The one who thinks differently

A segment of the Berlin Wall on display at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, 2004

A segment of the Berlin Wall on display at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, 2004

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege.”Rosa Luxemburg

It is more than a little ironic that this quote from a German Marxist (who died in 1919) would seem such appropriate words for this photograph of a section of the Berlin Wall, one of the most prominent symbols of oppression of our generation.  On this day 102 years ago, eight years before Rosa Luxemburg died, a person was born who would change the course of world history in his single-minded determination to defeat despair.  His name was Ronald Reagan, and even those who opposed his politics generally agree that his unflinching resolve helped to bring down the Berlin Wall.

The plaque at the base of this segment of the wall reads: “An authentic section of the Berlin Wall, donated in April 1990 by the Berlin Wall Commemorative Group to President Reagan for his unwavering dedication to humanitarianism and freedom over communism throughout his presidency.  This segment measures 3.5 feet by 10 feet, and weighs approximately 6000 pounds.”

Universal freedom sounds good in abstract terms, but is exceedingly difficult in practice.  It can be crushed outright by obvious tyrants, but more often it is negotiated away, little by little, as oppression creeps in to silence unpopular viewpoints and controversial debates.  Yet heroes throughout history have shown us that even those who are denied physical or political freedom can remain free in spirit, indomitable in the face of intimidation or imprisonment.


  1. Carlyle

    Thanks for this note on Reagan’s birthday. I never hesitate to admit that I reluctantly voted for him to replace Carter. I had no confidence in him. How wrong I was!

    • Daddy, I too remember my mixed emotions at voting for Reagan in 1980. In my case, it wasn’t because I didn’t like Reagan — I had always admired his obvious disregard for doing what was popular vs. what he thought was right. But I had been an ardent supporter of Carter in 1976, and was crushed that his term had gone so badly. I was your classic Reagan Democrat.

  2. Megan

    I have happy memories of going to the Reagan Library with you! A fascinating museum, and breathtaking grounds. Beautiful flowers! Having only ever going to LA/Malibu/San Diego, and thinking they were quite nice, it wasn’t until the drive to the Reagan library that I “got” what people loved about CA. Beautiful coastline!

    • Hi Megan! In my opinion, CA get even nicer as one goes north along the coast. Lots of lovely little towns scattered throughout the state, but the towns that lie between Santa Barbara and Marin County (including some of the more inland areas such as Napa/Sonoma, Solvang and Placerville) are tops in my book. I can’t think too much about it without getting homesick for CA, which in my heart will always be my adopted second home. Our sons lived more years there than anywhere else, that’s for sure.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, I so hope that your days are continuing to be better and more positive and hopeful!
    A diagnosis that leaves us reeling from the shock, after we’ve reasoned with the reality,
    feels different with time. This was a very informative blog today and a special thank you for the links. Such an incredible man and what a love story the Reagans lived!

    • Thanks so much, Sheila. You are exactly right about the process we have gone through with this – we were both pretty much reeling for quite awhile, and the bad news seemed to come in waves. Right now it feels as if we are a bit re-oriented and coping a little better. It helps that Jeff is still working full time except on treatment days, and other than reduced eating and sleeping, is showing no signs of his illness that most people would be able to see. The prayers are helping us tremendously. I am hoping and praying that we will be hearing mostly good news for a few months. Yes, the Reagans had an inspiring marriage. I was never fond of Nancy but I was so touched when I saw the video of her at his funeral.

  4. Inspiring words as usual Julia. I’m always impressed at how you break down into laymen’s terms what significance these quotes have to you, me and human kind in general. I so enjoy my visits.

    • Wow, that’s one of the nicest compliments I have received. Thank you! I appreciate your visits and your comments. Your blog is my “happy place” online, so I am glad you like mine.

  5. I’m so glad to hear you feel it’s a happy place! I do make a conscious effort to never be negative. I nice when people notice by even more special when they tell you so. Thank you Julia xK

    • You’re welcome! How are you doing, weather-wise? I have thought about you during all these dire weather forecasts yesterday. Stay warm!

      • Thank you for thinking of me Julia. I’ve been watching those weather stories too. All familiar scenes but luckily our weather is above seasonal for the next few days. A forecast of -3 c today or 27 F. We are far west of all that bad weather. Our weather man say’s 5 degrees on Wednesday. Sounds more like spring than February 😀

        • Wow, that’s wonderful to hear; thanks for letting me know!


  1. The history of liberty | Defeat Despair
  2. The one who thinks differently | Defeat Despair

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