George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.”

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

“When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work”

“It’s so hard to know what to do when one wishes earnestly to do right.”

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

“The secret to success is to offend the greatest number of people”

“My reputation grows with every failure.”

“If there was nothing wrong in the world there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.”

“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you’d best teach it to dance.”

“Better never than late.”

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.”

“We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence … on pain of liquidation.”

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

“The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.”

“Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.”

“Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men’s imperfections, and conceal your own.”

“We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.”

“The frontier between hell and heaven is only the difference between two ways of looking at things.”

“The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.”

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven’t got it.”

“In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it.”

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one.”

“We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.”

“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”

“The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.”

“If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.”

“The trouble with her is that she lacks the power of conversation but not the power of speech.”

“I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would be an affront to your intelligence.”

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

“We must always think about things, and we must think about things as they are, not as they are said to be.”

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

“Human beings are the only animals of which I am thoroughly and cravenly afraid.”

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”

“My specialty is being right when other people are wrong.”

“Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.”

“You don’t learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking and getting well hammered yourself.”

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage — it can be delightful.”

“The true joy of life is being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one … being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown to the scrap heap … being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances.”

“The surest way to ruin a man who doesn’t know how to handle money is to give him some.”

“Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.”

“A learned man is an idler who kills time by study.”

“We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!”

“If all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would still not reach a conclusion.”

“When we know what God is, we shall be gods ourselves.”

“No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious.”

“Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world.”

“Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.”

“Very few people can afford to be poor.”

“My religion? Well, my dear, I am a Millionaire. That is my religion.”

“It is most unwise for people in love to marry.”

“Beware of the man whose God is in the skies”

“We sing in a church, why can we not dance there?”

“New opinions often appear first as jokes and fancies, then as blasphemies and treason, then as questions open to discussion, and finally as established truths.”

“The Jews generally give value. They make you pay; but they deliver the goods. In my experience the men who want something for nothing are invariably Christians.”

“No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat. Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.”

“Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it.”

“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”

“Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.”

“Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.”

“When it comes to the point, really bad men are just as rare as really good ones.”

“You can easily find people who are ten times as rich at sixty as they were at twenty; but not one of them will tell you that they are ten times as happy.”

“It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace.”

“When a man says money can do anything, that settles it: he hasn’t got any.”

“We know now that the soul is the body, and the body the soul. They tell us they are different because they want to persuade us that we can keep our souls if we let them make slaves of our bodies.”

“Woman’s dearest delight is to wound Man’s self-conceit, though Man’s dearest delight is to gratify hers”

“People exaggerate the value of things they haven’t got: everybody worships truth and unselfishness because they have no experience with them.”

“It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.”

“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he will always declare that it is his duty.”

“No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means.”

“The perfect love affair is one which is conducted entirely by post.”

“If more than ten percent of the population likes a painting it should be burned, for it must be bad.”

“There are scores of thousands of human insects who are ready at a moment’s notice to reveal the Will of God on every possible subject.”

“I don’t know if there are men on the moon, but if there are they must be using the earth as their lunatic asylum.”

“Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn’t!”

“Has fear ever held a man back from anything he really wanted?”

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

“There is no satisfaction in hanging a man who does not object to it.”

“It is not disbelief that is dangerous to our society; it is belief”

“I am sick of reasonable people: they see all the reasons for being lazy and doing nothing.”

“Here there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself.”

“Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.”

“Common sense is instinct. Enough of it is genius.”

“We veneer civilization by doing unkind things in a kind way.”

“The world is populated in the main by people who should not exist.”

“Life is a flame that is always burning itself out, but it catches fire again every time a child is born.”

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

“You sometimes have to answer to a woman according to her womanishness, just as you have to answer a fool according to his folly.”

“Science… never solves a problem without creating ten more.”

“Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap”

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

“Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

“My way of joking is telling the truth; that is the funniest joke in the world.”

“There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.”

“Remember, our conduct is influenced not by our experience but by our expectations.”

“I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people.”

“The secret of being miserable is to have the leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not. The cure is occupation.”

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

“A lifetime of happiness? No man could bear it: it would be hell on earth.”

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

“People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.”

“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow-traveller of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.”

“Great Britain and the United States are nations separated by a common language.”

“I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads and keep them in bowls of water around the house.”

“People get nothing out of books but what they bring to them.”

“Life is a disease; and the only difference between one another is the stage of the disease at which he lives.”

“Though all society is founded on intolerance, all improvement is founded on tolerance.”

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

“As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.”

“Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity.”

“Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use.”

“The secret of forgiving everything is to understand nothing”

“Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.”

“At present there is not a single credible established religion in the world.”

“Clever and attractive women do not want to vote; they are willing to let men govern as long as they govern men.”

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.”

“Absolute honesty is as absurd an abstraction as an absolute temperature or an absolute value.”

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”

“Suppose the world were only one of God’s jokes, would you work any the less to make it a good joke instead of a bad one?”

“The man who listens to reason is lost: reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.”

“Nothing makes a man so selfish as work.”

“The harder I work the more I live.”

“Most people do not pray; they only beg.”

“Indifference is the essence of inhumanity”.”

“It is easy — terribly easy — to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work.”

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

“Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.”

“Man is unique in that he has plans, purpose and goals which require the need for criteria of choice. The need for ethical value is within man whose future may largely be determined by the choice he make”

“Every person who has mastered a profession is a skeptic concerning it.”

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.”

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”

“Men have to do some awfully mean things to keep up their respectability.”

“Be like the sun and meadow, which are not in the least concerned about the coming winter.”

“I never resist temptation, because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.”

“Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.”

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and , if they can’t find them, make them.”

“Must then Christ perish in torment in every age to save those that have no imagination?”

“Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”

“Changeable women are more enduring than monotonous ones. They are sometimes murdered but seldom deserted.”

“Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done”

“A man who is not a communist at the age of twenty is a fool. Any man who is still communist at the age of thirty is an even bigger one.”

“Which painting in the National Gallery would I save if there was a fire? The one nearest the door of course.”

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

“No American newspaper will print anything contrary to its own interests.”

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.”

“It is a woman’s business to get married as soon as possible, and a man’s to keep unmarried as long as possible.”

“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”

“Experience fails to teach where there is no desire to learn.”

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

“Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes”

“He knows nothing; he thinks he knows everything – that clearly points to a political career.”

“When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth.”

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience.”

“You cannot have power for good without having power for evil too. Even mother’s milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes.”

“Few people think more than two or three times a year. I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”

“The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a great refuge from home life.”

“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”

“Get married, but never to a man who is home all day.”

“Old men are dangerous it doesn’t matter to them what is going to happen to the world”

“The faults of the burglar are the qualities of the financier.”

“Forget about likes and dislikes. They are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness but it is greatness.”

“Animals are my friends, and I don’t eat my friends”

“He who has never hoped can never despair.”

“This is the true joy in life – being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.”

“When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do.”

“The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.”

“Folly is the direct pursuit of happiness and beauty.”

“Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open.”

“Criminals do not die by the hands of the law; they die by the hands of other men.”

“Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.”

“All great truths begin as blasphemies.”

“Education can and should do much influence social, moral and intellectual discovery by stimulating critical attitudes of thought in the young.”

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.”

“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.”

“Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy”

“A little learning is a dangerous thing, but we must take that risk because a little is as much as our biggest heads can hold.”

“Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

“You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.”

“I’m an atheist and I thank God for it.”

“The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity.”

“That is the whole secret of successful fighting. Get your enemy at a disadvantage; and never, on any account, fight him on equal terms.”

“Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.”

“The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.”

“Newspapers are unable, seemingly to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization.”

“The open mind never acts: when we have done our utmost to arrive at a reasonable conclusion, we still – must close our minds for the moment with a snap, and act dogmatically on our conclusions.”

“We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.”

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”

“The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor”

“Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.”

“I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.”

“If you say that God is good, great, blessed, wise or any such thing, the starting point is this : God is.”

“Decency is indecency’s conspiracy of silence.”

“All evolution in thought and conduct must at first appear as heresy and misconduct.”

“It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.”

“Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”

“All the sweetness of religion is conveyed to the world by the hands of story-tellers and image-makers. Without their fictions the truths of religion would for the multitude be neither intelligible nor even apprehensible; and the prophets would prophesy and the teachers teach in vain.”

“Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature!”

“Do not waste your time on social questions. What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.”

“When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when the tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity. The distinction between crime and justice is no greater.”

“Mark Twain and I are in the same position. We have put things in such a way as to make people, who would otherwise hang us, believe that we are joking.”

“The seven deadly sins… food, clothing, firing, rent, taxes, respectability and children. Nothing can lift those seven millstones from man’s neck but money; and the spirit cannot soar until the millstones are lifted.”

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

“The nations morals are like its teeth, the more decayed they are the more it hurts to touch them.”

“Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love.”

“Perhaps the greatest social service that can be rendered by anybody to the country and to mankind is to bring up a family.”

“Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life.”

“The churches must learn humility as well as teach it.”

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.”

“We must make the world honest before we can honestly say to our children that honesty is the best policy.”

“There are only two qualities in the world: efficiency and inefficiency, and only two sorts of people: the efficient and the inefficient.”

“Find enough clever things to say, and you’re a Prime Minister; write them down and you’re a Shakespeare.”

“A drama critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned.”

“Success covers a multitude of blunders.”

“Property is organized robbery.”

“Golf is typical capitalist lunacy.”

“The savage bows down to idols of wood and stone, the civilized man to idols of flesh and blood”

“The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.”

“A pessimist thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.”

“Between persons of equal income there is no social distinction except the distinction of merit. Money is nothing: character, conduct, and capacity are everything. There would be great people and ordinary people and little people, but the great would always be those who had done great things, and never the idiots whose mothers had spoiled them and whose fathers had left them a hundred thousand a year; and the little would be persons of small minds and mean characters, and not poor persons who had never had a chance. That is why idiots are always in favor of inequality of income (their only chance of eminence), and the really great in favor of equality.”

“Home is the girl’s prison and the woman’s workhouse”

“If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”

“Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder”

“Parentage is a very important profession, but no test of fitness for it is ever imposed in the interest of the children.”

“Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”

“Morality consists in suspecting other people of not being legally married.”

“The great danger of conversion in all ages has been that when the religion of the high mind is offered to the lower mind, the lower mind, feeling its fascination without understanding it, and being incapable of rising to it, drags it down to its level by degrading it.”

“An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.”

“Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English”

“The road to ignorance is paved with good editions.”

“Capitalism justified itself and was adopted as an economic principle on the express ground that it provides selfish motives for doing good, and that human beings will do nothing except for selfish motives.”

“All progress means war with society.”

“Every man over forty is a scoundrel.”

“I was a freethinker before I knew how to think”

“Power does not corrupt man; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.”

“Money is the most important thing in the world. It represents health, strength, honor, generosity and beauty as conspicuously as the want of it represents illness, weakness, disgrace, meanness and ugliness.”

“Political necessities sometime turn out to be political mistakes.”

“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.”

“Make money and the whole nation will conspire to call you a gentleman”

“To be in hell is to drift; to be in heaven is to steer.”

“Modern poverty is not the poverty that was blest in the Sermon on the Mount.”

“Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.”

“The worst sin… is… to be indifferent.”

“To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.”

“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the Divine gift of articulate speech.”

“You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.”


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