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John W. Gardner Quotes

All laws are an attempt to domesticate the natural ferocity of the species.

America's greatness has been the greatness of a free people who shared certain moral commitments. Freedom without moral commitment is aimless and promptly self-destructive.

Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred.

History never looks like history when you are living through it.

I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.

If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.

It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government.

Leaders come in many forms, with many styles and diverse qualities. There are quiet leaders and leaders one can hear in the next county. Some find strength in eloquence, some in judgment, some in courage.

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

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.

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.

One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.

Our problem is not to find better values but to be faithful to those we profess.

Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.

Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them.

Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.

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 hallmark of our age is the tension between aspirations and sluggish institutions.