Curtis Dahlgren
"The Greatest Thoughts of All Time"; a few words more
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By Curtis Dahlgren
July 25, 2010

"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 (1904-80)

A SOCIETY THAT CANNOT BLUSH PROBABLY CAN'T BE SAVED. And I ain't seen anyone blushing of late. There's a biblical principle that says people get the government they deserve — and in 2008 our chickens evidently came home to roost.

My previous column was basically a book review on "The Greatest Thoughts of All Time (In Two Lines or Less)"; I hadn't heard of it until a friend lent it to me, but I hope that it's still in print or at least available (Cliff Street Books). The compiler of quotations, John M. Shanahan, did a prodigious job, and as I said last week, some of the choicest ones are good introductions to my series on Bolsehvist history.

Why do Americans assume we will always avoid the national disasters that have repeatedly stricken Europe and other parts of the world? Unless we do something about "the human condition" our chances of solving national problems are slim and none. Here are a few proverbs more, from "Greatest Thoughts":

  • "The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree I planted." — Lord Byron (1788-1824)

  • "Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin." — Charles Spurgeon (1834-92)

  • "It is often the failure who is the pioneer in new lands, new undertakings, and new forms of expression." — Eric Hoffer (1902-83)

  • "It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance." — Saint Jerome (342-420)

  • "I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is to try to please everybody." — Herbert Swope (1882-1958)

  • "If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock." — Justice Arthur Goldberg (1908-90)

  • "I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest caution." — Werner von Braun

  • "Fear leads you directly into the path of that which you fear." — anonymous

  • "Every individual or national degeneration is immediately revealed by a directly proportional degradation in language." — Joseph Marie-de Maistre (1753-1821)

  • "He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander." — Napoleon

  • "Talkers are no good doers." — Shakespeare

  • "Conscience is thoroughly well bred, and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it." — Samuel Butler (1835-1902)

  • "Ah, if [only] the rich were rich as the poor fancy riches." — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • "A show of envy is an insult to oneself." — Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933- )

  • "Moral indignation is in most cases two percent moral, 48 percent indignation, and 50 percent envy." — Vittorio de Sice (1901-74)

  • "It is much easier to repent of sins that we have committed than to repent of those we intend to commit." — Josh Billings (1818-85)

  • "Men are not punished for their sins but by them." — Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

  • "Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true." — Demosthenes (384-322 BC)

  • [and finally] "Truth does not blush." — Tertullian (160-240 BC)

© Curtis Dahlgren

 

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)

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