51 Quotes About Authority

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Authority is an important concept in both our personal and professional lives. It is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

While there have been countless debates about its proper use and purpose, one thing is certain: Quotes about authority can open our eyes and help us think more deeply about this concept. Let’s explore 51 quotes from different people – from those who support respecting authority to those who defy it.


Quotes About Respect for Authority

  • ‘Respect for authority is the cornerstone of a civilized society.’ – Edmund Burke.
  • ‘The respect for authority is the essence of order and law and government.’ – Cicero.
  • ‘Respect for authority is one of the most important character traits a person can have.’ – Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.
  • ‘To show respect for our country, we must show respect for its symbols and its officials.’ – J. William Fulbright.
  • ‘We must give respect to our elders if we want to earn respect when we are old.’ – Confucius.
  • ‘Respect for authority is the foundation of manliness.’ – Theodore Roosevelt
  • ‘I am careful to give credit where credit is due. I try not to be critical of people in positions of authority unless I know them very well.’ – Margaret Thatcher.
  • ‘The real test of character is how you treat someone who can do nothing for you.’ – Unknown.
  • ‘If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that can you hope to inspire the same feelings in others.’ – Lev Tolstoy.


Spiritual Authority Quotes

There is no definitive answer to the question of what authority quotes mean. Each person’s interpretation will be different based on their own spiritual beliefs. However, some general themes often come up when people discuss this topic.

One common thread is that we all have unique perspectives and roles to play in the world. We each have gifts and talents which we can use to help others. We are also responsible for using our powers for good and not abusing them.

  • ‘Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life.’ – Steve Jobs.
  • ‘So go out into the world and do your best because your authority comes from God.’ – Oprah Winfrey.
  • ‘True greatness doesn’t come from taking orders; it comes from giving them.’ – Unknown.
  • ‘The only spiritual authority is your own soul.’ – Rumi.
  • ‘If your mind carries a heavy burden of the past, you will experience more of the same. The Viet Nam (American) War is over, but many still fight it within themselves. Let go of your baggage so you can be free.’ – Thich Nhat Hanh.
  • ‘There is no one who has not been touched by some divine aspect. We all have had experiences of love and joy, peace and pain, light and dark. The challenge is to keep our hearts open to receive these gifts.’ – Marianne Williamson.
  • ‘When we look at baby animals, we see innocence and hope. They have not yet learned to be afraid or mistrustful. If we could remain like them throughout our lives, how different the world would be.’ – Dalai Lama
  • ‘It is said that true spiritual authority is the ability to remain flexible and humble in the face of life’s challenges.’ – Paulo Coelho.


Defying Authority Quotes

There’s something incredibly exhilarating about pushing back against authority. It feels like we’re standing up for ourselves and our beliefs, which can be a very empowering experience. Of course, not all authority figures are worth defying. Still, it can sometimes be necessary to stand up to those abusing their power.

These quotes about authority will definitely resonate when you’re feeling particularly rebellious. So read on for inspiring words from some very influential people about going against the grain.

  • ‘The most dangerous man in the world is the man who has nothing to lose.’ – James Baldwin.
  • ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.’ – Malcolm X.
  • ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ – Edmund Burke.
  • ‘We must disobey them even when their commands are reasonable because to obey would be to abdicate our responsibility as human beings.’ – Lionel Trilling.
  • ‘Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than to polish.’ -Anne Bradstreet.
  • ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.’ -Laura ingalls wilder.
  • ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ -Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • ‘There is no substitute for hard work.’ -Thomas Edison.
  • ‘I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.’ -Abraham Lincoln.


Quotes On Authority and Responsibility

  • ‘The only thing that gets in the way of my learning is my teaching.’ – Ken Robinson.
  • ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.’ – John Quincy Adams.
  • ‘A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.’ – John C. Maxwell.
  • ‘A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader but becomes one by the equal measures of his conscience and actions.’ – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • ‘The only authority I am conscious of is that of my conscience.’ – Mohandas Gandhi.
  • ‘Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. Throughout history, mankind has been bullied by scum.’ – P.G. Wodehouse.
  • ‘I began to realize that you have to have a certain amount of power before you can effectively give it up.’ – Margaret Atwood.
  • ‘The true secret of giving advice is after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right.’ – Hannah Whitall Smith.
  • ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • ‘It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.’ – Nelson Mandela
  • ‘Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.’ – Peter Drucker.


Anti-Authority Quotes

If you’re looking for quotes about authority, look no further. We’ve gathered a collection of quotes from some of history’s most famous people that will inspire you to question authority.

‘The most dangerous man to any government is the man who can think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably, he concludes that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable.’ – H.L. Mencken.

  • ‘Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.’ – Hubert Humphrey.
  • ‘There are two types of authorities in this world: those who seek power and those who have power.’ ― Criss Jami, Killosophy.
  • ‘Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power.’ – George Bernard Shaw.
  • ‘The one permanent emotion of the lower classes is fear.’ – H. L. Mencken.
  • ‘Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in society… All systems of authentication have been abused by vulgarians.’ – synthesisersizer1
  • ‘There is no such thing as authority.’ -George Carlin.
  • ‘Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has bowed before the gleaming sword or gold. Civilization after civilization has fallen to its knees in front of force and tyranny. Only when the man himself has been forced to assume responsibility for his own destiny have the great masses risen to glory.’ -Ayn Rand
  • ‘The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.’ -Elbert Hubbard
  • ‘Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability and no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.’ -Bill Bullard.


Quotes About Power and Control

  • ‘The ability to dominate or control others.’ – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • ‘If you want to control someone, all you have to do is make them feel afraid.’ – Erica Jong.
  • ‘The desire for power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.’ – Henry Kissinger.
  • ‘There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: pushing down or pulling up.’ – Booker T. Washington.
  • ‘You know what power is? Power is a unified field. It’s like water. Flow around obstacles.’ – David Carradine
  • ‘The power of one man or group to control another is often built on the ability to deceive. To fool. To lie.’ ~ Unknown
  • ‘Those who seek power are seldom worthy of it.’ ~ Unknown
  • ‘The great lesson is that the middle class, once convinced that it cannot control the government, becoming disillusioned and apathetic, will let any right-wing demagogue come to power.’ ~Henry A. Wallace
  • ‘All too many people believe that politicians are in charge. They’re not. The people are in charge of politics if they can only be aroused to assert themselves.’ ~ William O. Douglas
  • ‘If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.’ ~ Abraham Lincoln



These 51 quotes about authority have provided thought-provoking insight into how authority is viewed and practised today. While the concept of power and control has been around since ancient times, it continues developing to suit modern life approaches.

As we become more aware of our role as individuals, we must always strive for a balanced view when considering authority and its implications for society.