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Quotations about freedom

Mahatma GandhiFreedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

 - Mahatma Gandhi

Freedom is only part of the story and half the truth, that is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplanted by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

 - Victor E. Frankl

Milton FriedmanPolitical 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.

 - Milton Friedman

Albert EinsteinEverything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.

 - Albert Einstein

Milton FriedmanEvery friend of freedom must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence.

 - Milton Friedman

Ayn RandFreedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.

 - Ayn Rand

Marcus AureliusIs it not better to use what is in thy power like a free man than to desire in a slavish and abject way what is not in thy power?

 - Marcus Aurelius

Friedrich NietzscheToday as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.

 - Friedrich Nietzsche

John AdamsPosterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.

 - John Adams

Samuel AdamsIf ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

 - Samuel Adams

John MuirHaving escaped restraint, the sheep were, like some people we know of, afraid of their freedom, did not know what to do with it, and seemed glad to get back into the old familiar bondage.

 - John Muir

Abraham LincolnThis is a world of compensations, and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, they cannot long retain it.

 - Abraham Lincoln

Madeleine L'EngleIf we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.

 - Madeleine L'Engle

Richard FeynmanNo government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literary or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.

 - Richard Feynman

A society based upon the principle of individual liberty is a society of which the members are supposed to be gifted with the virtues of prudence, industry, and self-control; virtues of this nature are indeed essential to the existence of such a form of society. Unfortunately, a certain portion of its members do not possess them even in an elementary degree, and no amount of seclusion in prison will ever confer these qualities upon them. Imprisonment, to be followed by liberty, however rigorous it is made, is accordingly no solution of the difficulty; the only effective way of dealing with the incorrigible vagrant, drunkard, and thief, is by some system of permanent seclusion in a penal colony. All men are not fitted for freedom, and so long as society acts on the supposition that they are, it will never get rid of the incorrigible criminal.

 - William Morrison

Albert CamusThe only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

 - Albert Camus

Salman RushdieWhat is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

 - Salman Rushdie

Salman RushdieFree societies...are societies in motion, and with motion comes tension, dissent, friction. Free people strike sparks, and those sparks are the best evidence of freedom's existence.

 - Salman Rushdie

John AdamsThe jaws of power are always opened to devour and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.

 - John Adams

Hannah ArendtThought . . .is still possible, and no doubt actual, wherever men live under the conditions of political freedom. Unfortunately, no other human capacity is so vulnerable, and it is in fact far easier to act under conditions of tyranny than it is to think.

 - Hannah Arendt

Robert HeinleinI am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

 - Robert A. Heinlein

Mahatma GandhiThe moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He frees himself and shows the way to others. Freedom and slavery are mental states.

 - Mahatma Gandhi

AristotleA state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of a life only: if life only were the object, slaves and brute animals might form a state, but they cannot, for they have no share in happiness or in a life of free choice.

 - Aristotle

Khalil GibranI have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.

 - Khalil Gibran

Ron PaulYou don't have freedom because you are a hyphenated American; you have freedom because you are an individual, and that should be protected.

 - Ron Paul

Ron PaulThe most important element of a free society, where individual rights are held in the highest esteem, is the rejection of the initiation of violence.

 - Ron Paul

Martin Luther KingIn the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

 - Martin Luther King

John F. KennedyIn the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

 - John F. Kennedy

James BaldwinIf the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.

 - James Baldwin

James BaldwinFreedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.

 - James Baldwin

Mahatma GandhiIn the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by non-violence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.

 - Mahatma Gandhi

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

 - Ronald Reagan

John F. KennedyThe very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

 - John F. Kennedy

John F. KennedyAmericans are free, in short, to disagree with the law but not to disobey it. For in a government of laws and not of men, no man, however prominent or powerful, and no mob, however unruly or boisterous, is entitled to defy a court of law. If this country should ever reach the point where any man or group of men by force or threat of force could long defy the commands of our court and our Constitution, then no law would stand free from doubt, no judge would be sure of his writ, and no citizen would be safe from his neighbors.

 - John F. Kennedy

John F. KennedyFreedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in… While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

 - John F. Kennedy

Louis BrandeisThose who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

 - Louis Brandeis

Dean AlfangeI do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done. All this is what it means to be an American.

 - Dean Alfange

Dwight EisenhowerTo all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

 - Dwight Eisenhower

Thomas SowellAs many have warned in the past, freedom is unlikely to be lost all at once and openly. It is far more likely to be eroded away, bit by bit, amid glittering promises and expressions of noble ideas.

 - Thomas Sowell

Albert EinsteinBy academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.

 - Albert Einstein

Alexis de TocquevilleDemocracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.

 - Alexis de Tocqueville

Friedrich Hayek. . .if the individual is to be free to choose, it is inevitable that he should bear the risk attaching to that choice and that in consequence he rewarded, not according to the goodness or badness of his intentions, but solely on the basis of the value of the results to others. We must face the fact that the preservation of individual freedom is incompatible with a full satisfaction of our views of distributive justice.

 - Friedrich Hayek

Milton FriedmanFreedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. . .Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.

 - Milton Friedman

Milton FriedmanA society that puts equality - in the sense of equality of outcome - ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.

 - Milton Friedman

Thomas SowellThose who want to take our money and gain power over us have discovered the magic formula: Get us envious or angry at others and we will surrender, in installments, not only our money but our freedom. The most successful dictators of the 20th century -- Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao -- all used this formula and now class warfare politicians here are doing the same.

 - Thomas Sowell

Friedrich NietzscheLiberal institutions straightway cease to be liberal, as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions.

 - Friedrich Nietzsche

Abraham LincolnI have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly, those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

 - Abraham Lincoln


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