Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Max Lerner, fully Maxwell "Max" Alan Lerner, aka Mikhail Lerner

Russsian-born American Teacher, Editor and Journalist

"We cannot live by power, and a culture that seeks to live by it becomes brutal and sterile. But we can die without it."

"God is what man finds that is divine in himself. God is the best way man can behave in the ordinary occasions of life, and the farthest point to which man can stretch himself."

"A world technology means either a world government or world suicide."

"A people’s speech is the skin of its culture."

"You may call for peace as loudly as you wish, but where there is no brotherhood there can in the end be no peace."

"Despite the success cult, men are most deeply moved not by the reaching of the goal but by the grandness of effort involved in getting there - or failing to get there."

"Either men will learn to live like brothers, or they will die like beasts."

"We all run on two clocks. One is the outside clock, which ticks away our decades and brings us ceaselessly to the dry season. The other is the inside clock, where you are your own timekeeper and determine your own chronology, your own internal weather and your own rate of living. Sometimes the inner clock runs itself out long before the outer one, and you see a dead man going through the motions of living."

"Do not confuse your vested interests with ethics. Do not identify the enemies of your privilege with enemies of humanity."

"A religion which has lost its basic conviction about the interconnection of men with men in their common struggles for the human, will never command belief in the realm of the superhuman."

"In our culture we make heroes of the men who sit on top of a heap of money, and we pay attention not only to what they say in their field of competence, but to their wisdom on every other question in the world."

"In the end, as any successful teacher will tell you, you can only teach the things that you are. If we practice racism then it is racism that we teach."

"Of the many things we have done to democracy in the past, the worst has been the indignity of taking it for granted."

"The human being as a commodity is the disease of our age."

"The way to prevent war is to bend every energy toward preventing it, not to proceed by the dubious indirection of preparing for it."

"Men have always found it easy to be governed. What is hard is for them to govern themselves."

"The fact is that life has become a sweepstake. Millions of people who have lost the sense of being able to make anything of the collective effort of shaping their economic society, now expect fortune to descend like the pie from the sky."

"When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil."

"The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt."

"We demand of our political life greater certainty and greater perfection than we demand of our personal life."

"The problem of freedom in America is that of maintaining a competition of ideas, and you do not achieve that by silencing one brand of idea."

"I am neither an optimist nor pessimist, but a possibilist."

"The real sadness of fifty is not that you change so much but that you change so little."

"To deaden yourself against any hurt is to deaden yourself also against the hurt of others."

"A President is best judged by the enemies he makes when he has really hit his stride."

"The politics of surprise leads through the Gates of Astonishment into the Kingdom of Hope."

"Despite the success cult, men are most deeply moved not by the reaching of the goal but by the grandness of the effort involved in getting there - or failing to get there."

"When evil acts in the world it always manages to find instruments who believe that what they do is not evil but honorable."

"The crime of book purging is that it involves a rejection of the word. For the word is never absolute truth, but only man's frail and human effort to approach the truth. To reject the word is to reject the human search."

"Next to the striking of fire and the discovery of the wheel, the greatest triumph of what we call civilization was the domestication of the human male."

"Americans live in a twilight world between a sense of loss and a sense of resigned acceptance."

"Somehow life doesn't always pay off to those who are most insistent."

"What counted was not the facts but the fears."

"A politician wouldn?t dream of being allowed to call a columnist the things a columnist is allowed to call a politician."

"America is a passionate idea or it is nothing. America is a human brotherhood or it is chaos."

"Every man has two counties--his own and America."

"American capitalism has been both overpraised and over-indicted. It is neither the Plumed Knight nor the monstrous Robber Baron."

"I have a simple principle for the conduct of life - never to resist an adequate temptation."

"In societies like the American and West European where the dynamics of energy come from freedom and where the climate and the whole ethos are those of freedom, censorship is bound to be at worst, stupid; at best, futile; and always, to some degree, inconsonant with the character of the society as a whole."

"America shudders at anything alien, and when it wants to shut its mind against any man's ideas, it calls him a foreigner."

"Having a thirteen-year-old in the family is like having a general-admission ticket to the movies, radio and TV. You get to understand that the glittering new arts of our civilization are directed to the teenagers, and by their suffrage they stand or fall."

"In our rich consumers' civilization we spin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions."

"The best thing about lying in bed late is that you learn to distinguish between first things and trivia, for whatever presses on you has to prove its importance before it makes you move."

"The Supreme Court has acted as the final barricade against the assaults of democratic majorities."

"There are some who become spies for money, or out of vanity and megalomania, or out of ambition, or out of a desire for thrills. But the malady of our time is of those who become spies out of idealism."

"To create what it does, Hollywood has to draw young people, often of unstable temperament, from all over the world. It plunges them into exacting work, surrounds them with a sensuous life, and cuts them off from the normal sources of living."

"The so-called lessons of history are for the most part the rationalizations of the victors. History is written by the survivors."

"The tourist who moves about to see and hear and open himself to all the influences of the places which condense centuries of human greatness is only a man in search of excellence."

"To reject the word is to reject the human search."

"We must face what we fear; that is the case of the core of the restoration of health."