"Liberty is the hardest test that one can inflict on a people.
To know how to be free is not given equally to all men and all nations."
Paul Valéry
(1871-1945) French Poet, Essayist, Aphorist
Reflections on The World Today, 1931
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Reader comments about this quote:
The American Dream became a dream of many men and women in many nations. People world-wide are learning to be free. If enough people believe, the Dream will become a reality. "boys and girls, clap your hands if you believe in fairies".
 -- Mary, Largo     
    When the nation was a Republic, Liberty was the way of life envisioned by the founders, and it worked. Then came Democracy, a system of mob rule in a cheap suit. Being given the right to vote is a ruse, especially when no matter who you vote for, you get the same system and the same policies. As George Carlin said, "Its called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it"
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    We contrive to survive and until that stops we will never have real freedom - well done J Carlton I love that... Carlin definitely hits the nail on the dream
     -- RobertSRQ     
    I would have given this quote 5 stars if the author had not resorted to: 'one' can 'inflict on' a people. I believe that freedom is a gift from the God of Nature and should read: given to or accepted by a people. I also believe freedom is given equally, it is not accepted equally. All people have never wanted the responsibility that comes along with freedom and liberty but rather, only a select few. It seems most people would rather be purchased, and exist under compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, cradle to grave political promises, debt, torture for information, a government/religion with 'inherent powers' as is adverse to a Representative Republic with 'implied powers', etc., etc., etc.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Life is a gift, not Liberty. Liberty requires knowlege and action -- we are not to be transported from oppression on a feather bed.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    It's not a matter of knowing how to be free. It's all about choosing to be free.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    Very insightful. If you think all nations and cultures know how to be free, just parachute yourself into a fundamentalist Muslim nation and let us all know about the love of freedom.
     -- Moishe Gonzales, Half Moon Bay     
    Quote is very accurate. Most people can not cope with liberty and will readily trade it for security and comfort when given a choice. Freedom is increasingly being confused with handouts. People are being told that they deserve something for nothing and they bite the bait not caring about the loss of liberty that comes with it. This is the worst form of corruption our society is exposed to. The devaluation of ones self worth will eventually bring about acceptance for totalitarian socialism incrementally. The old trite frog in the pot fits here. The absence of self worth combined with the general acceptance of moral relativity is being used to destroy the foundation of our society. Once the cycle is completed nothing will stop the tyrant wanabe.
     -- warren, olathe     
    Moishe,Gonzales, a fine example and a good comment.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    Warren, I think you nailed it!
    However there is another element to the basic human nature equation that being the spiritual one that is sometimes overlooked in these types of discussions, we have a spiritual adversary who desires not only our physical bondage but spiritual as well.
     -- Mike, Pleasant Hill     
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