Quotations about changing the world, from activists and thinkers. What does it take to change the world? Why is it needed? Read some different takes on the topic.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

— Arundhati Roy

I realize there are many pressures on you not to make trouble, but rather to conform. These pressures can feel close to the heart, as a longstanding and contradictory American tendency towards submission to authority affects our everyday lives. Will a friend get angry? Will a parent withdraw love? Will a teacher punish an academic record? Will administrators exercise their power? Will a job be lost, or never acquired? Many of you have shown great courage in the face of the troubling alienation that troublemaking can bring, and I acknowledge today my respect for your courage and determination.

But what you also know is that conformity and fear of alternatives are not simply individual problems, but social ones. The very fabric of our most powerful institutions—the economy, the family, the state, the school, the media—structure conformity to the status quo as the good. At their heart, these institutions promote fear, not courage; they promote acquiescence, not dissent; they promote inequality and deference to authority, not equality and self-governance.

— Avery Gordon, “Alternative Graduation”

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

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

Television is simultaneously blamed, often by the same people, for worsening the world and for being powerless to change it

— Clive James

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

Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.

— Elie Wiesel

Change comes, when every person is adequately benefited. We keep hearing about “change.” Change will never come to all of society. Change can only come when the market system adequately provides all of the needs for all people.

— Ellen J. Barrier

Perhaps the greatest challenge to thinking women is the challenge to move from the desire for safety and approval to the most “unfeminine” quality of all — that of intellectual arrogance, the supreme hubris which asserts to itself the right to reorder the world. The Hubris of the god makers, the hubris of the male-system builders.

— Gerda Lerner

Women’s History, the essential tool in creating feminist consciousness in women, is providing the body of experience against which new theory can be tested and the ground on which women of vision can stand. A feminist world-view will enable women and men to free their minds from patriarchal thought and practice and at last to build a world free of dominance and hierarchy, a world that is truly human.

— Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy

I am a person who is unhappy with things as they stand. We cannot accept the world as it is. Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth because of the injustice of things.

— Hugo Claus

I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.

— Jana Stanfield

The question really is, are you improving the world? And you can do that in many models. You can do that in government, you can do that in a nonprofit, and you can do it in commercial enterprise.

— Jeff Bezos

Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.

— Joanna Macy

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.

— Karl Marx

Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself.

— Leo Tolstoy

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

Just improve yourself; that is the only thing you can do to better the world.

— Ludwig Wittgenstein

We are like a torn tapestry and we all have to be responsible for making the threads that we weave golden.
It is the only honorable thing to do.

— Marianne Williamson

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

The world is changed by your example not by your opinion.

— Paul Coelho

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

— Rob Siltanen

The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.

— Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Your long-term happiness and fulfillment depend on your ability to fulfill your soul’s unique purpose and to fill the place in the world that only you can fill, making the contribution that only you can make.

— Rod Stryker

Each one of us is responsible for all of humankind.

— Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk.

— Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky.

— Walter Mosley

Human beings, joined in collaboration with the gifts of grace, are responsible for the planet and its future.

— William F. Schulz
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