Walter Lippmann

Walter
Lippmann
1889
1974

American Intellectual, Reporter, Teacher, Editor, Journalist and Political Commentator

Author Quotes

But in truth Miss Earhart needs no such justification. The world is a better place to live in because it contains human beings who will give up ease and security and stake their own lives in order to do what they themselves think worth doing. They help to offset the much larger numbers who are ready to sacrifice the ease and the security and the very lives of others in order to do what they want done.

I cannot quite remember whether Miss Earhart undertook her flight with some practical purpose in mind, say, to demonstrate something or other about aviation which will make it a little easier for commercial passengers to move more quickly around the world. There are those who seem to think that an enterprise like hers must have some such justification, that without it there was no good reason for taking such grave risks.

It is somehow reassuring to think that there are also men and women who take the risks themselves, who pit themselves not against their fellow beings but against the immensity and the violence of the natural world, who are brave without cruelty to others and impassioned with an idea that dignifies all who contemplate it.

No preconceived theory fits them. No material purpose actuates them. They do the useless, brave, noble, the divinely foolish and the very wisest things that are done by man. And what they prove to themselves and to others is that man is no mere creature of his habits, no mere automaton in his routine, no mere cog in the collective machine, but that in the dust of which he is made there is also fire, lighted now and then by great winds from the sky.

Such energy cannot be planned and managed and made purposeful, or weighted by the standards of utility or judged by its social consequences. It is wild and it is free. But all the heroes, the saints, the seers, the explorers and the creators partake of it. They do not know what they discover. They do not know where their impulse is taking them. They can give no account in advance of where they are going or explain completely where they have been. They have been possessed for a time with an extraordinary passion which is unintelligible in ordinary terms.

The best things of mankind are as useless as Amelia Earhart?s adventure. They are the things that are undertaken not for some definite, measurable result, but because someone, not counting the costs or calculating the consequences, is moved by curiosity, the love of excellence, a point of honor, the compulsion to invent or to make or to understand. In such persons mankind overcomes the inertia which would keep it earthbound forever in its habitual ways. They have in them the free and useless energy with which alone men surpass themselves.

The emancipated woman has to fight something worse than the crusted prejudices of her uncles; she has to fight the bewilderment in her own soul.

The newspaper is in all its literalness the bible of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct.

The statistical method is of use only to those who have found it out.

There is a growing belief that Johnson's American is no longer the historic America, that it is a bastard empire which relies on superior force to achieve its purposes, and is no longer providing an example of the wisdom and humanity of a free society.

Very few established institutions, governments and constitutions... are ever destroyed by their enemies until they have been corrupted and weakened by their friends.

When philosophers try to be politicians they generally cease to be philosophers.

The emotion of love, in spite of the romantics, is not self-sustaining it endures only when the lovers love many things together, and not merely each other.

The ordinary politician has a very low estimate of human nature. In his daily life he comes into contact chiefly with persons who want to get something or to avoid something. Beyond this circle of seekers after privileges, individuals and organized minorities, he is aware of a large unorganized, indifferent mass of citizens who ask nothing in particular and rarely complain. The politician comes after a while to think that the art of politics is to satisfy the seekers after favors and to mollify the inchoate mass with noble sentiments and patriotic phrases.

The straight and righteous path is the shortest and the surest.

There is an ascendant feeling among the people that all achievement should be measured in human happiness.

We are all captives of the picture in our head - our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.

Whenever we accept an idea as authority instead of as instrument, an idol is set up. We worship the plough, and not the fruit.

The facts we see depend on where we are placed and the habits of our eyes.

The press does not tell us what to think, it tells us what to think about.

The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.

There is no arguing with the pretenders to a divine knowledge and to a divine mission. They are possessed with the sin of pride, they have yielded to the perennial temptation.

We are living through the closing chapters of the established and traditional way of life. We are in the early beginnings of a struggle to remake our civilization. It is not a good time for politicians. It is a time for prophets and leaders and explorers and investors and pioneers, and for those who are willing to plant trees for their children to sit under.

Where mass opinion dominates the government, there is a morbid derangement of the true functions of power. The derangement brings about the enfeeblement, verging on paralysis, of the capacity to govern. This breakdown in the constitutional order is the cause of the precipitate and catastrophic decline of Western society. It may, if it cannot be arrested and reversed, bring about the fall of the West.

The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on. The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.

Author Picture
First Name
Walter
Last Name
Lippmann
Birth Date
1889
Death Date
1974
Bio

American Intellectual, Reporter, Teacher, Editor, Journalist and Political Commentator