I'm trying to recall a quote I read some time ago.

The gist was that ‘Everything we've learned in/about x we learned through blood’, with the implication being that every current rule/practice in x came to be because somebody came to harm in the past and the rule came about to avoid that harm in future.

I can't remember what x was, which is stymieing my attempts to search online, but I believe it was either:

  • the military;
  • policing;
  • health & safety; or
  • healthcare.

Can anybody help me to track down this quote?

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    I’m voting to close this question because it is speculative; it is as likely to be a non-idiomatic quote as an idiom or maxim, and is a better fit on Literature.SE. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 17 '20 at 18:46
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    Probably not this: "Blood alone moves the wheels of history." Martin Luther – Richard Kayser Jun 17 '20 at 18:47
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    @Edwin Ashworth It should be migrated then. – Naomi Jun 18 '20 at 14:27
  • @Naomi I'm glad you agree. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 18 '20 at 14:41
  • @Naomi I couldn't work out which SE would be more appropriate for this, but more than happy for it to be migrated if it belongs on Literature.SE – Rumperuu Jun 18 '20 at 15:37

How about Lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten. In googling this, I've found it attributed to both Abraham Lincoln and Carl von Clausewitz. I haven't been able to confirm either, but I do know that the actor Gerard Butler said it in the movie Law Abiding Citizen.

  • Lots of sayings get attributed to Lincoln for some reason. – Barmar Jun 18 '20 at 4:58
  • @Barmar Agree. The quote above doesn't feel like Lincoln. I do love this though, from Lincoln's second inaugural: "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." [Emphasis mine.] – Richard Kayser Jun 19 '20 at 4:01

I found this by searching online, but it might be the closest one to your quote:

I learned in Army Special Forces that all lessons are learned in blood.


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    How about “Lessons not learned in blood are soon forgotten. Abraham Lincoln or Carl von Clausewitz (not sure, but I'm trying to track it down). – Richard Kayser Jun 17 '20 at 19:06

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