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Freedom - Nothing Left to Lose

Our perceptions of freedom imprison us. Freedom. Today, on July the fourth, america is saturated with that word. It'll be tossed around in a boastful manner while denigrating the likes of Saddam and Osama and Al-Queda and the Iraqi's. They'll be talk about how we have our freedom thanks to the military; you've seen the bumper stickers: "If you love your freedom thank a Vet". And the day will be topped off with a grandiose display of fireworks designated to represent our freedom.
Freedom. Today, on July the fourth, america is saturated with that word. It'll be tossed around in a boastful manner while denigrating the likes of Saddam and Osama and Al-Queda and the Iraqi's. They'll be talk about how we have our freedom thanks to the military; you've seen the bumper stickers: "If you love your freedom thank a Vet". And the day will be topped off with a grandiose display of fireworks designated to represent our freedom.

I've not participated in July 4th activities for several years. I loathe the days that lead up to it and those that follow, with the continual noise of firecrackers interrupting my thoughts and my sleep. I wonder how the Chinese feel about our celebration of freedom while they are imprisoned in a sweatshop churning out these obnoxious polluting noisemakers for the occasion.

I've been wondering a lot about freedom the past few days, pondering what freedom really is. I think that the western concept of freedom is quite different than the eastern one. In america freedom is closely related to materialism. Money can buy things that we want. If we cannot have them we feel a sense of deprivation. It is amazing how much we associate material objects with our identity; like, 'we are what we have'.

When Janis Joplin sang "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose" in "Me and Bobby McGee" I think that she may have been talking about surrender; of letting go of everything that does not matter, that has no worth beyond the material realm. And this I think is closer to the eastern concept of freedom.

Imagine, as John Lennon suggests, no possessions. If we have no-thing to tempt or trap us there will be no reason to take from others. There will be no reason to wage war to steal the resources of other countries.

It's not easy to let go of possessions, likely because we have attached a memory or an emotion to them. And then they hold power over us so we must work hard to hold onto them. Our lust for things is quite a dangerous addiction. As is the case with most addictions, it generally hurts not only us but also those around us.

Somebody has to produce all of the stuff that we feel we cannot live without. And with our attachment to money we want to buy the stuff as cheaply as possible. This generally means buying items that were produced in third world countries by underpaid and overworked laborers.

Our ideas and belief systems fall into this material realm as well. We can gauge how attached we are by witnessing the way that we defend them, especially when doing so in an arrogant or self-righteous manner. It is important to know oneself, to move towards self-realization, to discover our own truths. But how are we to know the truths of another? How can we, often when not even knowing what it is that we need, know what is best for someone else? Attachment can have far reaching effects.

There are universal truths that we all understand but they often get tangled up in political battle and then lose their veracity. Like killing, or rather not killing, an obvious universal truth. But then you throw the perceived threat of terrorism in the mix, along with fear and loathing, and suddenly killing becomes justifiable in the minds of some.

There is no freedom in killing others while we dance in the streets unified in patriotic terrorism. One of the most absurd things that we were told (ad nauseam) after 9.11 was that "they hate our freedom". I think that the closer translation to that statement is that they hate the way that we abuse freedom, the way that we kill others for our "freedom".

This passage from the Tao Te Ching expresses my sentiments re freedom, desire and peace simply and eloquently:


37

The Tao never does anything,
yet through it all things are done.

If powerful men and women
could center themselves in it,
the whole world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.
People would be content
with their simple, everyday lives,
in harmony, and free of desire.

When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.
------

May all being be at peace.

action through inaction 04.Jul.2003 14:05

peace through war

flow like water. Tke the low ground. engage you enemy befor he realises he is being engaged and then retreat. Get close, flow around. merge with you enemy and then surg back and crush him against the rocks. Your enemy will not expect it and the goal is to defeat the enemy before you even have to engage. Mobilize, activate, rationalize, motivate. Take back the 4th!. Take back our country! Take back our lands or at the very least TAKE BACK OUR STREETS!!!!! Turn them into gardens. Tear them up. Weild a pick axe for Uncle Sam.

Freedom 04.Jul.2003 15:59

Sophia

Perhaps the ultimate freedom is the freedom to become who we are, what God designed so as to complete His Plan. The ultimate challenge to that freedom is the concept that people can be ground like optical glass to fit in someone else's telescope. I am not the glass but the viewer and I do not need another to tell me what I see. What I see through my own eyes is the only truth that is relevant to my life; the rest, all the babble by the spin doctors, merely contributes to my astigmatism and ultimately, by refusal to be anything other than myself. On the day I choose to be me, I have become focal point of my life. This is the only true freedom.

Thoughts of a Dead White European Male (a.k.a. Thomas Jefferson) 07.Jul.2003 11:26

The smallest minority there is: The Individual

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be...[The People] are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty." --Thomas Jefferson

"[T]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson

"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others." --Thomas Jefferson

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." --Thomas Jefferson

"When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny." --Thomas Jefferson

"May it be to the world... to assume the blessings and security of self-government." --Thomas Jefferson

"The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God." --Thomas Jefferson

"What country before ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." --Thomas Jefferson, 1787

Some more thoughts on Freedom 07.Jul.2003 12:02

Live Free Or Die

Freedom & Liberty

"Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." --Lord Acton

"At all times sincere friends of freedom have been rare, and its triumphs have been due to minorities...." --Lord Acton

"You have rights atecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." --John Adams

"He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man...The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people" --Samuel Adams

"All might be free if they valued freedom, and defended it as they should." --Samuel Adams

"Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign. ... You must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth." --Agnes Gonxha Beiaxhiu, aka Mother Teresa

"The village atheist has the right to be heard; he has no right to be heeded. While he has a right not to have his own children indoctrinated in what he believes are false and foolish teachings, he has no right to dictate what other children may be taught." --Patrick J. Buchanan

"The greater the power the more dangerous the abuse." --Edmund Burke

"The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients." --Edmund Burke

"Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist." --Edmund Burke

"We are in bondage to the law in order that we may be free." --Marcus Tullius Cicero

Special thanks to Max Grand Hosting for technical help.

"When we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would use it responsibly.... [However, now] there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." --Bill Clinton, MTV's "Enough is Enough" 3-22-94

"The road to tyranny, we must never forget, begins with the destruction of the truth." --Bill Clinton, 10/15/95, University of Connecticut

"Terrorism is escalating to the point that Americans soon may have to choose between civil liberties and more intrusive means of protection." --William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense, reported inArmy Times, 10/27/98

"It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it." --Oliver Cromwell

"Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong." --John G. Diefenbaker

"I know no class of my fellowmen, however just, enlightened, and humane, which can be wisely and safely trusted absolutely with the liberties of any other class." --Fredrick Douglass

"Free is not the same as free and easy." --Larry Eisenberg

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." --Johann W. Von Goethe

"Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny." --Barry Goldwater

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away." --Barry Goldwater

"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." --Barry Goldwater

"They have gun control in Cuba. They have universal health care in Cuba. So why do they want to come here?" --Paul Harvey

"The love of liberty is the love of others. The love of power is the love of ourselves." --Qilliam Hazlitt

"The human race divides itself politically into those who want to be controlled, and those who have no such desire." --Robert A. Heinlein

"It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. ... Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things, which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. ... Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" --Patrick Henry, March 22, 1775

"The people must fight for their laws as for their walls." --Heraclitus

"What luck for the rulers that men do not think." --Adolf Hitler

"It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once." --David Hume

"Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order." --Robert Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be...[The People] are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty." --Thomas Jefferson

"[T]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical." --Thomas Jefferson

"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others." --Thomas Jefferson

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." --Thomas Jefferson

"When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny." --Thomas Jefferson

"May it be to the world... to assume the blessings and security of self-government." --Thomas Jefferson

"The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God." --Thomas Jefferson

"What country before ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." --Thomas Jefferson, 1787

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." --Bertrand de Jouvenal

"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people." --John F. Kennedy

"Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people." --John F. Kennedy

" 'Useful,' and 'necessity' was always 'the tyrant's plea'."

--C.S. Lewis "The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty." --Abraham Lincoln

"We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving Grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us." --Abraham Lincoln

"[W]here there is no law there is no freedom." --John Locke

"Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society...and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, arbitrary will of another man." --John Locke

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." --James Madison

"No man survives when freedom fails, the best men rot in filthy jails, and those who cry appease, appease are hanged by those they tried to please." --Hiram Mann

"No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles." --George Mason

"In Germany they first came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. ... Then they came for the Catholics, and again I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me -- and by that time no one was left to speak up." --Pastor Martin Niemoller

"One of the things that bothers me most is the growing belief in the country that security is more important than freedom. It ain't." --Lyn Nofziger

one of my favorites.

"He who would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." --Thomas Paine

"If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too." --Somerset Maugham

"If a nation or an individual values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony is that if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that too." --W. Somerset Maugham

"Among a people generally corrupt liberty cannot long exist." --Edmund Burke

"Who would be free themselves must strike the blow." --Lord Byron

"I would not be beholden to a tyrant, for his acts of tyranny. For it is but usurpation in him to save, as their rightful lord, the lives of men over whom he has no title to reign." --Cato the Younger

"The rub is that the pursuit of happiness, as an end in itself, tends automatically, and widely, to be replaced by the pursuit of pleasure with a consequent general softening of the fibers of will, intelligence, spirit." --Whittaker Chambers

"Liberty is rendered even more precious by the recollection of servitude." --Marcus Tullius Cicero

"It is the theory of all modern civilized governments that they protect and foster the liberty of the citizen; it is the practice of all of them to limit its exercise, and sometimes very narrowly." --H. L. Mencken

"The only freedom deserving the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." --John Stuart Mill

"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." --John Stuart Mill

"None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license." --John Milton

"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties." --John Milton

"No man who knows aught, can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally were born free." --John Milton

"If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence, it would have been worthwhile." --Samuel Eliot Morison

Live free or die I say.

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in the crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything it's value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on it's goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated." --Thomas Paine

"When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom." --Thomas Paine

"From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms! Through the land let the sound of it flee; Let the far and the near all unite, with a cheer, In defense of our Liberty Tree." --Thomas Paine

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." --Thomas Paine

"We enjoy freedom and the rule of law on which it depends, not because we deserve it, but because others before us put their lives on the line to defend it." --Thomas Sowell

"... liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith." --Alexis de Tocqueville

"The tree of liberty only grows when watered by the blood of tyrants." --Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac

"You can't hold a man down without staying down with him." --Booker T. Washington

"Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth." --George Washington

"Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint." --Daniel Webster

"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." --Daniel Webster

"Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others." --William Allen White

"The business of America is not business. Neither is it war. The business of America is justice and securing the blessings of liberty." --George Will

"Liberty and happiness have a powerful enemy on each hand; on the one hand tyranny, on the other licentiousness [anarchy]. To guard against the latter, it is necessary to give the proper powers to government; and to guard against the former, it is necessary that those powers should be properly distributed." --James Wilson

"Liberty has never come from the government.... The history of liberty is the history of resistance...a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it." --Woodrow Wilson

"Eternal vigilence is the price of liberty." --Wendell Phillips

"The first destroyer of the liberties of a people is he who first gave them bounties and largess." --Plutarch

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." --Ayn Rand

"Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions." --Ronald Reagan, Address to students at Moscow State University, 05/31/88

"Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put in this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer. Itīs so hard for government planners, no matter how sophisticated, to ever substitute for millions of individuals working night and day to make their dreams come true. The fact is, bureaucracies are a problem around the world." --Ronald Reagan, Speech at Moscow State University, 05/31/88

"It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, 'We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.' This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this [1964] election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. ... You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, 'The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits'." --Ronald Reagan

"Man is not free unless government is limited.... As government expands, liberty contracts." --Ronald Reagan

"Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation from government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment." --Ronald Reagan

"Tyranny, like fog in the well known poem, often creeps in silently 'on little cat feet.'" --Ronald Reagan "If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him." --Cardinal Richelieu

"Ammunition beats persuasion when you are looking for freedom." --Will Rogers

"In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State." --Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Jeffersonian Quotes 09.Jul.2003 15:37

Black Swede sculptor77@hotmail.com

Yeah! Too bad that some of those Jeffersonian quotes didn't apply to my ancestors who were his slaves and "property." I guess he was a first in something, "free sex."