Sunbeams  March 2013 | issue 447

With the people, for the people, by the people ­— I crack up when I hear it. I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, because that’s what really happens.

Fannie Lou Hamer

They call it the “American Dream” because you have to be asleep to believe it.

George Carlin

[There is] a trait no other nation seems to possess in quite the same degree that we do — namely, a feeling of almost childish injury and resentment unless the world as a whole recognizes how innocent we are of anything but the most generous and harmless intentions.

Eleanor Roosevelt

How hard it is for Americans, even Americans of goodwill, not to consider themselves the center of the universe.

Simone de Beauvoir

America is a large friendly dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

Arnold Toynbee

If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. . . . Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.

Bill Hicks

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

John Steinbeck

Food. Water. Shelter. Air. Sleep. Societal inflation has expanded need into greed. Suddenly the basic survival needs also include a cellphone, cable tv, and French-manicured fingernails. . . . We’ve become the absolute biggest whiners of all human history with the absolute smallest justification for whining.

Charlie Diekatze

Having two bathrooms ruined the capacity to cooperate.

Margaret Mead

I like America, just as everybody else does. I love America, I gotta say that. But America will be judged.

Bob Dylan

History assures us that civilizations decay quite leisurely.

Will and Ariel Durant

America, thou half brother of the world, with something good and bad of every land.

Philip James Bailey

The survival of American democracy depends less on the size of its armies than on the capacity of its individual citizens to rely . . . on the strength of their own thought.

Lewis H. Lapham

Everybody has their own America, and then they have pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see. . . . So the fantasy corners of America, . . . you’ve pieced them together from scenes in movies and music and lines from books. And you live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as much as you live in your real one.

Andy Warhol

Although the desire of acquiring the good things of this world is the prevailing passion of the American people, certain momentary outbreaks occur when their souls seem suddenly to burst the bonds of matter by which they are restrained and to soar impetuously toward heaven.

Alexis de Tocqueville

The Americans have none of the irony of the English, none of their cool poise, none of their manner. But they do have friendliness. Where an Englishman would give you his card, an American would very likely give you his shirt.

Raymond Chandler

America is so vast that almost everything said about it is likely to be true, and the opposite is probably equally true.

James T. Farrell