“To be occasionally quoted is the only fame I care for.”–Alexander Smith
Compilations of quotations by famous people are some of my favorite books through which to browse. I don’t use them to validate my opinions as much as I take them as reflections from the past. Sometimes the very ancient past. Sometimes I simply use them to elegantly illustrate a point. Other times, I like to peruse the pages and come across some hidden nugget of wisdom.
A quote might be passe or banal in the case of a glimpse of history. But frequently, a saying is full to the brim with real wisdom that should be pondered for awhile. This snippet from Krishnamurti needs to be taken to heart:
“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life.” –Krishnamurti
I often think of current affairs and contemporary people in relation to some time-proven, much experienced knowledge that each generation has come to know. As a mental game, I sometimes read a quote then find out how long it takes to see the contemporary example of the insight. The scholar, Plutarch, was known for his biting wit as much as his keen instinct regarding human nature. If you’ve never read Plutarch, you’ve been missing a great intellectual treasure chest of timeless wisdom.
“Cicero said loud-bawling orators were driven by their weakness to noise, as lame men to take horse.”–Plutarch I am reminded of the know-it-alls of talk radio whenever I come across that gem.
The affairs of nation and state are often addressed by the thinkers of olden times. Instinctively, we know the simple truth of this statement by Aristotle: “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”–Aristotle
If only the countless leaders and legislators throughout human history could understand the profound wisdom of the first Queen Elizabeth of England. One of her most intelligent statements regarding foreign intervention is a real corker.
“Monarchs ought to put to death the authors and instigators of war, as their sworn enemies and as dangers to their states.”–Queen Elizabeth I (1582?)
In as much as the United States has become bogged down in seemingly endless wars and strife, I think our deference to the war department could stand some toning down. Where was the spirit of Queen Liz when the plotters of the Middle Eastern interventions were busily planning strategy?
Likewise, any politician, pundit or citizen who doesn’t understand this basic definition of our present state of affairs is in dire need of a wake-up call: “Oligarchy: A government resting on a valuation of property, in which the rich have power and the poor man is deprived of it.”– Plato This is certainly Political Science 101 to be sure.
Simple ditties used as memory jogs have been around since the dawning of language. This simple calendar verse goes back to the Sixteenth Century. The spellings are correct albeit antiquated. Did you learn this in school or from your grandparents?
“XXX dayes hath Nouember, Aprill, June, and September,
February hath XXVIII alone,
And all the rest have XXXI.”
–Chronicles of England (1562) Richard Grafton
Still, my favorite part of books of quotations remains the immense amount of brilliant wisdom. Profound intelligence that cannot be easily disputed can be found almost at random.
“When you once see something as false which you have accepted as true, as natural, as human, then you can never go back to it.” –Krishnamurti
Has this post given you the urge to look over some pithy quotes from the past?
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Robert Burton, “Birds of a feather will gather together.”