130 Jimmy Carter Quotes That Highlight Service & Diversity

Gain insight into the life of America’s 39th President through these Jimmy Carter quotes.

In this collection, we’re bringing you 130 of his most well-known lines that discuss topics like hope, humanity, government, and religion.

With such a broad spectrum of topics, there are surely many things to learn from this 2002 Nobel Prize awardee.

So, if you’re in need of some guidance or even just a bit of a pick-me-up, this list might just be the perfect thing for you to check out.

Continue to the full list below.

And don’t miss out these John Kennedy quotes.

Best Jimmy Carter Quotes

Jimmy Carter Quotes - When people are intimidated about having their own opinions, oppression is at hand.

1. “When people are intimidated about having their own opinions, oppression is at hand.”

2. “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”

3. “America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, human rights invented America.”

4. “Failure is a reality; we all fail at times, and it’s painful when we do. But it’s better to fail while striving for something wonderful, challenging, adventurous, and uncertain than to say, ‘I don’t want to try because I may not succeed completely.’”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.

5. “Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.”

6. “This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God’s standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.”

7. “War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good.”

8. “We should live our lives as though Christ was coming this afternoon.”

9. “I have one life and one chance to make it count for something.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Republicans are men of narrow vision - who are afraid of the future.

10. “Republicans are men of narrow vision—who are afraid of the future.”

11. “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed.”

12. “My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can, with whatever I have to try to make a difference.”

13. “I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live.”

14. “Now, my faith goes beyond theology and religion and requires considerable work and effort.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

15. “We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

16. “Earlier in my life I thought the things that mattered were the things that you could see—like your car, your house, your wealth, your property, your office. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve become convinced that the things that matter most are the things that you can’t see—the love you share with others, your inner purpose, your comfort with who you are.”

17. “We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”

18. “We have become not a melting pot, but a beautiful mosaic—different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

19. “We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes on Hope and Perseverance

Jimmy Carter Quotes - This record represents our hope and our determination.

20. “This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.”

21. “We have seen visionary standards adopted by the global community that espouse peace and human rights, and the globalization of information ensures that the violation of these principles of nonviolence by a powerful and admired democracy tends to resonate throughout the world community.”

22. “Your strength can compensate for my weakness, and your wisdom can help to minimize my mistakes.”

23. “Spirit is like the wind in that we can’t see it, but can see its effects which are profound.”

24. “I realize that violence is not more prevalent today than in previous periods of human history, but there is a difference.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - This is a present from a small, distant world.

25. “This is a present from a small, distant world—a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings.”

26. “Ours was the first nation to be founded on the idea that all are created equal and all deserve equal treatment under the law. Despite our missteps and shortcomings, these ideals still inspire hope among the oppressed and give us pride in being Americans.”

27. “I loved and admired him, and one of my preeminent goals in life was to earn his approbation. I learned to expect his criticisms, always constructive, but his accolades were rare.”

28. “By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.”

29. “The rhetoric and demands from all sides may be harsh, but there are obvious areas of agreement that can provide a basis for progress.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - I would say justice, truth, love. They're the guiding lights of life.

30. “What are the things that you can’t see that are important? I would say justice, truth, humility, service, compassion, love. They’re the guiding lights of life.”

31. “Let us create together a new national spirit of unity and trust.”

32. “My hope is that our leaders will capitalize on our country’s most admirable qualities.”

33. “Our nation’s well-being would be enhanced by restoring the trust, admiration, and friendship that our nation formerly enjoyed among other peoples.”

34. “Every act of energy conservation like this is more than just common sense. I tell you, it is an act of patriotism.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We cannot ignore our gift of the future.

35. “We cannot ignore our gift of the future.”

36. “The total capacity of the brains of Neanderthals has been found to be greater than that of modern humans.”

37. “I have twenty-two grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they keep me young.”

38. “I say to you, quite frankly, that the time for racial discrimination is over.”

39. “My constant prayer, my number one foreign goal, is to bring peace to Israel—and in the process, to Israel’s neighbours.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes on Government, Society, and the Nation

Jimmy Carter Quotes - A strong nation can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained.

40. “A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others.”

41. “It is a weak nation, like a weak person, that must behave with bluster and boasting and rashness and other signs of insecurity.”

42. “I think, as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”

43. “In these cases, we rarely acknowledge the tremendous loss of life and prolonged suffering among people in the combat zones, even after our involvement in the conflict is ended.”

44. “I decided to support peaceful moves toward freedom and democracy throughout the hemisphere.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes About the Death Penalty

45. “The excessive punishment of prisoners and the use of the death penalty in the United States, alone in the developed world, have continued to fall most heavily on the poor, mentally ill, and people of color. It was on this subject that I made the best speech of my life.”

46. “The overt reversal of America’s basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.”

47. “We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war.”

48. “In every instance that I have known of with confrontation with the government and the press, the press was always right. So keep it up.”

49. “More than any other nation, the United States has been almost constantly involved in armed conflict and, through military alliances, has used war as a means of resolving international and local disputes.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - America should be the focal point.

50. “America should be the focal point around which other nations can rally against threats to the quality of our common environment.”

51. “There were no ‘boots on the ground’ in some of these countries; instead, we have used high-altitude bombers or remote-control drones.”

52. “Our center would be nonpartisan; we would be as innovative as possible, not duplicating or competing with other organizations that were addressing issues successfully; we would not be afraid of possible failure if our goals were worthwhile, and we would operate always with a balanced budget.”

53. “For generations, the official U.S. policy had been to support these regimes against any threat from their own citizens, who were branded automatically as Communists.”

54. “The life of every human being on earth can depend on the experience, judgment, and vigilance of the person in the Oval Office.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We should be seen as the unswerving champion of human rights.

55. “We should be seen as the unswerving champion of human rights, both among our own citizens and within the global community.”

56. “Thomas Jefferson, in the original days of our country, said he was fearful that the church might influence the state to take away human liberty.”

57. “A country will have authority and influence because of moral factors, not its military strength; because it can be humble and not blatant and arrogant; because our people and our country want to serve others and not dominate others.”

58. “There are three words that characterize this brand of fundamentalism—pride, domination, and exclusion.”

59. “Just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We recognized a medium that takes our ordinary, everyday objects.

60. “For the first time, we recognized a medium that takes our ordinary, everyday objects like bowls, baskets, and quilts and elevates them to art forms that rival painting and sculpture in their impact.”

61. “For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.”

62. “Our government should be known to be opposed to war, dedicated to the resolution of disputes by peaceful means, and whenever possible, eager to accomplish this goal.”

63. “Whatever starts in California unfortunately has an inclination to spread.”

64. “Globalization, as defined by rich people like us, is a very nice thing—you are talking about the internet, you are talking about cell phones, you are talking about computers. This doesn’t affect two-thirds of the people of the world.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We've become, now, an oligarchy instead of a democracy.

65. “We’ve become, now, an oligarchy instead of a democracy. I think that’s been the worst damage to the basic moral and ethical standards to the American political system that I’ve ever seen in my life.”

66. “If you’re totally illiterate and living on one dollar a day, the benefits of globalization never come to you.”

67. “Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. People have the right to expect that these wants will be provided for by this wisdom.”

68. “I wish I had known when I was in the White House what I know now about the Third World.”

69. “At the Carter Center we work with victims of oppression, and we give support to human rights heroes.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes on Humanity

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but rather by what one owns.

70. “Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but rather by what one owns.”

71. “If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement.”

72. “Many men disagree, but remain quiet in order to enjoy the benefits of their dominant status.”

73. “A person should have as our goal complete agape—self-sacrificial love.”

74. “The most we can expect from a society is to institute simple justice.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We rose up as a society to fight against polio.

75. “We rose up as a society to fight against polio. Why do we not act more forcefully to halt today’s even greater scourge?”

76. “This system is based on the presumption that men and boys are superior to women and girls, and it is supported by some male religious leaders who distort the Holy Bible, the Koran, and other sacred texts, to perpetuate their claim that females are, in some basic ways, inferior to them, unqualified to serve God on equal terms.”

77. “As Americans, we are blessed with circumstances that protect our human rights and our religious freedom, but for many people around the world, deprivation and persecution have become a way of life.”

78. “The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens.”

79. “Whoever and whatever the ‘other’ is, she has to be treated with dignity, kindness, love, and respect.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources.

80. “We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources.”

81. “There is a similar system of discrimination, extending far beyond a small geographical region to the entire globe; it touches every nation, perpetuating and expanding the trafficking in human slaves, body mutilation, and even legitimized murder on a massive scale.”

82. “Pain caused to one is pain shared by all.”

83. “‘Others’ transcend gender, race, class, sexual orientation, or caste.”

84. “The decision by the crew of the K-1 was an indication of how equal racial treatment had been accepted—and relished. I was very proud of my ship.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - A nation without morality will soon lose its influence around the world.

85. “A nation without morality will soon lose its influence around the world.”

86. “You have given me a great responsibility—to stay close to you, to be worthy of you, and to exemplify what you are.”

87. “We should be willing to lead by example in sharing our great wealth with those in need.”

88. “All Americans could be united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the political and moral values that we have espoused and sought during the past 240 years.”

89. “Our own society should provide equal opportunity for all citizens and assure that they are provided the basic necessities of life.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes on the principle of treating others the same way one would like to be treated

90. “The principle of treating others the same way one would like to be treated is echoed in at least twelve religions of the world.”

91. “I’ll never tell a lie. I’ll never make a misleading statement. I’ll never betray the confidence that any of you had in me. And I’ll never avoid a controversial issue.”

92. “Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent.”

93. “It’s not necessary to fear the prospect of failure but to be determined not to fail.”

94. “Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease.

95. “Aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease.”

96. “My position has always been, along with many other people, that any differences be resolved in a nonviolent way.”

97. “My understanding of racial discrimination as a child was highly distorted because the most prominent man in archery was an African-American bishop. When he came home from up north, where he was in charge of A.M.E. churches in five states, it was front-page news. He was the most successful man in my life.”

98. “We have a tendency to condemn people who are different from us, to define their sins as paramount, and our own sinfulness as being insignificant.”

99. “Testing oneself is best when done alone.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes on Religion and Beliefs

Jimmy Carter Quotes - God always answers prayers.

100. “God always answers prayers. Sometimes it’s ‘yes.’ Sometimes the answer is ‘no.’ Sometimes it’s ‘you gotta be kidding.’”

101. “It is through God and his Son that I strive to understand the world in which we live.”

102. “I’ve looked at many women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.”

103. “You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.”

104. “Our guilt and anxiety are relieved when we realize that God has already accepted us and loves us as we are.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Through prayer, God offers me comfort, reassurance, satisfaction, courage, hope, and peace.

105. “Through prayer, God offers me comfort, reassurance, satisfaction, courage, hope, and peace.”

106. “When our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters are considered both different and inferior in the eyes of the God we worship, this belief tends to permeate society and everyone suffers.”

107. “Those Christians who resist the inclination toward fundamentalism and who follow the nature, actions, and words of Jesus Christ should consider people who are different from us to be worthy of our care, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and unselfish love.”

108. “God does not build a protective fence around my life, keep me from trouble, fulfill my personal desires, or guarantee my success.”

109. “I’m not in favor of the government mandating a prayer in school because our country was founded on the fact that no particular religious faith would have ascendance over or preferential treatment over any other.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is.

110. “Go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

111. “We cannot change the history of the past.”

112. “God is not my personal valet.”

113. “The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God—an anguished cry for peace.”

114. “Jesus espoused humility, servanthood of leaders, and breaking down walls between people.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - As we ask God for some blessing, we have an obligation to participate ourselves in the fulfillment of those dreams.

115. “As we ask God for some blessing, we have an obligation to participate ourselves in the fulfillment of those dreams, aspirations, hopes, and ideas.”

116. “You only have to have two loves in your life—for God, and for the person in front of you at any particular time.”

117. “All human beings have been made a little lower than the angels, and we have a responsibility to treat them accordingly.”

118. “He explains the true character of the God of love and reassures us that ultimate power on earth will be good, not evil.”

119. “This false premise provides a justification for sexual discrimination in almost every realm of secular and religious life.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes on Fear

120. “By contrast, fear is of a specific, identifiable threat or object that can be faced or endured with courage.”

121. “He noted that Christ himself, although the Son of God, was always gentle with those who were poor or weak.”

122. “The Lord has exalted not only me or some special group; God has exalted everyone.”

123. “I’m free to choose what that something is, and the something I’ve chosen is my faith.”

124. “Each of us has been made a little lower than the angels. What an incomprehensible compliment! But it’s not only a compliment; it’s also a responsibility—for our special status equalizes us with other people in the eyes of God.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.

125. “Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things, he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”

126. “In religious and in secular affairs, the more fervent beliefs attract followers. If you are a moderate in any respect, if you’re a moderate on abortion, if you’re a moderate on gun control, or if you’re a moderate in your religious faith—it doesn’t evolve into a crusade where you’re either right or wrong, good or bad, with us or against us.”

127. “You can not divorce religious belief and public service. I’ve never detected any conflict between God’s will and my political duty. If you violate one, you violate the other.”

128. “It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.”

129. “We can’t equate democracy with Christianity because the largest democracy on earth is India, which is primarily Hindu. The third largest democracy is Indonesia, which is Islamic. Democracy and freedom are not dependent on Christian beliefs.”

Jimmy Carter Quotes - You just have to have a simple faith.

130. “You just have to have a simple faith.”

Did These Quotes From Jimmy Carter Make You Want to Fight For Your Own Advocacies?

It’s one thing to believe in something, but it’s an entirely different thing to act and fight for what you believe in. Throughout his career, he actively pursued and fought for his advocacies. And though his term came to an end, he continued his efforts and played an active role in human rights and disease prevention issues globally. We pick up some valuable lessons from Jimmy Carter—and it’s up to us to find the next step we need to take so that we may get closer to our goals and advocacies.

Did these quotes inspire you to continue moving forward? Which of these quotes from Jimmy Carter are most relatable to you? Comment them down below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

We take from each others’ hearts and courage, and it’s through our individual experiences that we learn how to rise above our challenges and pain. In so many ways, Quote Ambition is a platform that allows people from all over the world to gain the inspiration they need anytime, anywhere!

You can find me on MuckRack and LinkedIn.