My inspiration for this post comes from various quotes but has the same theme. It is easy to sit back and complain about this or that. We all do it and I am certainly no exception. But just complaining about something seldom has the effect of actually resolving what you complain against.
Here are some words from those much more famous than I am regarding this topic:
I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts. ~John Locke
Well done is better than well said. ~Benjamin Franklin
The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men. -Plato
To give up the task of reforming society is to give up one’s responsibility as a free man. -Alan Paton
When you are right, you cannot be too radical; When you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality. -Dante Alighieri
Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. -Sigmund Freud
I VERY much suspect that if thinking men would have the courage to think for themselves, and to speak what they think, it would be found they do not differ in . . . opinions as much as is supposed. – Jefferson, Thomas
We all recognize that gridlock has frozen our government processes. If only the people who represent each of us were to take to heart the words of Jefferson above we might just melt the sorry state that presently binds us. The trouble with congress right now is that the people representing us are allowing a few who are called “leaders” to think for them. I am convinced that if they would just make the effort to think for themselves they would realize that they have much more in common than their battle scarred leaders could ever imagine.
Thomas Jefferson if nothing else was a critical thinker. He questioned almost anything he was exposed to. But, like all of us he was the product of his experiences so that questioning never went very deep when it came to slavery. That was his major flaw and we all have at least one major flaw. I pride myself in being like Jefferson as I never take anything without asking at least a few questions. I can’t imagine spending a $million and hours and hours of campaigning to win an election and then finally get to Washington only to then turn around and let someone else think for me!
But then again it takes too many promises to too many different groups to even get elected now so maybe the people who do survive the process are beaten before they ever get there. We desperately need critical thinkers is our nation’s capital; how we get them without an infinite number of strings attached is the main problem.
A DECALOGUE of canons for observation in practical life:
1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it
4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap: it will be dear to you.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
When we think of lists and country founders Ben Franklin most often comes to mind. So when I came across this list from Thomas Jefferson it got my attention.
I have always regretted that I didn’t live about 30 or 40 years earlier, and in the same old Country, the Indian Territory. I would have liked to got here ahead of the ‘Nestors,’ the Bob wire fence, and so called civilization. – Will Rogers
I have mentioned on the right column of this blog that I am part native American and proud of it. Sometimes these roots seem to come to the surface on this blog. This quote from Will did that.
Many times in my life I have dreamed that I was a mountain man in the Rocky Mountains. One of my favorite movies is Jeremiah Johnson which is about those folks. I have watched it so many times I can just about quote the dialog before it is said.
So, I am kind of like Will here; I wish I had been around before civilization polluted this “good old country”. I live near a small town of about 2,000 people but that even seems crowded now and again.
I am a collector of quotes. That is just who I am at this point in my life. I look for quotes that are short and to the point. So I thought for this “inspiration” Sunday I would compile a list of quotes that are central to my life.
- I apologize for the long letter but I didn’t have the time to write a short one. ~ Thomas Jefferson
- Essays should be like miniskirts. Short enough to be attractive, yet long enough to cover the main parts. ~ Unknown
None of us have time to listen to one-hundred words where twenty will relay the same message. Well, actually we all have the same amount of time but don’t care to use them up when we don’t have to. At first thought Jefferson’s quote here seems strange but I have come to realize that it is actually harder to say things in fewer words than to just ramble on and on. That is why I am almost fixated on my blogs not exceeding approximately five-hundred words. When I initially set down my thoughts on about any topic it is almost always longer than my limit and as Jefferson implies it takes time to parse out all the unneeded ones so that only the most necessary ones shine through. The second quote is very much like the first, keep it short and to the point but make sure you cover what you intended. Ok, here is another one:
- An education is like a crumbling building that needs constant upkeep with repairs and additions. ~ Edith Wharton
When I was young I dreamed of going to college one day. Even though no one in my family had accomplished it I was determined to do it. At that young age I thought that when I finished college I would be ready to tackle the world and all the problems associated with it. What I eventually came to learn was that college is actually a starting point. Learning goes on as long as we live. When I stop learning I stop living as far as I am concerned. One last round here and then I am finished:
- Ask a question and you’re a fool for three minutes; do not ask a question and you’re a fool for the rest of your life. ~ Chinese Proverb
- There are no foolish questions, and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions. ~ Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Questions are who I am and have been throughout my life. My constant questions seem to frequently get into trouble, or maybe I just annoy people too much when I ask them. But that has not stopped me from questioning anything even in my old age. As far as I am concerned when you stop questioning things you stop making a difference and don’t we all want to make a difference with our lives.
When a fellow don’t have much mind it don’t take him long to make it up. – November 3, 1935 Will Rogers
As Will mentions here it doesn’t seem like many today have much mind and what they have is most often closed. They are fixated on one tunnel vision world view and absolutely nothing will shake them from that view. They have made up their minds long ago that their view of the world is the only valid one. It is almost like that guy about one hundred years ago that tried to shut down the U.S. patent office because he was totally convinced that everything had already been discovered. I’m sure to that poor stifled soul the pace of invention was dizzying and therefore would soon come to an end. He couldn’t imagine it unfolding any other way! He was very closed minded about that.
Closed minds has been a top of conversation for years. One thing about closed minds is that they always come with in-born prejudgment that are almost impossible to break. Here are some famous quotes about that
- A closed mind is a dying mind. – Edna Ferber
- Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds. ~Albert Einstein
- Prejudice is the child of ignorance. ~William Hazlitt
- If only closed minds came with closed mouths. ~unknown
- What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature. ~Voltaire
- Judge me all you want, just keep the verdict to yourself. ~From a Winston advertisement
- Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. ~Oscar Wilde
Dealing with people who have long ago made up their minds about almost everything is like beating your head against a wall. What does it take to reach people like that? Or is it even possible? Maybe the best thing to do is simply walk away. But then again maybe that is just the easiest thing to do…..
But then again what do I know…..
I have been doing some investigating of what I have been posting lately and decided to re-purpose one of the blog categories. Instead of Seniors Only you will now find Wisdom of..
I have come to realize that I really don’t have a lot of advice for other senior citizens about how to live their lives. I’m pretty much muddling along like everyone else, so I will leave the advice stuff to some of my blog friends who are much better at it that I ever was. Instead I am going to use this new category to generally talk about quotes from fellow senior citizens; all of them much more famous than I am . Most of the quotes have one and maybe all three of the following qualities.
- lessons for life (ie. wisdom of the ages)
- at least some level of humor (which I can’t go a day without)
- irony of growing older and supposedly wiser.
I have collected hundreds of these types of saying so I will drag out that file and dust it off. I will be leaving the archive “Seniors Only” stuff inside this new category so that they can be referenced in the future. Since the old and new category are somewhat related it makes sense to do this.
Lately my posts seem to stray into darker waters than I generally intend so this will be a way to shed some of the murkiness and add more laughter. We all need more laughter in our lives especially during these times.
I hope you enjoy the change….
Let’s close out the month with a quote by one of my heroes, Woodrow Wilson.
If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
Change, even though it is coming at such a fast pace in the twenty-first century makes just as many enemies today as it did one hundred years ago when Wilson made this comment.