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Inaction

  • The most ominous of fallacies — the belief that things can be kept static by inaction.

  • ... it is always easier to do nothing than to try a new line of action.

  • What you don't do can be a destructive force.

  • ... the touchstone of a free act — from the decision to get out of bed in the morning or take a walk in the afternoon to the highest resolutions by which we bind ourselves for the future — is always that we know that we could also have left undone what we actually did.

  • Some women wait for themselves / around the next corner / and call the empty spot peace ...

  • ... stoicism and silence does not serve us nor our communities, only the forces of things as they are.

  • Perhaps ... it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.

  • The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

  • The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.

  • The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.

  • No, one couldn't make a revolution, one couldn't even start a riot, with sheep that asked only for better browsing.

  • ... our high resolves / Look down upon our slumbering acts.

    • L.E. Landon,
    • "A History of the Lyre," The Venetian Bracelet ()
  • But my belief is growing that our political and social evils are remediable, if only all of us who want a change for the better just get up and work for it, all the time, with as much knowledge and intelligence as we can muster for it. Half the wrongs of human life exist because of the inertia of people who simply will not use their energies in fighting for what they believe in. And finally the wrongs roll up into world catastrophes and millions of deaths and a terrible set-back for all mankind ...

  • There is nothing I fear so much as idleness, the want of occupation, inactivity, the lethargy of the faculties; when the body is idle, the spirit suffers painfully.

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • to M. Héger (1844), in Muriel Spark, ed., The Letters of The Brontës: A Selection ()
  • Activity may lead to evil; but inactivity cannot be led to good.

    • Hannah More,
    • "On the Religious Employment of Time," Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education ()
  • You can't remain inactive in the face of injustice without, to some extent, being guilty of it.

  • It won't do you a bit of good to know everything if you don't do anything with it.

  • The thinkers stood aside / To let the nation act.

  • If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens.

  • We know that if you plan too long / nothing happens and things get worse and that / most everything is found in the action / and instinctively we get that the scariest thing / isn't dying, but not trying at all.

  • If there be sorrow / let it be for things undone ... / undreamed, unrealized, unattained / to these add one: / Love withheld ... / ... restrained.

    • Mari Evans,
    • "If There Be Sorrow," I Am a Black Woman ()
  • Many a false step is made by standing still.

    • Patti LaBelle,
    • in Patti LaBelle and Laura Randolph Lancaster, Patti's Pearls ()
  • Inaction, contrary to its reputation for being a refuge, is neither safe nor comfortable.

  • If you know but do not do, you are a very unhappy person indeed.

  • How despicable is that humanity, which can be contented to pity, where it might assuage!

  • the thing that destroys a person/a people / is not the knowing / but the knowing and not / doing.

  • The law of nature is: Do the thing and you shall have the power; but they who do not do the thing have not the power.

  • ... the most dangerous temptations are not due to the active, sudden flames of desire, 'the lusts of the flesh,' but to the disinclinations of the flesh, its indolence and sluggishness, our tendency to become creatures of habit.

  • I've been busy with a long memorandum about the whole of our central Arabian relations, which I've just finished. It will now go to all the High and Mighty in every part. One can't do much more than sit and record if one is of my sex, devil take it; one can get the things recorded in the right way and that means, I hope, that unconsciously people will judge events as you think they ought to be judged. But it's small change for doing things, very small change I feel at times.

    • Gertrude Bell,
    • 1916, in Florence Bell, ed., The Letters of Gertrude Bell, vol. 1 ()
  • It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant.

  • We are not here in this world to drift like seaweed. Whatever intelligence we have, it is our duty to drive to the utmost.

  • It isn't the thing you do, Dear / It's the thing you leave undone / Which gives you a bit of a heartache / At the setting of the sun ...

  • I have always looked on disobedience toward the oppressive as the only way to use the miracle of having been born. I have always looked on the silence of those who do not react or who indeed applaud as the real death of a woman or a man.

  • There are also moments, Imperial Highness, when the ultimate revenge is inaction.

  • Sadly, most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.

  • Nothing wilts faster than a laurel rested upon.

  • Everybody's business is nobody's business.

    • Esther Blumenfeld,
    • in Lynne Alpern and Esther Blumenfeld, Oh, Lord, I Sound Just Like Mama ()
  • To do anything, it is first necessary to be doing nothing.

  • Doing nothing is sometimes the best thing we can do.

  • One's only real regret in life is the failure to act.

  • It often takes more courage to be a passenger than a driver.

  • We are tired by the work we do not do, not by what we do.

  • The biggest sin is sitting on your ass.

    • Florynce R. Kennedy,
    • in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. ()
  • There is nothing worse than being a doer with nothing to do.