Sunday, September 9, 2012

"It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision," and other Helen Keller quotes

Helen Keller (1880-1968) became blind and deaf, most likely due to scarlet fever, when she was just seven months old.  Through valiant efforts of her family and a blind teacher, Anne Sullivan, young Helen was able to begin communicating with the world around her.  Breakthroughs and techniques were developed through their relationship that are still used to this day.

In 1904 Helen graduated from Radcliff College magna cum laude, and was the first deaf and blind person ever to graduate from a university anywhere in the world.

She went on to become a famous author and advocate for those with disabilities, as well as fighting for women’s rights, being an active pacifist, and a supporter of birth control. She ended up visiting many international leaders in thirty-nine different countries, and was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.

These are some of my favorite quotes from her.  Let me know which ones speak to you…. 

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.

As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.

It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.

Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained.

he fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Many people know so little about what is beyond their short range of experience. They look within themselves - and find nothing! Therefore they conclude that there is nothing outside themselves either.

The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.

Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!

College isn't the place to go for ideas.

Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.

I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world.

The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.

Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.

It's wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.

Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.

Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.

It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings.

It gives me a deep comforting sense that "things seen are temporal and things unseen are eternal."

Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought!

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.

I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.

The highest result of education is tolerance.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.

Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.

As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.

It is hard to interest those who have everything in those who have nothing.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others.


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