Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Cruelty

"Graceful, particularly in youth, is the tear of sympathy, and the heart that melts at the tale of woe; we should not permit ease and indulgence to contract our affections, and wrap us up in selfish enjoyment. But we should accustom ourselves to think of the distresses of human life, of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, and the weeping orphan. Nor ought we ever to sport with pain and distress in any of our amusements, or treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty." - Hugh Blair

"In vain we attempt to clear our conscience by affecting to compensate for fraud or cruelty by acts of strict religious homage towards God." - Hugh Blair

"Cruelty is perhaps the worst kind of sin. Intellectual cruelty is certainly the worst kind of cruelty." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"The failure of our modern world, with its moral and ethical collapse, may be traced directly to our spiritual ignorance and moral disobedience. The ethical conditions under which we live are disgracefully unsanitary. It is futile to expect peace and goodwill on earth while our homes are infested with the germs of selfishness, irreverence and lust. The world-wide epidemic of hatred, cruelty, murder and war is the inevitable result of our moral and spiritual disobedience. We cannot break the laws of the universe with impunity." - Allen E. Claxton

"Cruelty, like every other vice, requires no motive outside of itself; it only requires opportunity." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"One generation of fearless women could transform the world, by bringing into it a generation of fearless children, not contorted into unnatural shapes, but straight and candid, generous, affectionate, and free. Their ardor would sweep away the cruelty and pain which we endure because we are lazy, cowardly, hard-hearted and stupid. It is education that gives us these bad qualities, and education that must give us the opposite virtues. Education is the key to the new world." -

"Fear is main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty." - John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, Lord John Russell

"All cruelty springs from hard-heartedness and weakness." -

"Whatever may happen in the future, I know that I have learned three things which will remain forever convictions of my heart as well as my mind. Life, even the hardest life, is the most beautiful, wonderful and miraculous treasure in the world. Fulfillment of duty is another beautiful thing, making life happy and giving to the soul an unconquerable force to sustain ideals. This is my second conviction, and my third is that cruelty, hatred, and injustice never can and never will be able to create a mental, moral or material millennium." - Pitirim A. Sorokin, fully Pitirim Alexandrovich (Alexander) Sorokin

"Cruelty and fear shake hands together." - Honoré de Balzac

"Think’st thou there is no tyranny but that of blood and chains? The despotism of vice, the weakness and the wickedness of luxury, the negligence, the apathy, the evils of sensual sloth - produce then thousand tyrants, whose delegated cruelty surpasses the worst acts of one energetic master, however harsh and hard in his own bearing." -

"What distinguishes war is, not that man is slain, but that he is slain, spoiled, crushed by the cruelty, the injustice, the treachery, the murderous hand of man." - William Ellery Channing

"They believe their words. Everybody shows a respectful deference to certain sounds that he and his fellows can make. But about feelings people really know nothing. We talk with indignation or enthusiasm; we talk about oppression, cruelty, crime, devotion, self-sacrifice, virtue, and we know very little beyond the words." - Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski

"A religion, even if it calls itself the religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it. Fundamentally, indeed, every religion is in this same way a religion of love for all those whom it embraces; while cruelty and intolerance towards those who do not belong to it are natural to every religion." - Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud

"The steady pressure to consume, absorb, participate, receive, by eye, ear, mouth and mail involves a cruelty to intestines, blood pressure, and psyche unparalleled in history. We are being killed with kindness. We are being stifled with culture and material joys." - Herbert Gold

"Intelligence is derived from two words - inter and legere - inter meaning "between" and legere meaning "to choose." An intelligent person, therefore, is one who has learned "to choose between." He knows that good is better than evil, that confidence should supersede fear, that love is superior to hate, that gentleness is better than cruelty, forbearance than intolerance, compassion than arrogance and that truth has more virtue than ignorance." - J. Martin Klotsche

"There is something in meanness which excites a species of resentment that never subsides, and something in cruelty which stirs up the heart to the highest agony of human hatred." - Thomas Paine

"Every moral act of love, of mercy, and of scarifice brings to pass the end of the world where hatred, cruelty, and selfishness reign supreme." - Nikolai Berdyaev, fully Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev, also spelled Nichlas Berdiaev

"Parenting: Affection without sentiment, authority without cruelty, discipline without aggression, humor without ridicule, sacrifice without obligation, companionship without possessiveness." - William E. Blatz, fully William Emet Blatz

"The aim and end of war is murder; the weapons employed in war are espionage, treachery and the encouragement of treachery, the ruining of a country, the plundering and robbing of its inhabitants for the maintenance of the army, and trickery and lying which all appear under the heading of the art of war. The military world is characterized by the absence of freedom – in other words, a rigorous discipline – enforced inactivity, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness." - Leo Tolstoy, aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy or Tolstoi

"Just as you discover that stupidity and cruelty are the same everywhere, you find that the essential elements of humanism are the same everywhere, too." - Christopher Hitchens

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavor after a worthy manner of life." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Music doth extenuate fears, furies, appeaseth cruelty, abaeth heaviness, and to such as are wakeful it causeth quiet rest; it cures all irksomeness and heaviness of the soul." - Cassiodorus, fully Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator NULL

"There is no cruelty so inexorable and unrelenting, as that which proceeds from a bigoted and presumptuous supposition of doing service to God." - Charles Caleb Colton

"There is no cruelty so inexorable and unrelenting as that which proceeds from a bigoted and presumptuous supposition of doing service to God. The victim of the fanatical persecutor will find that the stronger the motives he can urge for mercy are, the weaker will be his chance for obtaining it, for the merit of his destruction will be supposed to rise in value in proportion as it is effected at the expense of every feeling both of justice and of humanity." - Charles Caleb Colton

"No body of men can be induced to do another man’s killing for him unless he can convince them that they may honorably do so. The percentage of blackguards and sadists who enjoy cruelty for its own sake have to pretend that they are patriots and ministers of justice to secure the toleration of their fellow citizens." - George Bernard Shaw

"The Universe, so far as we can observe it, is a wonderful and immense engine; its extent, its order, its beauty, its cruelty, make it alike impressive. If we dramatize its life and conceive its spirit, we are filled with wonder, terror and amusement, so magnificent is that spirit, so prolific, inexorable, grammatical and dull." - George Santayana

"Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong." - Howard Zinn

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history of not only cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness…The future is an infinite succession of "presents," and to live now as we think that human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." - Howard Zinn

"The moral law is written on the tablets of eternity. For every false word or unrighteous deed, for cruelty and oppression, for lust or vanity, the price has to be paid at last." - James Froude, fully James Anthony Froude

"Fear is the parent of cruelty." - James Froude, fully James Anthony Froude

"Fear is the parent of cruelty." -

"Lack of imagination causes cruelty." - Louis D. Brandeis, fully Louis Dembitz Brandeis

"It is cruelty in war that buyeth conquest," - Philip Sidney, fully Sir Philip Sidney

"War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it." - William Tecumseh Sherman

"One generation of fearless women could transform the world, by bringing into it a generation of fearless children, not contorted into unnatural shapes, but straight and candid, generous, affectionate, and free. Their ardor would sweep away the cruelty and pain which we endure because we are lazy, cowardly, hard-hearted and stupid. It is education that gives us these bad qualities, and education that must give us the opposite virtues. Education is the key to the new world." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"I do take law very seriously, deeply seriously, because fragile as reason is and limited as law is as the institutionalized medium of reason, that's all we have standing between us and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined feeling." - Felix Frankfurter

"Where does discipline end? Where does cruelty begin? Somewhere between these, thousands of children inhabit a voiceless hell. " - François Mauriac

"It is Ill-manners to silence a Fool, and Cruelty to let him go on." -

"For over twenty-five centuries we’ve been bearing the weight of superb and heterogeneous civilizations, all from outside, none made by ourselves, none that we could call our own. This violence of landscape, this cruelty of climate, this continual tension in everything, and even these monuments of the past, magnificent yet incomprehensible because not built by us and yet standing round us like lovely mute ghosts; all those rulers who landed by main force from every direction who were at once obeyed, soon detested, and always misunderstood, their only expressions works of art we couldn't understand and taxes which we understood only too well and which they spent elsewhere: all these things have formed our character, which is thus conditioned by events outside our control as well as by a terrifying insularity of mind. " - Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"This violence of landscape, this cruelty of climate, this continual tension in everything, and even these monuments of the past, magnificent yet incomprehensible because not built by us and yet standing round us like lovely mute ghosts; all those rulers who landed by main force from every direction who were at once obeyed, soon detested, and always misunderstood, their only expressions works of art we couldn't understand and taxes which we understood only too well and which they spent elsewhere: all these things have formed our character, which is thus conditioned by events outside our control as well as by a terrifying insularity of mind." - Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

"To insult someone we call him "bestial." For deliberate cruelty and nature, "human" might be the greater insult. " - Isaac Asimov, born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov

"Religious discord has lost her sting; the cumbrous weapons of theological warfare are antiquated: the field of politics supplies the alchymists of our times with materials of more fatal explosion, and the butchers of mankind no longer travel to another world for instruments of cruelty and destruction. Our age is too enlightened to contend upon topics, which concern only the interests of eternity; and men who hold in proper contempt all controversies about trifles, except such as inflame their own passions, have made it a common-place censure against your ancestors, that their zeal was enkindled by subjects of trivial importance; and that however aggrieved by the intolerance of others, they were alike intolerant themselves." - John Quincy Adams

"No baseness or cruelty of treason so deep or so tragic shall enter our human world, but that loyal love shall be able in due time to oppose to just that deed of treason its fitting deed of atonement." - Josiah Royce

"I see that the path of progress has never taken a straight line, but has always been a zigzag course amid the conflicting forces of right and wrong, truth and error, justice and injustice, cruelty and mercy." - Kelly Miller

"It is possible that the contemplation of cruelty will not make us humane but cruel; that the reiteration of the badness of our spiritual condition will make us consent to it." - Lionel Trilling

"To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature, the more that it is entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man. " - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu