David Christy: Good quote worth 1,000 words

David Christy, Enid News & Eagle, Okla.
·4 min read

Mar. 6—This first appeared April 15, 2010.

Over the years, I've always been far more partial to a good one- or two-line quote than long-winded speeches given by politicians or others of historical inclination.

So sharing a few with readers of this column is a good way to look deeply into the eyes of history, and see it for what it most times is.

Some of my favorites:

—"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." — Pearl Buck

—"Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters." — African proverb

—"We used to root for the Indians against the cavalry, because we didn't think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre." — Dick Gregory

—"History was a trash bag of random coincidences torn open in the wind. Surely, Watt with his steam engine, Faraday with his electric motor and Edison with his incandescent light bulb did not have it as their goal to contribute to a fuel shortage some day that would place their countries at the mercy of Arab oil." — Joseph Heller

—"Historians are gossips who tease the dead." — Voltaire

—"History never looks like history when you are living through it." — John W. Gardner

—"Legend: A lie that has attained the dignity of age." — H.L. Mencken

—"History is the sum total of the things that could have been avoided." — Konrad Adenauer

—"A lot of history is just dirty politics cleaned up for the consumption of children and other innocents." — Richard Reeves

—"Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind." — W.H. Auden

—"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." — Dwight D. Eisenhower

—"Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up." — unknown

—"The present is the living sum-total of the whole past." — Thomas Carlyle

—"It is a great pity that every human being does not, at an early stage of his life, have to write a historical work. He would then realize that the human race is in quite a jam about truth." — Rebecca West

—"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." — Napoleon Bonaparte

—"War is fear cloaked in courage." — Gen. William Westmoreland

—"Knowledge dominance does scare us as Marines. Gen. George Armstrong Custer probably thought he had knowledge dominance, too. Any time you think you're smarter than your adversary, you're probably about a half-mile from the Little Bighorn." — Col. Art Corbett

—"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything." — Joseph Stalin

—"There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell." — Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman

—"Of course, the people don't want war ... But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same in any country." — Nazi Field Marshal Herman Goering, during the Nuremberg Trials

—"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." — John Wayne

—"Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." — Frederick Bastiat

—"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." — Will Rogers

And, my all-time favorite quotes:

—"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." — Douglas Adams

—"After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut." — Will Rogers

—"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes." — Sir Winston Churchill

—"We have met the enemy and he is us." — Pogo (Walt Kelly)

—"I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." — Lily Tomlin

Christy is news editor at the News & Eagle and may be reached at davidc@enidnews.com

Christy is news editor in charge of the layout desk and a columnist for the Enid News & Eagle.

Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for David? Send an email to davidc@enidnews.com.