“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in all the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual.” – John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968), American Writer receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962
“We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.” – Epictetus (55 – 135), Greek Philosopher
“Authentic freedom is actually the freedom of knowing who you are, why you are here, your purpose in life and where you are going when you leave here.” Wayne Dyer
When you hear the word “freedom” what comes to mind? I’m guessing if we could hear our answers they would be many and varied. We would probably have answers that would cancel each other out or greatly interfere with the freedom of another.
We are having problems in this great experiment in Democracy called America in realizing that freedom is for all, not just a select few. We’ve always had that problem, haven’t we? It’s really nothing new. Why did it take so long for anyone who was not a white, male, landowner to be able to vote? Early “pilgrims” to this “New World” were fleeing religious persecution, only to become known for their persecution of others who did not believe as they.
Something we should be learning by now is that the greatest threat to individual liberty is FEAR. That has been the biggest threat to American freedom since the terrorists attacks of 2001. When we fear people, cultures, religions, ideas everything can really turn sideways. It can cause the country of the Statue of Liberty and “give me your tired, your poor” to start talking about travel bans and building that infamous wall. It can cause us to fear each other and care only about protecting ourselves and what we have instead of working together to create a world that works for all. We even become afraid of people just because they are different.
What’s the answer? I don’t know, but I think we need to stop being afraid of each other and start talking and really listening.
“No-one can compel me to be happy in accordance with his conception of the welfare of others, for each may seek his happiness in whatever way he sees fit, so long as he does not infringe upon the freedom of others to pursue a similar end which can be reconciled with the freedom of everyone else within a workable general law i.e. he must accord to others the same right as he enjoys himself.” — Immanuel Kant quotes
“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh,
“The freedom we are looking for
is the freedom to be ourselves,
to express ourselves. But if we look at our lives
we will see that most of the time
we do things just to please others …
The worst part is that most of us
are not even aware that we are not free.”
– Don Miguel Ruiz
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
“Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom,
no longer lend your strength to that
which you wish to be free from.
Fill your life with love and bravery,
and you shall live a life uncommon.”
Most Americans know this song written by Woodie Guthrie in 1940. Many of us learned it in school as children. This video includes those “radical verses” we usually leave out. Please listen to them.