Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"The best way of worshipping God is in allaying the distress of the times and improving the condition of mankind." -

"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

"Give a child the habit of sacredly regarding the truth - of carefully respecting the property of others - of scrupulously abstaining from all acts of improvidence which can involve him in distress, and he will just as likely think of rushing into the element in which he cannot breathe, as of lying or cheating or stealing." -

"For how might sweetness ever have been known to him who never tasted bitterness? Felicity exists for those alone who first have suffered sorrow and distress... By opposites does one in wisdom grow." - Geoffrey Chaucer

"“Desiderata" Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." - Max Ehrmann

"Pity is not natural to man. Children and savages are always cruel. Pity is acquired and improved by the cultivation of reason. We may have uneasy sensations from seeing a creature in distress, without pity; but we have not pity unless we wish to relieve him." -

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." - Thomas Paine

"It does not good to offer consoling words to a man in distress; his real friend in a pinch is a friend in deed, when deeds are needed." - Plautus, full name Titus Maccius Plautus NULL

"Distress is virtue’s opportunity: we only live to teach us how to die." - Thomas Southerne or Southern

"Your imagination has much to do with your life. It pictures beauty, success, desired results. One the other hand, it brings into focus ugliness, distress, and failure. It is for you to decide how you want your imagination to serve you." - Philip Conley, fully Philip Mallory "Phil" Conley

"By adversity are wrought the greatest works of admiration, and all the fair examples of renown, out of distress and misery are grown." - John W. Daniel, fully John Warwick Daniel

"People in distress never think that you feel enough." -

"Even legal punishments lose all appearance of justice, when too strictly inflicted on men compelled by the last extremity of distress to incur them." -

"I condemn Christianity, I bring against the Christian Church the most terrible charge any prosecutor has ever uttered. to me it is the extremist thinkable form of corruption, it has had the will to the ultimate corruption conceivably possible. The Christian Church has left nothing untouched by its depravity, it has made of every value a disvalue, of every truth a lie, of every kind of integrity a vileness of soul. People still dare to talk to me of its ‘humanitarian’ blessings! To abolish any state of distress whatever has been profoundly inexpedient to it: it has lived on states of distress, it has created states of distress in order to externalize itself." - Friedrich Nietzsche, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"A world of little cares is continually arising, which busy or affluent life knows nothing of, to open the first door to distress. Hunger is not among the postponable wants; and a day, even a few hours, in such a condition is often the crisis of a life of ruin." - Thomas Paine

"At times of distress, strengthen your heart, even if you stand at death’s door. The lamp has light before it is extinguished. The wounded lion still knows how to roar." - Samuel ha-Nagid, born Samuel ibn Naghrela or Naghrillah

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." - Thomas Paine

"Religion is an intercourse, a conscious and voluntary relation, entered into by a soul in distress with the mysterious power upon which it feels itself to depend, and upon which its fate is contingent." - Louis Auguste Sabatier

"The greater the power that we have to change the World into something nearer to our ideal, the greater becomes our distress at our failing to perform those beneficent and useful acts of creation which we know to be within our power." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Thou art/ - I am? - why argue? - Being is. Keep still and be. Death will not still the mind. Nor argument, nor hopes of after-death. This world the battle-ground, yourself the foe yourself must master. Eager the mind to seek. Yet oft astray, causing its own distress then crying for relief, as though some God barred from it jealously the Bliss it sought but would not face. Till in the end, all battles fought, all earthly loves abjured, dawn in the East, there is no other way but to be still. In stillness then to find the giants all were windmills, all the strife self-made, unreal; even he that strove a fancied being, as when that good knight woke from delirium and with a loud cry rendered his soul to God. Mind, then, or soul? Break free from subtle words. Only be still, lay down the mid, submit, and Being then is Bliss, Bliss Consciousness: and That you are." - Arthur W Osborn

"It takes more distress and poison to kill someone who has peace of mind and loves life." - Bernie S. Siegel

"Economic distress will teach man, if anything can, that realities are less dangerous than fantasies, that fact-finding is more effective than fault-finding." - Carl Lotus Becker

"The superior man is satisfied and composed; the man is always full of distress." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Action is being truly observant of your own thoughts, good or bad, looking into the true nature of whatever thoughts may arise, neither tracing the past nor inviting the future, neither allowing any clinging to experiences of joy, nor being overcome by sad situations. In so doing, you try to reach and remain in the state of great equilibrium, where all good and bad, peace and distress, are devoid of true identity." - Dudjom Rinpoche, fully Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche or Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje NULL

"When we borrow trouble, and look forward into the future and see what storms are coming, and distress ourselves before they come, as to how we shall avert them if they ever do come, we lose our proper trustfulness in God. When we torment ourselves with imaginary dangers, or trials, or reverses we have already parted with that perfect love with casteth our fear." - Henry Ward Beecher

"Virtue in distress and vice in triumph, make atheists of mankind." - John Dryden

"You pray in your distress and in your need; when that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance." - Kahlil Gibran

"Where wealth is, there are also all manner of sins; for through wealth comes pride, through pride dissension, through dissension wars, through wars, poverty, through poverty, great distress and misery. Therefore, they that are rich, must yield a strict and great account; for to whom much is given, of him much will be required." - Martin Luther

"There are tens of millions of Americans who are beyond the welfare state. Taken as a whole there is a culture of poverty... bad health, poor housing, low levels of aspiration and high levels of mental distress. Twenty per cent of a nation, some 32,000,000." - Michael Harrington, fully Edward Michael "Mike" Harrington

"If the soul be happily disposed, every thing becomes capable of affording entertainment, and distress will almost want a name." - Oliver Goldsmith

"A man's concern, even his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is a spiritual distress but by no means a mental disease." -

"Even legal punishments lose all appearance of justice, when too strictly inflicted on men compelled by the last extremity of distress to incur them." - Junius, psyeudonym of unknown English Political Writer NULL

"Anxiety is that range of distress which attends willing what cannot be willed." - Leslie H. Farber

"Incessant falls teach men to reform, and distress rouses their strength. Life springs from calamity, and death from ease." - Mencius, born Meng Ke or Ko NULL

"People in distress will sometimes prefer a problem that is familiar to a solution that is not." - Neil Postman

"If we want to make a statement about a man's nature on the basis of his physiognomy, we must take everything into account; it is in his distress that a man is tested, for then his nature is revealed." - Paracelsus, aka 'Paracelsus the Great', born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim NULL

"You would not easily guess All the modes of distress Which torture the tenants of earth; And the various evils, Which like so many devils, Attend the poor souls from their birth." - Percy Bysshe Shelley

"I am no party man in this matter in any degree; and if I have any objection to the motion it is this, that whereas it is a motion to inquire into the manufacturing distress of the country, it should have been a motion to inquire into manufacturing and agricultural distress." - Richard Cobden

"If our age is not distinguished for a greatly increased number of happy marriages and a more intelligent approach to the problems of sex, we may surely assert that some forms of misery in the sexual realm are less widespread than they used to be; and of the many people who are unhappy, thousands have some idea of what lies at the root of their unhappiness, and thus far they are better off than their forefathers, who had none, or attributed their distress to sin." - Robertson Davies

"Almighty God, who sufferest Thyself To be entreated, and who payest heed Unto the poor, how long wilt Thou from me Be far and hidden? Night and day I turn And with a steadfast heart I call to Thee, And pour incessant gratitude for Thy Excelling goodness. O my King, with pain For Thee my heart is torn, in Thee it trusts. Dreaming this shut-in dream, it looks to Thee For life’s interpretation. This I ask, This is the plea to which I beg assent, My sole petition, neither more nor less." - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"Unworthy am I of all the mercies and all the truth Which Thou hast wrought for Thy servant. Verily, O Lord my God, will I thank Thee For that Thou hast given me a holy soul, Though by my deeds I have defiled it, Polluted and profaned it with my evil inclination. But I know that if I wrought wickedly, I harmed but myself, never Thee. In sooth, at my right hand my fierce inclination As an adversary standeth, Allowing me no breathing-space to establish my tranquillity. Oft have I purposed with double bridle to lead him, From the sea of his lusts to dry land to restore him, But I could not prevail. My devices he baulked, made profanities flow from my lips. I think thoughts of simplicity, he fabricates guile and iniquity, I am for peace, and he is for war, To the point that he made me his footstool, And even in peace-time shed the blood of war. How oft have I sallied forth to combat against him, And set in battle-array My camp of service and repentance, And placed the host of Thy mercies beside me for auxiliary, For I said, if my evil inclination Shall come to one camp and shall smite it, Then the camp that is left shall escape. As I thought, so it was. For temptation has routed me and scattered my forces, So that there is nothing left me but the camp of Thy mercies. But yet I know that by these I shall overcome it, And they shall be unto me better than a city of refuge. Peradventure I shall prevail and smite it and drive it away." - Salomon ibn Gabirol, aka Solomon ben Judah or Avicebron

"A leader who pushes the authority figure in an attempt to solve important problems should expect the authority figure to strike back, not necessarily from personal motivations but form the community’s pressure on him to maintain equilibrium." - Ronald A. Heifetz

"As we shall see, a strategy of leadership to accomplish adaptive work accounts for several conditions and values that are consonant with the demands of a democratic society. In addition to reality testing, these include respecting conflict, negotiation, and a diversity of views within a community; increasing community cohesion; developing norms of responsibility-taking, learning, and innovation; and keeping social distress within a bearable range." - Ronald A. Heifetz

"At an extreme, war has been used as a means to mobilize adaptive work. When Abraham Lincoln went to war with the South, he clearly had no authority, formal or informal, in the eyes of seceding Southerners. Indeed, in ten states he won no popular votes in 1860 because he was not even put on the ballot. He led across the newly formed boundary, challenging Southerners to solve rather than flee from the problems of reconciling differences within a union that their recent forebears had played dominant roles in producing." - Ronald A. Heifetz

""But I say to you," the Lord says, "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you." Why did he command these things? So that he might free you from hatred, sadness, anger and grudges, and might grant you the greatest possession of all, perfect love, which is impossible to possess except by the one who loves all equally in imitation of God." - Saint Maximus the Confessor NULL

"Care-charmer Sleep, son of the sable Night, Brother to Death, in silent darkness born, Relieve my languish, and restore the light, With dark forgetting of my cares return." - Samuel Daniel

"But, perhaps, the excellence of aphorisms consists not so much in the expression of some rare or abstruse sentiment, as in the comprehension of some obvious and useful truth in few words." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The process of meditation should begin from the lotus feet of the Lord and progress to His smiling face. The meditation should be concentrated upon the lotus feet, then the calves, then the thighs, and in this way higher and higher. The more the mind becomes fixed upon the different parts of the limbs, one after another, the more the intelligence becomes purified." - Shrimad Bhagavatam, or the Bhâgavata Purâna, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, or Bhāgavata NULL