John Stewart Mill on war

While chatting with a co-working in pretty yellow dress a few minutes ago I showed her a photo of a yellow ice cream shop that I had just put on our Modern Traveling Blog. The co-worker told me she had been to that small town and actually bought another yellow dress there a few years ago. She went on to explain that she felt bad for buying the dress as the shop was full of rainbow flags and banners that read “no war”. She expressed remorse for “supporting people like that.”

Impressing me beyond her years she then went on to say that war is a horrible thing but that there is something worse, and she spoke about the families who have lost a loved one oversees and now live with grief and loss every day.

This of course brought my mind right back to these famous words of John Stewart Mill, who, though not an American, has by his love of liberty earned his place in history and this little blog.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person 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 Stewart Mill

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Franklin on liberty and power

“Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.” – Benjamin Franklin

This quote was preserved for posterity when it was printed in the Poor Richard’s Almanack of 1738. 

For me personally it reminds me of another famous quote often attributed to Franklin but perhaps made famous by Jefferson which states: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

I believe both of these “proverbs” hold a special significance for our country today with the increase in our national security effort since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Frederick Douglass On Struggle And Progress

“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.” -Frederick Douglass, 1848

This is in my onion perhaps the greatest commentary on freedom offered by any man in the 19th century prior to the U.S. Civil War. Though generations and ages removed from the world Frederick Douglass is writing about in the above two paragraphs, every time I read them I am thrown right back in that time and place in history, feeling his passion and his struggle.

C.S. Lewis on tyranny for our own good

Welcome to my new blog and I hope you enjoy the quotes.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis

While reading an editorial this morning about the upcoming 2008 presidential election I came across the above quote by C.S. Lewis.  While this quote is in no way my favorite from Lewis, or even one I had read before, it was still inspiretional and the catalist behind this effort to collect such words of freedom that have spoken to me over the years.