December 1

  • The AIDS crisis is evidence of a world in which nothing important is regional, local, limited; in which everything that can circulate does, and every problem is, or is destined to become, worldwide.

    Susan SontagAmerican author and activist
  • There's an old joke… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life — full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness — and it's all over much too quickly.

    Woody Allen (born 1 December 1935) American film director, writer, musician, actor and comedian
  • Stop the habit of wishful thinking and start the habit of thoughtful wishes.

    Mary Martin (born 1 December 1913) American actress and singer

December 2

  • I do think that if I had to choose one word to which hope can be tied it is hospitality. A practice of hospitality— recovering threshold, table, patience, listening, and from there generating seedbeds for virtue and friendship on the one hand — on the other hand radiating out for possible community, for rebirth of community.

    Ivan Illich (died 2 December 2002) Austrian born anarchist, author, polymath, and polemicist
  • Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship.

    Ivan Illich (died 2 December 2002) Austrian born anarchist, author, polymath, and polemicist
  • It is not enough to have a beautiful voice. What does that mean? When you interpret a role, you have to have a thousand colors to portray happiness, joy, sorrow, fear. How can you do this with only a beautiful voice? Even if you sing harshly sometimes, as I have frequently done, it is a necessity of expression. You have to do it, even if people will not understand. But in the long run they will, because you must persuade them of what you're doing.

    Maria Callas (born 2 December 1923) American-born Greek opera singer

December 3

  • He who wants to persuade should put his trust, not in the right argument, but in the right word.

    Joseph Conrad (born 3 December 1857) Polish-born English writer
  • The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.

    Joseph Conrad (born 3 December 1857) Polish-born English writer
  • The changing wisdom of successive generations discards ideas, questions facts, demolishes theories. But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom: to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition — and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation — and to the subtle but invincible, conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts: to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear, which binds men to each other, which binds together all humanity — the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.

    Joseph Conrad in "The Nigger of the 'Narcissus" (born 3 December 1857) Polish-born English writer

December 4

  • That there should one Man die ignorant who had capacity for Knowledge, this I call a tragedy.

    Thomas Carlyle (born 4 December 1795) Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian
  • Is there any religion whose followers can be pointed to as distinctly more amiable and trustworthy than those of any other? If so, this should be enough. I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.

    Samuel Butler (born 4 December 1835) British satirist, best known for his novel “Erewhon”
  • Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough.
    I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

    Edith Cavell (born 4 December 1865) British nurse, humanitarian and spy

December 5

  • Faith I have, in myself, in humanity, in the worthwhileness of the pursuits in entertainment for the masses. But wide awake, not blind faith, moves me. My operations are based on experience, thoughtful observation and warm fellowship with my neighbours at home and around the world.

    Walt Disney (born 5 December 1901) American film producer, director and screenwriter
  • Fantasy, if it's really convincing, can't become dated, for the simple reason that it represents a flight into a dimension that lies beyond the reach of time.

    Walt Disney (born 5 December 1901) American film producer, director and screenwriter
  • Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word "understanding."

    Werner Heisenberg (born 5 December 1901) German physicist, Nobel laureate

December 6

  • Is Freedom only a Will-o'- the-wisp
    To cheat a poet's eye?
    Be it phantom or fact, it's a noble cause
    In which to sing and to die!

    Joyce Kilmer (born 6 December 1886) American journalist and poet
  • The Science of Language has taught us that there is order and wisdom in all languages, and even the most degraded jargons contain the ruins of former greatness and beauty. The Science of Religion, I hope, will produce a similar change in our views of barbarous forms of faith and worship.

    Max Müller (born 6 December 1823) German philologist and Orientalist
  • Whenever we can trace back a religion to its first beginnings, we find it free from many of the blemishes that offend us in its later phases. The founders of the ancient religions of the world, as far as we can judge, were minds of a high stamp, full of noble aspirations, yearning for truth, devoted to the welfare of their neighbours, examples of purity and unselfishness. What they desired to found upon earth was but seldom realized, and their sayings, if preserved in their original form, offer often a strange contrast to the practice of those who profess to be their disciples.

    Max Müller (born 6 December 1823) German philologist and Orientalist

December 7

  • There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm. You learn the delivery of a part only before an audience.

    Willa Cather (born 7 December 1873) American author
  • Artistic growth is, more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.

    Willa Cather (born 7 December 1873) American author
  • That which is not just, is not Law; and that which is not Law, ought not to be obeyed.

    Algernon Sydney (died 7 December 1683) English politician and political theorist

December 8

  • I am not bound over to swear allegiance to any master; where the storm drives me I turn in for shelter.

    Horace (born 8 December 65 BC) Roman lyric poet in Latin
  • The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself, but in so doing, he identifies himself with people — that is, people everywhere, not for the purpose of taking them apart, but simply revealing their true nature.

    James Thurber (born 8 December 1894) American humorist and cartoonist
  • Better than a thousand hollow words
    Is one word that brings peace.
    Better than a thousand hollow verses
    Is one verse that brings peace.
    Better than a hundred hollow lines
    Is one line of the law, bringing peace.

    Gautama Buddha in "Dhammapada"Indian teacher and religious leader

December 9

  • A different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. … Acknowledging, as a fact, the equal rights of all its members to the treasures accumulated in the past … it seeks to establish a certain harmonious compatibility in its midst — not by subjecting all its members to an authority that is fictitiously supposed to represent society, not by trying to establish uniformity, but by urging all men to develop free initiative, free action, free association.

    Peter Kropotkin (born 9 December 1842) Russian geographer, zoologist, and social philosopher
  • A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.

    Grace Hopper (born 9 December 1906) U.S. Naval officer, and an early computer programmer
  • Freely we serve,
    Because we freely love, as in our will
    To love or not; in this we stand or fall.

    John Milton in "Paradise Lost" (born 9 December 1608) English poet and politician

December 10

  • We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong.

    Theodore RooseveltAmerican politician and 26th President of the United States
  • "Hope" is the thing with feathers —
    That perches in the soul —
    And sings the tune without the words —
    And never stops — at all —
    And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
    And sore must be the storm —
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm —

    Emily Dickinson (born 10 December 1830) American poet
  • The history of the human race has generated several papers articulating basic moral imperatives, or fundamental principles, of human coexistence that… substantially influenced the fate of humanity on this planet. Among these historic documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … holds a very special, indeed, unique position. It is the first code of ethical conduct that was not a product of one culture, or one sphere of civilization only, but a universal creation, shaped and subscribed to by representatives of all humankind. Since its very inception, the Declaration has thus represented a planetary, or global commitment, a global intention, a global guideline. For this reason alone, this exceptional document — conceived as a result of a profound human self-reflection in the wake of the horrors of World War II, and retaining its relevance ever since — deserves to be remembered today.

    Václav HavelCzech writer, dramatist, and politician

December 11

  • If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (born 11 December 1918) Russian novelist, dramatist and historian
  • The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it, seems to me the deepest root of all that is evil in the world.

    Max Born (born 11 December 1882) German physicist and mathematician
  • Our All is at Stake, and the little Conveniencys and Comforts of Life, when set in Competition with our Liberty, ought to be rejected not with Reluctance but with Pleasure.

    George Mason (born 11 December 1725) United States patriot, statesman and delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention

December 12

  • What is beautiful is moral, that is all there is to it.

    Gustave Flaubert (born 12 December 1821) French novelist
  • An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.

    Gustave Flaubert (born 12 December 1821) French novelist

December 13

  • Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry… To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery.

    George Pólya (born 13 December 1887) Hungarian mathematician and professor of mathematics
  • Mark this well, you proud men of action: You are nothing but the unwitting agents of the men of thought who often, in quiet self-effacement, mark out most exactly all your doings in advance.

    Heinrich Heine (born 13 December 1797) German poet, journalist and essayist
  • The best of ideas is hurt by uncritical acceptance and thrives on critical examination.

    George Pólya (born 13 December 1887) Hungarian mathematician and professor of mathematics

December 14

  • Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.

    Margaret Chase Smith (born 14 December 1897) American politician and Republican Senator from Maine
  • The Art of Peace is not easy. It is a fight to the finish, the slaying of evil desires and all falsehood within. On occasion the Voice of Peace resounds like thunder, jolting human beings out of their stupor.

    Morihei Ueshiba (born 14 December 1883) Japanese philosopher, martial artist and author
  • The project of organizing a democratic political movement entails the hope that one's ideas and beliefs are not merely idiosyncratic but speak to vital human needs, interests and desires, and therefore will be persuasive to many and ultimately most people. But this is a very different matter from deciding to put forward only those ideas presumed (accurately or not) to be compatible with what most people already believe.

    Ellen Willis (born 14 December 1941) American essayist and critic

December 15

  • It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

    Walt Disney (born 15 December 1901) American film producer, director and screenwriter
  • It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe as a whole is also weird, with laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension.

    Freeman Dyson (born 15 December 1923) English-born American physicist, mathematician, and futurist
  • The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.

    Muriel Rukeyser (born 15 December 1913) American poet and political activist

December 16

  • The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

    Arthur C. Clarke (born 16 December 1917) British author, inventor and futurist
  • Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

    Philip K. Dick (born 16 December 1928) American science fiction writer
  • Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    George Santayana (born 16 December 1863) Spanish philosopher, essayist poet and novelist

December 17

  • All he desired in life was that — that he could pick himself together again and go on with his daily occupations if — the girl, being five thousand miles away, would continue to love him. He wanted nothing more, He prayed his God for nothing more.

    Ford Madox Ford (born 17 December 1873) British novelist, essayist, memoirist and publisher
  • Alas for maiden, alas for Judge,
    For rich repiner and household drudge!
    God pity them both! and pity us all,
    Who vainly the dreams of youth recall;
    For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
    The saddest are these: "It might have been!"

    John Greenleaf Whittier (born 17 December 1807) American poet and abolitionist
  • Those who have served the cause of the revolution have plowed the sea.

    Simón Bolívar (died 17 December 1830) South American revolutionary leader

December 18

  • Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.

    Paul Klee (born 18 December 1879) Swiss painter of German nationality
  • Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
    Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all he brings,
    Risen with healing in his wings.
    Mild he lays his glory by,
    Born that man no more may die,
    Born to raise the sons of earth,
    Born to give us second birth.
    Hark! the herald angels sing,
    "Glory to the new born King!"

    Charles Wesley (born 18 December 1707) English leader of the Methodist movement
  • Hark! the herald angels sing,
    "Glory to the new-born King;
    Peace on earth and mercy mild,
    God and sinners reconciled!"
    Joyful, all ye nations, rise.
    Join the triumph of the skies.
    With th'angelic hosts proclaim
    "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

    Charles Wesley (born 18 December 1707) English leader of the Methodist movement

December 19

  • "Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

    Charles Dickens in "A Christmas Carol"English novelist of the Victorian era
  • After the final no there comes a yes
    And on that yes the future world depends.

    Wallace StevensAmerican poet and businessman
  • And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
    And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
    Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
    So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.

    Phil Ochs (born 19 December 1940) American folksinger active in the civil rights movement

December 20

  • Man is his own star, and the soul that can
    Render an honest and a perfect man
    Commands all light, all influence, all fate.
    Nothing to him falls early, or too late.
    Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
    Our fatal shadows that walk by us still.

    John FletcherJacobean playwright
  • I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

    John Steinbeck (died 20 December 1968) American writer
  • We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent "elementary parts" of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independent behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole.

    David Bohm (born 20 December 1917) American-born British quantum physicist

December 21

  • All of us encounter, at least once in our life, some individual who utters words that make us think forever. There are men whose phrases are oracles; who condense in one sentence the secrets of life; who blurt out an aphorism that forms a character or illustrates an existence.

    Benjamin Disraeli in "Coningsby" (born 21 December 1804) British politician, novelist, and essayist
  • There are no days in life so memorable as those which vibrated to some stroke of the imagination.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald (died 21 December 1940) Irish-American novelist and short story writer
  • I was persuaded and am, that God's way is first to turn a soul from its idols, both of heart, worship, and conversation, before it is capable of worship to the true and living God.

    Roger Williams (born 21 December 1603) Anglo-American clergyman

December 22

  • That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.

    Charles de Lint (born 22 December 1951) Canadian fantasy author and Celtic folk musician
  • While you live … you have a duty to life. … The fey wonders of the world only exist while there are those with the sight to see them. … Otherwise they fade away.

    Charles de Lint (born 22 December 1951) Canadian fantasy author and Celtic folk musician
  • God is not, as in scholasticism, the final subject of all predicates. He is being as unpredicable. The existence of the creature, in so far as it exists, is the existence of God, and the creature’s experience of God is therefore in the final analysis equally unpredicable. Neither can even be described; both can only be indicated. We can only point at reality, our own or God’s. The soul comes to the realization of God by knowledge, not as in the older Christian mysticism by love. Love is the garment of knowledge. The soul first trains itself by systematic unknowing until at last it confronts the only reality, the only knowledge, God manifest in itself. The soul can say nothing about this experience in the sense of defining it. It can only reveal it to others.

    Kenneth Rexroth (born 22 December 1905) American poet, essayist, translator and anarchist

December 23

  • "Heaven helps those who help themselves" is a well-tried maxim, embodying in a small compass the results of vast human experience. The spirit of self-help is the root of all genuine growth in the individual; and, exhibited in the lives of many, it constitutes the true source of national vigour and strength. Help from without is often enfeebling in its effects, but help from within invariably invigorates. Whatever is done for men or classes, to a certain extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves; and where men are subjected to over-guidance and over-government, the inevitable tendency is to render them comparatively helpless.

    Samuel Smiles (born 23 December 1812) Scottish author and reformer
  • Working together, we can build a world in which the rule of law — not the rule of force — governs relations between states. A world in which leaders respect the rights of their people, and nations seek peace, not destruction or domination. And neither we nor anyone else should live in fear ever again.

    Wesley Clark (born 23 December 1944) American politician, a retired four-star general of the U.S. Army
  • We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.

    Samuel Smiles (born 23 December 1812) Scottish author and reformer

December 24

  • People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.

    Norman Vincent Peale (died 24 December 1993) American author and chief progenitor of the theory of positive thinking
  • Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

    John Muir (died 24 December 1914) Scottish born American environmentalist, naturalist and writer
  • Calm soul of all things! make it mine
    To feel, amid the city’s jar,
    That there abides a peace of thine,
    Man did not make, and cannot mar.

    Matthew Arnold (born 24 December 1822) English poet, essayist and cultural critic

December 25

  • How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.

    Benjamin Franklin in "Poor Richard's Almanack"American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat
  • The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.

    Helen KellerAmerican writer and social activist
  • Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
    Let earth receive her King.
    Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
    And heav'n and nature sing,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

    Isaac WattsEnglish theologian, logician, and hymnwriter

December 26

  • The obstacles to peace are in the minds and hearts of men.
    In the study of matter we can be honest, impartial, true. That is why we succeed in dealing with it. But about the things we care for — which are ourselves, our desires and lusts, our patriotisms and hates — we find a harder test of thinking straight and truly. Yet there is the greater need. Only by intellectual rectitude and in that field shall we be saved. There is no refuge but in truth, in human intelligence, in the unconquerable mind of man.

    Norman Angell (born 26 December 1872) British economist, lecturer and writer
  • Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, hear;
    They breathe a soul to animate thy clay.
    Bright Rapture calls, and soaring, as she sings,
    Waves in the eye of Heav'n her many-colour'd wings.

    Thomas Gray (born 26 December 1716) English poet, classical scholar, and professor of history
  • To each his suff'rings: all are men,
    Condemn'd alike to groan,
    The tender for another's pain;
    Th' unfeeling for his own.
    Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
    Since sorrow never comes too late,
    And happiness too swiftly flies.
    Thought would destroy their paradise.
    No more; where ignorance is bliss,
    'Tis folly to be wise.

    Thomas Gray (born 26 December 1716) English poet, classical scholar, and professor of history

December 27

  • Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.

    Louis Pasteur (born 27 December 1822) French microbiologist and chemist
  • There never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.

    Harold PinterBritish playwright, actor and theatre director
  • One does not ask of one who suffers: What is your country and what is your religion? One merely says: You suffer, that is enough for me…

    Louis Pasteur (born 27 December 1822) French microbiologist and chemist

December 28

  • At terrestrial temperatures matter has complex properties which are likely to prove most difficult to unravel; but it is reasonable to hope that in the not too distant future we shall be competent to understand so simple a thing as a star.

    Arthur Stanley Eddington (born 28 December 1882) British astrophysicist and Professor of Astronomy
  • Nothing is so galling to a people not broken in from the birth as a paternal, or, in other words, a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink and wear.

    Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (died 28 December 1859) British poet, historian and Whig politician
  • The external world of physics has … become a world of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance is one of the greatest of our illusions. … The sparsely spread nuclei of electric force become a tangible solid; their restless agitation becomes the warmth of summer; the octave of aethereal vibrations becomes a gorgeous rainbow. Nor does the alchemy stop here. In the transmuted world new significances arise which are scarcely to be traced in the world of symbols; so that it becomes a world of beauty and purpose — and, alas, suffering and evil.
    The frank realisation that physical science is concerned with a world of shadows is one of the most significant of recent advances.

    Arthur Stanley Eddington (born 28 December 1882) British astrophysicist and Professor of Astronomy

December 29

  • If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.

    Rainer Maria Rilke (died 29 December 1926) German poet
  • The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? There is a brotherhood among all men. This must be recognized if life is to remain. We must learn the love of man.

    Pablo Casals (born 29 December 1876) Catalan cellist and conductor
  • Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home.

    William Ewart Gladstone (born 29 December 1809) British Liberal politician and Prime Minister

December 30

  • Justice has nothing to do with victor nations and vanquished nations, but must be a moral standard that all the world's peoples can agree to. To seek this and to achieve it — that is true civilization.

    Hideki Tojo (born 30 December 1884) Japanese nationalist thinker, and the 40th Prime Minister of Japan
  • It is the artist's business to create sunshine when the sun fails.

    Romain Rolland (died 30 December 1944) French writer
  • One makes mistakes; that is life. But it is never a mistake to have loved.

    Romain Rolland (died 30 December 1944) French writer

December 31

  • The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.

    George Marshall (born 31 December 1880) American military leader and statesman
  • At each stage I reach a balance, a conclusion. At the next sitting, if I find that there is a weakness in the whole, I make my way back into the picture by means of the weakness — I re-enter through the breach — and I reconceive the whole. Thus everything becomes fluid again.

    Henri Matisse (born 31 December 1869) French artist
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