Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Obligation

"Do not measure yourself with anybody else’s yardstick. Your obligation is to accomplish with your own unique talents. you do not need anybody else’s approval to be a worthy person." - Shlomo Wolbe, aka Wilhelm Wolbe

"Instinct gave place temporarily to a system of habits, each one of which became contingent, their convergence of which became contingent, their convergence towards the preservation of society being alone necessary, and this necessity bringing back instinct with it. The necessity of the whole, felt behind the contingency of the parts, is what we call moral obligation in general - it being understood that the parts are contingent in the eyes of society only; to the individual, into whom society inculcates its habits, the part is as necessary as the whole." - Henri Bergson, aka Henri-Louis Bergson

"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

"Not only is there a right to be happy, there is a duty to be happy. So much sadness exists in the world that we are all under obligation to contribute as much joy as lies within our powers." - Abel Bonnard

"Business leaders today can’t shrink from their obligation to set a moral example." - Willard C. Butcher, fully Willard Carlisle Butcher

"Active beneficence is a virtue of easier practice than forbearance after having conferred, or than thankfulness after having received a benefit. I know not, indeed, whether it be a greater and more difficult exercise of magnanimity for the one party to act as if he had forgotten, or for the other as if he constantly remembered the obligation." - George Canning

"Your awareness of your self-worth is not a contradiction to the obligation to be humble. Humility is not a lack of awareness of your positive accomplishments and abilities. Only a fool is not aware of what he really is an this is not humility. Humility is the internalized awareness with every fiber of your body that everything, yes everything, you have is not your own. Rather it is a gift from the Almighty who bestowed His kindness on you. The more a person actually feels that what he has is a gift the greater is his humility." - Yehuda Leib Chasman

"There is no man but for his own interest hath an obligation to be honest. There may; be sometimes temptations to be otherwise; but, all cares cast up, he shall find it the greatest ease, the highest profit, the best pleasure, the most safety, and the noblest fame, to hold the horns of this altar, which in all assays, can in himself protect him." - Owen Feltham

"It is a secret, well known to all great men, that by conferring an obligation they; do not always procure a friend, but are certain of creating many enemies." - Henry Fielding

"All times are great exactly in proportion as men feel, profoundly, their indebtedness to something or other... A feeling of immeasurable obligation puts life into a man and fight into him, and joy into him." - David Grayson, pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker

"In this age when there can be no losers in peace and no victors in war, we must recognize the obligation to match national strength with national restraint." - Lyndon Johnson, fully Lyndon Baines Johnson, aka LBJ

"There are minds so impatient of inferiority that their gratitude is a species of revenge, and they return benefits, not because recompense is a pleasure, but because obligation is a pain." -

"A person’s first obligation is to work on having an orderly mind and to decide on what thoughts he will think about." - Ya’akov Dov "Katzele" Katz

"All duties are matter of conscience, with this restriction that a superior obligation suspends the force of an inferior one." - Roger L'Estrange, fully Sir Roger L'Estrange

"A moral obligation is no less compelling because it may end in failure." -

"Power is regarded by all men as the greatest of temporal advantages. The support given to Power, therefore, is an obligation; and, consequently, the protection given by governors to subjects, a positive duty." - Catharine Macaulay Graham, born Catharine Sawbridge

"Let honor be to us as strong an obligation as necessity is to others." - Pliny the Elder, full name Casus Plinius Secundus NULL

"Even though we personally should do what we can to flee from honor, we still have an obligation to treat other people with honor and respect." - Yisroel Salanter Lipkin

"We must never try to escape the obligation of living at our best." - Janet Erskine Stuart, known as Mother Janet Stuart

"Every man has obligation which belong to his station. Duties extend beyond obligations, and direct the affections, desires, and intentions, as well as the actions." - William Whewell

"Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life." -

"By the one same act man both serves and worships God, for worship regards the excellence of God, to Whom reverence is due: while service regards the subjection of man who, by his condition, is under an obligation of showing reverence to God. To these two belong all acts ascribed to religion, because, by them all, man bears witness to the Divine excellence and to his own subjection to God, either by offering something to God, or by assuming something Divine." -

"It is not the profession of religion which creates the obligation for the performance of duty; for that existed before any such profession was made. The profession of religion only recognizes the obligation." - Albert Barnes

"Happiness in marriage is not a gift, but an opportunity. It is an obligation, not an experiment." - Barnett Brickner

"Measure obligation by inherent ability!" - Horace Bushnell

"The moment you can make a very simple discovery, viz., that obligation to God is your privilege, and is not imposed as a burden, your experience will teach you many things - that duty is liberty, that repentance is a release from sorrow, that sacrifice is gain, that humility is dignity, that the truth from that which you hide is a healing element that bathes your disordered life, and that even the penalties and terrors of God are the artillery only to protection to His realm." - Horace Bushnell

"Not until the creation and maintenance of decent conditions of life for all men are recognized and accepted as a common obligation of all men, shall we be able to speak of mankind as civilized." - Albert Einstein

"It is well known to all great men, that by conferring an obligation they do not always procure a friend, but are certain of creating many enemies." - Henry Fielding

"A teacher, like a playwright, has an obligation to be interesting or, at least, brief. A play closes when it ceases to interest audiences." -

"What a convenient and delightful world is this world of books! - if you bring to it not the obligation of the student, or look upon it as an opiate for idleness, but enter it rather with the enthusiasm of the adventurer!" -

"We crave freedom, but freedom is never an end in itself; it is a means to be used for further aims. Its value lies in the extent to which it can assist the development of life. To possess freedom with no life for which to use it is but the bitterest farce. Life never means complete freedom, and every action and relation is an added bond. Life is to be attained, not through a non-moral freedom of caprice, but through a glad welcoming and loyal fulfillment of every bond and obligation which comes in the daily path of life." - Edward Howard Griggs

"An obligation is something which constrains or induces us to act." - Lord Francis Jeffrey

"In this age when there can be no losers in peace and no victors in war - we must recognize the obligation to match national strength with national restraint." - Lyndon Johnson, fully Lyndon Baines Johnson, aka LBJ

"The sequence of requests is obligation." -

"Self-denial is indispensable to a strong character, and the loftiest kind thereof comes only of a religious stock - from consciousness of obligation and dependence upon God." - Joseph Parker

"Our responsibility as educators is to teach youth to have respect for those who differ from the customary ways as well as for those who conform. In simpler words, we have a profound obligation both to education and to society itself to support and strengthen the right to be different, and to create a sound respect for intellectual superiority." - Robert C. Pooley, fully Robert Cecil Pooley

"To feel oppressed by obligation is only to prove that we are incapable of a proper sentiment of gratitude. To receive favors from the unworthy is to admit that our selfishness is superior to our pride." - William Gilmore Simms

"“Why are we here?” is surely the most important question human beings must face, whatever their origin, whatever their belief. Our obligation is to confer meaning to life and, in doing so, overcome temptations of passivity and indifference. A person who chooses indifference is dead without knowing it. In his or her case, life has no meaning, nor does death. And yet for those who believe in sharing experiences, life does have meaning in spite of the meaningless death some of us may have witnessed. Those who share teach us that one must make every minute rich and enriching, not for oneself but for someone else, thereby creating living links between the individuals and groups. Ultimately, life is a gift and meaning is its reward. So is the art and ability of asking questions. The meaning of life is to be found in the question that becomes encounter. Then every moment becomes a moment of grace." -

"Every human being has an obligation to return to this planet and to all our relations the sound of beauty, the power of prayer, the sense of harmony." - Dhyani Ywahoo

"Marriage is that relation between man and woman in which the independence is equal, the dependence mutual, and the obligation reciprocal." - Louis K. Anspacher, fully Louis Kannan Anspacher

"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

"It is dangerous to take human freedom for granted, to regard it as a prerogative rather than as an obligation, as an ultimate fact rather than as an ultimate goal. It is the beginning of wisdom to be amazed at the facts of our being free." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The ultimate grounding of obligation, and finally of all morality, is a single but universal relationship between each and all… a sense of duty grounded in the recognition of the intrinsic worth of persons." - James Kellenberger

"To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"A moral obligation is no less compelling because it may end in failure." - Harold Laski, fully Harold Joseph Laski

"One ought to both be feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting… Love is held by a chain of obligation, which men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails." - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"It was and it is to do all that can be done to eradicate an evil thing out of our civilization… a thing so incredibly wicked that it would not have been believable of modern man if it had not actually occurred. This evil, this wickedness began with intolerance and hate in a few men’s hearts. It spread until it almost wrecked the world. Now the obligation is to remember, not in hate, not in the spirit of revenge, but so that this spirit cannot ever flourish again so long as man remains on earth. And to this end, let us begin, each of us, by looking into our own hearts." - New York Times Editorial on the Holocaust NULL

"A right is not effectual by itself, but only in relation to the obligation to which it corresponds... An obligation which goes unrecognized by anybody loses none of the full force of its existence. A right which goes unrecognized by anybody is not worth very much." - Simone Weil

"It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it." - Albert Einstein

"The source of my obligation is the value I place on the relatedness of caring." - Nel Noddings