Wisdom Quotes to Improve the Presidential Campaign

Posted March 06, 2012 by Denise Gangnes
I've been tracking the presidential race pretty closely this year. It has been intriguing, amusing, and some days, mind boggling. After all, it was less than a month ago that I wrote about founding fathers and their quotes of wisdom. It reminds me of how desperately we need more of that insight and integrity in our presidential hopefuls. Perhaps they could take a break from pressing the flesh and thinking of clever sound bites to emulate the excellent epitaphs of some deep thinkers from the ages.
For example, take Confucius: "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and Third by experience, which is the bitterest." It conjures the image of Confucius smacking his head and uttering, "I just had a V-8 moment". Actually, the three tenets of this wisdom quote have become painfully apparent in teaching my youngest daughter to drive. She has been imitating my bad driving habits, which leads me to reflect that the large dent on the side of my car has been a bitter pill to swallow. I feel wiser already.
Maybe we should move on to ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. His teachings involve minimizing harm and maximizing happiness, as formulated in his Ethic of Reciprocity, developed around 300 BCE. Millions of followers through the centuries have been inspired by quotes such as "Of all things which wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship." If you surmise that the word "Epicurean" was derived from this enlightened philosopher, you are right, although I wish he could be credited with the phrase, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Author and billiards expert Robert Byrne takes liberties with this old English Proverb, "Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography." Sorry to put you behind the 8-ball, Mr. Byrne, but I believe that would be anatomy, not geography. Sounds like Byrne could pay attention to this wise quote from Euripides, "Cleverness is not wisdom." Again, if only politicians lived by these words.
Remember our founding fathers? George Washington is credited with "Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company." This wisdom quote is also known as, "A man is judged by the company he keeps." Great advice, but who originally said it? A) Ralph Waldo Emerson, B) the Bible, c) Abraham Lincoln, or D) Euripides. I was astonished to discover that according to the internet, all of these answers are correct, and a few more. Perhaps it's true that there are no new ideas.
Let's jump into the 21st century to find wisdom quotes from someone we actually know personally...like Oprah? Say what you like about her, but the combination of incredible popularity, an immense bank account and a dedication to philanthropic endeavors earn her a spot on this list. When Oprah explains, "I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity" we know she's not the first to extract this thought from the original "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it". I would assert that Thomas Jefferson may not have originally been responsible for this wisdom quote, but as we know, plagiarism runs rampant in the quote department.
Perhaps instead of searching for intelligent signs of life from our political community, we should implement these quotes of wisdom in our own lives. If not, we could run the risk of emulating the deep thinker who said, "If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure."

Sometimes I really miss Dan Quayle.


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