Community Quotes for Activists

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On Hope and Dreaming

Our recovery of hope - full colour, three-dimensional, hard working, clear thinking, wildly
radical, living hope - is our key to liberation. -Anne Bishop, Actist, Teacher

Meantime, the world in which we exist has other aims. But it will pass away, burnt up in the fire
of its own hot passions; and from its ashes will spring a new and younger world, full of fresh
hope, woth the light of morning in its eyes. -Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom

The hope of remaking the world is indispensable in the struggle of oppressed men and women.
-Paulo Freire

People living deeply have no fear of death. -Anais Nin, Writer

It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.
Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or strikes out against injustice, or acts to improve
the lot of others [they] send a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million
different centres of energy and daring, these ripples build a current which can sweep down the
mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. -Robert Kennedy (1920-1968)

Those who lose dreaming are lost. -Aboriginal Australian proverb

On Solidarity

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. -Martin Luther King Jr. "Letter from the
Birmingham Jail". 1963

Our struggle as women, men, blacks, workers, Brazilians, North Americans, French, or
Bolivians,
is influenced by our gender, race, class, culture, and history, conditionings that mark us. Our
struggle, nevertheless, departs from these conditionings and converges in the direction of
being more, in the direction of universal objectives. Or else, for me at least, the fight would
make no sense. -Paulo Freire, Letters, 1996

They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they arrested
the trade unionists and I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came
for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and
by that time no one was left to speak up. -Martin Niemoller, Minister

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. -Philo of Alexandra, Philosopher

The future of [humanity] lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take
up their responsibilities to all living things. -Vine Deloria Jr., God is Red (1973)

It is important for community workers to remember that we don't empower anyone. We are
given the opportunity to attend (think of a midwife) the process of the people empowering
themselves.
-Lawlor Lee, Activist and Teacher

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; If
a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well
as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I
am involved in mankind; and therefore never send for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee.
-John Donne (1572-1631) Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.

There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymores's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you
know that God damn secret yet? And don't you know - listen to me now - don't you know who
that Fat Lady really is?....Ah buddy, it's Christ Himself. Its Christ Himself buddy. -J. D. Salinger,
Franny and Zooey

Help the weak ones that cry for help, help the prosecuted and the victim... they are the
comrades that fight and fall... for the conquest of the joy of freedom for all the poor workers.
In this struggle for life you will find more life and you will be loved. -Nocoa Sacco (1891-1927)
Letter to his son.

On Anger

Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change. - Malcolm X

I have a right to my anger, and I don't want anybody telling me I shouldn't be, that it's not nice to be, and that something's wrong with me because I get angry. - Maxine Waters, in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World, 1989

On Conservatism

I do not know which makes a man more conservative - to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past. - John Maynard Keynes

On Knowledge and Meaning

Critical investigation helps people to look at social problems in the light of what they wish to achieve as self-reliant and self-determining social beings. -Susan McGrath, Activist and Teacher

We create knowledge so that we can better understand the meaning of our own experience and identity and the compexity of the society in which we live. It is a process of understanding who we are and determing how we wandt to be. Knowledge should help us to understand our current esperience and t develop alternative ways of living that respond to the issues identified.
-Susan McGrath, Activist and Teacher

Objectivity is defined as a distanced external view "uncoloured by feelings or opinions." Taken to its logical conclusions, it is the absence of a point of view. But everyone...has a point of view and feelings or opinions that are impossible to set aside completely. -Jan Barnsley and Diana Ellis, Feminist Researchers.

On Labour

All that harms labour is treason to America. No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he loves America, yet he hates labour, he is a liar. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labour, he is a fool. - Abraham Lincoln

On Media

As we're technically capable of becoming more and more informed and better and better informed, we are at risk of becoming less and less informed by fewer and fewer people - J. Dimbleby, British TV Anchorman.

On Organizing

It's a package deal. You get to savour the joy, but you also have to deal with the disappointment, because that's the nature of what and who we -Marshall Ganz, on Organizers

So leaders and organizers face a tough challenge: maintaining a conservative's belief in the value and necessity of stable institutions, along with a radical's understanding of the need for persistent agitation and reorganization. We are called to love, engage, and uphold our most cherished institutions, while watching them, questioning them, and pressing them to change, all at the same time. -Mike Gecan

On Patriotism

Each [person] must for [oneself] alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a [citizen]. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country. - Mark Twain

The oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people. Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. "I was only following orders" is never an excuse. - Lt. Ehren Watada (US Army War Resister)

On Power, Freedom and Poverty

Power is simply the ability to make something good happen or keep something bad form being done. -Lawlor Lee, Activist Teacher

Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. -Lord Acton

The exercise of power is never neutral. -Jermy Rifikin "God in a lab coat" Utne Reader, May-June 1998.

Freedom "from" is one thing but freedom "to" is quite another. -Eric Fromm

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
-J. F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

A hungry man is not a free man. -Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), Statesman

Community Development is about redistributing power and resources. It is a political process, not simply a tool or technique for calming people or rubbing raw the sores of discontent. - Jim Lotz, (1995), Activist, Writer

On Protesting

Except for bringing us workers' rights, women's rights' racial equality and gay rights protesting never changed anything. - Laura Penny

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. - Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987),

Turbulence is life force. It is opportunity. Let's love turbulence and use it for change. - Ramsay Clark

On Reflection

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of our explorations
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
-T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Researcher, Writer

Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the clouds and the great sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? -Tecumseh (1768-1813), Statesman

He is Father. Even more God is mother, who does not want to harm us. -Pope John Paul I (1912-1978)

Trust in yoursel[ves]. Your perceptions are often far more accurate than you are willing to believe -Claudia Black

Remember to Laugh -Jim Ward, Organizing the Homeless

On Struggle and Action

Almost every significant social progress in our respective countries starts out with one or two or three people saying, "Something is wrong and we are going to make it right". -Ralph Nader, Activist

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. -Albert Einstein

You don't need the vote to raise hell. -Mother Jones, Labour Organizer

Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
-Mohandas Gandhi

Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. You gotta kick a the darkness till it bleedsl daylight. -Bruce Cockburn

Catholics and Communists have committed great crimes, but at least they have not stood aside, like an established society, and been indifferent. I would rather have blood on my hands than water, like Pilate. -Graham Greene (1904-1998), The Comedians

Then surely it is brave, a saner and truer thing, to be a rebel in act and deed against such circumstances as these than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men. -Roger Casement, Irish Patriot

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. -Anais Nin, Writer

Trust that still, small voice that says, 'This might work and I'll try it'. -Diane Mariechild

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying 'Amen' to what the world tells you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive. -Robert Louis Stevenson, Writer

The Jews who participated in the Warsaw ghetto uprising had a much better rate of survival than those who went along. -Derrick Jensen

Intervention that is defensible on ethical grounds must always be paradoxical. One acts for others only to the point of initiating a symbolic gesture of genuine concern and respect. This is the first overture. There is further action if, and only if, the other responds positively. The response is much more than consent as we usually think of consent. After this accepting response a spiral of action, reaction and interaction can result between the two. In the final act of love, who is to say who [is] the helper and who the helped? Then the notion of help is finally irrelevant. -R. A. Sim

On White/Aboriginal Relations

If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian...we can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike.... give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other [people] live. We ask to be recognized as [people]. Let me be a free man...free to travel... free to stop...free to work...free to choose my own teachers...free to follow the religion of my Fathers...free to think and talk and act for myself. - Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce