Individual Liberty

There is obviously something fundamental about individual liberty – the Statue of Liberty in the US: the declaration of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the US Constitution; the 3rd republic in France and Liberty, Equality, Fraternity; the 800 year old Charter of Liberties in Magna Carta. Not to mention several eminent philosophical works, not least John Stuart Mills ‘On liberty’

Liberty is so obvious in our society it is easy to overlook, yet without it society crumbles quickly. We take for granted that all people have equal rights – there are issues with gender bias and race, but those arguments all start from the accepted basis that equality is right. This has not always been so – it is only a handful of centuries since slavery in the UK, a handful of decades since apartheid in Africa.

The right to say what you think, assuming it is lawful (the rule of law) and the ability to do so with mutual respect and tolerance.

And the right to assemble – however irksome it may be to pay taxes to pay for the policing of a march supporting a cause you cannot agree with, the right to assembly, to speak freely and with equality underpin all that we are.

Of all the values this is the one noticed most where it is absent and taken for granted all too easily.