Sydney J. Harris

Sydney J.

American Journalist and Syndicated Columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times

Author Quotes

Many people feel guilty about things they shouldn't feel guilty about, in order to shut out feelings of guilt about things they should feel guilty about.

We truly possess only what we are able to renounce; otherwise, we are simply possessed by our possessions.

Maturity begins when we're content to feel we're right about something without feeling the necessity to prove someone else wrong.

Western civilization has not yet learned the lesson that the energy we expend in 'getting things done' is less important than the moral strength it takes to decide what is worth doing and what is right to do.

A fact does not become a truth until people are willing to act upon it; the fact that war is now a losing proposition for everybody will not flower into an effective truth until we are prepared to make as many sacrifices for our children's future peace as for their present comforts.

Men may be divided almost any way we please, but I have found the most useful distinction to be made between those who devote their lives to conjugating the verb to be, and those who spend their lives conjugating the verb to have.

What the ordinary person means by a 'miracle' is some gross distortion or suspension of the laws of nature... but life itself strikes him as commonplace, when in truth a blade of grass or a neuron in the brain is a greater miracle...

A university is not, primarily, a place in which to learn how to make a living; it is a place in which to learn how to be more fully a human being, how to draw upon one's resources, how to discipline the mind and expand the imagination; how to make some sense out of the big world we will shortly be thrown into.

More trouble is caused in the world by indiscreet answers than by indiscreet questions.

Why do so many people yearn for an eternal life when they don't even know what to do with themselves in this brief one?

Agreement makes us soft and complacent; disagreement brings out our strength. Our real enemies are the people who make us feel so good that we are slowly, but inexorably, pulled down into the quicksand of smugness and self-satisfaction.

One of the things that is manifestly wrong with our school system is our thoughtless practice of hiring and assigning the youngest and the least experienced teachers for the lowest classes, when it should be quite the other way around.

You may be certain that when a man begins to call himself a realist, he is preparing to do something he is secretly ashamed of.

All significant achievement comes from daring, from experiment, from the willingness to risk failure.

Parents should live for their children, but not through them; the parents whose satisfactions are wholly reflections of their children's achievements are as much monsters as the parents who neglect their offspring. Nothing can deform a personality so much as the burden of a love that is utterly self-sacrificing.

American parents, on the whole, do not want their sons to be artisans or craftsmen, but business or professional people. As a result, millions of youngsters are being prepared for careers they have little aptitude for - and little interest in except for dubious prestige.

People far prefer happiness to wisdom, but that is like wanting to be immortal without getting older.

Any creed whose basic doctrines do not include respect for the creeds of others, is simply power politics masquerading as philosophy.

People who are running frantically after happiness remind me of those who are peering everywhere for the spectacles that are perched on their foreheads.

Being yourself is not remaining what you were, or being satisfied with what you are. It is the point of departure.

Skepticism is not an end in itself; it is a tool for the discovery of truths.

By the time a man asks you for advice, he has generally made up his mind what he wants to do, and is looking for confirmation rather than counseling.

The art of listening needs its highest development in listening to oneself; our most important task is to develop an ear that can really hear what we're saying.

Confidence, once lost or betrayed, can never be restored again to the same measure; and we learn too late in life that our acts of deception are irrevocable – they may be forgiven, but they cannot be forgotten by their victims.

The art of living successfully consists of being able to hold two opposite ideas in tension at the same time: first, to make long-term plans as if we were going to live forever; and, second, to conduct ourselves daily as if we were going to die tomorrow.

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Sydney J.
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American Journalist and Syndicated Columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times