Yesterday was the 144th birthday of G.K. Chesterton. In his honor, here are six quotes by the great British writer on freedom and virtue.
On defending virtue: “The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.”
On modern freedom: “Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.”
On courage: “Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point and does not break.”
On emancipation: “What we call emancipation is always and of necessity simply the free choice of the soul between one set of limitations and another.”
On mercy: “Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.”
On the necessity of liberty: “Loyalty is the heart of the commonwealth; but liberty is its lungs. You find out the necessity of liberty as you find out the necessity of air — by not having enough of it and gasping.”