"Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden.
Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual?
We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or,
in the words of the ardent young Nazi, 'to be free from freedom.'"
by:
Eric Hoffer
(1902-1983) American author, philosopher, awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom
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Reader comments about this quote:
There is much understanding of much of today's middle America to be had from these words... while not so much a "great quotable quote", it is a tremendous insight which is succinctly put, and thus deserves the full five.
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    This quote can be broken down into its three sentences and each separately send out a ripple of many implications. You could ask a high school english class to choose one of the sentences and write an essay on it. To the first I would say that all men have talents but too often they are willing surpressed so as not to face the challenge of being a self realized human being. To the second, that the self must not only be aware of the implications of freedom but take the action necessary to meet it half way. And to the last, conformity is the step child of despotism in all its manifestations.
     -- EGL, LA     
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    The third sentence trips over its own tongue, by throwing popular movements worth joining into the same bag with popular movements of little significance or worth.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    The real enemy of freedom is and always has been the willingness to be taken care of.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    More accurate now than then.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    All people have talents to make something of himself and unless physically or mentally disabled the choice is to be responsible for himself or if that choice be ineffectual then the choice is automatically to starve to death or become an irksome burden on the talents (abilities) of others to support their (the ineffectual) livelihood. To be free from freedom is laziness on the one side and when the lazy needs to be fed he feeds off the labor (expressed talents) of the responsibly free and now you have theft on the other side. Legalize it and you have slavery which is simply legalized theft.
     -- Anon     
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    I like the opposite "American" version better - “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!” Samuel Adams, Patriot.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    How is it that the 20th century government got so many folks to believe in government for their well-being? Social Security, welfare, foodstamps, medicaid, medicare, etc.. And all those good folks don't realize who is really paying for something they could do for themselves much more efficient.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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    On a side note, those ineffectual that choose to be irksome burdens (nonessential government employees - start with the yellow pages) on the freedom loving productive seem to always absolve their mass movement in the name of service and a pay check. To such ardent usurpers of wealth, of what avail is freedom. Patrons of the statist theocracy escape the individual responsibility of creating a substantive expression for self, family, and country when receiving the stolen booty of choice, settling for a justified slave in mind and heart's existence. When man's talents to make something of himself, producing more than he consumes, is exceeded by the non-producers (by choice), freedom is lost.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Cal, in answer to your question, kids are taught in 1st grade that the government is there to take care of you. The seed is planted and all the social programs you mentioned are the fruit of that seed. Knowing your posts I think you asked the question rhetorically but I couldn't resist answering it.
     -- Anon     
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    Archer, I'm sorry, but that's water off a Ducks back. The only true freedom is the ability to love and care for others, without caring for others there is no FREEDOM, and if there are none that wish to be taken care of because they are either ill or lack financial means then it all becomes pointless - my God, can't you see that... Oops, sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned God. I know you have a list of humanitarian achievements and so do many on this blog. Lastly, how is the willingness to be taken care an enemy of freedom? The real enemy of freedom are those that take our wealth without permission, that enslave us through devaluing our possessions. Today our freedom is under attack from the right like never before they even want to change the bible as to make it more conservative and to take out any reference to liberalism. Now Iran and other states want to trade oil in another currency I hear the dogs of war gnawing at the gates. These are the true enemies of our freedom. Archer I did reply to your post yesterday.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    Every school should be sent a copy of Alan Bennett's Play "The History Boys"
     -- RBESRQ     
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     -- Jason, Petaluma      
    RBE says,"The only true freedom is the ability to love and care for others, without caring for others there is no FREEDOM, and if there are none that wish to be taken care of because they are either ill or lack financial means then it all becomes pointless - my God, can't you see that." Freedom is not an end, it is the means. WIthout freedom, there can be no charity, only obligations, no responsibility, only liability, no morality, only obedience. I believe I have said this before, but I believe that Love, Truth, and Courage are the keys to fulfillment (from which one's service to humanity can be truly authentic) -- without any one of them, none of the others are possible. You cannot legislate Love, and those that think that government can save us are deluding themselves. Statism makes a poor religion...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Archer, said very well. Robert, the willingness to be taken care of (whether for health, financial, or otherwise purposes) does not in and of itself make an enemy of freedom. As Archer said so well - love, charity, caring for others, personal responsibility towards others and morality are elements of the individual's choice or religion's application, not government's. I can give you the legal definition of religion again if you like but, when the government goes beyond its here subject lawful parameters, it becomes a despotic theology. And we know how you don't like religion.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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     -- Waffler, Smith      
    Archer and Mike - You have it totally the wrong way round - love and compassion come before FREEDOM they are the primary ingredient; they are the spark that provides the quest for freedom, liberty, and well being for all humanity. Read Mills on this very subject. I'm sorry Mike but your thoughts and dialogue on religion and Divine Law are totally abhorrent to me as they are myth (I gather there is a conservative initiative to rewrite the bible to take out any reference to liberalism) and therefore are meaningless when brought into a conversation - I deal with science and those elements that science can provide evidence. I will always protect your right to believe in your religion and your philosophy as I would expect you to do for my beliefs - but, let me add quickly that Atheism is not a belief PERIOD. Mike, I have yet to hear a trial lawyers user Divine Law in any court of law.
     -- RBESRQ     
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    RBESRQ, Your hypocrisy shows when you use the words "I deal with science and those elements that science can provide evidence." What? You don't BELIEVE in any of it as explaining what you are and why you are here? What is it you "deal" with when you express your ethics on here? I guess there's nothing you believe in then and science and self evident ethics are just there to be used...see this is where your line of thought loses its reality. Do you believe in yourself then? Atheism and God is dead mentality is a religion because religion in its purest form within the individual is believing in what his eyes can see, his heart feels, and himself, his belief and the strength of that belief it is what determines faith from simple to zealous. Can you tell me you believe in nothing? Your statement reminded me of a bumper sticker that said 'my karma transcends your dogma' and it is right away evident they are 2 sets of beliefs religiously held, simply in some cases, with zeal in others. You are a zealot in that you zealously stand on your position that Atheism is not a religion. In other words it is something that no one believes in, is that right?
     -- Anon     
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    Today there is a mass effort by millions of perfectly able bodied people to escape their personal responsibilities and depend on the government for help and sustenance instead. The help, of course, comes from money those of us who live up to our responsibilities earn. These lazy, greedy, useless, selfish people seem to be winning.
     -- Anonymous, Hansville     
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