Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Obligation

"It is the obligation of each person in Israel to raise up the Fallen Bride from the dust into which She has fallen." - Moshe Chayim Luzzatto, also Moses Hayyim Luzzato, known by Hebrew acronym RaMCHal

"I never thought of losing, but now that it's happened, the only thing is to do it right. That's my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life. " - Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.

"The term "mensch" literally means a "person" or "man," but it represents a moral ideal for all people, men and women alike. . . . It means being sensitive to other people's needs and seeking out ways to help them. It is acquired by living close to family and extending one's sense of obligation beyond the family to the broader community. In the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe where the term arose, to call someone a mensch was the highest compliment that could be given. " - Neil Kurshan

"It is much safer to be feared than loved because ...love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails. " - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"One can say this in general of men: they are ungrateful, disloyal, insincere and deceitful, timid of danger and avid of profit... Love is a bond of obligation that these miserable creatures break whenever it suits them to do so; but fear holds them fast by a dread of punishment that never passes. " - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"Now the misgiving arose in her whether she had mistaken arrogance for duty; whether, cleaving so closely to honor she had forgotten the obligation of mercy. " - Ouida, pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé, preferred to be called Marie Louise de la Ramée NULL

"This had been the higher, diviner way which she had missed, this obligation from the passion of the past which she had left unfulfilled, unaccepted. " - Ouida, pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé, preferred to be called Marie Louise de la Ramée NULL

"Should one break in and free the animals? That is illegal, but the obligation to obey the law is not absolute. It was justifiably broken by those who helped runaway slaves in the American South, to mention only one possible parallel. " - Peter Singer

"For however often a man may receive an obligation from you, if you refuse a request, all former favors are effaced by this one denial. " - Pliny the Younger, full name Casus Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo NULL

"You are called to work and pray especially the weak and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn. Establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love. Everyone has an obligation to be at the service of life. " - Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, aka Saint John Paul the Great NULL

"Man always travels along precipices. His truest obligation is to keep his balance." - Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, aka Saint John Paul the Great NULL

"The obligation to earn one's bread by the sweat of one's brow also presumes the right to do so. A society in which this right is systematically denied, in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace." - Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, aka Saint John Paul the Great NULL

"There are two victims in every abortion: a dead baby and a dead conscience... There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws [laws which seek to legitimate abortion and euthanasia]; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection." - Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, aka Saint John Paul the Great NULL

"This concentration of power and might, the characteristic mark of contemporary economic life, is the fruit that the unlimited freedom of struggle among competitors has of its own nature produced, and which lets only the strongest survive; and this is often the same as saying, those who fight the most violently, those who give least heed to their conscience… Unbridled ambition for power has succeeded greed for gain; all economic life has become tragically hard, inexorable, and cruel… How completely deceived, therefore, are those rash reformers who concern themselves with the enforcement of justice alone–and this, commutative justice–and in their pride reject the assistance of charity! Admittedly, no vicarious charity can substitute for justice which is due as an obligation and is wrongfully denied." -

"Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process." - Hillary Rodham Clinton

"As for myself, may the sweet Muses, as Virgil says, bear me away to their holy places where sacred streams do flow, beyond the reach of anxiety and care, and free from the obligation of performing each day some task that goes against the grain. May I no longer have anything to do with the mad racket and the hazards of the forum, or tremble as I try a fall with white-faced Fame. I do not want to be roused from sleep by the clatter of morning callers or by some breathless messenger from the palace; I do not care, in drawing my will, to give a money-pledge for its safe execution through anxiety as to what is to happen afterwards; I wish for no larger estate than I can leave to the heir of my own free choice. Some day or other the last hour will strike also for me, and my prayer is that my effigy may be set up beside my grave, not grim and scowling, but all smiles and garlands, and that no one shall seek to honor my memory either by a motion in the senate or by a petition to the Emperor." - Tacitus, fully Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus NULL

"True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is." - R. D. Laing, fully Ronald David Laing

"The gift of life is so precious that we should feel an obligation to pay back the universe for the gift of being alive." - Ray Bradbury, fully Ray Douglas Bradbury

"It is proper to observe, that even in this sense of our country, that love of it which is our duty, does not imply any conviction of the superior value of it to other countries, or any particular preference of its laws and constitution of government. Were this implied, the love of their country would be the duty of only a very small part of mankind; for there are few countries that enjoy the advantage of laws and governments which deserve to be preferred. To found, therefore, this duty on such a preference, would be to found it on error and delusion. It is however a common delusion. There is the same partiality in countries, to themselves, that there is in individuals. All our attachments should be accompanied, as far as possible, with right opinions. We are too apt to confine wisdom and virtue within the circle of our own acquaintance and party. Our friends, our country, and, in short, everything related to us, we are disposed to overvalue. A wise man will guard himself against this delusion. He will study to think of all things as they are, and not suffer any partial effections to blind his understanding. In other families there may be as much worth as in our own. In other circles of friends there may be as much wisdom; and in other countries as much of all that deserves esteem; but, notwithstanding this, our obligation to love our own families, friends, and country, and to seek, in the first place, their good, will remain the same." - Richard Price

"What obligation is more binding than to protect the cherished, to defend whoever or whatever cannot defend itself, and to nurture in turn that which has given nourishment? I" - Richard K. Nelson

"For love must be a very foolish thing to look back upon, when it has brought persons born to affluence into indigence, and laid a generous mind under obligation and dependence." -

"I like long and unusual words, and anybody who does not share my tastes is not compelled to read me. Policemen and politicians are under some obligation to make themselves comprehensible to the intellectually stunted, but not I. Let my prose be tenebrous and rebarbative; let my pennyworth of thought be muffled in gorgeous habilements; lovers of Basic English will look to me in vain." - Robertson Davies

"For love must be a very foolish thing to look back upon, when it has brought persons born to affluence into indigence, and laid a generous mind under obligation and dependence." -

"There was no need to call a council merely to hold discussions of that nature. What is needed at the present time is a new enthusiasm, a new joy and serenity of mind in the unreserved acceptance by all of the entire Christian faith, without forfeiting that accuracy and precision in its presentation which characterized the proceedings of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. What is needed, and what everyone imbued with a truly Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit craves today, is that this doctrine shall be more widely known, more deeply understood, and more penetrating in its effects on men's moral lives. What is needed is that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which the faithful owe obedience, be studied afresh and reformulated in contemporary terms. For this deposit of faith, or truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing; the manner in which these truths are set forth (with their meaning preserved intact) is something else. This, then, is what will require our careful, and perhaps too our patient, consideration. We must work out ways and means of expounding these truths in a manner more consistent with a predominantly pastoral view of the Church's teaching office." - Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, aka Vatican II

"My fellow Americans I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes. (Comment while testing a microphone before a broadcast 11 Aug 84)" - Ronald Reagan, fully Ronald Wilson Reagan

"This administration is totally colorblind." - Ronald Reagan, fully Ronald Wilson Reagan

"Where the realm of freedom of thought and action begin, the determination of individuals according to generic laws ends." - Rudolf Steiner, fully Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner

"The filth and noise of the crowded streets soon destroy the elasticity of health which belongs to the country boy." - Rutherford B. Hayes, fully Rutherford Birchard Hayes

"The study of tools as well as of books should have a place in the public schools. Tools, machinery, and the implements of the farm should be made familiar to every boy, and suitable industrial education should be furnished for every girl." - Rutherford B. Hayes, fully Rutherford Birchard Hayes

"What makes us holy and pleasing to God is what our vocation demand of us, and not what our own will chooses." - Saint Francis de Sales NULL

"Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches." - Saint Thomas Aquinas, aka Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis or Doctor Universalis

"In this way, through experience they will be formed adequately, will be encouraged, and will be capable of rendering service to God." - Saint Vincent de Paul

"Our Sages were enemies of ignorance. They regarded education, intellectual enlightenment, and the acquisition of knowledge as the first of all moral commandments. They viewed the dissemination of intellectual enlightenment among all classes of the population as the prime concern of the nation, and the training of a child's mind as the first and most sacred duty of fatherhood. They considered it a matter of conscience for every Jewish father to see that his child should not remain a boor and am ha'arets; no Jewish child must be allowed to grow up as an ignorant, uneducated person." - Samson Raphael Hirsch

"Driven from every other corner of the earth, freedom of thought and the right of private judgment in matters of conscience direct their course to this happy country as their last resort." - Samuel Adams

"There are some sluggish men who are improved by drinking; as there are fruits that are not good until they are rotten." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"For the human mind is seldom at stay: If you do not grow better, you will most undoubtedly grow worse." - Samuel Richardson

"Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct... and to refrain from destruction." - Simone Weil

"It is because of my wretchedness that I am I. It is on account of the wretchedness of the universe that, in a sense, God is I (that is to say a person)." - Simone Weil

"It seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms." - Simone Weil

"The real sin of idolatry is always committed on behalf of something similar to the State." - Simone Weil

"According to the Zen tradition, all beings have the wisdom and virtue of the fully enlightened one. But because of their distorted views, they don’t realize this fact." - Stephan Bodian

"Finally, it would be a master stroke if those great powers honestly bent on peace would form a League of Peace, not only to keep the peace among themselves, but to prevent, by force if necessary, its being broken by others. The supreme difficulty in connection with developing the peace work of The Hague arises from the lack of any executive power, of any police power to enforce the decrees of the court. In any community of any size the authority of the courts rests upon actual or potential force: on the existence of a police, or on the knowledge that the able-bodied men of the country are both ready and willing to see that the decrees of judicial and legislative bodies are put into effect." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"By the very constitution of our nature moral evil is its own curse." - Thomas Chalmers

"For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves, for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of anything than that every man is contented with his share." - Thomas Hobbes

"Men condemne the same things in others, which they approve in themselves; on the other side, they publickly commend what they privately condemne; and they deliver their Opinions more by Hear-say, than any Speculation of their own; and they accord more through hatred of some object, through fear, hope, love, or some other perturbation of mind, than true Reason. And therefore it comes to passe, that whole Bodyes of people often doe those things by Generall accord, or Contention, which those Writers most willingly acknowledge to be against the Law of Nature." - Thomas Hobbes

"The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort as that by their own industry and by the fruits of the earth they may nourish themselves and live contentedly, is to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one man, or assembly of men, to bear their person; and every one to own and acknowledge himself to be author of whatsoever he that so beareth their person shall act, or cause to be acted, in those things which concern the common peace and safety; and therein to submit their wills, everyone to his will, and their judgments to his judgment." - Thomas Hobbes

"Self-love is no part of morality. Indeed it is exactly its counterpart. It is the sole antagonist of virtue leading us constantly by our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our moral duties to others." - Thomas Jefferson

"First of all, although men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out his own personal salvation for himself in fear and trembling. We can help one another to find the meaning of life no doubt. But in the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?" - Thomas Merton

"If a writer is so cautious that he never writes anything that cannot be criticized, he will never be able to write anything that can be read. If you want to help other people you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn." - Thomas Merton

"Build your house on granite. By granite I mean your nature that you are torturing to death, the love in your child's body, your wife's dream of love, your own dream of life when you were sixteen. Exchange your illusions for a bit of truth. Throw out your politicians and diplomats! Take your destiny into your own hands and build your life on rock. Forget about your neighbor and look inside yourself! Your neighbor, too, will be grateful. Tell you're fellow workers all over the world that you're no longer willing to work for death but only for life. Instead of flocking to executions and shouting hurrah, hurrah, make a law for the protection of human life and its blessings. Such a law will be part of the granite foundation your house rests on. Protect your small children's love against the assaults of lascivious, frustrated men and women. Stop the mouth of the malignant old maid; expose her publicly or send her to a reform school instead of young people who are longing for love. Don;t try to outdo your exploiter in exploitation if you have a chance to become a boss. Throw away your swallowtails and top hat, and stop applying for a license to embrace your woman. Join forces with your kind in all countries; they are like you, for better or worse. Let your child grow up as nature (or 'God') intended. Don't try to improve on nature. Learn to understand it and protect it. Go to the library instead of the prize fight, go to foreign countries rather than to Coney Island. And first and foremost, think straight, trust the quiet inner voice inside you that tells you what to do. You hold your life in your hands, don't entrust it to anyone else, least of all to your chosen leaders. BE YOURSELF! Any number of great men have told you that." - Wilhelm Reich