If there are people who feel that God wants them to change the structures of society, that is something between them and their God. We must serve him in whatever way we are called. I am called to help the individual; to love each poor person. Not to deal with institutions. I am in no position to judge.
—Mother Teresa (1910–97) Roman Catholic Missionary, Nun
Why, Sir, most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist
Rebuke should have a grain more of salt than of sugar.
By continually scolding someone, they in time become accustomed to it and despise your reproof.
When a child can be brought to tears, and not from fear of punishment, but from repentance he needs no chastisement. When the tears begin to flow from the grief of their conduct you can be sure there is an angel nestling in their heart.
—Horace Mann (1796–1859) American Educator, Politician, Educationalist
Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the sun after a shower.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
Rebuke with soft words and hard arguments.
I’m not entitled to have an opinion unless I can state the arguments against my position better than the people who are in opposition. I think that I am qualified to speak only when I’ve reached that state.
—Charlie Munger (b.1924) American Investor, Philanthropist
The heart of every man lies open to the shafts of correction if the archer can take proper aim.
—Oliver Goldsmith (1730–74) Irish Novelist, Playwright, Poet
Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions, but those who kindly reprove thy faults.
—Socrates (469BCE–399BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher
Men must be capable of imagining and executing and insisting on social change if they are to reform or even maintain civilization, and capable too of furnishing the rebellion which is sometimes necessary if society is not to perish of immobility.
—Rebecca West (1892–1983) English Author, Journalist, Literary Critic
No one is to blame. It is neither their fault nor ours. It is the misfortune of being born when a whole world is dying.
—Alexander Herzen (1812–70) Russian Revolutionary, Writer
Until politics are a branch of science we shall do well to regard political and social reforms as experiments rather than short-cuts to the millennium.
—J. B. S. Haldane (1892–1964) British Biologist, Geneticist
Of all follies there is none greater than wanting to make the world a better place.
—Moliere (1622–73) French Playwright
Every reform was once a private opinion, and when it shall be a private opinion again, it will solve the problem of the age.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of fifty years or a century intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it.
—H. G. Wells (1866–1946) English Novelist, Historian, Social Thinker
You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side.
—William Ewart Gladstone (1809–98) English Liberal Statesman, Prime Minister
Find fault when you must find fault in private, and if possible sometime after the offense, rather than at the time.
—Sydney Smith (1771–1845) English Clergyman, Essayist, Wit
You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under, if you are really going to get your reform realized.
—Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928) British Suffragette Leader
To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
I believe that what so saddens the reformer is not his sympathy with his fellows in distress, but, though he be the holiest son of God, is his private ail. Let this be righted, let the spring come to him, the morning rise over his couch, and he will forsake his generous companions without apology.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
The majority of people have not the courage to correct others because they don’t have the courage to bear correction themselves.
Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess, which will itself need reforming.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) English Poet, Literary Critic, Philosopher
Turn where we may, within, around, the voice of great events is proclaiming to us, Reform, that you may preserve!
—Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay (1800–59) English Historian, Essayist, Philanthropist
Let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won.
—Louisa May Alcott (1832–88) American Novelist
With children use force with men reason; such is the natural order of things. The wise man requires no law.
—Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) Swiss-born French Philosopher
There is a transcendent power in example. We reform others unconsciously, when we walk uprightly.
—Sophie Swetchine (1782–1857) Russian Mystic, Writer
People who love soft methods and hate iniquity forget this,—that reform consists in taking a bone from a dog. Philosophy will not do it.
—John Jay Chapman (1862–1933) American Literary Critic, Essayist
The social order destroyed by a revolution is almost always better than that which immediately preceded it, and experience shows that the most dangerous moment for a bad government is generally that in which it sets about reform.
—Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) French Historian, Political Scientist