Tag Archives: Liberty

Signing Off

I’m sad to say that this is my last post for the blog.  I started this blog together with my solo law practice.  But I am moving abroad soon and will be closing down my law practice as well.  So I think it’s fitting that I should call it quits with the blog since the vehicle that brought it to life will no longer be around.  Not that I won’t have another blog but if I do it will be very different — in content at least — than what’s been written in this forum.

And what better time to say goodbye than on Election Day.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned writing for this blog over the past seven years it’s that change — in perspectives, in policies, and in humanity — comes slowly if at all.  Worse yet not all of that change is of the positive sort.  Nothing about this current election contest and the two candidates vying for the presidency inspires hope on either front.

If you’re looking for inspiration and hope for a brighter future though I have just the thing for you.  It’s the text of a speech given by one of the greatest jurists to have graced the bench of the federal courts.  His name is Learned Hand, and this is the speech, entitled “The Spirit of Liberty”, that he gave in Central Park on May 21, 1944 before, according to my source, “many thousands of people … including a large number of new citizens”:

We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion.  Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same.  For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land.  What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice?  We sought liberty; freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves.  This we then sought; this we now believe that we are by way of winning. What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty?  I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts.  These are false hopes; believe me these are false hopes.  Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.  While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.  And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women?  It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes.  That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow.  A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.

What then is the spirit of liberty?  I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith.  The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.  And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America I ask you to rise and with me pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read this blog.  I will miss writing for it even if I never really knew who, if anyone, ever read it.