Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Cynicism

"With our finite minds we cannot presume to know if there is a Purpose. We sense, however, the presence of something greater than we can comprehend, a force as yet unknown to us - perhaps even to be unknown. So we accept our situation, learn from it, and do the best we can, resting on faith, despair, or cynicism, depending on the individual. Overriding all this must be an obligation - self-imposed or externally impressed - to do the best one can for others, to relieve suffering and to exercise compassion. We are all in this together, for life is a common, not an individual, endeavor." - Harry Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun

"It is cynicism and fear that freezes life: it is faith that thaws it out, releases it, sets it free." - Harry Emerson Fosdick

"Cynics build no bridges; they make no discoveries; no gaps are spanned by them. Cynics may pride themselves in being realistic in their approach, but progress and the onward march of Christian civilization demand an inspiration and motivation that cynicism never affords. If we want progress we must take the forward look." - Paul L. McKay, D.D.

"The essential ingredient of democracy is not doctrine but intelligence, not authority but reason, not cynicism but faith in men, faith in God. Our strength lies in the fearless pursuit of truth by the minds of men who are free." -

"To build Utopias in defiance of scientific principles is only a fool's errand. If false hopes are momentarily good for morale, we must ultimately pay for such folly in episodes of disillusionment, cynicism and despair." - Merryle Stanley Rukeyser

"One of the most devastating experiences in human life is disillusionment. Of course there are some illusions the disillusionment of which is healthy. It takes two things to bowl over a tree - a heavy wind outside and decay inside. Much of the moral wreckage is caused by inner cynicism - a disgust with life's futility, an inability to see sense in it. A person in that mood is an easy mark for the next high wind." -

"Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows." - David T. Wolfe

"It is time for you to understand the purpose of your life. You are a chalice for God’s Love and a vehicle for Him to bless the world. Realize your Divine purpose and your will is aligned with His. Goodness is the theme of all life. See the Perfection in your life and you recapture your Childhood Vision. As you give up patterns of evaluation and cynicism, you accept the benevolence of God. Pain is born of resistance, and joy is a function of the acceptance of God’s whole and Holy Love for you. Find purpose in your joy, and you find purpose in God." - Alan Cohen

"It is time for you to understand the purpose of your life. You are a chalice for God’s Love and a vehicle for Him to bless the world. Realize your Divine purpose and your will is aligned with His. Goodness is the theme of all life. See the Perfection in your life and you recapture your Childhood Vision. As you give up patterns of evaluation and cynicism, you accept the benevolence of God. Pain is born of resistance, and joy is a function of the acceptance of God’s whole and Holy Love for you. Find purpose in your joy, and you find purpose in God." -

"It is time for you to understand the purpose of your life. You are a chalice for God’s Love and a vehicle for Him to bless the world. Realize your Divine purpose and your will is aligned with His. Goodness is the theme of all life. See the Perfection in your life and you recapture your Childhood Vision. As you give up patterns of evaluation and cynicism, you accept the benevolence of God. Pain is born of resistance, and joy is a function of the acceptance of God’s whole and Holy Love for you. Find purpose in your joy, and you find purpose in God." -

"Faith without reason leads to superstition: Reason without faith leads to cynicism." - Author Unknown NULL

"The worst cynicism: a belief in luck." - Joyce Carol Oates

"The essential ingredient of democracy is not doctrine but intelligence, not authority but reason, not cynicism but faith in men, faith in God. Our strength lies in the fearless pursuit of truth by the minds of men who are free." - David Eli Lilienthal, "Mr. TVA"

"We are drowning our youngsters in violence, cynicism and sadism piped into the living room and even the nursery. The grandchildren of the kids who used to weep because the Little Match Girl froze to death now feel cheated if she isn't slugged, raped and thrown into a Bessemer converter." - Jenkin Lloyd Jones

"I acquired expensive habits and affected manners. I got a third-class degree and a first-class illusion: that I was a poet. But nothing could have been less poetic that my seeing-through-all boredom with life in general and with making a living in particular. I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope-- an impotence, in short; and that to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all. But I did absorb a small dose of one permanently useful thing, Oxford's greatest gift to civilized life: Socratic honesty. It showed me, very intermittently, that it is not enough to revolt against one's past. One day I was outrageously bitter among some friends about the Army; back in my own rooms later it suddenly struck me that just because I said with impunity things that would have apoplexed my dead father, I was still no less under his influence. The truth was I was not a cynic by nature, only by revolt. I had got away from what I hated, but I hadn't found where I loved, and so I pretended that there was nowhere to love. Handsomely equipped to fail, I went out into the world." - John Fowles, fully John Robert Fowles

"I was too green to know that all cynicism masks a failure to cope — an impotence, in short and to despise all effort is the greatest effort of all." - John Fowles, fully John Robert Fowles

"We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs." - Kenneth B. Clark, fully Kenneth Bancroft Clark

"Life is not an easy matter... You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness." - Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein

"Although most people never overcome the habit of berating the world for their difficulties, those who are too weak to make a stand against reality have no choice but to obliterate themselves by identifying with it. They are never rationally reconciled to civilization. Instead, they bow to it, secretly accepting the identity of reason and domination, of civilization and the ideal, however much they may shrug their shoulders. Well-informed cynicism is only another mode of conformity. These people willingly embrace or force themselves to accept the rule of the stronger as the eternal norm. Their whole life is a continuous effort to suppress and abase nature, inwardly or outwardly, and to identify themselves with its more powerful surrogates—the race, fatherland, leader, cliques, and tradition. For them, all these words mean the same thing—the irresistible reality that must be honored and obeyed. However, their own natural impulses, those antagonistic to the various demands of civilization, lead a devious undercover life within them." - Max Horkheimer

"The mysterious manner in which this growing sense of unity commingles with a sense of utter goodness is worth noting. It arises by no effort of mine; rather does it come to me out of I know not where. Harmony appears gradually and flows through my whole being like music. An infinite tenderness takes possession of me, smoothing away the harsh cynicism which a reiterated experience of human ingratitude and human treachery has driven deeply into my temperament. I feel the fundamental benignity of Nature despite the apparent manifestation of ferocity. Like the sounds of every instrument in an orchestra that is in tune, all things and all people seem to drop into the sweet relationship that subsists within the Great Mother's own heart. " - Paul Brunton, born Hermann Hirsch, wrote under various pseudonyms including Brunton Paul, Raphael Meriden and Raphael Delmonte

"People are cynical about advertising, of course, but their cynicism is so all-inclusive now that they're indifferent, and so they're more susceptible to advertising than ever." - Pauline Kael

"I prefer credulity to skepticism and cynicism for there is more promise in almost anything than in nothing at all." - Ralph Barton Perry

"I think there ought to be a club in which preachers and journalists could come together and have the sentimentalism of the one matched with the cynicism of the other. That ought to bring them pretty close to the truth." - Reinhold Niebuhr, fully Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr

"Our choice is between cynicism and hope. Hope is a decision you make. Hope means believing in spite of the evidence and then waiting for the evidence to change. Be the ones that we have been waiting for." - Jim Wallis

"When... the central places of your heart are covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then are you grown old, indeed!" - Samuel Ullman

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing" - Walt Disney, fully Walter Elias "Walt" Disney

"If we sanction violence in our hearts, we are going to cooperate with whomever is waging war. We are participants because psychologically we sanction violence. If we really want to put an end to warfare, we need to explore deep into the human psyche where the roots of violence have a stronghold. Unless we find the roots of violence, ambition, and jealousy, we will not find our way out of chaos. Failure to eliminate their roots will doom us to endless miserable repetitions of the failures of the past. We must see that the inner and the outer are delicately intertwined in a totality and that we cannot deal with the one successfully without the other. The structures and systems condition the inner consciousness, and the conditionings of the consciousness create the structures and systems. We cannot carve out one part of the relationship, make it bright and beautiful, and ignore the rest. The forces of human societal conditionings are powerfully entrenched; they will not be ignored." - Vimala Thakar

"There is much unexplored potential in each human being. We are not just flesh and bone or an amalgamation of conditionings. If this were so, our future on this planet would not be very bright. But there is infinitely more to life, and each passionate being who dares to explore beyond the fragmentary and superficial into the mystery of totality helps all humanity perceive what it is to be fully human. Revolution, total revolution, implies experimenting with the impossible. And when an individual takes a step in the direction of the new, the impossible, the whole human race travels through that individual." - Vimala Thakar

"In the future my name ought to be put in the catalogue as I sign it on the canvas, namely Vincent and not Van Gogh, for the simple reason that they do not know how to pronounce the latter name here." - Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh

"If we can stay awake when our lives are changing, secrets will be revealed to us--secrets about ourselves, about the nature of life, and about the eternal source of happiness and peace that is always available, always renewable, already within us." - Elizabeth Lesser

"The pastoral vocation in America is embarrassingly banal. It is banal because it is pursued under the canons of job efficiency and career management. It is banal because it is reduced to the dimensions of a job description. It is banal because it is an idol – a call from God exchanged for an offer by the devil for work that can be measured and manipulated at the convenience of the worker. Holiness is not banal. Holiness is blazing." - Eugene Peterson