I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
Assent—and you are sane—, demur—you’re straightway dangerous—, and handled with a Chain—.
—Emily Dickinson (1830–86) American Poet
I stood among them, but not of them; in a shroud of thoughts which were not their thoughts.
—Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron) (1788–1824) English Romantic Poet
When you run into someone who is disagreeable to others, you may be sure he is uncomfortable with himself; the amount of pain we inflict upon others is directly proportional to the amount we feel within us.
—Sydney J. Harris (1917–86) American Essayist, Drama Critic
One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.
—Robert F. Kennedy (1925–68) American Politician, Civil Rights Activist
Though dissenters seem to question everything in sight, they are actually bundles of dusty answers and never conceived a new question. What offends us most in the literature of dissent is the lack of hesitation and wonder.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author
The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
Opposition always inflames the enthusiast, never converts him.
—Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805) German Poet, Dramatist
The opposition is indispensable. A good statesman, like any other sensible human being, always learns more from his opponents than from his fervent supporters. For his supporters will push him to disaster unless his opponents show him where the dangers are. So if he is wise he will often pray to be delivered from his friends, because they will ruin him. But though it hurts, he ought also to pray never to be left without opponents; for they keep him on the path of reason and good sense.
—Walter Lippmann (1889–1974) American Journalist, Political Commentator, Writer
To shoot a man because one disagrees with his interpretation of Darwin or Hegel is a sinister tribute to the supremacy of ideas in human affairs—but a tribute nevertheless.
—George Steiner (1929–2020) American Critic, Scholar
Opposition is true friendship.
—William Blake (1757–1827) English Poet, Painter, Printmaker
I respect only those who resist me, but I cannot tolerate them.
—Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) French General, Statesman
Given a sufficient number of people and an adequate amount of time you can create insurmountable opposition to the most inconsequential idea.
Discussion in America means dissent.
No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition. It reduces their supporters to that tractable number which can be managed by the joint influences of fruition and hope. It offers vengeance to the discontented, and distinction to the ambitious; and employs the energies of aspiring spirits, who otherwise may prove traitors in a division or assassins in a debate.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat
I love opposition that has convictions.
—Frederick II of Prussia (1712–86) Prussian Monarch
The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
—Archibald MacLeish (1892–1982) American Poet, Dramatist
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were, for the moment, unpopular.
—Edward R. Murrow (1908–65) American Journalist, Radio Personality
Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you.
—Wayne Dyer (1940–2015) American Self-Help Author
It is hard for any one to be an honest politician who is not born and bred a Dissenter.
—William Hazlitt (1778–1830) English Essayist
Many a man’s strength is in opposition, and when he faileth, he grows out of use.
—Francis Bacon (1561–1626) English Philosopher
May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
—Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) American Head of State, Military Leader
Opposition is not necessarily enmity; it is merely misused and made an occasion for enmity.
—Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) Austrian Psychiatrist, Psychoanalytic
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
—John Stuart Mill (1806–73) English Philosopher, Economist
Adversity is a severe instructor, set over us by one who knows us better than we do ourselves, as he loves us better too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This conflict with difficulty makes us acquainted with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial.
—Edmund Burke (1729–97) British Philosopher, Statesman
In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but its effects.
—J. William Fulbright (1905–95) American Politician
You do not become a “dissident” just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career. You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.
—Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) Czech Dramatist, Statesman
If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secrete of getting along—whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.
—Bernard Meltzer (1916–98) American Radio Personality
If it is once again one against forty-eight, then I am very sorry for the forty-eight.
—Margaret Thatcher (1925–2013) British Head of State
The beginning of thought is in disagreement—not only with others but also with ourselves.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author