Liberté. Freiheit. Liberty.

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Liberty is a privilege. I have lived in and traveled to enough countries to verify that. It is a privilege conquered by our ancestors. Fought for with courage. And I am sorry to say: Liberty is in danger. Assailed from all parts. This is not a political memento. Just a reminder. Food for thought if you so wish. Above and below: the statue of Liberty by Bartholdi, on the Ile aux cygnes, the isle of swans, Paris.

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Diderot: the freedom of thought and knowledge. Without Diderot and the Encyclopedia, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau may not have had so much opportunity to write. Without them, the American Revolution and Independence, the French Revolution may not have happened. (Street art series on the most famous French buried in the Pantheon)

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Freedom of clothes: skimpy shorts and the national flag worn as an accessory. (Paris 2018, world cup celebration)

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I have had a dream. Martin Luther King memorial. Washington D.C. 2015.

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Wearing the flag with elegance. Paris 2018.

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“… All men are created equal… with certain inalienable rights… Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happpiness…”. That and the First amendment are among the greatest texts ever written. Washington, D.C. 2015. (Make sure you read the text. Again!) 😉

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“Always, Tyranny has a happy preamble.” A 12 syllable Alexandrin verse. The author is Jean Racine, one of the greatest French drama writers. The play, Brittanicus is set during the Roman Empire, to thwart the Almighty French King, Louis XIV’s censorship. It was first performed in 1669. Just think for a second: how many examples in – recent – history can you think of?

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Statue of Liberty, Jardin du Luxembourg (where the French Senate holds its sessions). Paris, 2018. I understand there are five replicas in Paris. Found three this year. 🙂

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The pursuit of happiness. Terrace of the Galeries Lafayette, Paris, 2018. How many countries allow girlfriends in flimsy dresses to have a glass of wine in public?

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“The crowd salutes American soldiers in Paris during the liberation of the capital in August 1944.” Western Europe has lived in peace for the past 74 years…

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Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, Paris, 2018. I was on my way to find the Church where one of my ancestors had been christened in the 19th century when I passed by. (Still two statues to go. Not a clue where they are.)

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“At the terrace of Life, the shining of our furious liberty.” (“Furieuse” in this context is more courage than anger) Butte-aux-cailles, Paris, 2018.

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Flea market, Saint-Ouen. On the right is a Liberty extinguisher. Advanced models are currently being tested on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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46 Rue Jacob, Paris. I have walked this street countless times. Unaware. Ten numbers away,  this plaque caught my breath, on another building, 56, Rue Jacob:

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“In this building, formerly known as the Hôtel d’York, on September 3rd, 1783, David Hartley, in the name of the King of England, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams, in the name of the United States of America, signed the definitive peace treaty acknowledging the Independence of the United States.”

Enjoy freedom, wherever you are.

58 thoughts on “Liberté. Freiheit. Liberty.

    • Possibly. Nothing wrong with sheltered childhoods. The world is rough enough afterwards that to save a few years of illusion is well worth it.
      Yes, that statue is a “link”.
      Cheers.

  1. A lot of food for thought here, Brian. We take freedom for granted and don’t always appreciate how we got it. The French revolution had a direct influence on SA, as a lot of French came here to make a new life. We have all the vineyards in the Cape and lots of very clever descendants in this country. Nowadays our freedom is taken away by criminals. Latest statistics released today…20000 people murdered in the past year!! We are closed in behind high walls and burglar bars…freedom isn’t a given.

    • No. Freedom is not a given. I sometimes wonder what idiot coined the word BRICS! As if hey were a model. Look at Russia, look at Brazil.
      20,000 murders? For a population of 56 Mil. You’re about in the same league as Mexico: 39,000 for a population of 120 Mil.
      Terrible.

      • Yesterday’s announcements shocked us terribly, although we suspected it all along. Rape, robberies, violent house breakings, car jackings and transito heists are just as bad. We always have to look over our shoulders.To give you some insight in how my mind works at this stage…whenever we go anywhere I contemplate whether I should leave my purse at home. Everything in my purse..my credit cards, driving licence and ID card can get grabbed through a smashed car window or it can be gone along with the car if we get hijacked. Then I decide, no, maybe with a breakin, my purse can get stolen from my house. We do have a safe, but that doesn’t deter the criminals.We shouldn’t be living like this, but we make the best of it.

      • I understand perfectly. It’s a lot how we are living in Mexico. Depends a bit on the area, but crime is growing. I always refused to have a safe at the office. What if the burglars kill someone to get the combination?
        Now, of course, the French press doesn’t report on those latest figures when they were all over the land expropriation news… No, no… 20,000 murders? Can’t print that… Tsss.
        Watch your back.

  2. Beautiful post. Freedom can be an illusion…like it is in the USA most of the time. Now it’s even worse. People are brainwashed and conditioned to believe that they are free when they are not and once they know they are not and try to do something about it…then they find out just how little freedom they do have. Often times freedom means doing what you’re told. In the USA the 1% and the wealthy have freedom, everyone else works for them. Racism, sexism, agism and all the rest keep people down with violence and poverty. So freedom is a utopian ideal. A nice ideal but there can never be freedom unless all voices are heard, not just those of wealthy white males. That’s how it is in America.

    • Thank you mon amie. When I was much younger I thought that no way mankind would be so stupid as to go to war again after WWII. (If I recall, your father served in WWII, right?)
      But no. They are stupid enough. Sooooo. We have to preserve what needs to be preserved. For our children, grandchildren…
      Be good.

      • My father was in WWII. I think as all those vets die, the atrocities of it die alongside. People forget. I wish it wasn’t so. It’s a frightening world we live in. Thank you for making your blog uplifting and reminding us of life’s joys.

  3. Liberty and freedom… the reasons why I treasure the quality of my life now. I do not think I was really free in all my years of working (in Delhi). Isn’t it such a pitiful thing? Recently I had a conversation with a friend. I was amused to hear that this fellow who lives a liberated life in the States clings to the line of thought that when a woman dresses ‘provocatively’ in countries that cannot handle it, she is responsible for her own fate. A mountain of despair alright.

    • I understand perfectly. I was born in the “South” remember? And after all these years, I despair. “In Singapore” (please don’t club me!) ;)… and in my trip to Asia I developed a “Woman shorts index”. There are places or seasons when women wear shorts. Comfortable and practical with the heat. You see many in… (Singapore) Asia. Or in Paris. I believe the incidence of women who feel “secure” enough to wear what they want is a good indicator of a country’s… how shall I put it? Mental development? Freedom is the word. Be good ma’amji. 🙂

      • I am feeling mellow after a glass of full red wine, so I am going to indulge the phrase and carry on as if it’s de rigueur.

        An index for shorts 🙂 Hah. Adi says his favourite season is summer (if you remember what Barney says it in ‘How I Met Your Mother) in the city when the shorts leap out of the wardrobe in all possible lengths. Anyway, I vote for shorts always if not for fashion, to ride out the intense heat. And if we were to start calculating mental development, India would be a lost cause. It’s a blooming shame.
        Always striving, Brianji.

      • Nothing like a glass of mellow red wine to put things into perspective. Bilkul! 😉
        Didn’t see much of that series but I understand the concept. It is just practicality.
        Sorry about the “blooming” shame. I was afraid someone would say that. I will still try to go to India once. To see the land that gave hospitality to my family for two centuries. 🙂 (Need to re-learn Hindustani before that)
        Cheers ma’amji.

      • Par zaroor. India will welcome one of her sons with welcome arms! 🙂 Since you spike your words with Hindi once in a while, maybe it might not be that tough to brush up your knowhow of it? May it be sooner than later. Have a good weekend, Brianji!

      • You too Arundhatiji. I can only picture the immigration officer at Delhi airport opening my passport in a distracted fashion and seeing birthplace: Pakistan. I know he will speak Hindi to me. So I need to learn a few things. Problem is I learned Urdu before I was 3. And research shows that all memories are erased around the age of four. Or at least the access to memories. Why? Nobody knows. So… it would be learning a new language which is fine by me. Cheers

      • Well, the memories are all there, just waiting to be tapped into. Forgotten words and expressions might just come streaming back to your mind and then just you wait, Mr. Pant at Delhi immigrations. 😉

  4. Pour les statues de la liberté de Paris, je connais celle du pont de Grenelle, où j’ai joué, comme acteur, un film perdu. Pour la liberté elle-même, je suis à peine libre de prendre mon vélo juste pour traverser la ville et guère plus respecté. La liberté est aussi faite de batailles minuscules et quotidiennes. Super, Brieuc !

  5. Honestly, this post made me very sad this morning. Liberty indeed feels very fragile these days. But my spirits are buoyed by my friends’ children who seem to be very socially and politically aware. With them, I think we have a chance at a bright future. Loved the lady liberty spottings. I would like to see images of her and her message start to spread like a virus of hope.

    • Sorry to have saddened you. I must confess, I have been a bit down lately at the turn the world is taking. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t like the signals… One of the problems is the humongous concentration of power in but a few hands. There are no checks and balances left. 🙂

      • As I said just yesterday on my friend Tish Farrell’s blog “I still believe that we (the masses in this case) create the world in which we live and that we have the power to change it.” Hugs

      • Memsahib Tish? 🙂 (You know we exchange a few words in Swahili once in a while?).
        I agree with you. The (recent?) problem is… lack of involvement? Since voters assume there is democracy, they just put a ballot in the urn, and then forget about it all. They’ve put someone in charge. (With many a dubious resumé…) And they do nothing until the next election. I personally believe there should be another instance (for checks and balances?): citizen’s councils? review boards? I don’t know. Hugs back. (By now you’re probably on your way to SA. Bons vents)

  6. Freedom dies in the dark. Our current President is waging war on the Press. The Press keeps things out in the open where We, the People, the actual human beings, not Corporations, can see what our government is doing…often doing to us. Even as our leader chips away at our first amendment rights, some people buy into the lies and propaganda.

    • Agreed. Just read an interesting article (in French) about conformism. Which is why so many people buy into propaganda. And beware (from someone who has lived many years in semi- or full dictatorships) the Press is the first thing Dictators attack… A telltale sign… The situation in the US is extremely preoccupying.

  7. People only know the definition of liberty when they have lived in it’s absence. Getting your every whim satisfied is not a freedom, especially if your whims are designed and cunningly planted in your head by someone else 🙂 O Mensch.
    Here for another 74 years of freedom!

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