Friday, March 4, 2011

Wisdom Discovered in Lionel Richie's Search for the Past

One of the things I love about Quote Palettes is how we can add new quotes on the fly. Tonight I watched the NBC show, Who Do You Think You Are, about Lionel Richie's ancestors, and was struck by a writing from the late 19th century attributed to Richie's great grandfather, J.L. Brown.  The archive text read, "It is only by our good qualities rightly set forth that we are to succeed in the future."  I liked it as soon as I saw it, and it took about 4 minutes to make it available at  (You can find it by clicking here.)

The quote reminded me of Burke's famous words, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  But there was something different about J.L. Brown's words, "It is only by our good qualities RIGHTLY SET FORTH that we are to succeed in the future..."  Whereas Burke warned against passivism, J.L. Brown was saying something more.  To J.L. Brown, the future of mankind would depend not only on our being courageous, imaginative, loyal and diligent (examples of some of our "good qualities"), but also on our ability to use those qualities wisely - in the interests of fairness, justice, charity. We've heard this concept discussed in the context of science and technology and global politics.  But none of the hundreds of quotes in our collection expressed this idea so eloquently.

And so, I am very pleased that one of the unintended consequences of Lionel Richie's research was the discovery of this quote, which we will proudly attribute to the singer's great grandfather and only hope he receives the credit for generations to come.

From the archives of Chattanooga, Tennessee

Gary @ Quote Palettes

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