"[A]nd obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men and of the human frame,
A mechanized automaton."
Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822) British poet
Queen Mab, 1813
see http://libertytree.ca/quotes/Percy.Shelley.Quote.B894 for full quote
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI      
The idea here is, Think for yourself. Be your own man.
 -- Louis, Novellino     
     -- gdgca, windsor, on      
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
    Conformity and obedience are the whips of mediocrity
     -- RobertSRQ     
    God Bless America, probably the least comformed and obedient place on earth. We struggle with the non-conformists among us, peoples of all faiths, cultures etceterta. The tendency for conformity is obviously world wide otherwise why is the Middle East Muslim, and Tibet Buddhist etcetera. America with its Constitutional Guarantees and occasional tolerance is really a unique and revolutionary society. Maybe the highest American ideal is God like in that we accept people or sometimes aspire to accept people just as they are.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    Another reason the minority have their equal right to differ from the mob. The majority is usually nothing more than a herd guided by a fleeting popular opinion. Genius is always in the minority.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    It seems to me that we have lost our revolutionary will. We have let atrocious things happen in this country, such as a war of aggression, and violations of the Geneva Convention as well as allowed our President to write numerous Executive Orders that violate the constitution and our rights. The Patriot Act approved by our Congress. It is now a crime to speak of the Constitution in a public place without being arrested. Yet we sit calmly on the sidelines, letting a handful of brave patriots protest at the conventions. Waffler, we are conformists and obedient. We fear to act. A nice letter to your congressperson is sufficient. The sixties had people of great will and love for their country who were brave and spoke out agaisnt the illegal war in Vietnam. Our forefathers fought to free us from England, and The Civil war was engaged in with great love of country. We are now mechanized automatons. Our country has been stolen from us and we are complacent.
     -- Judith, Albuquerque     
    Judith America is diverse. While we are a large continental nation we are still diverse. I have not traveled much but have been to Mexico and Hungary. If you want to see conformity go to some of these places. To the extent that we do conform it is because we want to. Human behaviour gravitates toward the "normative", advertising convinces many to buy things and do things in the same way. You are still free to grow, cook, bake your own food, and to make your own clothing etc. We are not forced into any conformity by government but only by our friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Those who feel locked into conformity are probably just bored with their own life or existence. It is more of a psychological condition than a true political or social condition. Genius is never genius until is recognized by the majority. Often would be genius is ostracized as odd ball or crazy, if it never makes iteself into the main stream it is never genius. Their is often a learning curve before sufficient folk recognize the new discovery, talent, or invention only then is the thing given the title genius.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
    What, there is no "genius, virtue, freedom, truth" until the majority recognizes it or says so? A thing is not a thing until the majority agrees it exists? (Waffler's got a one-track mind with this 'majority rule' stuff.) I don't think so. What is, is, whether one, two, or a million realize it. We call it 'genius' when someone discovers great truths (among other things, of course). Galileo's work was genius -- even when the majority thought him a heretic. If all you believe is 'might makes right' then you seek only power not truth, genius, virtue, or freedom.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    When I look into the suburbs of America I see conformity and obedience. When I hear those people in those suburbs casting a judgement on those of us who live outside the suburbs I hear conformity and obedience. Keeping up with the Jones' is all about conformity, obedience and fear.
     -- Anonymous, Sch'dy     
    Very good, E Archer.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
     -- Mary, MI      
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