What is that “better world” that idealists and activists envision? These quotations express the ideas of many who have pondered that question.

When people come together to solve problems, they do not automatically become immune to the ways society and the economy are organized. We bring the things that shape us, consciously and unconsciously, everywhere we go. Unless we are intentional about interrupting what we’ve learned, we will perpetuate it, even as we are working hard for a better world.

— Alicia Garza, The Purpose of Power

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

— Anne Frank

We ought not to speak only about the economics of globalization, but about the psychology of globalization. It’s like the psychology of a battered woman being faced with her husband again and being asked to trust him again. That’s what is happening. We are being asked by the countries that invented nuclear weapons and chemical weapons and apartheid and modern slavery and racism – countries that have perfected the gentle art of genocide, that colonized other people for centuries – to trust them when they say that they believe in a level playing field and the equitable distribution of resources and in a better world. It seems comical that we should even consider that they really mean what they say.

— Arundhati Roy, The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile

Sometimes in a vision, I see a world of happy human beings, all vigorous, all intelligent, none of them oppressing, none of them oppressed. A world of human beings aware that their common interests outweigh those in which they compete, striving toward those really splendid possibilities that the human intellect and the human imagination make possible such a world as I was speaking of can exist if everyone chooses that it should. And if it does exist, if it does come to exist, we shall have a world very much more glorious, very much more splendid, more happy, more full of imagination and happy emotions, than any world that the world has ever known before.

— Bertrand Russell

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

— Bradley Whitford

When the mother of the race is free, we shall have a better world, by the easy right of birth and by the calm, slow, friendly forces of evolution.

— Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in. Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.

— Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

— E. B. White

We need to understand ourselves in both evolutionary and psychological terms in order to plan a more rational, catastrophe-proof future.

— E. O. Wilson

The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: You create a good future by creating a good present.

— Eckhart Tolle

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.

— Georgia O’Keeffe

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

— Harriet Tubman

Whereas underprivileged strata of society religiously hope for a better future, the overprivileged, disavowing any idea of transcendence, “live for the present by exploiting their great past.”

— James MacGregor Burns, The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America

To envision a society as caring is to envision a society engaged in the daily and extraordinary activities of meeting peoples’ needs. To envision a society as democratic and caring is to envision a society whose account of justice balances how the burdens and joys of caring are equalized so as to leave every citizen with as much freedom as possible. Such a vision requires that citizens see clearly how they care with others, that is, how they think about responsibilities for care.

— Joan C. Tronto, Caring Democracy

It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.

— Leo Buscaglia

Hospitality is the practice of God’s welcome by reaching across difference to participate in God’s actions bringing justice and healing to our world in crisis.

— Letty M. Russell

Hitler lied shamelessly about himself and about his enemies. He convinced millions of men and women that he cared for them deeply when, in fact, he would have willingly sacrificed them all. His murderous ambition, avowed racism, and utter immorality were given the thinnest mask, and yet millions of Germans were drawn to Hitler precisely because he seemed authentic. They screamed, “Sieg Heil” with happiness in their hearts, because they thought they were creating a better world.

— Madeleine K. Albright, Fascism: A Warning

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

— Marie Curie

The kind of spirituality I value is one in which you get great joy out of contributing to life, not just sitting and meditating, although meditation is certainly valuable. But from the meditation, from the resulting consciousness, I would like to see people in action creating the world that they want to live in.

— Marshall Rosenberg

What if it’s all a hoax and we’ve created a better world for nothing?

— Naomi Klein

Making change happen means both understanding the power that prevents change from happening – that protects an unjust status quo – as well as understanding the power we have within ourselves and with others to create change, hopefully towards a more just, sustainable and positive future.

— Raji Hunjan and Jethro Pettit

To this day I believe we are here on earth to live, grow, and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

— Rosa Parks

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.

— Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Let us teach both ourselves and others that politics does not have to be the art of the possible…but that it also can be the art of the impossible, that is, the art of making both ourselves and the world better.

— Vaclav Havel
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