominous omen to man, who on account of Adam's failure to comply with the Orchard Act, was obliged to hitch up his hosiery and handle a hoe. Protestingly he proceeded to dig Old Man Earth in the ribs until he in his turn realised the necessity of hoisting his "holeproofs" and attending to his greengroceries, with the result that man plucked from his bosom herbaceous haberdashery both edible and elegant.
      From this moment man experienced the psychological solecism, "Pride of Place," and out of his uppishness, combined with this access of agricultural activity, there sprang towns, like corns on the cuticle of cultivation, or excrescences on the hands of husbandry, thus proving that the Town and Country are really one, the town being merely the country with its hat on.
      To quote the quips of Barnyard Stripling, the pastoral poet:— Each is least and both are best, And ever the twain shall meet. ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "Daylight-Slaving and the Curse of the Core," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st

The things that are wrong with the country today are the sum total of all the things that are wrong with us as individuals. ~Charles W. Tobey

The twentieth century seems afflicted by a gigantic... power failure. Powerlessness and the sense of powerlessness may be the environmental disease of the age. ~Russell Baker, New York Times, 1 May 1969

Society's sins are like new wine: they only require age to make them respectable. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882

Punishment is now unfashionable... because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility. ~Thomas Szasz

The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun. ~George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant, 1950

It is not that artistic power has left the world but that a more rapid life has developed itself in it, leaving no time for deliberate dainty decoration or labours of love. ~Mrs. Orrinsmith, 1877

It is perfectly easy to be original by violating the laws of decency and the canons of good taste. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Over the Teacups, 1891

The three horrors of modern life — talk without meaning, desire without love, work without satisfaction. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

[Y]ou're never more alive than when you're almost dead. You recognize what's valuable. Freshly, as if for the first time, you love what's best in yourself and in the world, all that might be lost.... [Y]ou find yourself studying the fine colors on the river, you feel wonder and awe at the setting of the sun, and you are filled with a hard, aching love for how the world could be and always should be, but now is not. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

I hate handing over money to people for doing for what I could just as easily do myself, it makes me nervous. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, 1963

There is no appeal from the ways of the world, which must continue on its own terms or take us all down with it into chaos and confusion. ~Mark van Doren

Once the Xerox copier was invented, private diplomacy died. There's no such thing as secrecy. It's just a question of whether it's leaked or revealed openly. ~Andrew Young

It is madness beyond compare
To try to reform the world.
~Molière, The Misanthrope, 1666

In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences. ~Robert Greene Ingersoll, "The New Testament," Some Reasons Why, 1881

The number of substitutes for fine and clean thinking the world provides positively gnaws at one's vitals. ~Harold J. Laski

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. ~Marcus Aurelius

I think societal instinct much deeper than sex instinct — and societal repression much more devastating. ~D.H. Lawrence

We've taken the world apart but we have no idea what to do with the pieces. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Idiocy flows uphill towards power. ~Terri Guillemets

In spite of all our speeding it's still the style to be late. ~Kin Hubbard

From noise and nonsense on the bank of Thames,
Self-loving fops, and trifle-loving dames;
From bustling crowds, and what my hearing loaths,
The roar of coaches, and the belch of oaths;
From city cries squawl'd in a tongue unknown,
(Which shews our very mob to op'ra prone)
And all the busy nothings of the town...
~Author name not published, "D___ Hall," The London Magazine (Poetical Essays), June 1735  #hsp #infj

It is our destiny to be born beautiful into an ugly age. ~Henry Rollins

Noise, crowding, pollution, and the sheer rush of our complex, modern society are rapidly becoming as oppressive to many individuals as the worst kind of political dictatorship. ~Thomas F. Eagleton

The age is a vociferous one, and no prophet is without honor who is able to strike an attitude and to speak loud enough to make himself heard. ~Ellen Glasgow

You just can't escape it. This country is full of people who want to make their noise and, worse, make you listen. ~Terri Guillemets  #hsp

The public is hedged about by so many goddam bookkeepers that no time is left in which to produce. More time is spent in carrying out garbage than in carrying in food. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Yet how can anyone speak of it today, with every soul in a prison, with every heart fettered, wounded, and maimed?... With human nature caged in a narrow space, whipped daily into submission, how can we speak of its potentialities? ~Emma Goldman, Anarchism

Society constantly sways me between poet and malcontent. ~Terri Guillemets

We live longer
but less precisely
and in shorter sentences...
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Nonreading," translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak

I am not quite sure what the advantage is in having a few more dollars to spend if the air is too dirty to breathe, the water too polluted to drink, the commuters are losing out in the struggle to get in and out of the city, the streets are filthy, and the schools so bad that the young perhaps wisely stay away, and the hoodlums roll citizens for some of the dollars they saved in the tax cut. ~John Kenneth Galbraith

The secret to living contently and sanely in this modern world is to... find the beautiful in the ugly — but don't get confused which is which. ~Terri Guillemets

Beggars should be abolished. It annoys one to give to them, and it annoys one not to give to them. ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, "On the Pitying," Thus Spake Zarathustra

Complication has penetrated everywhere. Few people have an immediate insight into moral truth such as nature has revealed it. Almost all men, even the least cultivated, only see invisible things through phrases. Intuition is very rare, ready-made phrases are common and cheap. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847), Philosophy. First Section: Pure Philosophy. Chapter II.—Metaphysics. II. Logic— 3. Problem of Cognition, Outlines of Philosophy and Literature, edited by ‎Jean Frédéric Astié, 1865

Junk mail, junk food, our society is full of junk living, period. ~Terri Guillemets

We have smothered ourselves, buried ourselves, in the vast heap of information which all of us have and none of us has. ~Gamaliel Bradford

I believe... that security declines as security machinery expands. ~E.B. White

I admit that I have no idea how our modern world works. And I'd like to make it through my life not having to find out, because I do know that it's very complex and should be much, much simpler. ~Terri Guillemets, "Too much," 2012

If some people got their rights they would complain of being deprived of their wrongs. ~Oliver Herford

How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young? ~Paul Sweeney

Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers. ~Mignon McLaughlin

Final Ruin fiercely drives
Her ploughshare o'er creation.
~Edward Young

Any society that needs disclaimers has too many lawyers. ~Erik Pepke

Most people know more about their own elected officials via smear campaigns than they know about their own neighbors via conversation, and many know more about the celebrities via tabloids than they know about their own representatives via voting booklets. ~Terri Guillemets, 2007

Inequality in wages is "the root of all evil." Thus all labor should be paid alike. Poverty and crime must continue until this is accomplished. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

If you think that someone is out to steal everything you have, you're either paranoid or a member of the middle class. ~Robert Brault,

There are more doctors in a single North Shore medical building than in one entire West Side ghetto. ~Jack Starr

All these things have been created in your mind by conditioning, by programming; that's what the society has done to you. We have lived the whole of history in an ugly way. ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

The human race's prospects of survival were considerably better when we were defenceless against tigers than they are today when we have become defenceless against ourselves. ~Arnold Toynbee

Psychoanalysis can provide a theory of 'progress,' but only by viewing history as a neurosis. ~Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death

You make me sick! You are offered meat and you choose a banana-split-with-nuts. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

We're the middle children of history.... no purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. ~From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver's-license age than at voting age. ~Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964

You can say this for ready-mixes — the next generation isn't going to have any trouble making pies exactly like mother used to make. ~Earl Wilson

You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars. ~Charles Kuralt

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on the human face — forever. ~George Orwell

Dear angry-distressed-hurtful World:
Call me when we return to spreading kindness.
~Dr. SunWolf, 2019 tweet,

No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50

[A] science is said to be useful if its development tends to accentuate the existing inequalities in the distribution of wealth, or more directly promotes the destruction of human life. ~Harold Hardy Godfrey, A Mathematician's Apology, 1941

It's difficult to view the world outside our human context. Staying alive and paying the bills both require our attention squarely fixed on our own business. Our sprawling cities and suburbs are wonderful and frightening tributes to creative self-absorption. In them, we spend our microscheduled days bustling between work and the endless details of our private lives, turning in our moments of rest to the buzzing distractions of television and computers — all accelerating toward some ultimate, unseen fulfillment of convenience and hyperreality. Little encourages us to pause and look around, much less question the end goal of all our busyness. Anything slower than the quick cuts of TV commercials is overwhelmed by our impatience and short attention. Unfortunately, we might be missing something important — to our happiness and to our survival. The purpose of this book is to help remind us. ~From the introduction to The Sacred Earth: Writers on Nature & Spirit, edited by Jason Gardner, 1998, New World Library

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

The year is 2006. The world has changed in about 364 significant ways since you started reading this sentence. ~Terri Guillemets

Everything is for the eye these days — TV, Life, Look, the movies. Nothing is just for the mind. The next generation will have eyeballs as big as cantaloupes and no brain at all. ~Fred Allen

Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic. ~Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin, 1973

The trouble with the laws these days is that criminals know their rights better than their wrongs. ~Author Unknown

Somebody recently figured out that we have 35 million laws to enforce the ten commandments. ~Attributed to both Bert Masterson and Earl Wilson

I love Thanksgiving turkey. It's the only time in Los Angeles that you see natural breasts. ~Arnold Schwarzenegger

In the lifetime of one person, we went from figuring out where we came from to figuring out how to get rid of ourselves. ~Jack Horner, on the eighty years between Darwin's On the Origin of Species and the nuclear bomb, in Time, 1993 April 26

Death is losing its terror. It is the emergency exit for a world that is becoming more frightening death ever was. ~Julian Green, Diary, 1958 December 28

A Galileo could no more be elected president of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both high posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of self-illusion. ~H.L. Mencken, 1918

The world is changing so fast I've got societal vertigo. ~Terri Guillemets, 1991

Scientific discovery consists in the interpretation for our own convenience of a system of existence which has been made with no eye to our convenience at all. ~Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings, 1950

Science is now the craft of the manipulation, substitution and deflection of the forces of nature. What I see coming is a gigantic slaughterhouse, an Auschwitz, in which valuable enzymes, hormones, and so on will be extracted instead of gold teeth. ~Erwin Chargaff, Columbia Forum, Summer 1969

Some people have become as processed as the food. ~Terri Guillemets

I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people's accomplishments; the front page nothing but man's failures. ~Earl Warren, quoted in Sports Illustrated, 22 July 1968

It seems a long time since the morning mail could be called correspondence. ~Jacques Barzun, God's Country and Mine, 1954

On an average day 7 minutes of news happens. Yet there are currently three full-time, 24-hour news networks. ~Jon Stewart

Our current obsession with creativity is the result of our continued striving for immortality in an era when most people no longer believe in an afterlife. ~Arianna Stassinopoulos

Social reform aims to improve the condition of the poor by worsening the condition of the rich. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)

Progress imposes not only new possibilities for the future but new restrictions. ~Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings, 1950

Somehow among all our use of antibiotic medicine and antibacterial soap our souls are becoming sanitized as well — don't let it happen to you! ~Terri Guillemets, 2007

Jefferson thought schools would produce free men: we prove him right by putting dropouts in jail. ~Benjamin R. Barber

Man is the animal that intends to shoot himself out into interplanetary space, after having given up on the problem of an efficient way to get himself five miles to work and back each day. ~Bill Vaughan

If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all. ~Pearl S. Buck

This strange disease of modern life, with its sick hurry, its divided aims. ~Matthew Arnold

The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit, born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation's development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution in spirit, the forces which had produced inequities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration. It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance, and fear. ~Aung San Suu Kyi

We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork. ~Milton Friedman

There is more to life than increasing its speed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. ~Arundhati Roy

The trump of reform is sounding throughout the world for a revolution of all human affairs. This issue we cannot doubt; yet the cries are not without alarm. Already is the axe laid at the root of that spreading tree, whose trunk is idolatry, whose branches are covetousness, war, and slavery, whose blossom is concupiscence, whose fruit is hate. Planted by Beelzebub, it shall be rooted up. ~A. Bronson Alcott, "Orphic Sayings," in The Dial, January 1841

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