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Sidney Poitier Quotes

Sir Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier quotes: the actor’s intelligent ideas about life.

“Progress then and now comes from the collision of powerful forces within the hearts of those who strive for it.”

“You don’t have to become something you’re not to be better than you were.”

“If the image one holds of one’s self contains elements that don’t square with reality, one is best advised to let go of them, however difficult that may be.”

“A person doesn’t have to change who he is to become better.”

“We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must.  We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future.”

“Living consciously involves being genuine; it involves listening and responding to others honestly and openly; it involves being in the moment.”

“I do know that I’m responsible not for what happens, but for what I make of it.”

“True ‘joy’ is the difference between just amusing ourselves to death and creating ‘meaningful’ pleasure.”

“We’re all somewhat courageous, and we’re all considerably cowardly.”

“The willingness to receive help and appreciate its value when it arrives, sometimes unannounced, is a subject that returns us to the question of why and how our lives turn out as they do.”

“The task is to learn as much as you can about as much as you can; the great disease of mankind is ignorance.”

“I have always been a learner because I knew nothing.”

“I find myself, at this time in my life, no less challenged, no less plagued, no less intrigued by what I still don’t know.”

“There is a sense of self, of character and of personal self-worth and kindness and hopefulness and embrace that is characteristic of such people, educated and non-educated alike.”

“Within the warm periphery of your life, there should be room for passionate involvement.  As the Italian poet Antonio Porchia put it: ‘In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.'”

“I come from a great family.  I’ve seen family life and I know how wonderful, how nurturing, and how wonderful it can be.”

“As a man, I’ve been a representative of the values I hold dear.  And the values I hold dear are carryovers from the lives of my parents.”

“My mother was the most amazing person.  She taught me to be kind to other women.  She believed in family.  She was with my father from the first day they met.  All that I am, she taught me.  I was a gift to my mother.  She was a remarkable person.  God or nature, or whatever those forces are, smiled on her, then passed me the best of her.”

“Child psychologists have demonstrated that our minds are actually constructed by these thousands of tiny interactions during the first few years of life.  We aren’t just what we’re taught.  It’s what we experience during those early years – a smile here, a jarring sound there – that creates the pathways and connections of the brain.  We put our kids to 15 years of quick-cut advertising, passive television watching and sadistic video games, and we expect to see them emerge a new generation of calm, compassionate, and engaged human beings?”

“Children need a sense of pulling their own weight, of contributing to the family in some way, and some sense of the family’s interdependence.  They take pride in knowing that they’re contributing.  They learn responsibility and discipline through meaningful work.  The values developed within a family that operates on those principles then extend to the society at large.  By not being quite so indulged and ‘protected’ from reality by overflowing abundance, children see the bonds that connect them to others.”

“Of all my father’s teachings, the most enduring was the one about the true measure of a man.  That true measure was how well he provided for his children, and it stuck with me as if it were etched in my brain.”

“We’re all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual, unending struggle against those imperfections.”

“So I had to be careful.  I recognized the responsibility that, whether I liked it or not, I had to accept whatever the obligation was.  That was to behave in a manner, to carry myself in such a professional way, as if there ever is a reflection, it’s a positive one.”

“I’ve learned that I must find positive outlets for anger or it will destroy me.  There is a certain anger: it reaches such intensity that to express it fully would require homicidal rage – self destructive, destroy-the-world rage – and its flame burns because the world is so unjust.  I have to try to find a way to channel that anger to the positive, and the highest positive is forgiveness.”

“Forgiveness works two ways, in most instances.  People have to forgive themselves too.  The powerful have to forgive themselves for their behavior.  That should be a sacred process.”

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.”

“As I entered this world, I would leave behind the nurturing of my family and my home, but in another sense I would take their protection with me.  The lessons I had learned, the feelings of groundedness and belonging that have been woven into my character there, would be my companions on the journey.”

“I learned to hear silence.  That’s the kind of life I lived: simple.  I learned to see things in people around me.”

“When you walk with someone, something unspoken happens.  Either you match their pace or they match yours.”

“We are what we are, and half of what we are is what we are not.”

“I am the me I choose to be.”

“When I set out to become an actor, I had set myself a standard.”

“I always had the ability to say no.  That’s how I called my own shots.”

“I think the way I want to think.  I live the way I want to live.”

“A good deed here, a good deed there, a good thought here, a good comment there, all added up to my career in one way or another.”

“I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.”

“I was fortunate enough to have been raised to a certain point before I got into the race thing.  I had other views of what a human is, so I was never able to see racism as the big question.  Racism was horrendous, but there were other aspects to life.”

“I never had an occasion to question color, therefore, I only saw myself as what I was: a human being.”

“Okay listen, you think I’m so inconsequential?  Then try this on for size.  All those who see unworthiness when they look at me and are given thereby to denying me value – to you I say, I’m not talking about being as good as you.  I hereby declare myself better than you.”

“I defend myself by improving myself.”

“I set my star so high that I would constantly be in motion toward it.  To simply wake up every morning a better person than when I went to bed.”

“I’ll always be chasing you, glory.”

“If I’m remembered for having done a few good things and if my presence here has sparked some good energies, that’s plenty.”

“So I’m okay with myself, with history, my work, who I am and who I was.”

“History passes the final judgment.”

“So it’s been kind of a long road, but it was a good journey altogether.  The journey has been incredible from its beginning.”

“I wouldn’t change a single thing, because one change alters every moment that follows it.”

“I am an ordinary person who has had an extraordinary life.”

Related: Morgan Freeman quotes.

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