Saturday, December 26, 2009


As anyone who reads this blog knows, I often include quotes. I try to select them with discrimination, looking for quotes that are eye-opening, thought-provoking, and with a gem of truth. Often a surprise element helps make a quote usable. Some of the quotes I use you've probably heard before. For example, "Confession is good for the soul," which I first remember my older sister using when she was in high school in the early sixties. It's a good quote, truthful and permanently relevant, so I don't mind including it here. Some of them are well-known, because the person who said or wrote the quote is a well-known individual like Martin Luther King, who was a very quotable person.

However I'm more interested in quotes that are not as well known. Here's an example which I just read for the first time in the book, "Anatomy of a Secret Life" The Psychology of Living a Lie" by Gail Saltz. "It is a joy to be hidden, but a disaster not to be found." This quote is credited to D. W. Winnicott. It has the ring of truth to it and it applies to a broad range of human activities and ages from children playing hide and seek to adults who might be engaged in illegal or criminal activities that they enjoy, but may be disastrous to others, and eventually to them.

I frequently see quotes I would not include on my blog because they just aren't that good. I'll make this exception to show you a few examples.

1. "A gift with a kind countenance is a double present," credited to Thomas Fuller. To me this one seems somewhat inane. Would someone be giving a gift without a kind countenance? Is it a gift, if giving it is required, so that the gift giver is doing it out of legal obligation, and is saddened or depressed by his own act of generosity? A gift given out of generosity and love will automatically include a kind countenance. There is no surprise here and it seems to be saying something that is too obvious to justify using in a quote.

2. "It's so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to," said by Sondra Barnes. This quote is a reject because it's simply not true. How many people in this country today want to find a job yet find it very difficult to get one. Wanting to do something does not make it easy whether the person is looking for a job, a spouse, or a college degree. Neither is it easy if the person is seriously ill and seeking healing, or a minority seeking respect and fair treatment from society.

3. "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," by Eleanor Roosevelt. This one has the same problem the last one did. It's a lie. There are tens of millions of people in the world who have had their self-esteem damaged through no fault of their own, but entirely as a result of decisions made by others. This is true for victims of any kind of abuse or chronic mistreatment, and it happens every day in homes, schools, and workplaces. However Ms Roosevelt does have some worthwhile quotes. I have one on a bookmark that I like very much. It's challenging, energizing, and thought-provoking. It's "Do one thing every day that scares you." The "every day" dimension might be a little too frequent. Perhaps weekly would be more practical, since one should take time to consider the possible consequences, positive and negative, of any scary thing they do, and also take time to reflect after doing it. But the people subjected to abuse that I mentioned earlier in this paragraph are doing that every day by going to school, or work, or to any environment where they are mistreated, or, in some cases, by simply trying to survive in their homes.

There were three examples of what I think are weak quotes, either because they come across as being simply dumb, or are not true. Another example of a strong quote and one of my favorites is "Cities should be built on only one side of the street." I haven't been able to find out who said or wrote that one, but if you know please e-mail me at and let me know. And if you find any quotes you think are strong, let me know and I may use them somewhere and sometime on my blog. Thanks

Leonard Nolt

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