Talk:John W. Gardner

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  • It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government.
  • Josh Billings said, 'It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too.' Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves, and the modern world is particularly rich in such stratagems.
  • One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.
  • Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.
  • Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.
  • The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept.
  • The cynic says, 'One man can't do anything.' I say, 'Only one man can do anything.'
  • The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursing his own education. This will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else.
  • Whoever I am, or whatever I am doing, some kind of excellence is within my reach.
  • When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: ‘Only stand out of my light.’ Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.
  • We are all faced with a series of great opportunities—brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.
    • Supposedly said upon assuming his duties as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in 1965 (per Bob Dole, for example). Google gets over 1,000 hits, but I can't find an attribution anywhere. --Hughh (talk) 20:36, 4 September 2017 (UTC)

Plumbing quote[edit]

We have:

  • The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
    • Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too? (1961).

Google Books does not have this edition but has a 2015 edition of the same book, where the wording is:

  • The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy, Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

Note that there are two differences but one of them includes a punctuation error. In a 1968 book in Google Books it has the same wording without the error:

  • The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
    • No Easy Victories (1968)

Are we sure about the 1961 version? --69.159.60.147 05:41, 9 August 2017 (UTC)