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Busybodies

  • God save us from the people who want to do what's best for us.

  • Great mischief comes from attempts to steady other people's altars ...

  • The goat's business is none of the sheep's concern.

  • Lawd how some folks kin lie! Dey don't wait tuh find out a thing. Some of 'em so expert on mindin' folks' business dat dey kin look at de smoke comin' out yo' chimbley and tell yuh what yuh cookin'.

  • The little entourage of friends and relatives whom she completely dominated was fond of saying, 'Becky would give you the shirt off her back.' And it was true. The only trouble was that she neglected to take it off first, and what you found on your back was not only Becky's shirt but Becky too.

  • Don't you meddle with me, and I won't meddle with you.

  • It's a mystery to me how anyone ever gets any nourishment in this place. They must eat their meals standing up by the window so as to be sure of not missing anything.

  • Jane had that happy disposition which would like to imagine that every one really wishes the well-being of his neighbour and struggles, though sometimes rather disastrously, to help him towards it.

  • You know how some people are — they always feel they have to do things for other people's good, no matter what happens to the other people in the process!

  • That idea of strictly minding one's own business is moldy rubbish. Who could be so selfish?

  • I, who fall short in managing my own affairs, can see just how it would profit my neighbor if I managed his.

  • I am one of those people who are blessed, or cursed, with a nature which has to interfere. If I see a thing that needs doing I do it.

  • Some people, she would say, are so full of the milk of human kindness that it slops over and messes everything.

  • ... those who make some other person their job ... are dangerous.

  • There is no robbery so terrible as the robbery committed by those who think they are doing right.

  • Insistent advice may develop into interference, and interference, someone has said, is the hind hoof of the devil.

  • ... it was Sarah's fate that an excess of virtue should have wrought all the evil of a positive vice. From the days of her infancy, when she had displayed in the cradle a power of self-denial at which her pastor had marveled, she had continued to sacrifice her inclinations in a manner which had rendered unendurable the lives around her. Her parents had succumbed to it; her husband had died of it; her children had resigned themselves to it or rebelled against it according to the quality of their moral fiber. All her life she had labored to make people happy, and the result of this exalted determination was a cowed and resentful family.

  • ... there is nothing so easy as to be wise for others; a species of prodigality, by-the-by — for such wisdom is wholly wasted.

  • ... nobody likes having salt rubbed into their wounds, even if it is the salt of the earth.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "The Salt of the Earth," The Harsh Voice ()
  • The one prediction that never comes true is, 'You'll thank me for telling you this.'

  • Miss Manners has come to believe that the basic political division in the society is not between liberals and conservatives but between those who believe that they should have a say in the love lives of strangers and those who do not.

  • The passion for setting people right is in itself an afflictive disease.

    • Marianne Moore,
    • "Snakes, Mongooses, Snake Charmers, and the Like," Selected Poems ()
  • There are plenty of people, in Avonlea and out of it, who can attend closely to their neighbours' business by dint of neglecting their own; but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks into the bargain.

  • ... she ... kind o' heaves benefits at your head, same's she would bricks; but they're benefits just the same ...

  • People should always mind their own business. More trouble is caused in this world by interference than any other single thing.

  • Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save, they just stand there shining.

  • A writer's occupational hazard: I think of eavesdropping as minding my business.

  • People with good intentions never give up!

  • It is personal vanity of the most flagrant type which intrudes itself, unasked, into other people's affairs. There are few of us who do not feel capable of ordering the daily lives of others, down to the most minute detail.

  • Think not because the chrysalis struggles that it is in need of you. Oh! I pray you, stay your eager hands, lest you despoil its silver wings.

  • Making those we love happy sounds innocent as a dove, but it can be as destructive as a lion.

  • She was a spasmodic selfless torrent like the fizz from her own cider bottles.

  • There was nothing more dangerous than people convinced of their own good intentions.

  • We are living in the era of the busybody. In ancient Greece, if a person wanted guidance, it involved a long, arduous expensive journey to consult the oracle at Delphi. Today, if you want guidance, all you have to do is unplug your ears.

  • Once you assume your right to interfere in other people's problems they become in some ways more of a worry than your own, for with your own you can at least do what you think best, but other people always show such a persistent tendency to do the wrong thing.

  • She lives in the lives of others as though she hadn't one of her own.

  • She seemed always on the point of doing something for you, better, of course, than you could do it for yourself.

  • Public obsession with the child-rearing plans of others is a curious social tic. At least until we entered into the age of glorified public confession, Americans were politely hesitant to pry into one another's lives.

    • Elinor Burkett,
    • "Emancipation From Propagation," in Lori Leibovich, ed., Maybe Baby ()
  • It's dangerous business, thinking you can make people over.