Thomas Payne wrote, “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
Who will stand by our country now?
“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace.” Those who are proclaimed to be the great patriots of our time admonish us that we must do this peacefully.
That we must work within the system.
That we must cast our votes in a rigged system and expect an outcome in our favor.
That we must seek redress of grievance in courts that long ago abandoned justice.
That we must plead with those who we elect to serve us, that their oath is a most sacred duty they ought to abide.
That we must cower while the blows of bureaucratic thugs come down upon our heads when we dare to express our discontent.
That we must send our young off to wars of conquest across the globe, only to have them return broken either physically, or mentally.
That we must, at the barrel of a gun, contribute our labor, and property to fund whatever tyranny is cast upon us.
That we must be comforted by the notion that there is an awakening even though we send our miscreant representatives back to office at every election.
That we must protest instead of bare our teeth.
On March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry rose in the Virginia House and spoke with determined passion that “it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
Henry raised his voice for anyone who would listen that, “The war is actually begun! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? 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!”
A year later Thomas Jefferson delivered to the Continental Congress, for debate, the doctrine that would become our founding document.
Listed among the many reasons for our disassociation with Britain were:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
It seems that when we celebrate this Fourth of July we can look back at the words I’ve quoted and place them here, today as part of the life we live.
It seems that the men who made such poignant statements over two centuries ago had not only commented on their time, but sent a warning to future generations to be wary of things to come.
What did we learn from those men, if we learned anything at all? Have we learned that history does indeed repeat itself, and to look away was to place our feet on the road to disaster?
If Henry and Jefferson were alive today, would they change their words, or their tone one bit?
On this Fourth of July, will we celebrate the birth of a nation by asking questions that concern men of high ideals? Will we consider the fate of this nation and the well being of our children? Or might we sit idly by, and dull our minds with liquor while spouting off about the future of our favorite, and inconsequential indulgence?