COMMENTARY ON 10 FAMOUS PARADOXICAL QUOTES

Intro:
I’m intrigued by the profound pronouncements of great minds, dead and alive. Sometimes, their sayings point out contradictions in various aspects of life which may not be noticed at a superficial glance. In this post, I’ve chosen ten of such sayings for a brief examination. The resultant commentary is a combination of my views, some facts and a smattering of what I consider to be widely-held opinions on the issues raised. Happy reading!

Here's my take on 10 famous paradoxical quotes. Click To Tweet

1. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” – Socrates, Greek philosopher (470-399 B.C.)
Popular rendering: “The more you learn, the more you realise how little you know,” probably adapted from Einstein’s “The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know.” – Albert Einstein, German-born physicist (1879-1955)

Smart people acknowledge how boundless knowledge is. That is why, I presume, the higher you go in a discipline, the narrower the specialisations become. I’m reminded of the African-American botanist and inventor, George Washington Carver (1860s-1943), who studied the peanut so much and developed many products and 105 recipes from it.

I once heard a story that Carver was a Christian and prayed that God should teach him so much about nature. God, the story says, pointed him to the peanut and although he worked with other crops, the prodigious amount of products he invented based on it (some sources claim over 300)) show the infiniteness of knowledge.

G. H. Carver's sustained study of the peanut demonstrates that knowledge is infinite. Click To Tweet

2. “Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.” – Author Unknown

This is hilarious! All I can say is that I’ve seen countless occasions in real life and in the movies where someone screamed at another to stop telling them to calm down. That is how effective that admonition can be!

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(Related: 10 Wisdom for Life Quotes)
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3. “Force is often used to enforce peace and an A bomb did bring world war 2 to a shuddering halt.” – Nidhie Sharma, Indian writer and filmmaker

Much as one abhors violence, you cannot argue with the fact that it becomes inevitable sometimes or with that historical tidbit cited above. We just pray that reason and compromise prevail in every conflict situation that brews around us before matters come to a head.

4. “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”
Popular rendering of “We learn from history that we do not learn from history” and “What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher (1770-1831)

What can I say? Although this sounds so cynical, evidence to support it continues to mount with the passage of time. And so it was in Nigeria, that in 1983, General Muhammadu Buhari toppled a democratically elected civilian government and became the head of a very dictatorial military regime. When he was unseated in a bloodless coup in 1985, Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief.

Before then, in 1977, while Buhari was Minister of Petroleum, $2.8 billion of public money went missing. Similarly, in 1997, while he served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, $500 million of public money was lost. Buhari was never required to account for these missing funds, although he was widely linked to them in the media, probably because he was a former military general and head of state.

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Come the buildup to the 2015 elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presented him as a reformed democrat and anti-corruption crusader! His campaign was largely funded by state governors who donated their states’ allocations from the federal government to the party while owing workers many months of salary arrears and halting ongoing projects. Even his own submissions about his cash and property ownership vastly changed during the few months of the campaigns casting grave doubts on the veracity of his claims and his much touted loathing of corruption. Yet, he won the presidential elections!

A few months into his administration, Buhari unleashed his repressive style of leadership on Nigerians and corruption is soaring. The latest scandal in the Petroleum Ministry, which he is heading, is diversion of funds to the tune of $26 billion! This is record breaking, even for Nigeria!

Wisdom is picking the good from the past and avoiding the mistakes therein. Click To Tweet

5. “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” – Thomas Fuller, English theologian and historian (1608-1661)
This is usually applied to those who are facing trying circumstances, to encourage them that when things are hardest, relief is probably right round the corner. A similar quote from another Christian writer states that, “A true work of God often moves from difficult to impossible to done!”

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(Related: From Difficult to Impossible to Done!)
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6. Likes repel but opposites attract. This idea is from basic electricity and magnetism, but it is often applied to romantic relationships. It is expected that people with opposite attributes would complement each other and find the other’s company more stimulating, rather than boring and predictable. Of course, if they are too different, they would have so little by way of meeting grounds in their frames of reference to begin a relationship.

7. “The only thing that is constant is change.” – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher (540-480 B.C.) He believed that “life is flux” as Joshua J. Mark puts it, with change being the only constant.

At the same time, we hear that human beings are creatures of habit. People feel more comfortable with the familiar. No wonder, they often resist change. Not that I’m saying we should welcome every new-fangled idea, but there comes a time for unhealthy habits and anachronistic practices to be discontinued, as was the case with slavery in the Americas and the killing of twins in some parts of Nigeria on the superstitious belief that they were evil.

8. “The man who is most aggressive in teaching tolerance is the most intolerant of all: he wants a world full of people too timid and ashamed to really disagree with anything.” – Criss Jami, American writer

This is the tragicomic situation foisted on society by the prevalent pandering to political correctness. According to Dr. Michael Brown, American Christian writer and host of nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio show, the present liberal tolerance is actually highly intolerant. Members of the LGBT community are hailed for ‘coming out of the closet’, transgendering and they hold gay pride parades.

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In Western countries, such as the United States, Christians are pressured to join the bandwagon and endorse them. When they refuse to, on the grounds that the LGBT lifestyle is condemned in the Bible, they are labelled as hateful and bigoted. Worse than that, Christian businesses are targeted by LGBT activists demanding they provide services for their weddings. When they decline on faith grounds, they are sued and slammed with heavy fines or have their businesses shut. That is how ‘tolerant’ these folks are!

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9. “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” —Theodor Seuss Geisel, American Writer, Cartoonist, Animator (1904-1991)

Popular rendering: “You never know the value of something/someone until you lose them.” We shouldn’t take our experiences or the people in our lives for granted. We should appreciate their contributions to building us and enabling us to live out our purpose.

If you must lose someone or something precious, let it not be because you neglected them. Click To Tweet

10. “Women live longer than men because they often cry.” – Wan Chengkui, Chinese health expert and Professor of The Fourth Military Medical University

Men are usually expected to be tough, so they tend to bottle up their emotions, including painful episodes. Women in many parts of the world feel no pressure to be tough, so they weep more and this is cathartic, helping them to cope better with trauma and thus live longer.

This is, of course, the traditional view of the genders. In contemporary societies where gender differences are seen as anathemas, many would scoff at such an assertion and the subsequent explanation. What do you think?

Well, it’s been fun sharing these quotes and my take on them. I would like you to share your impressions about them.

Are there similar quotes that you love? Do post them in the comments too.

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

69 thoughts on “COMMENTARY ON 10 FAMOUS PARADOXICAL QUOTES

  1. Quite insightful,ma.
    One of my favourite quotes is by Albert Einstein.
    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

  2. Many great minds, great thoughts, represented here! Socrates, and Washington Carver are two of my favorites….. God bless Nigeria, and His will, the Lord’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. We know that is the answer……….. Hugs in Christ, sister.

    • Amen to your prayer, dear sis! God’s will, His intervention is truly the answer we need. May His sovereignty be seen in the affairs of our nations, bringing to nought the evil counsels of men in Jesus’ name.

      • Yeah we really don’t know the value of something or someone until we lose them or they become memories, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel the German philosopher had Nigeria in mind when he said “the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing” smh

  3. Nice collection you’ve made, ma. “Sometimes you’ll never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” kept me thinking about a lot of things.

    And on women living longer, that’s quite true. Women empty themselves when they cry, it makes them let go loads of things. There’s no need to switch gender roles which is why most feminist talks do not appeal to me. I don’t ever want to stop crying…lol.

    Keep lifting our spirits, ma.

  4. Numbers 8 and 9! Those came right through to me. Great compilation and subsequently succinct explanatory notes.
    Wished it would go on!

    • Oliver Twist is asking for more! Lol! Thank you very much for dropping by, Dan Talker. I pray for you all-round lifting in your career and business in Jesus’ name.

  5. One thing is certain in life, we keep learning everyday,bmake mistakes, but surely learn more and that’s living for me. No knowledge level could be said to be the last of its kind. there is still something to further in it and that’s why we will always write projects and theories….Bless you, Ma!

  6. This is right up my alley because I love quotes so much. 1. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”that one is so true!

  7. This is inspiring and motivational, I love the fact that you broke down the quotes to a layman’s understanding.
    The quotes are amazing.

  8. Beautiful set of quotes but I will like to make number 7 clear. ‘The only constant thing in life is change’ when they say no condition is permanent it means conditions, circumstances and situations will always change. And this is always happening. Valid point by Joshua J. Mark

  9. “Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down- I love this quote and in as much as I find it hilarious , I also read meaning to it because most of the times it is true. you are trying to calm a person down and unfortunately you become the pone who needs the calming. nice quotes by the way.

  10. This are great inspiring quotes ma, more interestingly is no9 which emphasizes on the fact that we should value everything and everyone that comes into our lives.

  11. The most striking quote to me is the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history. Time and time again,people repeat mistakes they’ve been warned about. Experience of others would not teach them anything. They would still repeat it over and over again.
    Well, quotes have taught me a lot in life and I still find myself surfing through the net,searching for quotes to inspire me. Thank you ma!

  12. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. This particular quote caught me. We should never take anyone or anything for granted because when we eventuall loose them, we would realise how important they were to us at that point. Everything we have should be valuable to us because they are all God’s creation.

  13. If am to say, the most informative moment of this post for me is in number 4. “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” I wish some gullible Nigerians would be quite exposed to this and know the dangers and harm they have brought upon themselves and the society at large and ready to do in future… The rest of the quotes however, are all educative. Nice ma’am

  14. This post proudly represents great minds from Socrates through Einstein. Wisdom truly is avoidance of repeating past mistakes. It was fun seeing and understanding these quotes ma.Thank you for adding to my knowledgelevel and inspiring me.Godbless you.Have a wonderful week!!

  15. If am asked I will say this is too good I don’t know which to select as my favorite because everything here is educative ,one says that the only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing this is really true because the more you boost that you know you will see people that knows more than you , nobody knows everything so it’s better you just keep calm and learn more .

  16. Deep and educative quotes with my favourite being “the only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing”simply put as HUMILITY

  17. Awesome ! Such an inspiring quote. All this magnificent quotes are really entailing on the limits of mortals. I really loved the one by Albert Einstein “Every body is a genius. but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid. Quite nice!

  18. Really inspiring these quotes are. They can aid in bringing out the best in one. I so much love the one that says “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing… The more you learn the more you realize how little you know…” Thanks for sharing them.

  19. Great quotes. No 2 is just plain hilarious. No 4 calls for reason and remains very true especially as we can see in Nigeria today.

  20. My dad would always say No 1 to us. He usually backs it up with this saying “When you think you know, and you don’t know, you will never know”. So many wonderful quotes to make my day. God bless you Ma.

  21. I like the quote about women.
    Women cry a lot,but they are actually stronger than men,biologically and even emotionally, that is why most widows cope better than widowers.
    Women easily blend into any situation,they are highly resilient.
    I am proud to be woman.

  22. Really inspiring, these quotes are really motivating,inspirational.There is no limitation of knowledge.with God everything is assured.

  23. Learning truly never end,so is knowledge.Great post ma.Endearing words of wisdom and great impartation for us all.these wise saying with God success is guaranteed.Equipped for greatness.

  24. I love the quotes they are educative, i learnt that why we need to know about our history is to pick the good from the past and avoid making or repeating mistakes made in the past. The quote about change makes me to believe that no condition is permanent, i also learnt that we should value people or things around us.

  25. Very inspiring quotes. It has given me another view of life. I really love this. Nice efforts ma

  26. Wow!! This is wonderful. I love the one about the greatest knowledge being that you know nothing. It is absolutely true. But I didn’t know that women live longer than men because they cry. Its actually funny but I guess its true. Love this ma.

  27. Wow! These quotes are quite lovely. My favorite among them is “Women live longer than men because they often cry.” – Wan Chengkui. Women are cathartic in nature. Due to these, they pour out their feelings through crying and most times and get relieved of their problems. Meanwhile, men end up bottling up their pain, happiness etc thereby reducing their lifespans. As you rightly said, in contemporary societies, many would scoff at this assertion because of the extremism of feminist movement.

  28. Wow! Nice quotes and write ups. No. 1 got me. The only true knowledge is in knowing you know nothing and also we don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Thank you ma for these quotes. I’ve added them to my life moral lesson quotes. God bless you.

  29. Very inspiring ,appreciating people for what they have done for you whether in cash or in kind cannot be overemphasized because it opens more door of opportunity and not forgetting the fact this individuals appreciate this and know that you are grateful for their effort in one way or the other because gratitude closes the door of littleness in life

  30. True talk ma, we dont really value what we have till we lose it and this has happened to me. All those run down are all facts.

  31. These quotes are indeed factual. I can actually relate to that of the calm down part?. Thanks alot for this inspiring post

  32. Of course change is constant in life, these sayings got me thinking tonight…deep thoughts, they were educative and inspiring as well although I didn’t quite understand a few of them.

  33. The particular quotation as cited that gives me great inspiration is that which relates to history and the concept of change. The current Nigerian society is a product of history, but she has failed to apply the wisdom of history. This failure is not premised on the fact that its citizens know not her history but on the basis that she has refused to acknowledge her history. A society that does not know where she is coming from, though may know where she currently is, but will never have any idea of where she is headed to. This is the fate of the Nigerian society as copious examples have played itself in the Nigerian political dispensation as illustrated by this piece. The only solution to the Nigerian plight is change in mindset, beliefs and attitude. Knowing that the level which we have operated on has never been for our good and coming to the realization that in life, one thing that is constant is, change. I am not ungrateful Ma for having read this piece, it has spurred something positive in me that I can’t explain.

  34. These quotes are real. They are to be applied on daily basis. For instance this one “Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.” With this awareness, we should not always be telling people to calm down, because most at times they will not. Thank for this ma.

  35. insightful post. i used to think that crying is an act of weakness. always been the type to bottle up feelings but actually its ok to cry sometimes. let the pain go through tears

  36. As expected I scoffed at the quote” women live longer than men because they cry often ”
    Yes, it is true that tears carry a lot of emotions and could be a means of venting anger, releasing stress or even expressing happiness, satisfaction and /or appreciation but making a woman live longer than a man doesn’t sit well with me.
    Other quotes were really insightful especially :Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” —Theodor Seuss Geisel, American Writer, Cartoonist, Animator (1904-1991)

  37. Really nice quotes. My favourite part is the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Exactly, most people forget all this when they are going through trying times. I always tell myself this”it can only get better “

  38. “Women live longer than men because they often cry”, isn’t that interesting.Since we don’t bottle up emotion we live longer.This makes me want to express myself more often.These are really nice and educative quotes.

  39. I disagree with the unkwown author in quote 2. This is Because I think that once someone you hold very high and respects asks you to calm down in any situation, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be calmed. Am talking from experience.

  40. And yet Buhari was re-elected! I recently read where the social group SRAF demanded for the declaration of asset of all governors as constituted but was denied by CCB saying it will intervene greatly in their private lives. If they did not have anything up their sleeve why would they refused making public thier asset? Nigerian leaders indeed do not learn from her history. All we need now is Jesus!.
    Was really inspired by all the wonderfully seemingly contradicting quotes.

  41. When I got to the part you quoted “women live longer than men because they cry often”, I couldn’t agree more. It’s so rare to see emotional men these days because they have been taught not to show their emotions and how they really feel about things. They bottle up so many things they would have loved to share but can’t due to the pressure from the society. I wish I could emphasize more on this matter!!

  42. When I got to that part where you said “women live longer because they cry more”, I could not agree more. Unlike men, women don’t bottle up emotions meanwhile men are put under societal pressure to prove the Point that they are strong and can deal with whatever problems without being emotional.

  43. No.5 quote really caught me(the darkest hour is just before the dawn)_Thomas fuller.
    This reminds me of the song”Its always darkest,before the dawn,don’t be discouraged,just carry on”.When you are in some terrible situations and think all hope is lost.Don’t be discouraged,hope is right at the corner.Though the night may be mournful and dreary,chill,the morning dawn is near and joy comes in the morning.

  44. This is really inspiring. The “calm down” part is actually true (to an extent). Some people feel offended when they are told to calm down, they charge at you, feeling you are trying to suppress their freedom of expression and you become their enemy at that moment. Sometimes it depends on the tone used in saying the “calm down” and the temperance of the person being told to calm down to yield a positive result.

  45. I like this line:”sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”. Oftentimes, i become grateful for what i passed through in the past, which when it was happening, did not seem to be good. The quotes are really thought-provoking.

  46. Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.” . lol these lines re indeed funny … I do hear my self most times saying “Don’t tell me to calm down” each time I’m furious about anything. Lol…. But then, there are some situations that doesn’t need calming down oo, if not something ll spoil.

  47. The darkest our is just before the dawn’. i like this line as it’s full of encouragement. when the scourge of life seems to reach it’s climax, a good time is just close by.

  48. Thank you ma! This post is hilarious.I t took me down memory lane, especially nos.8 and 9. God has already blessed you,and that will continue.

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