"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is the one thing which by inspection destroys such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it, and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If that glory can be killed, we are lost."
–Steinbeck, East of Eden, 131.
This reminds me of Andrew Sullivan's "This I Believe" segment, which still gives me goosebumps, as he talks about the individual and liberty.