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Survival

  • To act without rapacity, to use knowledge with wisdom, to respect interdependence, to operate without hubris and greed are not simply moral imperatives. They are an accurate scientific description of the means of survival.

    • Barbara Ward,
    • speech (1972), in Nigel Cross, Evidence for Hope ()
  • Survival must come before civilization.

  • ... each generation devises better ways to survive. Civilization may, in one sense, be a tribute to the ingeniousness of some children in outwitting parents.

  • Survival is an art. It requires the dulling of the mind and the senses, and a delicate attunement to waiting, without insisting on precision about just what it is you are waiting for.

  • Surviving meant being born over and over.

  • ... the less powerful group usually knows the powerful one much better than vice versa — blacks have had to understand whites in order to survive, women have had to know men — yet the powerful group can afford to regard the less powerful one as a mystery.

  • Speaking and silence are both survival tools.

  • Man's unique reward ... is that while animals survive by adjusting themselves to their background, man survives by adjusting his background to himself.

  • It is astonishing how the human animal survives its misfortunes.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "The Dutch Exhibition," Ending in Earnest ()
  • We desert those who desert us; we cannot afford to suffer; we must live how we can.

  • What does it mean to say I have survived / until you take the mirrors and turn them outward / and read your own face in their outraged light?

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Through Corralitos Under Rolls of Cloud," An Atlas of the Difficult World ()
  • I don't know how to fight. All I know is how to stay alive.

  • Survival is as much a matter of grace as fight. The expression, 'grace under pressure' implies the attainment of equanimity and equilibrium. The fundamental durability of the human body surprises us because the pain can be so intense — yet pain is often transient and hides the tremendous effforts the body is engaged in to heal itself.

  • After a cruel childhood, one must reinvent oneself. Then reimagine the world.

  • Just remember: Surviving is the best revenge, no matter what the disaster has been.

  • The first rule of survival is: Make your own rules. The hell anyone thinks about the way you're acting; listen only to yourself.

  • We are the canaries in the mine. If we go, the last ecosystems go. So does the wisdom of how to sustain resources, live in balance with nature, and create communities based on cooperation, not competition. I think the rest of the world is searching for these values. I know we're here to share them. But we can only share them if we're here.

  • Much female conversation is, in fact, about survival — but in code.

  • At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.

  • In each age there is a series of pressing questions which must be asked and answered. On the correctness of the questions depends the survival of those who ask; on the quality of the answers depends the quality of the life those survivors will lead.

  • A skilled survivorist has to have words and phrases by which to live.

  • The desert came into view ... sand and palm trees, a way of life that revolved around human beings without possessions or skills, who had to rely on their imaginations to contrive a way of making their hearts beat faster or even to keep them at a normal pace; to search unaided for a hidden gleam of light, and to live with two seasons a year instead of four.

    • Hanan al-Shaykh,
    • in Catherine Cobham, trans., Women of Sand and Myrrh ()
  • ... my life has been saved over and over again by picking up a book in which someone captured the whole experience of being despised and not dying.

    • Dorothy Allison,
    • American Booksellers Association convention speech (1995), in The Hungry Mind Review ()
  • Stress management, as it is known, became dear to the hearts of all those whose most punishing worries did not often include how to get food and how to keep alive.

  • I think you can make it if you have to make it. You can manage if you have to. Only when you don't have to do it, is when you can't manage.

  • Survival is a form of resistance.

  • Surviving and believing in tomorrow is just a habit I can't break.

  • The price of survival is education and eternal vigilance.

  • Folks differs, dearie. They differs a lot. Some can stand things that others can't. There's never no way of knowin' how much they can stand.

  • There is often in people to whom 'the worst' has happened an almost transcendent freedom, for they have faced 'the worst' and survived it.

  • We can only do the best we can with what we have. That, after all, is the measure of success: what we do with what we have.

  • Survival is a four letter word.

  • ... I am a pear that has survived a hailstorm: when it does not rot, it becomes better and sweeter than the others, in spite of its little scars.

    • Colette,
    • 1912, in Robert Phelps, trans., Letters From Colette ()
  • There are no magics or elves / Or timely godmothers to guide us. We are lost, must / Wizard a track through our own screaming weed.

  • And I ride ride I ride on to the end — ... / To fail, to flourish, to wither or to win. / We lurch, distribute, we extend, begin.

  • She Endured. And survived. Marginally, perhaps, but it is not required of us that we live well.

  • Despite all the evils they wished to crush me with / I remain as steady as the three-legged cauldron.

  • This above all, to refuse to be a victim.

  • Then perhaps in the end, if we don't exterminate the gorillas before we exterminate ourselves, the gorilla will have his chance. He's one of the really great ones of the earth, and he's not specialized, he's versatile. It's the versatile who survive.

  • We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this — through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.

  • The people always know that some of the grain will be good, some of the crop will be saved, some will return and bear the strength of the kernel, that from the bloodiest year some survive to outfox the frost.

  • It was the bumble bee and the butterfly who survived, not the dinosaur.

  • It's only a matter of time, Indian / you can't sleep with the river forever.

  • My ability to survive personal crises is really a mark of the character of my people. Individually and collectively, we react with a tenacity that allows us again and again to bounce back from adversity.

    • Wilma Mankiller,
    • in Melissa Schwarz, Wilma Mankiller: Principal Chief of the Cherokees ()
  • To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

  • I am defined by my will to survive, not by intelligence or cunning or money or good looks. The Creator didn't see her way clear to give me those things, instead she gave me a strong will.

    • Jaune Quick-to-See Smith,
    • in Wilma Mankiller, Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women ()
  • In the deep valleys, and deeper still, / I found my heights ... against my will.

    • Leonora Speyer,
    • "Down to the Heights," in Harriet Monroe, ed., Poetry ()
  • What we do to survive is often different from what we may need to do in order to live.

  • To free yourself from the past you must break the rules of silence and compliance.

  • All that is really necessary for survival of the fittest, it seems, is an interest in life, good, bad, or peculiar.

    • Grace Paley,
    • "An Interest in Life," The Little Disturbances of Man ()
  • Adaptability is the simple secret of survival.

  • ... suicide is absolute, and if you think you will survive by hiding who you really are, you are sadly misled: there is no such thing as partial or intermittent suicide. You can only survive if you — who you really are — do survive.

    • June Jordan,
    • "A New Politics of Sexuality," in Progressive ()
  • You save yourself or you remain unsaved.

  • There wasn't enough for Indigo in the world she'd been born to, so she made up what she needed. What she thought the black people needed.

  • If evolution was worth its salt, by now it should've evolved something better than survival of the fittest. Yeah, I told 'em I think a better idea would be survival of the wittiest. At least, that way, the creatures that didn't survive could've died laughing.

  • Of the many species that have existed on earth — estimates run as high as fifty billion — more than ninety-nine per cent have disappeared. In the light of this, it is sometimes joked that all of life today amounts to little more than a rounding error.