Aside from the word “democratic,” which is ever and rightfully open for attack, this quote stirred something crazy in me. A friend sent it yesterday and I have been thinking about it ever since:
“The fact is that the average man’s love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty – and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.”
— H.L. Mencken
The quote turned me around a bit because I saw a bit of truth in it but at the same time was totally enraged by it, by its pompousness. If there are in fact some humans who are not fully at home with liberty, would not this author’s time be better spent in teaching them about the gifts and responsibilities of liberty?!! I guess that’s what I’d ask him.
Anyhow, were Mencken still alive, it made me wonder what some who understand and cherish liberty would also ask of him or say to him.
It made me wonder.