Liberty and Freedom
Saturday at 2-P a young German woman asked me the difference between “Liberty” and “Freedom.” As Yogi (Berra not Bear) said, “It was déjà vu all over again.” About two weeks earlier, down in the lobby around the torch, I was asked the same thing by another (I think it was!) young German woman.
I realized then that in my presentation I said that the Statue of Liberty was a symbol of “liberty, freedom and equality” and maybe that is where she had heard the two together. From then on I changed my pitch and began saying “liberty, fraternity and equality.”
But this second lady made me think more about the terms than just my presentation.
Freedom,Liberty These nouns refer to the power to act, speak, or think without externally imposed restraints. Freedom is the most general term: “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free” (Abraham Lincoln). Liberty stresses the power of free choice: “liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases” (William Hazlitt).