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The wisdom of Jesus and Groucho

Something I’ve noticed about other people’s Facebook pages – almost no one has “favorite quotations.”  I have lots of them.I often come across a sentence or even a phrase that explains a lot about this wacky world we live in.  Here are a few:

"By their fruits ye shall know them." -- Jesus Christ

You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate this.  Bill Parcells actually had something similar: “You are what your record says you are.”  However, I prefer any quotation with “ye” in it, so “Ye are what ye record says ye are” has a better ring to it.

"Life has meaning only in struggle … Let us celebrate the struggle." -- Swahili warrior song

This came from the movie "Lorenzo's Oil" with Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte many years ago.  I didn’t actually see the movie (still hope to someday), but I read a review of it, and this quote hit me between the eyes.  Life’s not supposed to be easy.  If it was, it’d be boring.  Embrace your challenges.

"The Blind Men and the Elephant" by John Godfrey Saxe

I often entertain my students with this Victorian-era poem (college students can’t get enough of Victorian-era poems).  The blind men describe an elephant depending on what part of the elephant each can touch (“the elephant is like a wall!” … “the elephant is like a spear!” … “the elephant is like a snake!”)  How you perceive a problem depends on where you’re standing and what you can get your hands on.  

"If it's the 'ultimate game,' why are they playing it again next year?" -- Duane Thomas

The Zen Cowboy, on the eve of Super Bowl V.  Indeed, next year they’ll be up to Super Bowl XLVIII, and they’ll keep playing them until they don’t anymore.

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be' - she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh, so smart, or oh, so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." - Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey"

The older I get, the more I appreciate the wisdom of Elwood P. Dowd.

“’I God, Woodrow, it's been a party." -- Augustus McCrae

I could not present a list of favorite quotations and leave out the sage of Lonesome Dove, or the person who gave him voice:

“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken-fried steak.” —Larry McMurtry

And then there’s:

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." -- Groucho Marx

What are some of yours?

John Mark Dempsey is the host of the public interest program The Blacklands Café from KETR News. Dempsey is also the play-by-play announcer for Commerce Tigers Football on 88.9 FM and on ketr.org.
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