Some men can live up to their loftiest ideals without ever going higher than a basement.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
There is no force so democratic as the force of an ideal.
—Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) American Head of State, Lawyer
Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.
—John Galsworthy (1867–1933) English Novelist, Playwright
Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive.
—William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925–2008) American TV Personality, Author
Saddle your dreams before you ride em.
—Mary Webb (1881–1927) English Novelist, Poet, Writer
When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, idealists are very apt to walk straight into the gutter.
—Logan Pearsall Smith (1865–1946) American-British Essayist, Bibliophile
An idealist believes the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.
—Sydney J. Harris (1917–86) American Essayist, Drama Critic
The idealist walks on tiptoe, the materialist on his heels.
—Malcolm de Chazal (1902–81) Mauritian Writer, Painter, Visionary
It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet, I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
—Anne Frank (1929–45) Holocaust Victim
We for a certainty are not the first have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed whatever brute and blackguard made the world.
—A. E. Housman (1859–1936) British Poet, Scholar
What we need most, is not so much to realize the ideal as to idealize the real.
—Frederic Henry Hedge
Don’t use that foreign word “ideals.” We have that excellent native word “lies.”
—Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) Norwegian Playwright
I promise to keep on living as though I expected to live forever. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.
—Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) American Military Leader
A perfect human being: Man in search of his ideal of perfection. Nothing less.
—Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (1916–2004) British Sufi Mystic, Religious Leader, Psychologist
I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.
—Caroline Schoeder American Aphorist
The idealist’s program of political or economic reform may be impracticable, absurd, demonstrably ridiculous; but it can never be successfully opposed merely by pointing out that this is the case. A negative opposition cannot be wholly effectual: there must be a competing idealism; something must be offered that is not only less objectionable but more desirable.
—Charles Cooley (1864–1929) American Sociologist
Ideals are the world’s masters.
—Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–81) American Editor, Novelist