In 1775 the Second Continental Congress issued a document entitled The Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. After the King of England had repeatedly ignored the colonies petitions for redress of grievances they were left with no other alternative than to take up arms and fight for their rights. The outcome of the battle to come was never certain, but as John Dickenson stated, “Our cause is just.”
The philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Has this country, once again, found itself at the point where its citizens must resort to taking up arms to restore their unalienable rights?
In recent history Ronald Reagan is probably best known as being the last of the true conservative presidents. While I will refrain from arguing as to whether that is in fact true, Reagan did say something that people really ought to consider; “Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.”
Andrew Jackson, our nation’s seventh President once said, “As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending.” Ponder that and then ask yourself if our government fits the criteria of being worth defending.
George Washington once said, “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
Have we, the American people, become so apathetic, so complacent, that we have forgotten what it means to be free men? Thomas Jefferson once warned “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
In 1785 James Madison stated, “The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.”
From his Rights of British America, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery.”
Because we, the American people, do not understand the nature of our rights, the purpose for which government was instituted, we have allowed our government to grow into something altogether alien to the creature our founders intended.
To again quote from Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance, “The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.”
There are those of us who understand the intent of our nation’s founders and are both saddened and angered at what this country has become. We feel, as did our founders when they declared, “Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.”
If history does indeed repeat itself, then the words of George Washington must surely once again apply to America today, “The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.”
In a letter to William Small, Thomas Jefferson once posed the following question, “Can it be believed that a grateful people will suffer [individuals] to be consigned to execution, whose sole crime has been the developing and asserting their rights?” It saddens me to say that in a nation so frightened of its own shadow and supposed terrorists behind every bush, I would have to say the answer to that question would be yes.
This upcoming presidential election may be this nation’s last chance at halting our slide into tyranny…if it isn’t too late already. The American people need to think long and hard about whom they will cast their vote for in November. We have been promised time and time again by candidates on both sides of the aisle that they will bring about change, but what we end up with is more of the same.
In 1985 John Mellencamp released his album Scarecrow which contained a song entitled Stand For Something, from which I quote, “You’ve got to stand for something Or you’re gonna fall for anything.”
For far too long we have fallen for anything, not really knowing where we stand. Where I stand can best be summed up by what Patrick Henry said in March of 1775, “For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery…” And in closing I echo the words with which he ended that famous speech, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
April 23, 2012
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross can be reached for comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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