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Bette Bao Lord

  • Nothing fruitful ever comes when plants are forced to flower in the wrong season.

  • ... to ask for anything of consequence from friends who cannot refuse is uncivilized.

  • What harm is there in dreaming, if it eases pain? What good is reality, if it blots out hope? Can a man's mind be washed without bleaching his soul?

  • ... you must not use wood to put out the fire.

  • The young see what they wish to see. The old see what they do not wish.

  • ... it was she who held that part of him the gods had fashioned but casually misplaced at the moment of his birth and then absently given to her when she was born.

  • What good for a shrimp to don a dragon's tail?

  • Principles have a way of yielding to power.

  • ... prophecies do not alter fate, only confirm it.

  • If mortals wait until the gods remake the world to their liking to be happy, they are already in hell.

  • In yielding we are like the water, by nature placid, conforming to the hollow of the smallest hand; in time, shaping even the mountains to its will. Thus we keep duty and honor. We cherish clan and civilization. We are Chinese.

  • Like most Chinese, I am basically a fatalist — too sophisticated for religion and too superstitious to deny the gods.

  • A secret, like a chore, always seems to lead to another, one even more troublesome than the first.

Bette Bao Lord, Chinese-born U.S. writer, human rights activist

(1938)