Yesterday I had a brief conversation with a friend at work and we were both struggling to find an explanation for why so many people are so completely ignorant of what is happening to this country, and why so few people care. I can understand how so many became ignorant when it comes to what is going on in America, but what I cannot understand is why so few care once they are provided with the facts. That just boggles my mind.
I’m sure you know someone whom you dislike a great deal. Yet just because you dislike a person does not mean that from time to time they might not say things that ring true. Such is the case with Frantz Fanon. Fanon was a Caribbean born Marxist revolutionary whose ideology I strongly oppose. Yet he sure hit the nail on the head when he said, “Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
Human nature is such that most people feel the need to belong to something; be it a group, an organization, or even a small circle of friends. People will gravitate towards others who share the same beliefs and ideologies just to avoid having to go through life alone. I’m not condemning people for doing so, I do it myself. What I can’t understand though is how so many people have such closed minds that they refuse to consider evidence which might prove that everything they have ever been taught about a subject has been a lie.
The famous physicist Albert Einstein once said, “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.”
There is nothing wrong with people wanting to associate with other human beings, absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. Yet to blindly accept whatever they are told without ever questioning or researching the information, is foolish at best. That, I think, is the point Einstein was trying to make.
Almost two and a quarter centuries ago an Englishman who emigrated to America became one of the moving forces behind the American Revolution. His booklet Common Sense fueled the fire for independence among the general population more than anything the Crown, or anyone else for that matter, did. This man was Thomas Paine. Years later Paine would write another booklet entitled The Rights of Man, wherein he states, “When I contemplate the natural dignity of man, when I feel (for Nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for the honour and happiness of its character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.”
Paine and I are of like mind, however I would phrase what he said somewhat differently. I would state, “I’m sorry if I am not politically correct but I get mad when I see government doing things they have no authority to do, and I get pissed at people who sit back and do nothing about it while their rights are being trampled upon.”
How many of you have been in arguments where you have presented all kinds of facts and evidence to support your side of the argument, only to have them fall on deaf ears? If so you have some semblance of how I feel all the time. It seems that no matter how much evidence I provide, or how I word it, people simply refuse to accept the message that I am attempting to get across.
Samuel Adams once wrote that “Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.” This is no truer than when discussing politics. When it comes to politics everyone has their own opinion, and unfortunately most of the time these opinions are based, not upon fact, but upon an emotional response to a crisis or issue that faces America.
A perfect example of this is how every time there is a shooting of any scale where the media covers it endlessly, the first thing I hear is that we must pass stricter gun laws to prevent something like this from happening again. This is what’s known as a knee jerk reaction, just like when your doctor hits your knee with that little rubber mallet and your knee instinctively reacts by kicking your leg. It involves no thinking, it is a purely instinctive reaction.
The same thing happened with 9/11. People were so outraged, and afraid, that they bought into everything the media and their government told them regarding who and what were behind the attacks, and what we must do to prevent attacks like those from happening again.
In instances such as these people forget about how precious their rights and liberty are, and they only think about what our government can do to make them safer and more secure so they can go back to their lives without the fear of another public shooting or terrorist attack. People fail to even consider that with each law passed to make them safer another chain is forged which brings them closer to slavery.
Ben Franklin once said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Honestly I wouldn’t care if you voted away your freedom completely except for the fact that whatever laws you support to keep you feeling safer and more secure also affect me as well.
You may see these laws as making America a safer place, or bringing equality to all, but I only see the steady progress of tyranny. You hear me say that word a lot…tyranny. Yet I don’t think many of you truly understand what it means.
Noah Webster defined tyranny thusly, “Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law...” In Section 202 of his Second Treatise, John Locke has this to say about tyranny, “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law be transgressed to another’s harm; and whosoever in authority exceeds the power given him by the law, and makes use of the force he has under his command to compass that upon the subject which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate, and acting without authority may be opposed, as any other man who by force invades the right of another.”
STOP right here! Did you get that? Any man who exceeds the power given him by the law may be opposed. The law, in this case, is the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If our lawmakers enact laws upon matters the Constitution does not grant them powers to legislate upon we may oppose those laws. If our lawmakers seek to restrict, or invade, our rights we may oppose them.
These are powerful words, and words that our government does not want you to understand. They know that should the people fully understand what Locke said that they would lose all power and control over us. They want us to be afraid of them…afraid of what might happen to us if we do not obey the laws they pass.
There is a quote falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but true nonetheless which states, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
In 1788 James Madison stood upon the floor of the Virginia Ratifying Convention, trying to convince the delegates to ratify the Constitution. To calm their fears that the government the Constitution was creating would become all powerful he stated, “[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”
As one of the prime movers behind the move for the Constitution, one would think Madison knew what he was talking about when he said the powers granted the government were few and defined. Yet why is it that so many people today care so little that their government enacts law after law upon things they have absolutely no authority to enact laws upon?
In the 1943 case of West Virginia Board of Education vs. Barnette, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson ruled, “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”
There is a very important point you need to understand at this point. The two above quotes do not say our government ‘should not’ pass laws which violate the Constitution, they say that government ‘shall not’. This means under no circumstance shall our government overstep the limits imposed upon it by the people when they created it.
In 1866 the Supreme Court ruled, “The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of men than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism.”
So again, why is it that so many people cannot understand that government cannot violate these rights…even when they say it serves the public good? Yet we have laws prohibiting us from owning certain types of firearms, or carrying them on our persons; our children have been told they cannot pray in school; we have governmental agencies spying upon our communications and private affairs…AND NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE!
I can present these facts, and scores more, and they will go in one ear of people, and out the other…that is if they even read them. Does your freedom and liberty mean so little to you that you will simply ignore what I am saying because it conflicts with what you are being told?
Isaac Asimov may have been right when he wrote, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
James Madison once wrote, “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
Our Founders understood human nature better than we give them credit for. They realized that their system would fail if the people became uneducated and corrupt. In his Commentaries on the Constitution, Joseph Story wrote, “Yet, after all, the fabric may fall; for the work of man is perishable, and must for ever have inherent elements of decay. Nay, it must perish, if there be not that vital spirit in the people, which alone can nourish, sustain, and direct all its movements. It is in vain, that statesmen shall form plans of government, in which the beauty and harmony of a republic shall be embodied in visible order, shall be built up on solid substructions, and adorned by every useful ornament, if the inhabitants suffer the silent power of time to dilapidate its walls, or crumble its massy supporters into dust; if the assaults from without are never resisted, and the rottenness and mining from within are never guarded against. Who can preserve the rights and liberties of the people, when they shall be abandoned by themselves? Who shall keep watch in the temple, when the watchmen sleep at their posts? Who shall call upon the people to redeem their possessions, and revive the republic, when their own hands have deliberately and corruptly surrendered them to the oppressor, and have built the prisons, or dug the graves of their own friends… This dark picture, it is to be hoped, will never be applicable to the republic of America And yet it affords a warning, which, like all the lessons of past experience, we are not permitted to disregard. America, free, happy, and enlightened, as she is, must rest the preservation of her rights and liberties upon the virtue, independence, justice, and sagacity of the people. If either fail, the republic is gone. Its shadow may remain with all the pomp, and circumstance, and trickery of government, but its vital power will have departed. In America, the demagogue may arise, as well as elsewhere. He is the natural, though spurious growth of republics; and like the courtier he may, by his blandishments, delude the ears, and blind the eyes of the people to their own destruction. If ever the day shall arrive, in which the best talents and the best virtues shall be driven from office by intrigue or corruption, by the ostracism of the press, or the still more unrelenting persecution of party, legislation will cease to be national. It will be wise by accident, and bad by system.”
That is where we are today in America, a system that is bad because the people do not understand it and by virtue of their ignorance do not hold those whom they elect to uphold it. You can switch back and forth, voting for Republicans or Democrats, and nothing is going to change until YOU take the time to learn how the system was designed. But that alone will not be enough. You must then demand that those whom you elect remain faithful to their oath to support and defend the Constitution. As Goethe once said, “Knowing is not enough, you must apply.”
Charles Austin Beard once said, “One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence.”
And finally, in 1788 Josiah Quincy, Jr. had the following published in the Boston Gazette, and it applies just as much today as it did back then, “Oh, my countrymen! What will our children say, when they read the history of these times? Should they find we tamely gave away without one noble struggle, the most invaluable of earthly blessings? As they drag the galling chain, will they not execrate us? If we have any respect for things sacred; any regard to the dearest treasures on earth; if we have one tender sentiment for posterity; if we would not be despised by the whole world – let us in the most open, solemn manner, and with determined fortitude, swear we will die, if we cannot live free men!”
You can go about your lives, continuing to believe that the only problems with our government are the fault of the ‘other’ political party, while not willing to accept that both parties are equally to blame, or you can pull your head out of the sand and start thinking for yourself.
Like I said, I could care less if you keep believing in a lie and supporting every single law which further erodes your rights, but your ignorance is costing me my rights as well, and that is where I draw the line and get mad. And people wonder why I’m so grumpy all the time.