Quote About The Meaning of Liberty

Here’s an insightful quote by Abraham Lincoln that I recently read about the meaning of liberty and how different people with different interests define it in different ways:

We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty… Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon the definition of the word liberty.