Sydney J. Harris

Sydney J.

American Journalist and Syndicated Columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times

Author Quotes

Agreement makes us soft and complacent; disagreement brings out our strength. Our real enemies are the people who make us feel so good that we are slowly, but inexorably, pulled down into the quicksand of smugness and self-satisfaction.

One of the things that is manifestly wrong with our school system is our thoughtless practice of hiring and assigning the youngest and the least experienced teachers for the lowest classes, when it should be quite the other way around.

You may be certain that when a man begins to call himself a realist, he is preparing to do something he is secretly ashamed of.

All significant achievement comes from daring, from experiment, from the willingness to risk failure.

Parents should live for their children, but not through them; the parents whose satisfactions are wholly reflections of their children's achievements are as much monsters as the parents who neglect their offspring. Nothing can deform a personality so much as the burden of a love that is utterly self-sacrificing.

American parents, on the whole, do not want their sons to be artisans or craftsmen, but business or professional people. As a result, millions of youngsters are being prepared for careers they have little aptitude for - and little interest in except for dubious prestige.

People far prefer happiness to wisdom, but that is like wanting to be immortal without getting older.

Any creed whose basic doctrines do not include respect for the creeds of others, is simply power politics masquerading as philosophy.

People who are running frantically after happiness remind me of those who are peering everywhere for the spectacles that are perched on their foreheads.

Being yourself is not remaining what you were, or being satisfied with what you are. It is the point of departure.

Skepticism is not an end in itself; it is a tool for the discovery of truths.

By the time a man asks you for advice, he has generally made up his mind what he wants to do, and is looking for confirmation rather than counseling.

The art of listening needs its highest development in listening to oneself; our most important task is to develop an ear that can really hear what we're saying.

Confidence, once lost or betrayed, can never be restored again to the same measure; and we learn too late in life that our acts of deception are irrevocable – they may be forgiven, but they cannot be forgotten by their victims.

The art of living successfully consists of being able to hold two opposite ideas in tension at the same time: first, to make long-term plans as if we were going to live forever; and, second, to conduct ourselves daily as if we were going to die tomorrow.

Filth is always a sign of weakness - in the mouth of the user and in the mind of the writer.

The founder of every creed from Jesus Christ to Karl Marx, would be appalled to return to earth and see what has been made of that creed, not by its enemies, but by its most devoted adherents.

Have you ever noticed that it is generally the same people who talk about the need for incentive to make a man work successfully, who resent the idea of incentive to make a man think successfully?

The only way to relieve the world's ills is not by understanding each other, but by each one understanding himself; for there can be no genuine rapport between persons who are ignorant of their own deepest motivations and needs.

If you cannot endure to be thought in the wrong, you will begin to do terrible things to make the wrong appear right.

Those who imagine that the world is against them have generally conspired to make it true.

If you want to know what a man's character is really like... ask him to tell you the living person he most admires – for hero worship is the truest index of a man's private nature.

We can often endure an extra pound of pain far more easily than we can suffer the withdrawal of an ounce of accustomed pleasure.

It may be true that the weak will always be driven to the wall; but it is the task of a just society to see that the wall is climbable.

We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until... we have stopped saying It got lost, and say, I lost it.

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Sydney J.
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American Journalist and Syndicated Columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times