It is There that Democracy Begins

“If we know where free democracy resides and what it consists in, and if we want to preserve it, we must naturally defend our Bill of Rights and Constitution and fight war and fascism. But fully as important is our obligation to let a democratic breeze into the chambers of our own house and our own brain, for it is there that democracy begins and also there that it begins to decay. It is not enough to protest against flagrant public violations. Democracy, to maintain itself, must repeatedly conquer every cell and corner of the nation. How many of our public institutions and private businesses, our schools, hospitals, and domestic hearths, are in reality little fascist states where freedom of speech is more rigidly excluded than vermin because felt to be more dangerous? It is a constant fight to besiege these live fortresses. Death and martyrdom abroad become vivid irrelevancies compared to the guerilla fought from day to day under threat of dislike and dismissal by those in whom democracy is a practical and particular passion, and not merely an opportunity for frothy partisanship.” (Jacques Barzun, Of Human Freedom)