Neely Young: A Few More Wise Words

Several times a year I present a column made up of quotes, quips and sayings. They can be used for speeches, photocopied to send to friends or just enjoyed. I call them “I’ve Learned.” They all show truth, wit or whimsy and should bring a smile to readers’ faces.

I’ve learned to take some good advice from George Washington, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt – all great leaders.

Washington said:

• “Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.”

• In disputes, you should give liberty to each one to deliver his opinion. Remember the proverb: Two reasonable minds can disagree.

• “Be not apt to relate news [gossip] if you know not the truth thereof.”

• “Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.”

Churchill said:

• “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

• “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.”

Jefferson said:

• Something Congress should pay attention to: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

• “Difference of opinion leads to enquiry and enquiry to truth.”

• “Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.”

Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Speaking of great men from history, we all use expressions that we have no idea where they originated. The following was compiled by English journalist Bernard Levin. You may be surprised who coined these phrases:

If you can’t understand an argument and say, “It’s Greek to me.” If you have played fast and loose. If you say someone is a tower of strength or slept not one wink. If you have too much of a good thing. Or have seen better days. If it’s a foregone conclusion. If you are puzzled and say, “It’s without rhyme or reason,” or you give the devil his due. If you suspect foul play or bid someone good riddance and send them packing. If you think someone is dead as a doornail or an eyesore. If you say for goodness sake. If you repeat any of those phrases, you are quoting a great man, William Shakespeare, who wrote them 600 years ago.

Shakespeare also wrote, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”

Here are some other things I’ve learned over the years:

I’ve learned that the nature of bad news infects the teller.

That fish and visitors smell after three days, but grandchildren can stay as long as they want and still smell like rose water.

I’ve learned to avoid fruits and nuts, because you are what you eat.

That summertime is always the best of what might be.

I’ve learned to count my blessings! Things can always get better.

I’ve learned that joy is a choice, not an outcome.

And that the key to success is to bite off more than you can chew, and then chew on it until you become successful.

And that only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.

I’ve learned that a dog on a leash is not really tamed by its owner. It’s a two-way tether.

I’ve learned that good humor makes a disappointing small dish a feast.

And, finally, that Ike Reighard, pastor at Piedmont Church in Marietta, was correct when he said: “When I was young I believed in Santa Claus. When I got a little older I didn’t believe in Santa Claus. Now that I am a lot older I’ve discovered I am Santa Claus!”

Categories: Neely Young