On April 26, 1777 John Adams penned a letter to his wife in which he said, “Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” You do know that Adams was speaking to us; for that’s what posterity is, future generations.
I do find it somewhat ironic that during the American Revolution Adams was among the most ardent and outspoken of our Founders for the principles of liberty and independence, yet once those lofty goals were attained, and he found himself holding the highest office in the land, that he turned around and signed into law 4 pieces of legislation which subverted those very principles – The Alien and Sedition Acts.
But that is neither here nor there in regards to the subject matter I wish to discuss. What Adams was saying is that he hoped that those who would follow him after he went to his grave would adhere to the same principles that drove him, and the other patriots of 1776 to seek their independence from a government that sought to reduce them under an absolute despotism.
I wonder, if Adams could come back from the dead and see what we have allowed to happen to this country, what kind of a report card would he give us for our defense of the principles he and his fellow patriots fought so hard for? Do you think he would grade on the curve, or say that there were extenuating circumstances which prohibited us from defending the liberty he fought to secure?
I often wonder how many of MY fellow countrymen have ever sat down and read the Declaration of Independence – from beginning to end. Of those who may have done so, I wonder how many have taken the principles it outlines and used them as the basis for their entire belief system regarding government. Aside from being a long laundry list of grievances against their King, the Declaration of Independence is a universal declaration of how those who signed it felt about their rights and the purpose for which ALL governments should exist. They then went on to sign it, pledging their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor in defense of those principles.
I wonder, do people ever stop to wonder what kind of extenuating circumstances our Founders may have had. Most of them had careers of one kind or another that were put at risk by their treasonous act against their King. Most had families to worry about as well. Yet none of those things deterred them from supporting the principles outlined in that document. So what is YOUR excuse?
Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence – he wrote it and it was then submitted to a committee who then went about the process of editing it so that it would be acceptable to the entire Continental Congress who were about to be asked to commit treason against their government by adopting it.
Years later Benjamin Rush would write a letter to John Adams saying, “Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress, to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?” Yet sign it they did, and it is our duty as Americans to honor their sacrifice by adhering to the principles they agreed to on that fateful day.
Or is that just too much to ask of people? (And that is obviously a rhetorical question)
I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable person on the subject, but in comparison to the average American voter I would say I am light years ahead of them when it comes to understanding of the period of history which saw America go from British Colonies to free, sovereign and independent States. I am also more informed than the average voter when it comes to the intricacies of the document that established our system of government, and the arguments both for and against the adoption of that system of government. I think I also see, with more clarity than most, how it all went wrong – and can provide a fairly decent amount of evidence to support my position.
Yet when I try to present people with facts that prove their beliefs to be wrong I am met with angry responses or total apathy. I may as well be throwing tennis balls at a battle tank for all the good I’m doing. But then again I do live behind enemy lines in California; the bastion of stupidity and liberal thought – so that might have something to do with it.
Nevertheless we are all Americans and most would claim that they are at least moderately patriotic. But what does this patriotism mean to them? Is it flying the flag outside your house and threatening to stomp someone’s ass that desecrates or burns it? Is it having a barbecue and swilling a few beers every July 4th? Is it paying your taxes honestly and faithfully? Is it doing your patriotic duty by voting in every election?
Is that what patriotism has come to in this country; simple gestures that require little effort and even less risk? Patriotism is not, nor will it ever be, blind support for your government; depending of course upon the fact that it is managed by those belonging to the same political party you do. Patriotism is the steadfast devotion to, and support of the principles this country was founded upon; it is the willingness to stand guard against any and all infraction of those principles; and the willingness to rise up against those who would violate those principles – even when those violations come from your government. As Edward Abbey said, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
People are so caught up in their own little worlds of political party allegiance that they fail to see that government as an entity is a machine; a machine that devours liberty. People assume that when I say government I am talking about the President, or possibly Congress. But when I say government I am talking about the entire entity, from the President all the way down to the janitor that sweeps the floors in some obscure federal office building.
If I say I do not support the troops, or law enforcement, I am certain that I would become to object of scorn and derision, and called unpatriotic. But if those entities are doing things, and enforcing acts which violate our rights, or are blatantly unconstitutional, who is unpatriotic; those who support or those who oppose them?
How can you claim to be a patriot; one who cherishes and defends liberty, yet support a government that allows for the murder of millions of unborn children every year through the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade?
How can you claim to be a patriot; who stands ready to defend liberty, yet you support the governments unwarranted and unlimited spying upon each and every one of us; and who called Edward Snowden a traitor for exposing the extent to which our government is violating our right to privacy?
How can you claim to be a patriot when you support the limitations imposed upon our right to keep and bear arms, and the circumstances under which we can use those arms to defend ourselves or our property?
How can you call yourself a patriot when you honor a president who waged war against his fellow countrymen for exercising the very principle enshrined in the Declaration of Independence?
If you want my honest opinion, most Americans are more devoted to their favorite football team than they are to the principle of individual liberty.
Even before our Constitution was ratified, and the government it outlines put into effect, Patrick Henry foresaw this loss of concern for liberty in the people who supported a system of government that was clearly designed to destroy that liberty. In a speech given on June 5, 1788 Henry said, “Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings-give us that precious jewel, and you may take every thing else: But I am fearful I have lived long enough to become an fellow: 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 can only imagine what Henry would say about the people of this country in 2019.
Yet like I said, facts and the truth bounce off the skulls of most people like tennis balls off the armor plating of a battle tank; the people are too preoccupied or unconcerned to let something as insignificant as the truth to interfere with their lives, or their beliefs. And, as Thomas Paine said, “To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals.”
Then there was Patrick Henry, who said, “…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.”
I began this commentary by mentioning a letter by John Adams to his wife Abigail; and I would like to close it by also quoting from that same letter. Adams told his wife something that completely echoes my sentiments regarding the people of my time, “I am more sick and more ashamed of my own Countrymen, than ever I was before.”
I do my best to hide it, but I can’t help but feeling utter contempt and disgust for the people of this country,(and I’m speaking in general terms here). I realize that there are others like me who see what’s happening, and more importantly, understand how it happened. But we are few and far between; distant buoys and beacons of liberty in an ocean of ignorance and apathy.
But, to my fellow patriots I offer up the standard toast, “Here is to us and those like us … so damned few left!”