In the beginning of a change the PATRIOT is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world — and never will
Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform
Never let your schooling interfere with your education.
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel — and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy and I heard repeated time and time again the phrase, ‘My country, right or wrong, my country!’ How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country.
In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time and annoys the pig.
There is something worse than ignorance, and that’s knowing what ain’t so.
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.
Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it
If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed
There has never been a just one, never an honorable one — on the part of the instigator of war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful — as usual — will shout for the war. The pulpit will — warily and cautiously — object — at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.” Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers — as earlier — but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation — pulpit and all — will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.