Reflections on liberty of thought and action: themes for Independence Day weekend.

Peace is liberty in tranquility. — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Real change in the world will only come from a change of heart. — Dalai Lama

A hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people. — Maya Angelou

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change. — Stephen Covey

Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I say words of healing?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now
will bear many fruits,
here in this world and the life to come.
— Henri Nouwen


Song about freedom:

Questions to consider:

  • Whom do you know who feels that they don’t have equal access to opportunities and basic rights? Shelter? Food? Water? Education? Voting? Employment? Religion? Speech? Thought? Press and media? Love?
  • What is the difference between rights and privileges?
  • How do we balance individual freedoms and societal/constitutional freedoms?

Freedom of Action

There are two good things in life – freedom of thought and freedom of action. — W. Somerset Maugham

As individuals we can influence our own families. Our families can influence our communities and our communities can influence our nations. — Dalai Lama

Well, one works at it, certainly. Being free is as difficult and as perpetual — or rather fighting for one’s freedom, struggling towards being free, is like struggling to be a poet or a good Christian or a good jew or a good Moslem or a good Zen Buddhist. You work all day long and achieve some kind of level of success by nightfall, go to sleep and wake up in the next morning with the job still to be done. So you start all over again. — Maya Angelou

To be blessed with visions is not enough…we must live them! — High Eagle

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. — Martin Luther King Jr

Without freedom, creativity cannot flourish. The right to freedom is crucial to progress in any society; and the context is having a sense of global responsibility. — Dalai Lama

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. — Abraham Lincoln

There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. — Nelson Mandela

Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom. — Dalai Lama

I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love. — W. E. B. Du Bois

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom. — Malcolm X

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. — Fred Rodgers

Our present idea of freedom is only the freedom to do as we please: to sell ourselves for a high salary, a home in the suburbs, and idle weekends. But that is a freedom dependent upon affluence, which is in turn dependent upon the rapid consumption of exhaustible supplies. The other kind of freedom is the freedom to take care of ourselves and of each other … the freedom of community life. — Wendell Berry

… it is not enough to love the earth, though that is a crucial first step. We also have to act on its behalf. — Ken Stone

I speak not for myself but for those without voice… those who have fought for their rights… their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated. — Malala Yousafzai

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. — Ronald Reagan

Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation. — Coretta Scott King

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom. — John Locke

Freedom of Thought & Speech

… surely we should at least attempt to put forward constructive ideas. One thing is for certain: given human beings’ love of truth, justice, peace, and freedom, creating a better, more compassionate world is a genuine possibility. The potential is there. — Dalai Lama

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds! — Bob Marley

The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself. ― Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech; which is the right of every man as far as by it he does not hurt or control the right of another; and this is the only check it ought to suffer and the only bounds it ought to know.  — Benjamin Franklin
Discipline, I have learned, leads to freedom, and there is meaning in freedom. — Anne Lamott

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be. —Wayne W. Dyer

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind. — Virginia Woolf

One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying. — Jeanne d’Arc

Nobody can bring you peace but yourself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace. — Mike Ditka

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. — Soren Kierkegaard

Freedom of Religion

You can’t pick and choose which types of freedom you want to defend. You must defend all of it or be against all of it. ― Scott Howard Phillips 

There is a difference between exercising religious beliefs and imposing them on others. Our Constitution fiercely protects the former and expressly prohibits the latter. ― Joseph Kennedy III 

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. ― James Madison

Religion is like a pair of shoes … Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes. ― George Carlin 

Ever since the Enlightenment era in the 17th and 18th Centuries—which, among other things, gave birth to the U.S. Constitution and the de facto motto E Pluribus Unum (out of the many, one)—interfaith tolerance has been sown into the fabric of Western society. The rules of one religion are not made into law for all citizens because of a simple social agreement. For you to believe what you want, you must allow me to do the same, even if we disagree. ― Gudjon Bergmann

… Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason … my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen. ― Martin Luther

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