John F. KennedyJohn F. Kennedy, (1917-1963) 35th US President

John F. Kennedy Quote

“A man does what he must -- in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers -- and this is the basis of all human morality.”

John F. KennedyJohn F. Kennedy
~ John F. Kennedy

Ratings and Comments

S. Engel, Fredericksburg

Not so hot. Nazi & Allied soldiers both did what they "must" do, in spite of obstacles, etc. Morality had nothing to do with it.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

Saying that Nazi & Allied soldiers acted in a such a way that "Morality had nothing to do with it" is like saying the observation of any religion other than Christianity has nothing to do with religion. It might be true that one's own morality is regarded as the only morality like one's own religion is regarded as the only 'true' religion. Most of what's called 'morality' is, at it's heart, 'morality of convenience'. Ask a Nazi.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

I dunno, I think Frank Sinatra said this better in "My Way" but I thought morality generally has to do with human relationships. A man doing what he has to do in the wild, what has that to do with morality.

E Archer, NYC

Perhaps 'honor' or 'conscience' would better replace the words "human morality." Never-the-less, morality and conscience are subjective (as they should be). The point is that ultimately the individual is responsible for his/her actions, so one may as well act in accordance with one's own ideals instead of putting the blame on others for 'just following orders.'

Mike, Norwalk

In context, the statement is correct. Doing what an individual must -- in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers may also describe human immorality. The Nazi experience along with the atrocities of war also prove that out. Atheism is an amoral religion, believing there to be no morality, only desired effects (no good or evil). Ancient Hebrew equity differed distinctly from Greek and Latin definitions. Such is but one point that perpetrates many biblical mis-understandings. Latin defines equity as fair, equal or just (applied in American jurisprudence). Hebrew equity was the tangible source that defined a certain segment of natural law; by way of example love, charity, hope, faith, truth, and knowledge (as apposed to just a gathering of information, possibly correct or otherwise), Morality became the application of the ancient Hebrew equity. Other religions have had their interpretations of historical events come to the same conclusions and only language separates them. There are individual and societal consequences to immoral action, wether that be sexual, integrity, or otherwise. As Logan so adequately described in a recent comment, such morality can not be legislated. "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (John Adams)

Jack, SLO
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Jack, SLO    1/29/08

Pretty lame quote. Nothing stellar on the concept of morality. Certainly not the basis of Morality.

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RobertSRQ    1/29/08

Editor, you seem stuck on Morality, I like that – here’s my penny's worth. Morality is absolute, it exists even in the forest; it exists in our hearts and minds. What man does with morality is the same as what he does when he has a gun - he can use it to protect his family or use it to take from another. Morality is compassion, it is caring for others, it’s a standard of conduct and behavior that is thoughtful of the needs of others; it is to enjoy life and be happy and allow that same happiness to be shared by all. IT HAS NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH RELIGION. Terry and Archer good replies.

Denise, Durango
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Denise, Durango Robert Edwards, Somewhere in the USA 12/18/19

Indeed, it has nothing to do with religion...and all to do with a Holy God who is above all religion, and Who is the Author of morality. Morality didn't evolve from some primordial slop, it wasn't invented by some scientist or grown in a garden...any more than emotion, sorrow or happiness. It didn't evolve through millions of years. There is no genetic structure in morality. It exists only in the hearts and minds who chose to adhere to it. The war on morality in our nation is coming from those who've chosen to ignore Him at their ultimate peril, who have decided that they don't have to follow any morality except what they decide it is....this is exactly why our nation is slipping down the drain.

Eric Schaub, Editor, Liberty Quotes

With all the talk about morality in the presidential campaigns, the theme of 'morality as a support for liberty' seems apropos. Many seem to agree that a free society must be a moral society; however, there does appear to be some disagreement as to who decides what is moral. We'll segway to another theme by next week. Cheers.

warren, olathe

This was obviously taken out of context. The statement makes good sense when I read it thinking that doing what one must has to do with doing what is moral, right and just. Having a good moral belief is worthless if your actions are modified when difficulty arises.

warren, olathe


jim k, Austin

And Warren, most wars come from religion.

Ronw13, Yachats Or

To follow a good conscience is not always pleasant. Choosing a path that is not based upon the bank account, but about that which is right and good. Examples have to be put forth, regardless of the outcome. Trust in the higher power, and seeking after that which good is, let the chips fall where they may. I find all things work together for good, to them who are the called according to God's purpose in grace. And it sure does not feel good all the time, in fact, just the opposite, made fun of, mocked, looked down upon. But to suffer for the sake of good, is better than suffering for the wrong one can do.

E Archer, NYC

Warren, c'mon, what you mean is that there is no morality without Christianity, right? Does morality come from Islam? jim k is right -- most wars are considered 'holy' wars -- even among Americans, the Conservatives justify the bombing of Muslims for religious reasons -- and the Muslims return in kind. This is IMMORAL! And it is a perversion of the precepts of Christ -- in other words, IMMORAL. The entire Middle East war is a war for/against Zionism, with which the Christians have aligned themselves with the Zionists. Sorry, folks, but being an American should not mean having to bankrupt our economy fighting for Zionists. Rotten to the core.

Robert Edwards, St. Emilion, France

America's last President.....

Robert Edwards, St. Emilion, France

Morality is simply the battle between right and wrong - it has NOTHING to do with religion, traditions, or personal beliefs. There is no deviation from what is wrong and what is right, regardless how infinitesimal......

E Archer, NYC

@Robert, one's personal beliefs about what is right and wrong DO come from religion and tradition. Not everyone agrees with each other. That is why conscience plays a greater role than custom or statute. Robert, with whom resides the power to determine right and wrong?

Mike, Norwalk

Actually, morality is the foundation of religion. Religion is: a sacrosanct object of conscience (an ethic(s), a moral(s), a value (system) or an orientation of correctness / enlightenment) believed sufficiently conventional as to enable an attributable action(s). Religion is: “ real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men.” (Bouviers Law Dictionary) - the “real piety” here is a moral absolutism. “a) any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy [the Christian religion, the Buddhist religion, etc.] b) any system of beliefs, practices, ethical values, etc. resembling, suggestive of, or likened to such a system [humanism as a religion] ⋯ any object of conscientious regard and pursuit” (Webster's New World Dictionary - Fourth College Edition) A formalized religion with harmonizing patrons would identify more as a church or theocracy than what religion “IS” to the individual. It is the battle between right and wrong, based on a moral belief that defines religion. I may have a belief that red cars are the best looking but, that does not rise to a definition of religion. If morally I believe sufficiently conventional as to enable an attributable action - paint my and your car red - that is religion. We have discussed this before, gay marriage based on morality is a religion of sexual preferences.

Denise, Durango

By the by...John F. Kennedy was not a man of morals. He was notorious for having multiple women in our White House as president while married to his wife Jackie...not to mention Marilyn Monroe who, when she became a problem, mysteriously "died of an overdose." The word adulterer is rarely ever used anymore because so many have turned away from absolute moral truth...the whole idea is do whatever "feels good."

Ronw13, Oregon

This is the sentiment Our Founding Fathers embraced. The Greatest of Resolve Echoed Loudly in our Declaration of Independence and the willingness to sacrifice all. That is the point well made in the quote ! It is called Commonsense.  

Ronw13, Oregon



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