Norman Cousins

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Optimism doesn’t wait on facts. It deals with prospects. Pessimism is a waste of time.

Norman Cousins (June 24, 1915 - November 30, 1990) was an Adjunct Professor of Medical Humanities at the University of California and a prominent world federalist leader. He became executive editor (and then editor-in-chief) of the Saturday Review of Literature; under his leadership, circulation increased from 20,000 to 650,000. Cousins later served as President of the World Federalist Association.

Sourced[edit]

  • War is an invention of the human mind. The human mind can invent peace with justice.
    • Who Speaks for Man? (1953), p. 318
  • A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas — a place where history comes to life.
    • American Library Association Bulletin (Oct 1954)
  • What a man really says when he says that someone else can be persuaded by force, is that he himself is incapable of more rational means of communication.
    • Quoted in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for Our Time (1977) by Laurence J. Peter
  • What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon but that they set eye on the earth.
    • Reader’s Digest (September 1980)
  • There is a tendency to mistake data for wisdom, just as there has always been a tendency to confuse logic with values, intelligence with insight. Unobstructed access to facts can produce unlimited good only if it is matched by the desire and ability to find out what they mean and where they lead. Facts are terrible things if left sprawling and unattended. They are too easily regarded as evaluated certainties rather than as the rawest of raw materials crying to be processed into the texture of logic. It requires a very unusual mind, Whitehead said, to undertake the analysis of a fact. The computer can provide a correct number, but it may be an irrelevant number until judgment is pronounced.
    • "Freedom as Teacher" in Human Options : An Autobiographical Notebook (1981)
  • Governments are not built to perceive large truths. Only people can perceive great truths. Governments specialize in small and intermediate truths. They have to be instructed by their people in great truths.
    • The Pathology of Power (1987), pg. 207)
  • Hope, faith, love and a strong will to live offer no promise of immortality, only proof of our uniqueness ans human beings and the opportunity to experience full growth even under the grimmest circumstances. Far more real than the ticking of time is the way we open up the minutes and invest them with meaning. Death is not the ultimate tragedy in life. The ultimate tragedy is to die without discovering the possibilities of full growth.
    • Quoted in Good Housekeeping (November 1989), p. 92
  • Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.
    • Quoted in History of Sikh Struggles (1989) by Gurmit Singh, p. 189

Saturday Review[edit]

  • We will not have peace by afterthought.
    • Editorial (1956) on importance of preservation rather than breaches of world peace
  • If the United Nations is to survive, those who represent it must bolster it; those who advocate it must submit to it; and those who believe in it must fight for it.
    • Editorial (1956) on importance of preservation rather than breaches of world peace
  • The present mode of life on earth is madness, which is nontheless lethal for being legal. Rational existence is possible, but it calls for a world consciousness and a world design. People who develop the habit of thinking of themselves as world citizens are fulfilling the first requirement of sanity in our time.
    • Editorial (1971)
  • A book is like a piece of rope; it takes on meaning only in connection with the things it holds together.
    • 15 April 1978
  • Life is an adventure in forgiveness.
    • 15 April 1978
  • History is a vast early warning system.
    • 15 April 1978
  • Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.
    • 15 April 1978
  • The main failure of education is that it has not prepared people to comprehend matters concerning human destiny.
    • 15 April 1978

Anatomy of an Illness (1979)[edit]

  • If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality.
  • The more serious the illness, the more important it is for you to fight back, mobilizing all your resources — spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical.
  • Your heaviest artillery will be your will to live. Keep that big gun going.

Human Options (1981)[edit]

  • Cynicism is intellectual treason.
  • Optimism doesn’t wait on facts. It deals with prospects. Pessimism is a waste of time.
  • Inevitably, an individual is measured by his or her largest concerns.
  • The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.
  • Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations.[1]
  • Most men think they are immortal--until they get a cold, when they think they are going to die within the hour.[2]

External links[edit]

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