15 Key Quotes on Getting Involved

More vital encouragements to make a difference:

I recently penned a piece featuring a number of brief quotes on the need to get involved in the things that matter and how we all need to seek to make a difference. All up I featured 65 rather short quotations. You can see that piece here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2023/01/11/65-top-quotes-on-making-a-difference/

There are of course many more such quotes that can be shared. Here I want to offer more of the same – but this time far fewer quotes, because I will share somewhat larger ones. My hope is that these 15 quotes will inspire you (or convict you) to stand up and be counted in these dark days.

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.” Susan B. Anthony

“Let the fellowship of Christ examine itself and see whether it has given any token of the love of Christ to the victims of the world’s contumely and contempt, any token of that love of Christ that seeks to preserve, support, and protect life. Otherwise however liturgically correct our services are, and however devout our prayer, however brave our testimony, they will profit us nothing, nay rather, they must needs testify against us that we have as a church ceased to follow our Lord.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“Changing the course of American culture seems like such a huge task; so far beyond the reach of this gathering today. But St. Paul felt exactly the same way. Redeeming and converting a civilization has already been done once. It can be done again. But we need to understand that God is calling you and me to do it. He chose us. He calls us. He’s waiting, and now we need to answer him.” Charles J. Chaput

“To paraphrase Burke, all that is necessary for barbarism to triumph is for civilized men to do nothing: but in fact for the past few decades, civilized men have done worse than nothing – they have actively thrown in their lot with the barbarians. They have denied the distinction between higher and lower, to the invariable advantage of the latter.” Theodore Dalrymple, Our Culture, What’s Left of It

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.” Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison

“At the final bar of judgment, when those of us who are Christians stand face to face with our Maker, the gravest charge that will be made against us will be that we were so unconcerned. We lived at a time and in an age when the very foundations of civilization were being shaken, when the very world in which we lived was rocking, when we witnessed things such as men have never seen before. We saw the spiritual and moral, as well as the political, declension all around us, and yet we did nothing about it. We were apathetic and unconcerned. We did not feel a great solicitude that would not allow us to rest by day or by night.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian in an Age of Terror

Image of The Christian in an Age of Terror: Sermons for a Time of War
The Christian in an Age of Terror: Sermons for a Time of War by Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn (Author), Eaton, Michael (Editor) Amazon logo

“You Have No Enemies

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas! my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never turned the wrong to right,
You’ve been a coward in the fight.” Charles Mackay, (Scottish poet, 1814–1889)

“Perhaps there are times and places in the history of the world in which it is possible to go through life as just an ordinary, good person—a faithful spouse, a loving parent, a concerned citizen, a regular church-goer, an honest and industrious professional—leading a normal, quiet life, not making waves or standing out in any way. Perhaps. But the United States of America in the year 2014 is not one of those times and places. Rather, in our contemporary society, the only way to be good is to be heroic. Failing to act with heroism inevitably makes us complicit in grave evils.” Melissa Moschella, “A Time for Heroism”

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” Martin Niemoller

“We are each more responsible for the state of the world than we believe, or would feel comfortable believing. Without careful attention, culture itself tilts toward corruption. Tyranny grows slowly, and asks us to retreat in comparatively tiny steps. But each retreat increases the possibility of the next retreat. Each betrayal of conscience, each active silence (despite the resentment we feel when silenced), and each rationalisation weakens resistance and increases the probability of the next restrictive move forward. This is particularly the case when those pushing forward delight in the power they have now acquired–and such people are always to be found. Better to stand forward, awake, when the costs are relatively low–and, perhaps, when the potential rewards have not yet vanished. Better to stand forward before the ability to do so has been irretrievably compromised. Unfortunately, people often act in spite of their conscience–even if they know it– and hell tends to arrive step by step, one betrayal after another. And it should be remembered that it is rare for people to stand up against what they know to be wrong even when the consequences for doing so are comparatively slight. And this is something to deeply consider, if you are concerned with leading a moral and careful life: if you do not object when the transgressions against your conscience are minor, why presume that you will not wilfully participate when the transgressions get truly out of hand?” Jordan Peterson, Beyond Order

“We’re like tourists on a sunny beach. We’ve heard news of an earthquake on the seafloor, hundreds of miles away, but everything looks normal. People are sipping iced tea or mai tais with little umbrellas, enjoying the warm sand and the sun overhead. Many think, ‘We’ve never had it so good.’ And yet, when we look closely, we notice that the beach is growing wider as the tide recedes toward the horizon.” James Robison and Jay Richards, Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic”

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves – or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.” Sophie Scholl

“It is a characteristic of any decaying civilization that the great masses of the people are unaware of the tragedy. Humanity in a crisis is generally insensitive to the gravity of the times in which it lives. Men do not want to believe their own times are wicked, partly because they have no standard outside of themselves by which to measure their times. If there is no fixed concept of justice, how shall men know it is violated? Only those who live by faith really know what is happening in the world; the great masses without faith are unconscious of the destructive processes going on, because they have lost the vision of the heights from which they have fallen.” Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West

“For myself, I am engaged in a work I will never abandon…Let us persevere, and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist, until we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we presently labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.” William Wilberforce

[1845 words]

2 Replies to “15 Key Quotes on Getting Involved”

  1. Thanks Bill.
    One comment: Garrison was known for his intemperate language in his articles in “The Liberator”, and many who agreed with his cause were inclined to turn away because of it. But when Harriet Beecher Stowe published her serialised story, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (soon published as a book in 1852), it was said that by her lachrymose tale she achieved more for the abolitionist cause than all the fulminations of Garrison in his Liberator articles. So yes, vehemence and the raised voice have their place, but they can go too far, as I believe Garrison did.

    Off topic, but I have been looking for any comment or tribute from you in the wake of the passing of George Pell. Is this deliberate, or simply that you are busy with other matters?

  2. Thanks for that Murray. And as to Pell, I may yet do something on him, although a number of good pieces have already appeared during the past few days on his life. I did discuss his passing on the social media however. As I said there, 15 of my articles are about him or mention him. And a day or two after he passed away so did historian Paul Johnson, so I am now writing a piece on him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: