A few years ago, I was taking a bus tour of London when we were unexpectedly re-routed. A group of wheelchair-bound individuals had left their chairs and were lying in the middle of the street in front of the Houses of Parliament to protest the lack of disabled access to major public buildings.
As the tour bus driver executed a neat three-point turn to point us back in the direction from whence we had come (try doing that in a double-decker bus sometime) another American tourist, clearly annoyed that our trip by Big Ben was being interrupted, asked the tour guide, “Can’t the police do something about these people?”
The tour guide replied, “Ah, well, you see, we are a free country, and as such, we allow protests to occur. If laws are broken, I’m sure the protestors will be arrested, but as far as the right to freedom of speech goes, we tend to err on the side of freedom.”
I was ashamed that somebody from the country we seceded from – in the name of liberty – got to lecture Americans about liberty.
Now, if you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, (thank you for doing so) then you’re probably aware that on certain major holidays, I fill these column-inches with quotes regarding the holiday – quotes said or written by people who are (or were) far smarter, more articulate, and more interesting than I am.
So, without further ado, a few words on the concept of freedom, from those who would never deserve to be lectured by a tour guide in a foreign land. We begin and end with Ronald Reagan.
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, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.Ronald Reagan
We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.William Faulkner
Give me liberty or give me death.Patrick Henry
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.Bernard Shaw
Ubi libertas, ibi patria (Where liberty dwells, there is my country).Latin, author unknown
Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.Rosa Luxemburg
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.Thomas Paine
Liberty can neither be got, nor kept, but by so much care that mankind are generally unwilling to give the price for it.Lord Halifax
We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a feather bed.Thomas Jefferson
God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.Daniel Webster
Lean Liberty is better than fat slavery.Thomas Fuller
It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.Jean-Paul Sartre
Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.Frederick Douglass
Democracy is great not just because the majority prevails but because it is safe to be in the minority.Adlai Stevenson
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.Abraham Lincoln
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.Noam Chomsky
Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.Samuel Clemens
Freedom exists only where the people take care of the government.Woodrow Wilson
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.Voltaire
The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.John Philpot Curran
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.Thomas Payne
Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.John Adams
If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.Reagan