January 1, 2010

Words of Wisdom.

From throughout history.

For such a time as this.

Because History is an immeasurably valuable teacher.

And because I think America is at a precipitous crossroad as our government willingly exchanges our freedom for so-called "security."

And so here are some quotes; quotes far more eloquent than anything I could piece together. Said and/or written by people far smarter than I, with far greater powers of observation than I. Words that, in my opinion, resonate with truth and exhortation, warning us about the delicacy of democracy.

[these quotations are in no particular order, with the exception that the first boatload of them comes from Thomas Jefferson]

Thomas Jefferson: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

“One single object...[will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation.”

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

“I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.”

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But 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 right of an individual.”

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

“Governments (derive) their just powers from the consent of the governed”

“For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.”

“Delay is preferable to error.”

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?

and from others ...

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may 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

It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. – Calvin Coolidge

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. – Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul. – George Bernard Shaw

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. – John Adams (1814)

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

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him. – Robert Heinlein

[On ancient Athens]: In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. – Edward Gibbon

If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government that is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. – James Madison

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom. – Albert Einstein

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests. – Patrick Henry

Government does not grow by seizing our freedoms, but by assuming our responsibilities. – Michael Cloud

The government is good at one thing. It knows how to break your legs, and then hand you a crutch and say, "See if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk". – Harry Browne

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. – Mohandas Gandhi

The true danger is when Liberty is nibbled away, for expedients. – Edmund Burke

Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end. – Lord Acton

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Aunt Tea said...

it's enough to make one cry.

Karin said...

Thank you for posting these quotes. I am going to post a link to your blog from mine. I could not agree with you more!!!

Phyllis said...

Wonderful post!!! Thanks for sharing. My husband is thrilled to see famous people echoing his own sentiments and writing them so succinctly.

Beth@Pages of Our Life said...

Thank you Susan for putting this timely post together and sharing it with us.

LeesOnTheGo said...

Hi Susan,
I found your blog site via a mutual FB friend that we have. I am delighted to find your blog which is full of wit, wisdom and a touch of whimsy. I've added your site to my favorites that I follow.

(Hope you don't have a stranger lurking in the back corners of cyber space. I promise not to cause a stir). :)

Heidi said...

Wow. If those don't pack a punch. Excellent.

Irene said...

Thank you more posting those all too timely reminders of what can and will happen. As the one quote says "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent". That is what our current government would like and is trying to enforce, but we can not and should not allow that to happen.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post. For someone "short on words," you sure picked some great ones to quote today!