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1. Patriotism is a lively sense of collective responsibility. Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on a dunghill.

Richard Aldington (1892-1962) British poet and novelist. The Colonel’s Daughter (1931)


2. CORPORATION, n. An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) U.S. journalist and writer. The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)


3. Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right than to be responsible and wrong.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British prime minister. Party political broadcast, London (August 26, 1950)


4. Each man the architect of his own fate.

Claudius Caecus (fl. 300 B.C.) Roman statesman. Quoted in De Civitate (Sallust), sect. 1


5. There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) U.S. president. Telegram (September 1919)


6. I’m not wild about accepting responsibility without authority. Why should my people be?

Bill Creech (b.1958) U.S. president commanding general of U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command. “Creech’s Laws” (1984)


7. We must ern true respect and equal rights from men by accepting responsibility.

Amelia Earhart (1898-1937) U.S. aviator. Speech (1935)


8. Responsibility is what awaits outside the Eden of Creativity.

Nadine Gordimer (b.1923) South African novelist and short-story writer. October 12, 1984. Lecture, University of Michigan, The Tanner Lectures on Human Values (Sterling M. McMurrin, ed.; 1985)


9. Whatever you blame, that you have done yourself.

Georg Groddeck (1866-1934) German psychoanalyst. The Book of the It (1923), Letter 14


10. It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

  1. E. Henley (1849-1903) British poet and playwright. Invictus (1888), st. 4


11. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) U.S. president. The Rights of British America (1774)


12. Our privileges can be no greater than our obligations. The protection of our rights can endure no longer than the performance of our responsibilities.

John F. Kennedy (1917-63) U.S. president. Speech (May 18, 1963)


13.We are responsible for actions performed in response to circumstances for which we are not responsible.

Allan Massie (b.1938) British author. “Etienne,” A Question of Loyalties (1989), pt. 1, ch. 22


14. Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part; Do thou but thine.

John Milton (1608-74) English poet. Paradise Lost (1667), bk. 8, 1. 561


15. We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.

John Henry Newman (1801-90) British theologian. Letter to Mrs. Froude (June 27, 1848)


16. There are plenty of recommendations on how to get to get out of trouble cheaply and fast. Most of them come down to the same thing. Deny your responsibility.

Nancy Peretsman (b.1955) U.S. investment banker. Speech (September 1967)


17. You become responsible, forever for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.

Antoine De Saint-Exupert (1900-44) French writer and aviator. The Little Prince (1943), ch. 21


18. To be a man is…to be responsible. It is to feel shame at the sight of what seems to be unmerited misery. It is to take pride in a victory won by one’s comrades.

Antoine De Saint-Exupert (1900-44) French writer and aviator. Wind, Sand and Stars (1939), ch. 2, sect 2


19. When one does nothing, one believes oneself responsible for everything.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) French philosopher, playwright and writer. The Condemned of Altona (1959), pt. 1


20. Study how a society uses its land, and you can come to pretty reliable conclusions as to what its future will be.

  1. F. Schumacher (1911-77) British economist and conservationist. Small is Beautiful (1973)


21. Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English poet and playwright. Said by Claudius. Hamlet (1601), Act 3. Scene 1


22. Men at some time are masters of their fates; The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Wiliam Shakespeare (1564-1616) English poet and playwright. Julius Caesar (1599), Act 1, Scene 2


23. Liberty means responsibility.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish  writer and critic. Maxims for Revolutionists (1905)


24. It is impossible to get the measure of what an individual can accomplish unless the responsibility is given him.

Alfred P. Sloan (1875-1966) U.S. president of General Motors. “Modern Ideas of the Big Business World,” Work (October 1926)


25. The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all.

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn (b.1918) Russian author and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature. Nobel lecture (1970)


26. For Man is man and master of his fate.

Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-92) British poet. “The Marriage of Geraint,” Idylls of the King (1859), 1. 355


27. A burden in the bush is worth two on your hands.

James Thurber (1894-1961) U.S. writer and cartoonist. “The Hunter and the Elephant,” Fables for Our Times (1943)


28. Human beings were held accountable long before there were corporate bureaucracies. If the knight didn’t deliver, the king cut off his head.

Alvin Toffler (b.1928) U.S. social commentator. “Breaking with Bureaucracy,” Across the Board (February 1991)


29. The buck stops here.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) U.S. president. Sign on his desk while president. Quoted in Presidential Anecdotes (Paul F. Boiler; 1981)


30. I don’t know whether you fellows ever had a load of hay fall on you, but when they told me yesterday what had happened, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) U.S. president. April 1944. Said on succeeding Franklin D. Roosevelt as president. Attrib.


31. People are responsible for their opinions, but Providence is responsible for their morals.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and playwright. Quoted in Edward Marsh, Patron of the Arts (Christopher Hassall; 1959), ch. 9