Wise Words, Whoever Wrote Them


The Provo River


This quotation appears to have been falsely ascribed to Ralph Waldo Emerson (a writer whom I greatly admire), but who cares?  It’s still a good quotation, and it rings true:


“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”


As short secular creeds go, it’s not a bad one to live by.


Posted from Deer Creek Park, Provo Canyon, Utah



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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Swenson/100000312491451 Raymond Swenson

    So long as the words have independent value that does not depend on the attributed source, I agree.

    On the other hand, false attributions can transform hokum into creeds of political correctness that become rooted so deeply in popular culture that they can be pernicious in their effect. As an environmental attorney in Washington State, the example that comes to mind is the apocryphal speech that was written in 1971 for an environmentalist “documentary” (when the movement was getting cranked up) and given authority by attribution to Chief Seattle of the Duwamish who signed a treaty ceding his tribe’s lands except for a smaller reservation and the continuing right to hunt and fish on “open and unclaimed lands”. Similar treaties were signed by most tribes in Oregon Territory around 1855.

    As pointed out by http://www.snopes.com/quotes/seattle.asp the “speech” is full of anachronisms, referencing the slaughter of buffalo on the Great Plains from railroad cars that was fifteen years in the future, and the notion of obscuring the view with a multiplicity of “talking wires” before the first transcontinental line in 1860. The white man’s cities he refers to in 1854 were mostly small towns in the grain growing Palouse region of what is now southeast Washington, and those in the Willamette Valley at the end of the Oregon Trail, but not around rainy Puget Sound, where Seattle lived. But that didn’t prevent the brilliant Al Gore from quoting the fictional speech in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance.