When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life,
232 years ago today - on
When the 56 members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence and pledged their Lives, [their] Fortunes, and [their] sacred Honor to formally support the Revolution, they were truly risking everything. The second that they put pen to paper in
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
So what exactly would have moved such men to literally risk everything for an abstract principle of freedom?
By the time the Declaration was signed, the colonists had attempted by all possible diplomatic means and appeals to the British Parliament to have their concerns heard, only to have a deaf ear cast toward them. In fact, the louder their grievances became, the greater the pressure the British authorities brought to bear on the colonists. First, oppressive taxation was imposed, without the consent of the colonists. Then, to enforce the collection of the taxes and to quell increasing dissent, the king dispatched British Army garrisons to the colonies. Then trade to and from the colonies was strictly curtailed, and a virtual blockade was imposed by the British Navy on all goods entering and leaving
Quite frankly, these men had a choice to make. They could either do nothing, and surrender unconditionally to a despotic King who could not have cared less about the welfare of the colonists, or they could take a stand. For liberty. For self-determination. For freedom.
The Tyranny of Complacency
Against us are all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty. We are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and perils. - Thomas Jefferson
So, today, as we look back over the last 232 years, what have we as a people done with that great sacrifice borne by those 56 men, and by all of those other innumerable Patriots - at such places as Valley Forge, New Orleans, the Alamo, Antietam, Gettysburg, the Argonne, Normandy, Guadalcanal - that have lost their lives in the centuries since that moment when we declared our freedom.
For most of the last 232 years, we developed and nurtured a “grand experiment” in our Constitutional representative republic that was the envy of the entire planet. It was so admired that many millions of people from distant shores risked everything to come here and make a new life for themselves and their families. We welcomed them into the great American “melting pot” with open arms, only asking that they participate fully in our society and contribute their labor and vigilance to the continuation of the “experiment.”
But, somewhere in the last 80 years, something has gone wrong.
We have become too comfortable - too self-assured - too arrogant.
We have allowed powerful and influential interests in industry and politics to pervert the democratic process to benefit themselves, while allowing ourselves to be seduced into believing that they were doing this to benefit us. We have seen government expand its reach and control into every aspect of our daily lives, and far beyond what the Founders believed was proper. We have developed an ‘entitlement’ mentality, and ascribed “rights” status to things such as “free” medical care, “free” education with assured equality of outcomes, and “free” retirement. We have allowed our national and economic sovereignty to be sacrificed at the twin altars of multicultural diversity and globalism. We have been cowed into allowing the most sacred protector of our individual freedoms, our Bill of Rights, to be trampled on and shredded in the name of patriotism and security.
In our complacency, we have forgotten that true freedom, true self-determination, must be defended through educating ourselves about the workings of our republic and being intimately active in the process of government.
And so, while we have had our backs turned and our heads in the sand (or in the television set); the experiment has gone terribly awry. We have allowed ourselves to be bound with velvet handcuffs, and in the name of safety and security, we have accepted abuses and usurpations on the part of our own Government that those 56 men who risked their lives for freedom would have found beyond reprehensible.
A New Birth of Freedom
The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite. - Thomas Jefferson
So, now, as a nation we find ourselves in the same position as those signers of the Declaration were 232 years ago. We have a choice to make. Neither road will be easy.
We can choose to do nothing, and surrender unconditionally to being ruled by a despotic elite that does not have the nation’s interest at heart, but instead is interested in corrupting the political process for its own gain; to depend on government to provide our every need, but at the terrible price of the confiscation of the fruits of our labor and the loss of our ability to determine our individual destinies; and to ultimately trade our hard-fought freedom for a comfortable existence in slavery.
Or, we can do as the Founders did, and declare our independence.
We can wake up, tear ourselves away from the Wii's and the televisions and the computer screens and the bread and circuses that the entertainment wing of the corporatocracy have given us to dull our senses and lull us to sleep, and begin to challenge their newspeak that intrusive government is good, that they are here to help us and to make us happy, and that we don’t need to think for ourselves.
We can fill ourselves with righteous anger and funnel it to constructive purposes, such as getting educated and active, and we can move to reassert ourselves in the body politic.
We can find the true patriots of our age, or even better, be the true patriots of our age, and be willing to support those people in their runs for political office or run for office ourselves.
We can work to inoculate ourselves from the inevitable siren’s calls of corruption that will come from those who will want us to forget why we are being called to serve, and carry ourselves with the same kind of self-sacrificial spirit that those 56 men displayed in
Even though the experiment has gone awry, it is not at all unsalvageable. We are still a shining beacon of hope to the world, of rugged individuality, of self-reliance, of entrepreneurship, and ingenuity. These have always been the hallmarks of the independent spirit of
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom; go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. - Samuel Adams
Note – This was reprinted with permission from the author. The author and I have chosen different paths (at this time) to try to restore our freedoms. Steve is active in the Republican Party and I with the Libertarian Party in
-- Rob --