“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” George Bernard Shaw

Liberty is freedom, freedom to think for ourselves and live our lives in accordance with our own rational thought. “Give me liberty or give me death!” This famous quote by Patrick Henry is an interesting one to ponder. At first hearing, one cannot help but be inspired by a man who sought liberty so desperately that he would rather have it than live a life without it. Because of this passion, this quote has been manipulated over time to apply to anything of personal value that a person desperately seeks or desires, such as “Give me convenience or give me death!” While this passion is certainly one part of what Henry intended when he made this statement, I think there is also a deeper and perhaps less obvious implication. It is an either or statement. It is either liberty OR death. Liberty entitles you to your life. Henry knew in contrast, a life controlled by another, a life lived in servitude, a life directed by anything other than the dictates of one’s own conscience, is no real life at all.

However, if we are to live life by our decisions, then we have to accept the consequences (good and bad) of those decisions. We have to take responsibility. If you buy a house for more than you can afford and default, you lose the house. If you run a business unsuccessfully, you fail. You cannot make a decision and then avoid the consequences. It is against natural law, it is against common sense. If you want to have freedom, if you want to make your own decisions and embrace free agency, and live your life the way you see fit, then you absolutely have to accept responsibility for the life you choose to live. This is easy when our decisions go according to plan and the consequences are desirable.

However, when we make wrong decisions and are faced with undesirable consequences; this is when some place their liberty in jeopardy. We can either accept the consequences and fight our way through and preserve our freedom; OR we can shift blame, look for a bailout, and wait for someone else to clean up our mess. That is when our liberty is lost, the very minute we refuse to take responsibility for our own actions. That is when we opt for security over freedom, bondage over accountability, death over liberty.

We see this right now, as GM is not allowed to even make their own personnel decisions anymore. Story Story 2

What is the opposite of living a life of freedom and responsibility? You live a life directed by others and thus supposedly escape any responsibility for your actions, because your actions were at the command of another. Even if this were possible, how is it possibly appealing? Is it really so demanding to be accountable for your own actions that you would willingly give up your personal freedoms to achieve such a state? Is it really worth it to sacrifice your control over your existence just to avoid hard times? Is man’s potential really just that of following orders with no thought for their consequence? Can man even really exist as man without thinking for himself? (Ayn Rand makes an excellent point of this in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt’s speech)

There are so many in this country today that just want to be told what to do, what to believe, how to act, how to react, what principles (or lack thereof) to live by, who to be angry at, who not to question… how to live. They don’t want to think. They don’t want to explore their own potential. They don’t want to become great. They just want to exist. What for? Living just to not be dead, is not living. They just want to be taken care of. But at the expense of freedom? H.L. Mencken said;

“The average man does not want to be free. He simply wants to be safe.”


It is no wonder socialism in our country is flourishing, if the mindset of the masses is such. They fear uncertainty and crave safety and security EVEN at the expense of their liberty. Perhaps ignorance is their sin, with no knowledge of the principles this country was founded on…

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” — John Adams

“Life is a daily IQ test. Regarding liberty, it seems that most people are failing the test. It is up to those of us who can see what is right to make sure we do not give up the fight.” — J.B. Pruitt

Perhaps they believe that as long as their intentions are good, the ends justify the means, even at the expense of freedom…

“The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.” — Thomas Paine

“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of power. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

– Daniel Webster

Perhaps they have been duped by the media and the false promises of the current administration…

“If we become a people who are willing to give up our money and our freedom in exchange for rhetoric and promises, then nothing can save us.” — Thomas Sowell

or perhaps very simply:

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”
–George Bernard Shaw

Why do men dread responsibility? Because they will have to live a life of their own choosing, with no one to blame but themselves if things don’t go exactly as planned. Why do men dread liberty? Because it requires them to live this type of life.

A little video about personal responsibility for your watching pleasure!

1 Comment

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One response to ““Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” George Bernard Shaw

  1. Teri

    Great post. It’s frightening how much people don’t want to deal with consequences of their poor decisions. Perhaps Obama should read the John Galt speech for his next address to the nation? :)

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