"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."
John F. Kennedy
(1917-1963) 35th US President
Speech, United Nations General Assembly 25 September 1961Speech, United Nations General Assembly 25 September 1961
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Conformity just for the sake of conforming is only exceeded in foolishness by being different just for the sake of being different. Conformity does not have any effect of freedom or growth except in the minds of those who let it.
 -- helorat, Milton     
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    We prosper by the acts of uniqueness of thought and action. We are free due to the free thinkers our founders were. Small minded followers are content to live a life in a self made jail of conforming to expectations of others and producing nothing new and unique.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    Our government demands conformity, which stifles freedom and growth.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    helorat is correct if the conformity is a matter of self choice. Socialism, fascism, and the rest of the isms that mandate conformity, by way of a compelled compliance in the everyday walk of life, is a jealous and severe jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    The conformity and nonconformity are always a matter of choice. Some just do not have the courage to make that choice, and accept the responsibility for their actions. Do not fail to conform to my standards, and expect me to give you a job would be a good example. And once I have denied you the job, don't whine to the courts to force me to hire you.
     -- helorat, Milton     
    Seung-hui Cho did not conform to society's expectations at Virginia Tech. Timothy McVeigh was a non-conformist as well. The Unabomber was certainly a non-conformist. So, not all acts of "uniqueness of thought and action" are always beneficial either to the non-conformist or society. This quote simply cannot stand alone as either right or wrong until we know what JFK's subject was.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    Of course most anything a politician says can be used to defend any action. In general, conformity implies obediance -- but obdediance to what? And is it chosen freely or forced upon us?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Would be nice to have a reference to finding the complete speech he gave at the UN on 25 Sep 61, to put this qoute in context with what Kennedy was referring to......
     -- Dan, Anchorage     
    i believe that people who conform are people who just want to fit in. In John F kennedy he saw conformity on nations. He saw that nations conform to the United States which jailed their freedom of government and a enemy of growth.
     -- Andrew, NYC     
     -- Thorn, middletown      
    For those who argue against the value of this quote, consider that the rejection and ostracism of those who fail to conform, solely because they fail to conform, provokes, at times, the devastating and repulsive actions of people such as McVeigh and others. Had these people been embraced as members of our society, they would, at least, have had the opportunity to grow and the trajectories of their lives would likely have differed from the the path of lacking any hope. Freedom of choice is gradually diminished as the pressure to conform mounts, and it is lost completely when the pressure is tantamount to the opportunity to survive, such as by holding a job.
     -- Karen, Oak Park, IL     
    Ken you cite criminals as opposed to individuals being "individual". Not a valid comparison at all...unless you're a liberal of course! :) The quote is dead on! America was built by rugged individuals...not a collection of ants.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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