The Measure of a Man Quotes

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The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier
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The Measure of a Man Quotes (showing 1-26 of 26)
“A person doesn't have to change who he is to become better.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“I don't mean to be like some old guy from the olden days who says, "I walked thirty miles to school every morning, so you kids should too." That's a statement born of envy and resentment. What I'm saying is something quite different. What I'm saying is that by having very little, I had it good. 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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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. ”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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 fifteen years of quick-cut advertising, passive television watching, and sadistic video games, and we expect to see emerge a new generation of calm, compassionate, and engaged human beings?”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“You don't have to become something you're not to be better than you were.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“As I've mentioned, a large part of my father's legacy is the lesson he taught his sons. He brought us together and said, 'The measure of a man is how well he provides for his children.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“I"ve learned that I must find positive outlets for anger or it will destroy me.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“Accept that environment compromises values far more than values do their number on environment.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“But perhaps more important, as someone wishing to make a comment or two about contemporary life and values, I don't have to dig through libraries or travel to exotic lands to arrive at a view of our modern situation refracted through the lens of the preindustrial world, or the uncommercialized, unfranchised, perhaps unsanitized-and therefore supposedly more "authentic"-perspective ofthe Third World. Very simply, this is because that "other" world, as alien as if separated by centuries in time, is the one from which I came”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“...you know?”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“We're all somewhat courageous, and we're all considerably cowardly. We're all imperfect, and life is simply a perpetual, unending struggle against those imperfections.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography
“Between the American mythology of “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and the orthodoxy of entitlements, where’s the enduring commitment for the long haul, the consistent vision of how to weave the less fortunate into a decent and humane society?”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“We put our kids to fifteen years of quick-cut advertising, passive television watching, and sadistic video games, and we expect to see emerge a new generation of calm, compassionate, and engaged human beings?”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“You don’t have to become something you’re not to be better than you were.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“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.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“How we see ourselves, how we see each other,” she said, “should be determined by us and not by people who generally don’t like us; people who pass laws certifying us as less than human. Too many of us see each other as ‘they’ see us,” she continued. “Time for that shit to stop. We’re going to have to decide for ourselves what we are and what we’re not. Create our own image of ourselves. And nurture it and feed it till it can stand on its own.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“Greed and cruelty are pretty widely distributed throughout humanity, as are their victims.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“It’s the way of all ancient stories. The young man must go “down” in order to find the right path for going “up.” Call it the “time of ashes.” In some African tribes the young boys must cover their faces with ashes before their initiation into manhood. In certain Nordic cultures the young boys used to sit down in the ashes by the fire in the center of the lodge house until they were ready to take on their adult role. And everybody knows about Cinderella, the girl who had to tend to the cinders and do all the other lowly chores until her true identity became known.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“But listen, the day one decides to take the reins of one’s own life into one’s own hands,”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“When you’re addressing power, don’t expect it to crumble willingly. If you’re going to say, “Hey now, look you guys, please look at what you did and look at yourselves and punish yourselves and at least try to square this thing, right?”—well, you’ll make slower progress at that than you would expect. I mean, even the most modest expectations are going to be unfulfilled. Think about it. Today there are still people all over the world who maintain that the Holocaust didn’t happen. There are people in the United States—people among that power echelon we speak of—who maintain that all slaves were happy. There are those power symbols that always say, “Well, it was for the good of the states. It was for the cohesion of the political process.” There are myriad justifications for denial. There are also people who say, “Hey, after thirty years of affirmative action, they’ve got it made. Black people—it’s their own fault if they can’t make it today.” Yeah, well, of course they say that. And they say it not just about black people. They say it in every country. We did something for you people, whoever “you” are. And we think that’s quite enough now. That’s the gist of it: we’ve done something, and we think it’s enough. It may not be perfect, but it damn sure comes close to being okay. Now let us hear you applaud that for a little while. And thank us. And you can take that hat off your head when you come in here thanking us. That’s the way it is. But let’s not get stuck there. We have miles to go before we sleep. We have lots to do, and some things just aren’t going to get done, you know?”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man
“In my generation we did a lot of pleasure chasing—we, the generation responsible for today’s twenty-year-olds and thirty-year-olds and forty-year-olds. Before they came into our lives, we were on a pleasure binge, and the need for immediate gratification passed through us to our children.
When I got out of the Army in 1944, the guys who were being discharged with me were mostly between the ages of eighteen and thirty. We came home to a country that was in great shape in terms of industrial capacity. As the victors, we decided to spread the good fortune around, and we did all kinds of wonderful things—but it wasn’t out of selfless idealism, let me assure you. Take the Marshall Plan, which we implemented at that time. It rebuilt Europe, yes, but it also enabled those war ruined countries to buy from us. The incredible, explosive economic prosperity that resulted just went wild. It was during that period that the pleasure principle started feeding on itself.
One generation later it was the sixties, and those twenty-eight-year-old guys from World War II were forty-eight. They had kids twenty years old, kids who had been so indulged for two decades that it caused a huge, first-time-in-history distortion in the curve of values. And, boy, did that curve bend and bend and bend.
These postwar parents thought they were in nirvana if they had a color TV and two cars and could buy a Winnebago and a house on the lake. But the children they had raised on that pleasure principle of material goods were by then bored to death. They had overdosed on all that stuff. So that was the generation who decided, “Hey, guess where the real action is? Forget the Winnebago. Give me sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” Incredible mind-blowing experiences, head-banging, screw-your-brains-out experiences in service to immediate and transitory pleasures.
But the one kind of gratification is simply an outgrowth of the other, a more extreme form of the same hedonism, the same need to indulge and consume. Some of those same sixties kids are now themselves forty-eight. Whatever genuine idealism they carried through those love-in days got swept up in the great yuppie gold rush of the eighties and the stock market nirvana of the nineties—and I’m afraid we are still miles away from the higher ground we seek.”
Sidney Poitier, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography