A wide variety of people are quoted, from presidents to peons, from a Hollywood star to a diehard fan, from national heroes to outcasts, and from a skid row denizen to a billionaire. In the realm of philosophy, for example, they range from Socrates to Snoopy; in religion, they range from Moses to Belly Graham.
These people are quoted according to their varying viewpoints, all the way from Hitler to Howard Hindricks. Some people are quoted for the inspiring, and revered statements that they have made; others are quoted for their trash and insulting statements.
Why do we quote them? There are various reasons, but generally, we quote them for the following:
1) We quote people for their inspiring and motivational statements that catapulted nations and societies to greater commitment, dedication, and unity. Such statements as “I have a dream…,” by Martin Luther King; or “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” by John F. Kennedy.
2) We quote people because they express for us our ardent desires and ambitions. One desire that we all share in common is the desire to be happy. James Barrie, for example, expressed how happiness is attained when he wrote: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
3) We quote people because their statements provide courage and answers in our time of affliction and desperation. James A. Garfield, 20th President of U.S.A., is often quoted by those who find themselves in trouble, when he wrote: “I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came.” Henry Ward Beecher is also quoted by these same people when he said, “Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”
4) We quote people to support our position when arguing with others. In theological debates, for example, texts from the Bible are often cited to support the validity of one’s arguments. Both preachers and politicians quote historical figures to support their stance on a particular issue.
5) We quote people because they express in a concise form our values and beliefs which we would otherwise find difficult to put into words. It is a fact of life that some people have a knack for formulating words that eloquently captures the essence of one’s faith and beliefs.
6) We quote people because we admire and want to emulate their values, ideals, and successes in life. These people can be a supervisor at work, a best friend at school, a devoted mother, a dedicated teacher, or an honorable politician.
7) We quote people because of their popularity. Hollywood stars and politicians are often quoted not necessarily because of the truthfulness or values that they express, but simply because of their star status.
8) We quote people to add frill to what we say. As a result, we sprinkle a few quotes here and there in the course of our conversation. Ministers add famous quotes to their sermons as trimmings, and thereby enhancing the interests of their congregation.
9) As opposed to moral virtues, we, unfortunately, quote people for their heinous statements. Statements that express disgust and degradation, statements that reveal one’s rebellious attitude to society, and statements that carry the essence of irreverence and impiety.
10) Finally, we quote people because they express our shared goals and desires, pains and affliction, individuality and community, triumphs and failures, and the reality that we all belong to one another. That indeed, we, regardless of our background, language, culture, education, and financial status in life, belong to one family. Quotes transcend cultural and racial boundaries, and in the process, break down racial prejudice and discrimination.
So start your collection of memorable quotes. It will inspire you in your darkest hour, encourage you in your despair, and will help you connect with others.