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John W. Gardner Quotes

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"Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are."

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

"Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants."

"It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government."

"When one may pay out over two million dollars to presidential and Congressional campaigns, the U.S. government is virtually up for sale."

"For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred."

"All laws are an attempt to domesticate the natural ferocity of the species."

"Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumb-twiddling; true happiness involves the full use of one's powers and talents."

"Josh Billings said, "It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too." Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves, and the modern world is particularly rich in such stratagems."

"The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept."

"The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursing his own education. This will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else."

"Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them."

"True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents."

"One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure."

"Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community."

"History never looks like history when you are living through it."

"Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well."

"Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all."

"We are all faced with a series of great opportunities - brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems."

"America's greatness has been the greatness of a free people who shared certain moral commitments. Freedom without moral commitment is aimless and promptly self-destructive."

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