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Thomas L. Friedman quotes (showing 1-30 of 200)

“Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children...The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“America is the greatest engine of innovation that has ever existed, and it can't be duplicated anytime soon, because it is the product of a multitude of factors: extreme freedom of thought, an emphasis on independent thinking, a steady immigration of new minds, a risk-taking culture with no stigma attached to trying and failing, a noncorrupt bureaucracy, and financial markets and a venture capital system that are unrivaled at taking new ideas and turning them into global products.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“At the end of the day, no amount of investing, no amount of clean electrons, no amount of energy efficiency will save the natural world if we are not paying attention to it - if we are not paying attention to all the things that nature give us for free: clean air, clean water, breathtaking vistas, mountains for skiing, rivers for fishing, oceans for sailing, sunsets for poets, and landscapes for painters. What good is it to have wind-powered lights to brighten the night if you can't see anything green during the day? Just because we can't sell shares in nature doesn't mean it has no value.”
Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion, or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle, or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“The ideal country in a flat world is the one with no natural resources, because countries with no natural resources tend to dig inside themselves. They try to tap the energy, entrepreneurship, creativity, and intelligence of their own people-men and women-rather than drill an oil well.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears-and that is our problem.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“It has always been my view that terrorism is not spawned by the poverty of money; it is spawned by the poverty of dignity. Humiliation is the most underestimated force in international relations and in human relations. It is when people or nations are humiliated that they really lash out and engage in extreme violence.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“You can be a rich person alone. You can be a smart person alone. But you cannot be a complete person alone. For that you must be part of, and rooted in, an olive grove. This truth was once beautifully conveyed by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner in his interpretation of a scene from Gabriel García Márquez’s classic novel One Hundred Years of Solitude: Márquez tells of a village where people were afflicted with a strange plague of forgetfulness, a kind of contagious amnesia. Starting with the oldest inhabitants and working its way through the population, the plague causes people to forget the names of even the most common everyday objects. One young man, still unaffected, tries to limit the damage by putting labels on everything. “This is a table,” “This is a window,” “This is a cow; it has to be milked every morning.” And at the entrance to the town, on the main road, he puts up two large signs. One reads “The name of our village is Macondo,” and the larger one reads “God exists.” The message I get from that story is that we can, and probably will, forget most of what we have learned in life—the math, the history, the chemical formulas, the address and phone number of the first house we lived in when we got married—and all that forgetting will do us no harm. But if we forget whom we belong to, and if we forget that there is a God, something profoundly human in us will be lost.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree
“I once heard Jerry Yang, the cofounder of Yahoo!, quote a senior Chinese government official as saying, "Where people have hope, you have a middle class." I think this is a very useful insight. The existence of large, stable middle classes around the world is crucial to geopolitical stability, but middle class is a state of mind, not a state of income. That's why a majority of Americans always describe themselves as "middle class," even though by income statistics some of them wouldn't be considered as such. "Middle class" is another way of describing people who believe that they have a pathway out of poverty or lower-income status toward a higher standard of living and a better future for their kids.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“The saying in China is "If you're one in a million, there's still 1,300 people just like you.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“One of the newest figures to emerge on the world stage in recent years is the social entrepreneur. This is usually someone who burns with desire to make a positive social impact on the world, but believes that the best way of doing it is, as the saying goes, not by giving poor people a fish and feeding them for a day, but by teaching them to fish, in hopes of feeding them for a lifetime. I have come to know several social entrepreneurs in recent years, and most combine a business school brain with a social worker's heart. The triple convergence and the flattening of the world have been a godsend for them. Those who get it and are adapting to it have begun launching some very innovative projects.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“Almost all the students who make it to Caltech, one of the best scientific universities in the world, come from public schools. So it can be done.

Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“No two countries that both had McDonald's had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald's”
Thomas L. Friedman
“Some would ask what country am I from? We ara supposed to tell the truth, [so] we tell them India. Some thought it was Indiana, not India! Some did not know where India is. I said the country next to Pakistan.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“Communism was a great system for making people equally poor - in fact, there was no better system in the world for that than communism. Capitalism made people unequally rich.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“No matter what your profession – doctor, lawyer, architect, accountant – if you are an American, you better be good at the touchy-feely service stuff, because anything that can be digitized can be outsourced to either the smartest or the cheapest producer.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“When you study history and look at every civilization that has grown up and died off, they all leave one remnant: a major sports colosseum at the heart of their capital. Our fate can be different; but only if we start doing things differently.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“So what am I? I guess I would call myself a sober optimist...If you are not sober about the scale of the challenge, then you are not paying attention. But if you are not an optimist, you have no chance of generating the kind of mass movement needed to achieve the needed scale.”
Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America
“When Muslim radicals and fundamentalists look at the West, they see only the openness that makes us, in their eyes, decadent and promiscuous. They see only the openness that has produced Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. They do not see, and do not want to see, the openness - the freedom of thought and inquiry - that has made us powerful, the openness that has produced Bill Gates and Sally Ride. They deliberately define it all as decadence. Because if openness, women's empowerment, and freedom of thought and inquiry are the real sources of the West's economic strength, then the Arab-Muslim world would have to change. And the fundamentalists and extremists do not want to change.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“The fact is, parents and schools and cultures can and do shape people. The most important influence in my life, outside of my family, was my high school journalism teacher, Hattie M. Steinberg. She pounded the fundamentals of journalism into her students -- not simply how to write a lead or accurately transcribe a quote but, more important, how to comport yourself in a professional way. She was nearing sixty at the time I had her as my teacher and high school newspaper adviser in the late 1960s. She was the polar opposite of "cool," but we hung around her classroom like it was the malt shop and she was Wolfman Jack. None of us could have articulated it then, but it was because we enjoyed being harangued by her, disciplined by her, and taught by her. She was a woman of clarity and principles in an age of uncertainty. I sit up straight just thinking about her!”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately needed”
Thomas L. Friedman
“In the hyperconnected world, there is only “good” “better” and “best,”
Thomas L. Friedman
“The poverty fighters resent the climate-change folks; climate folks hold summits without reference to biodiversity; the food advocates resist the biodiversity protectors.
They all need to go on safari together.”
Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America
“Everything I’ve ever gotten in life is largely due to the fact that I was born in this country, America, at this time with these opportunities for its citizens. It is the primary obligation of our generation to turn over a similar America to our kids.”
Thomas L. Friedman
“ No policy is sustainable without a public that broadly understands why it's necessary and sees the world the way you do...”
Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree
“Men grant and withdraw their love according to their whims, but fear is a hand that rests on their shoulders in a way they can never shake.”
Thomas L. Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem
“No one has expressed what is needed better than Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of the London-based al-Arabiya news channel. One of the best-known and most respected Arab journalists working today, he wrote the following, in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (September 6, 2004), after a series of violent incidents involving Muslim extremist groups from Chechnya to Saudi Arabia to Iraq: "Self-cure starts with self-realization and confession. We should then run after our terrorist sons, in the full knowledge that they are the sour grapes of a deformed culture... The mosque used to be a haven, and the voice of religion used to be that of peace and reconciliation. Religious sermons were warm behests for a moral order and an ethical life. Then came the neo-Muslims. An innocent and benevolent religion, whose verses prohibit the felling of trees in the absence of urgent necessity, that calls murder the most heinous of crimes, that says explicitly that if you kill one person you have killed humanity as a whole, has been turned into a global message of hate and a universal war cry... We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women. We cannot redeem our extremist youth, who commit all these heinous crimes, without confronting the Sheikhs who thought it ennobling to reinvent themselves as revolutionary ideologues, sending other people's sons and daughters to certain death, while sending their own children to European and American schools and colleges.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
“Goods are traded, but services are consumed and produced in the same place. And you cannot export a haircut. But we are coming close to exporting a haircut, the appointment part. What kind of haircut do you want? Which barber do you want? All those things can and will be done by a call center far away.”
Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

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The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century The World Is Flat
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From Beirut to Jerusalem From Beirut to Jerusalem
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