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William Makepeace Thackeray

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Whenever he met a great man he grovelled before him, and my-lorded him as only a free-born Briton can do.
--
Vol. I, ch. 13.

 
William Makepeace Thackeray

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You waste the attention of your eyes,
the glittering labour of your hands,
and knead the dough enough for dozens of loaves
of which you'll taste not a morsel;
you are free to slave for others—
you are free to make the rich richer.
The moment you're born
they plant around you
mills that grind lies
lies to last you a lifetime.
You keep thinking in your great freedom
a finger on your temple
free to have a free conscience.
Your head bent as if half-cut from the nape,
your arms long, hanging,
your saunter about in your great freedom:
you're free
with the freedom of being unemployed.
You love your country
as the nearest, most precious thing to you.
But one day, for example,
they may endorse it over to America,
and you, too, with your great freedom—
you have the freedom to become an air-base.
You may proclaim that one must live
not as a tool, a number or a link
but as a human being—
then at once they handcuff your wrists.
You are free to be arrested, imprisoned
and even hanged.
There's neither an iron, wooden
nor a tulle curtain
in your life;
there's no need to choose freedom:
you are free.
But this kind of freedom
is a sad affair under the stars.

 
Nazim Hikmet
 

Enlighten the dark blood of your ancestors, shape their cries into speech, purify their will, widen their narrow, unmerciful brows. This is your second duty.
For you are not only a slave. As soon as you were born, a new possibility was born with you, a free heartbeat stormed through the great sunless heart of your race.

 
Nikos Kazantzakis
 

Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George and continue the slaves of King Prejudice? What is it to be born free and not to live free? What is the value of any political freedom, but as a means to moral freedom? Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast? We are a nation of politicians, concerned about the outmost defences only of freedom. It is our children's children who may perchance be really free.

 
Henry David Thoreau
 

What do you think happens to a composer who is sincere and loves to write and has to wait thirty years to have someone play a piece of his music? Had I been born in a different country or had I been born white, I am sure I would have expressed my ideas long ago. Maybe they wouldn't have been as good because when people are born free — I can't imagine it, but I've got a feeling that if it's so easy for you — the struggle and the initiative are not as strong as they are for a person who has to struggle and therefore has more to say.

 
Charles Mingus
 

Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization. The wonderful culture of the Moors in Spain, which was fundamentally nearer to us and appealed more to our senses and tastes than that of Rome and Greece, was trampled down ( — I do not say by what sort of feet — ) Why? Because it had to thank noble and manly instincts for its origin — because it said yes to life, even to the rare and refined luxuriousness of Moorish life! The crusaders later made war on something before which it would have been more fitting for them to have grovelled in the dust — a civilization beside which even that of our nineteenth century seems very poor and very "senile."[...] Intrinsically there should be no more choice between Islam and Christianity than there is between an Arab and a Jew. The decision is already reached; nobody remains at liberty to choose here. Either a man is a Chandala or he is not.... “War to the knife with Rome! Peace and friendship with Islam!”: this was the feeling, this was the act, of that great free spirit, that genius among German emperors, Frederick II.

 
Friedrich Nietzsche
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