Category: Quotes

“The Robber, the Judge, and the Case for Leniency”

Two quotes from former bank robber Shon R. Hopwood, who recently won a prestigious clerkship:

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” Mr. Holder said.

“From my experience,” he wrote, “sentences over five years do little to help society or the prisoner.” 

Read the article.


The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

What else to be?

“For myself, I am an optimist–it does not seem much use being anything else.” –Winston Churchill

Melville on War

Read about Herman Melville and consider Battlepieces and Aspects of the War (free Google eBook). Here is an excerpt from “The March into Virginia”

Did all the lets and bars appear
      To every just or larger end,
Whence should come the trust and cheer?
      Youth must its ignorant impulse lend—
Age finds place in the rear.
      All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys,
The champions and enthusiasts of the state:
      Turbid ardors and vain joys
            Not barrenly abate—
Stimulants to the power mature,
      Preparatives of fate.

On Compassion

An especially good observation, one that I hope this blog communicates–compassion is more than charity:

“True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves, but from realizing our kinship with all beings.” –Pema Chodron

Realizing Peace

“When you produce peace and happiness in yourself, you begin to realize peace for the whole world.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

I really like this quote because it bridges what appear to be two different conceptions of peace, the internal nature of our own individual worlds, and the external nature of the entire world. Like the quote, this blog is all about showing how the two are inseparable. To change the consciousness of a world, one must start with those who inhabit it.

Henry David Thoreau

Here is a wonderful 3-part series on Thoreau, a great thinker who lived peacefully, with integrity, and in harmony with nature. He stressed the importance of individual reflection and thought.



Wise Words on War

“A country cannot simultaneously prepare and prevent war.” –Albert Einstein

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings is a must-read from Maria Popova for those who care about anything interesting! Subscribe for emails, check out recommended books, find some wise words, enjoy learning about life, love, writing… Here is the websites’ description:

Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.


See this:

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Very inspiring. For artists and thinkers.

Self-described as “a brand for liberal thinking and individualism…”


Pise Con Cuidado

Literally translated thanks to Google, this means “Step with care.” The sign is on the bus I ride on each day, and there is no English version. It reminds me of the beautiful religion, Jainism. Followers of Jainism (ideally) tred with care, mindful of the creatures on the ground who might be hurt. I try to in daily life as well. Construed more broadly, “Pise con cuidado” could be applied to any kind of interaction and approach to life. Be mindful of those around, be kind.

Peace Within and With Others

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” –Peace Pilgram Quotes

Here are more quotes on peace from the website I found this one on.

Women for Women International

“I believe the way to stop violence against women is to speak out and refuse to be silent.”

“Women are the glue of families and societies; when women thrive, countries thrive.”

–Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi woman who founded Women for Women International at age 23, in 1993

There is lots more from the website!: Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. We’re changing the world one woman at a time.

“Welcome to the world’s nicest prison”

See the full CNN article for details and definitely watch the movie clip! This is a wonderful approach to rehabilitation.

“Who would you rather have as your neighbor? Someone who’s set free after years behind bars–or a prisoner who for such a long time has had the chance to be part of a community?”

“This is what we call ‘human ecology’…It has to do with human relationships and the awareness that you’re part of a greater whole.”

–Arne Kvernik Nilsen, governor of Bastoy prison

An Optimist’s Guide to Life

“Happiness is like a spark…Fate Lights it, but it’s your decision whether it will burn out or ignite.” –Anthony Devergillo, who began a blog, “An Optimist’s Guide to Life.” Anthony has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which makes him constantly smile.

Creativity Awakens

“People living in disenfranchised and traumatized communities often became totally silenced and invisible to the world.”

“Awakening creativity in people in general, especially in traumatized situations, empowers and heals. It gives them space to express themselves and share their grief, despair and dreams for the future.”

“Art is a powerful took in building community and social change. Artists can be at the center of that change.”

–Lily Yeh, who began Barefoot Artists, a non-profit that works with the poor communities to creates social change

Happiness and Life

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon

Loving, Living, Letting Go

“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” — Buddha


A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. – Arthur Schopenhauer

Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life.  Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Khaled Hosseini,  Amir in The Kite Runner

Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness. – George MacDonald

These quotes are thanks to Steve McCurry’s beautiful collection of images and quotes on solitude and silence.

“Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry”

Love these investigative multiple-page articles.

“A poem is a sword.” -Saheera Sharif

“Making love to an old man is like

Making love to a limp cornstalk blackened by fungus.”

-Gulmakai, 22, an Afghan woman whose father made her marry an old man at 15

Trained to Kill

“I thought, I can’t, I can’t allow myself to be trained to kill on orders, to take life on orders.” -Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, on NPR Fresh Air. Merwin was put in a psychiatric ward in 1946 for being a Pacifist (as he’d enlisted when he was 17 previously), he said.

Giving What We Can

Interesting choice of recommended charities to give to.

Essays on giving.

Some quotations on giving.

Very interesting decision to place names of members (those who pledged 10% of their income) on this list.

Davis Projects for Peace

Check out these Projects for Peace. So many creative proposals, from empowering women with computer skills and workshops to establishing community gardens and bringing in guest lecturers.


“Since wars begin in the minds of people, it is in the minds of people that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” -UNESCO Constitution (1945)

MLK Quote

“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.” -Martin Luther King, December 1964

War Quote

“War has a look. It is the bloody and anonymous bodies. It is the billowy mushroom cloud, the wall of flame rising from a forest that’s been napalmed, the sky of Kuwait blackened by oil fires.” -William Tsutsui, Japanese-American historian

Peace as a Process

“What’s odd is that when you try to think about peace, you end up mostly thinking about war…but surely peace is something more than the mere absence of something else…Peace is not the rarefied and unblemished state of our fondest imaginings, but a more common experience that includes conflict but is not consumed by it. Peace is not a fixed or final state of being but an experimental and evolving process, necessarily imperfect and always tending towards a harmony that may never be fully attained.”

-Mark Sommer in Whole Earth Review, Summer 1986

Peace is not Passive

“Peace is not simply the absence of war. It is not a passive state of being. We must wage peace, as vigilantly as we wage war.” -Dalai Lama

What I Heard About Iraq in 2005

Oranges and Peanuts for Sale by Eliot Weinberger has a powerful section on Iraq called “What I Heard About Iraq in 2005”. Here are just a few of the many excerpts (which I think I am allowed to post, as they should be in the public domain as far as I know):

I heard a man who had been in Abu Ghraib prison say: “The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house.”

Lieutenant General James Mattis: “It is a lot of fun to fight in Iraq…You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. I like brawling.”

Monthly coverage on ABC, NBC, and CBS combined went from 388 minutes (2003) to 274 (2004) to 166 (2005).

Devout Christian in Iraq: “I said a prayer, stood up, and gunned them all down.”

Bush compared his War on Terror with Lincoln’s war against slavery.

Journalist: “Do you think that the insurgence is getting harder now to defeat militarily?”

Bush: “No, I don’t think so. I think they’re being defeated. And that’s why they continue to fight.

I’ve heard Condoleeza Rice speak about a “generational commitment” in Iraq.

Bush: “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of capitulate the propaganda.”

I heard that US troops had killed the #2 man in al-Qaeda in Iraq. I heard that US troops had killed another man who was the #2 in al-Qaeda in Iraq. I heard that US troops had killed yet another man who was the #2 in al-Qaeda in Iraq.

I heard that the US military was actively recruiting in Latin America, offering citizenship in exchange for service. I heard that Hispanic-Americans make up 9.5% of the actively enlisted, but 17.5% of those given the most dangerous assignments.

John Bolton, the new US ambassador to the United Nations: “There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power in the world – and that is the US – when it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along.”

Abdul Henderson, a former Marine corporal: “We were firing into small towns. You see people just running, cars going, guys falling off bikes. It was just sad. You just sit there and look through your binos and see things blowing up, and you think, man they have no water, living in the third world, and we’re just bombing them to hell. Blowing up buildings, shrapnel tearing people to shreds.”

I heard that the US was now spending $195 million a day on the war and that the cost had already exceeded, by $50 billion, US expenses in all of World War I. I heard that $195 million would provide 12 meals a day to every starving child on earth.

Thanks to this blogger (who actually has the entire essay on the blog) I copied and pasted this list. I feel compelled to include it because it really makes torture more tangible, more of a reality than vague, half-formed, media-influenced, propaganda-influenced theories of the cruel and unknown capabilities of humans.

I heard that a human rights organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, was distributing a questionnaire to inmates released from Iraqi prisons. Those surveyed were asked to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ after each question:

Stripped of your clothing (nude)?
Beaten by hand (punches)?
Beaten by stick or rod?
Beaten by cables, wires or belts?
Held at gunpoint?
Had cold water poured on you?
Had a rope tied to your genitalia?
Called names, insults?
Threatened or touched by dogs?
Dragged by rope or belt?
Denied prayer or wudhu [ablution]?
Forced to perform sexual acts?
Were you raped or sodomised?
Did someone improperly touch your genitalia?
Did you witness any sexual acts while in detention?
Did you witness any rapes of men, women or children?
Urinated on or made to touch faeces, or had faeces thrown at you?
Denied sleep?
Denied food?
Witnessed any deaths?
Did you witness any torture or mistreatment to others?
Forced to wear woman’s clothes? [Question for men only]
Were you burned or exposed to extreme heat?
Exposed to severe cold?
Subjected to electric shock?
Forced to act like a dog?
Forced in uncomfortable positions for a
lengthy period of time?
Forced to stand or sit in a painful manner for lengthy periods of time?
Lose consciousness?
Forced to hit others?
Hung by feet?
Hung by hands or arms?
Threatened to have family killed?
Family members detained?
Witnessed family members tortured?
Forced to sign anything?