I have come to the conclusion that liberty is the last thing people care about in their lives; until they are completely deprived of it that is. Those who do not enjoy liberty are those who most fervently wish for it; but once it is obtained they tend to forget what life was like without it, and tend to allow it to be taken from them by those who seek power and dominion over mankind.
From time to time I have used the quote by Tytler about how nations rise and fall which states, “The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”
I think that there is a great deal of validity to that statement. I think that once people obtain liberty they soon become more concerned with temporal enjoyment and comfort and allow those who govern to gradually enact laws which deprive them of it. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said, “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
I don’t know how you define evil, but as it relates towards government I would define evil as anyone or anything which limits the liberty government was instituted to secure. In 1791 Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet Common Sense played a large role in stirring the hearts and minds of the Colonists towards independence, wrote another book in response to Edmund Burke’s attack upon those Frenchmen who were in the midst of fighting tyranny in their land. This book was called The Rights of Man, and in it Paine 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.”
I think that is a fitting word, disgust, as that is what runs through my mind when I hear most people discuss issues of a political nature. In the film Apocalypse Now there is a scene where Colonel Kurtz is talking to Captain Willard where he tells Willard, “There is nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies.” I would add to that, “…and those who blindly accept them as the truth.”
When you look at the history of the world, the time span which America has played a role on the stage is but a fleeting moment. If you were to break that down even further, the period of American history which saw liberty and freedom consume the hearts and minds of those who occupied the land we call America was but the blink of an eye. Now anyone who speaks of liberty and freedom is deemed old fashioned, a radical who has no place in the modern world, or a threat to the security and happiness of the people. As the historian Charles Austin Beard so correctly stated, “You need only reflect that 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.”
For the briefest of moments, liberty was the all consuming thought in America; but like a match that burns brightly for a moment, only to be extinguished, that flame long ago died out except for a few who remember the immortal words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Yet it wasn’t even two decades after he uttered those inspiring words that he would lament, “Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man, may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old fashioned: If so, I am contented to be so: I say, the time has been when every pore of my heart beat for American liberty, and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American.”
I’ve lived almost six decades now; just shy of my sixtieth birthday by six months. In the course of my lifetime I cannot recall once hearing anyone other than Ron Paul, or possibly Chuck Baldwin speak about liberty when running for political office. The sad truth is that talk of liberty does not garner votes; it is the talk of what government can do for the people, regardless of who constitutional it is, which gets people to vote for candidates.
That is because liberty imposes one thing upon people which a majority of them are unwilling to pay; responsibility. People are of the belief that it is the responsibility of government to regulate their lives in order to make them safer and more comfortable. It is the belief of many that it is the responsibility of government to watch over and coddle us from cradle to the grave. Many people believe that it is government’s responsibility to provide us with a safety net should we fail in life.
Just look at how people would react if someone had the audacity to suggest that Social Security be abolished; “How dare someone even advocate that I live frugally and save towards my own retirement; I’m entitled to that money!” Yet were you able to travel back in time to the period immediately following the ratification of our Constitution and suggest to those in our government that they create a program which taxes people and then pays that money back to them gradually over time upon retirement, you would be laughed out of town. But talk about repealing it now and you’re the one who is laughed out of town. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “The closest thing to eternal life is a government program.”
I don’t make any claims to being any kind of prophet or visionary; I am only one guy who has chosen not to fall victim to the lies that our government cares one whit about the liberty it was established to safeguard.
I think there is one thing that people fail to understand about government; the more power it exercises the less free those who are governed become. In that aspect it is almost like a see saw; as governmental power goes up, liberty goes down.
There is a term, rather derogatory I might add, that is used to describe most of the people in this country; that term is Sheeple. Any animal which provides the meat which we eat does not realize that it is enslaved to those who will eventually take them to the butchers to be slaughtered. Watch any of the old western movies and I’m sure you’ll see one in which there is a cattle drive where the cowboys herd their cattle around on horseback. The cows don’t realize that eventually they will end up on someone’s dinner plate in the form of steak or a nice roast, they just follow the herd without any concern as to where they are being led.
That is how I view most Americans; one giant herd that is led around by the nose by lies and political rhetoric which is designed to keep them under the impression that they have a constitutional form of government that represents them. Nothing could be further from the truth; and this has been the case for a very long time; going back at least a century and a half.
In 1944 Judge Learned Hand delivered a speech in which he said, “What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”
I don’t mean to direct this at anyone in particular, but when our Founders were in the midst of deciding whether or not to seek independence from England, Samuel Adams directed this quote to his countrymen, “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”
As Thomas Paine once stated, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Thomas Jefferson once declared that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. That is the cost of liberty; people must be ready to defend it at the cost of their own life if needs be.
I have to wonder, how many people would be willing to pay that price; especially when you can’t even get people to take a few minutes each day to try to learn about the history of their country, or the truth about why their system of government was established.
How readily people today are willing to sacrifice their rights for the false promises of comfort and security. Patrick Henry would roll over in his grave if he could but see how quickly people are willing to give up the rights he so fervently fought for. As his June 5, 1788 speech to the Virginia Assembly states, “Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings-give us that precious jewel, and you may take every thing else.”
It wasn’t long after our forefathers gained their independence from one tyrant, only to have the means for tyranny to take hold in America be approved by the people who had just fought a war to fight it. I’m relatively sure that most people know that in 1787 a convention was held which produced our Constitution. How many know that it was held in secret; its delegates sworn to secrecy? How many know that Madison proposed a much stronger government than the Constitution outlines; one which gave the federal government an absolute veto over any and all laws passed by the States? How many know that Alexander Hamilton proposed what can only be described as an elective monarchy?
Our Constitution did not give us any of those things; it gave us a Republic. Yet as Franklin told the woman upon exiting the convention after the Constitution had been voted upon, “A Republic Madam, if you can keep it.” You see, it was, and always has been, up to we the people to hold government to the limits imposed upon it by the Constitution. How can we do that if we’ve never read it, or don’t fully understand what it says? How can we do that if we care more about what our government can do to make our lives more comfortable and safe than we do about the liberty it was instituted to protect?
Patrick Henry opposed the ratification of the constitution with all his heart and soul; he saw the potential for harm and mischief within it and sought to warn others of its hidden dangers; but no one heeded his warnings. On June 7, 1788 Henry warned, “Where is the responsibility — that leading principle in the British government? In that government a punishment, certain and inevitable, is provided: But in this, there is no real actual punishment for the grossest maladministration. They may go without punishment, though they commit the most outrageous violation on our immunities. That paper may tell me they will be punished. I ask, by what law? They must make the law — for there is no existing law to do it. What — will they make a law to punish themselves? This, Sir, is my great objection to the Constitution, that there is no true responsibility — and that the preservation of our liberty depends on the single chance of men being virtuous enough to make laws to punish themselves.”
We may hear from time to time of how an elected representative is found guilty of ethics violations, but when was the last time you heard that an elective representative was found guilty of violating the limits the Constitution imposes upon the office they hold? I can’t recall one instance of where anyone was found guilty. Even Nixon, who resigned before he could be impeached, was not found guilty by Congress or a court of law.
I think Patrick Henry’s warning has proven to be pretty darned accurate.
If government can pass any law it wants, and then enforce it at gunpoint, you have lost your liberty. If government can tax you at will, and then punish you if you refuse to pay, you have lost your liberty. If government decides that it is the sole decider of what constitutes the general welfare of the nation, then it has forgotten what Madison said about the general welfare, “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, everything, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress… Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.” (Source: speech to the House of Representatives opposing bounties for Cod Fisheries, February 3, 1792)
In Federalist 51 James Madison wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
If government cannot control itself, and if the people are unable, or unwilling to control it, then that government is unfit to exist; as it always leads to the total loss of the liberty of those it governs…ALWAYS!
If the document which establishes this form of government does not provide the means by which the people can effectively restrain their government from overstepping the limits imposed upon it, then it too opens the doorway to those who would seek to deprive the people of their liberty.
And, as Lysander Spooner, who fought the government’s monopoly on mail delivery, and lost, once said, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.” And therefore, if the document which established our government is unfit to exist, then what does that say about the government it created?
Food for thought; especially since people continue to look towards more government programs in answer to all the problems this country faces.