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Freedom is the state of being unimprisoned or unenslaved or uncoerced.
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- At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own; and this association, which is always dangerous, has been sometimes disastrous, by giving to opponents just grounds of opposition, and by kindling dispute over the spoils in the hour of success. No obstacle has been so constant, or so difficult to overcome, as uncertainty and confusion touching the nature of true liberty. If hostile interests have wrought much injury, false ideas have wrought still more; and its advance is recorded in the increase of knowledge, as much as in the improvement of laws.
- The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities.
- When people talk of the Freedom of Writing, Speaking, or thinking, I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.
- John Adams Letter to Thomas Jefferson (15 July 1817)
- He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.
- Variant: I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies.
- Aristotle, Quoted in Florilegium by Joannes Stobaeus
- The price of freedom is to decide moral and political issues.
- Freedom, like any other virtue, does not exist in a vacuum. It must be worked and practiced to exist at all. And like any other virtue, it imposes upon those who would have it the unpleasant tasks of discipline and sacrifice. A materialistic people do not learn these tasks by reading posters or listening to pep talks, any more than you can learn to play the violin by the same methods.
- There are two kinds of freedom to be found in our world: the freedom of desires, and the freedom from desires. Our modern Western culture only recognizes the first of these, freedom of desires. It then worships such a freedom by enshrining it at the forefront of national constitutions and bills of human rights. One can say that the underlying creed of most Western democracies is to protect their people's freedom to realize their desires, as far as this is possible. It is remarkable that in such countries people do not feel very free. The second kind of freedom, freedom from desires, is celebrated only in some religious communities. It celebrates contentment, peace that is free from desires. It is remarkable that in such abstemious communities like my monastery, people feel free.
- Ajahn Brahm, Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung (2005).
- We thought (the United States) could lead us to freedom, but they led us into feardom, not freedom.
- Ambulances always come with clouds of smoke. And then they disappear in a whistle. But what they bring is fear. Not freedom. Feardom is what they bring. And they bring fire and smoke. Oh, my nerves are bad tonight, yes, bad. I fear freedom. I, above all, fear the freedom that is above all feardom.
- Freedom is not the possession of one race. We know with equal certainty that freedom is not the possession of one nation. This belief in the natural rights of man, this conviction that justice should reach wherever the sun passes, leads...
- The prosperity, and social vitality and technological progress of a people are directly determined by the extent of their liberty. Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity — and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations. Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth. Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free.
- The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation; the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism; the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be. This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty.
- Some question whether people in certain parts of the world actually desire freedom. This self-serving condescension has been disproved before our eyes. From the voting booths of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Liberia to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia to the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, we have seen people consistently make the courageous decision to demand their liberty. For all the suggestions to the contrary, the truth is that whenever or wherever people are given the choice, they choose freedom.
- When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror. When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity. We are standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria. And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations.
- For Freedom's battle once begun,
Bequeath'd by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft is ever won.
- Freedom of expression is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom.
- Inner freedom demands the rejection of any imposition that injures our dignity.
- Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Quotes we cherish. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani, 2013, p. 17
- Secretthoughts are only half free: they fly undisturbed in the skies of the inner freedom, but they can never leave them.
- Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Fausto Cercignani,2013, p. 19
- I call that mind free, which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come, which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.
I call that mind free, which sets no bounds to its love, which is not imprisoned in itself or in a sect, which recognises in all human beings the image of God and the rights of his children, which delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering wherever they are seen, which conquers pride, anger, and sloth, and offers itself up a willing victim to the cause of mankind.
- ...Fatherland without freedom and merit is a large word with little meaning.
- He is the freeman whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides.
- You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.
- For so long as but a hundred of us remain alive, we will in no way yield ourselves to the dominion of the English. For it is not for glory, nor riches, nor honour that we fight, but for Freedom, which no good man lays down but with his life.
- Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave.
- Walt Disney, Radio address "Our American Culture" broadcast during an intermission of the Metropolitan Opera. (1 March 1941)
- Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
- All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. It is no mere chance that our older universities developed from clerical schools. Both churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
- Albert Einstein, "Moral Decay" (1937); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
- Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
- The Age of Empty Freedom ... does not know that man must first through labour, industry, and art, learn how to know; but it has a certain fixed standard for all conceptions, and an established Common Sense of Mankind always ready and at hand, innate within itself and there present without trouble on its part;—and those conceptions and this Common Sense are to it the measure of the efficient and the real. It has this great advantage over the Age of Science, that it knows all things without having learned anything; and can pass judgment upon whatever comes before it at once and without hesitation,—without needing any preliminary evidence:—'That which I do not immediately comprehend by the conceptions which dwell within me, is nothing,'—says Empty Freedom.
- Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Characteristics of the Present Age (1806), as translated by William Smith (1847), p. 20
- The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.
- The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom? And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect? Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp.
- Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated — a system of checks and balances.
- Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Ch. 1 "The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom"
- [T]ruth is the ground and condition of freedom. Unless it is true that human beings deserve to have fundamental liberties respected and protected, the tyrant does no wrong in violating them. Relativism, skepticism, and subjectivism about truth provide no secure basis for freedom. We should honor civil liberties because the norms enjoining us to respect and protect them are valid, sound, in a word, true.
- None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. (Niemand ist mehr Sklave, als der sich für frei hält, ohne es zu sein.)
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Bk. II, Ch. 5; source: Die Wahlverwandtschaften, Hamburger Ausgabe, Bd. 6 (Romane und Novellen I), dtv Verlag, München, 1982, p. 397 (II.5)
- What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it… What is this liberty that must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not the freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check on their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few — as we have learned to our sorrow.
- Learned Hand, in "The Spirit of Liberty" - a speech at "I Am an American Day" ceremony, Central Park, New York City (21 May 1944)
- We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a programme which seems neither a mere defence of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the trade unions), which is not too severely practical and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible…Those who have concerned themselves exclusively with what seemed practicable in the existing state of opinion have constantly found that even this has rapidly become politically impossible as the result of changes in a public opinion which they have done nothing to guide. Unless we can make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds, the prospects of freedom are indeed dark. But if we can regain that belief in power of ideas which was the mark of liberalism at its best, the battle is not lost.
- I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice.
- A society that does not recognise that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom.
- Friedrich Hayek, as quoted in The Market : Ethics, Knowledge, and Politics (1998) by John O'Neill, p. 68
- Our faith in freedom does not rest on the foreseeable results in particular circumstances, but on the belief that it will, on balance, release more forces for the good than for the bad … Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom.
- Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom.
- The case for individual freedom rests chiefly on the recognition of the inevitable and universal ignorance of all of us concerning a great many of the factors on which the achievement of our ends and welfare depend. It is because every individual knows so little and, in particular, because we rarely know which of us knows best that we trust the independent and competitive efforts of many to induce the emergence of what we shall want when we see it.
Humiliating to human pride as it may be, we must recognize that the advance and even the preservation of civilization are dependent upon a maximum of opportunity for accidents to happen. These accidents occur in the combination of knowledge and attitudes, skills and habits, acquired by individual men and also when qualified men are confronted with the particular circumstances which they are equipped to deal with. Our necessary ignorance of so much means that we have to deal largely with probabilities and chances.
Of course, it is true of social as of individual life that favorable accidents usually do not just happen. We must prepare for them.
- You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.
- The significant point is that people unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it — are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a "have-not" type of self. If Hitler had had the talents and the temperament of a genuine artist, if Stalin had had the capacity to become a first-rate theoretician, if Napoleon had had the makings of a great poet or philosopher they would hardly have developed the all-consuming lust for absolute power.
Freedom gives us a chance to realize our human and individual uniqueness. Absolute power can also bestow uniqueness: to have absolute power is to have the power to reduce all the people around us to puppets, robots, toys, or animals, and be the only man in sight. Absolute power achieves uniqueness by dehumanizing others.
To sum up: Those who lack the capacity to achieve much in an atmosphere of freedom will clamor for power.
- Eric Hoffer, Working and Thinking on the Waterfront : A Journal: June 1958-May 1959 (1969), Journal entry (28 March 1959)
- The ‘normal’ woman knows that, given freedom and equality before the law, she can be trusted to safeguard her own interests as wife, mother, daughter, or what you will.
- Winifred Holtby, "Black Words for Women Only" (1934), in Paul Berry and Alan Bishop, Testament of a Generation: The Journalism of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby, London : Virago, 1985. Also quoted in Patrick Deane, History in Our Hands : A Critical Anthology of Writings on Literature, Culture and Politics from the 1930s, Leicester University Press, 1998.
- Freedom cannot be bestowed — it must be achieved.
- Elbert Hubbard, in his essay on Booker T. Washington in Little Journeys For 1908, p. 21; Franklin D. Roosevelt later used this line on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: "In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved".
- The British Government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom, but has debased it economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually. We believe that India must sever the British connection and attain purna swarajya, or complete independence...We hold it to be a crime against man and God to submit any longer to the rule that has caused this disaster to our country. We recognize, however, that the most effective way of gaining our freedom is not through violence.
- If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
- Jesus of Nazareth as quoted in John 8:31 (NIV)
- Variant translation: Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
- Jesus in John 8:31 (KJV)
- I think that freedom means being able to do what you want without harming others... Freedom isn't something given by the government. I think it is a God-given right, and you are born with this right as a human being... I only had a vague understanding of what freedom meant when I was back in North Korea... When I thought about freedom or rights, I thought it was a concept that was given under the great leader. Everything was subordinate to the great leader of North Korea.
- Once the truth is denied to human beings, it is pure illusion to try to set them free. Truth and freedom either go together hand in hand or together they perish in misery.
- No one can flatter himself that he is immune to the spirit of his own epoch, or even that he possesses a full understanding of it. Irrespective of our conscious convictions, each one of us, without exception, being a particle of the general mass, is somewhere attached to, colored by, or even undermined by the spirit which goes through the mass. Freedom stretches only as far as the limits of our consciousness.
- How does the light of a star set out and plunge into black eternity in its immortal course? The star dies, but the light never dies; such also is the cry of freedom.
- Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed--and no republic can survive. [...] And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment-- the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"--but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion. This means greater coverage and analysis of international news--for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security [...]. [...] And so it is to the printing press — to the recorder of man's deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news — that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.
- I come here today to look across this world of threats to a world of peace. In that search we cannot expect any final triumph — for new problems will always arise. We cannot expect that all nations will adopt like systems — for conformity is the jailor of freedom, and the enemy of growth.
- Our goal is not victory of might but the vindication of right — not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.
A Humanity Initiative essay states: “There is, of course, no end to the magnificence and horror in the human drama. Across the continents, humanity rises to every challenge, sinks to any depth. We cherish each heartbeat and murder at will. We bless nature’s miracles, yet trash the hood.”
In order to make the world a more peaceful place everyone should think about humanity. It seems all too often that people only think about their local community, nation or their religion and they discount everyone else. We can no longer wait for our faith to save humanity. We have to take actions and we can save the humanity. This does not mean we cannot be proud of our community, proud of our nation, proud of our culture, or proud of our faith. It means we need to first think about humanity as a whole and not only our community, nation and not only our culture or not only our faith.
If I respect my nation, my community, my culture or my faith then I should respect nation, community, culture or faith of everyone else. The one thing we all have in common is that we are human beings. We all have a common dream of living in a peaceful world and we all dream of a prosperous future for our family. We must have respect for each other.
It is the people vs. humanity because if the people do not work on saving humanity then humanity will implode, continuously fighting and killing itself off, without ever fulfilling our dreams. It’s not about all thinking the same way or doing the same things. We can work towards a better future and at the same time be tolerant of our differences while keeping humanity as our foundation to build on.
The hallmarks of Indian civilization since the pre-Vedic period are diversity, tolerance, and acceptability. The Indian civilization prospered and survived thousands of years because of this nature despite series of onslaughts on this civilization. The Indian civilization has always given preference to humanity over everything else.
Differences are normal and should always be welcome, but any demonic thought that intends to harm the humanity should be nipped in the bud. When we speak of tolerance, it’s expected from each of us. There should not be any intolerant action by anybody that may incite others to react in an intolerant manner. Many a time, we expect tolerance from others while we behave in an intolerant manner. There should be a single scale to measure, a single mirror to reflect and that is humanity.
I quote a 15th century poet of Bengal — Chandidas, who said:
“সবার উপর মানুষ সত্য, তাহার উপরে নেই (Shobar upor manush shotto, tahar upore nai)”
In English, it means: “Above all is humanity, none else.”