Quotes by John W. Gardner

All laws are an attempt to domesticate the natural ferocity of the species.
– John W. Gardner
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.
– John W. Gardner
Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
– John W. Gardner
For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred.
– John W. Gardner
History never looks like history when you are living through it.
– John W. Gardner
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.
– John W. Gardner
If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.
– John W. Gardner
It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government.
– John W. Gardner
Josh Billings said, It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too. Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves, and the modern world is particularly rich in such stratagems.
– John W. Gardner
Leaders can express the values that hold the society together. Most important, they can conceive and articulate goals that life people out of their petty preoccupations, carry them above the conflicts that tear a society apart, and unite them in the pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.
– John W. Gardner
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.
– John W. Gardner
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
– John W. Gardner
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.
– John W. Gardner
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.
– John W. Gardner
One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.
– John W. Gardner
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.
– John W. Gardner
Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.
– John W. Gardner
Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them.
– John W. Gardner
Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.
– John W. Gardner
Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumb-twiddling; true happiness involves the full use of one's powers and talents.
– John W. Gardner