The Man Without a Country
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.” Edward Everett Hale
Ronald Reagan once said at an address to the annual meeting of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce March 1961 “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
I think maybe Reagan was wrong. Extinction is probably a lot shorter than a generation away given today’s advances in communication where lies can be spread at light speed to reach the empty headed. Add to this the current geo-political climate, the economic instabilities of the US and the very real threats of terrorism and you have the threats of the 21st century. The founding fathers could not possibly have imagined or contemplated these threats more than two centuries ago, yet the very principles they set forth in government so long ago are the only reason I believe this country still survives and has not already succumbed to totalitarianism in one form or another. The principles of respect for the individual and his personal property, division of government and specific limitations on the Executive have stood the test of time and allowed generations to live in greater freedom than most others have ever enjoyed on the planet.
Edward Everett Hale was a 19th century American author, historian and Unitarian clergyman who wrote a story called “The Man Without a Country” first appearing in The Atlantic Monthly in 1863. In the story a lieutenant is found guilty of treason and after proclaiming he never wanted to hear another thing about the US, he is given the unusual sentence of being kept aboard US warships the remainder of his life and never to be permitted to set foot on US soil again and never permitted to learn any more news good or bad about his former country. His guards and no one else are permitted to speak about the country to him ever again. The man after many long years traveling from ship to ship and without a homeland and starved for news of it, learns to love his country but far too late. He becomes so distraught that he laments to a young man just before his death: “Remember, boy, that behind all these men … behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by Her, boy, as you would stand by your mother, if those devils there had got hold of her to-day !..” At the time Hale wrote this our country was deeply divided and fighting for its very survival in the Civil War. Hale was promoting the idea of patriotism and the preservation of the union. The story resonated with many Americans.
Today with so many threats to our lives from outside our borders we fail all too often to see the very real threats that exist from within them. I’m not speaking of terror cells living within the US, greedy Wall Street corporate raiders, or illegal immigrants for that matter sponging off the rest of us taxpayers. I am talking about all those Americans so eager and willing to just surrender their personal responsibilities and with that their freedom, in exchange for the false promises made by politicians, of greater safety and security. The promises of Big Government never end and neither do the costs to fund them. We must refuse to allow our fellow Americans to steer us to extinction. For each new burdening regulation and perversion of the Constitution; for each new usurpation of power by the President or the courts we allow for our own good or for extra security and safety; we surrender that which made us different, exceptional, and free. Piece by piece we are creating our own demise by growing this government leviathan until some day we may be the ones looked upon as that traitor and forced to live without a country, telling our children’s children what it was like to live in a free country for they will not know of any and their history books will criticize it as dangerous.
We are fighting to not be that man, our home and way of life is under siege by fools and power hungry men and women. What are you going to do about it?
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” -Samuel Adams
One of America’s first rebel rousers and instigator of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams, was a vocal critic of British policy towards the colonies and its taxation specifically. Adams vehemently opposed Britain’s Stamp Act of 1765 and Adams played a vital part in organizing the original Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773.
Samuel Adams, second cousin to John Adams the country’s 2nd President of the USA, was instrumental to the American independence movement. He was a religious man and fervent revolutionary who would go on to be one of the fifty six signers of the Declaration of Independence. Adams in his political career served as Massachusetts state legislator; delegate to the Continental Congress, and later after the revolutionary war would become governor of Massachusetts.
“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”- Samuel Adams
Five things you can do today to make a difference
One of the best things about living in our country is the 1st amendment and the right to free speech. We can voice our dissent if we are unhappy. With this in mind I have written five ideas that can get you started on the road to being “involved.” Do it today!
1. Contact your legislators. Its sounds so simple and it is. If they do not hear from you and their other constituents they will assume they are doing things right. Remember they have huge ego’s. Think of something that gets your really angry or irritated about government. Chances are that won’t be hard to do. Find one that really stirs you up and then tell them about it. Call them up or easier still email them.
2. Join a local political grass roots organization that is interested in the same things you are. Their are thousands of organizations that support the same issues as you. Find one and join.
3. Educate yourself. This is probably the most important one. To fully understand the issue is the first step towards fixing it. The Declaration of Independence and US Constitution are good places to start if you haven’t already read them. They are relatively short compared to say the new Affordable Care Act language. There are plenty of good places to find a copy and read them on-line or at your local library. Do it, you’ll be glad you did. Knowledge is power.
4. Create a blog. They’re easy to do with plenty of free ones out there with tutorials. Put your ideas on paper then transfer them to the computer then tell your friends to come check it out, and repeat. You can even leave out the paper part. Everybody has got something to say, and now more than ever, so take advantage of technology and share your thoughts with the world.
5, Lastly teach your family what you learned today or if you have no family share it with a friend or co-worker. Encourage them to take the same five steps you did.
The changes we have seen in our government over the years did not happen overnight. They won’t be fixed over night either. Making a course correction takes time and it starts with you and those around you. Make a difference and get started today!
…Truth, Justice, and the American Way
The time was June 1938. America was still reeling from years of economic calamity brought on by the Great Depression. War was also in the wind. The beginnings of the darkness that would soon spread across multiple continents and cost millions their lives had already fully metastasized in Europe and far off places like Nanking, China. America’s hope of staying out of a second world conflict looked very grim.
Against this back drop two Jewish immigrants living in blue collar Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, struggling to make ends meet and dreaming of using their talents someday, stumble upon an idea for a comic book serial. Siegel is later credited with saying that one night while looking up at the stars he imagined a powerful hero that looked out for those in trouble. A savior if you will. From that germ, the idea of Superman was born and in June 1938 was introduced to the American public, a public desperate for heroes and someone or something to look out for them.
To Siegel and Shuster both left leaning immigrants, Superman in early serial comic editions took on the role as social activist fighting against business corruption and dirty politicians. The character would later see greater notoriety not in comic books, but in radio broadcasts. By the 1940’s and 1950’s Superman began personifying the ideal American: quiet, humble, mild mannered, but with strong fortitude and desirable character traits like being truthful and just. It also didn’t hurt that he could fly and was virtually invincible.
Through the decades Superman’s mantra would change little. His beliefs in truth, justice, and tolerance could easily have been said to be the ideal “American Way.” An America where people do what’s morally right, believe in a system of laws that are just and not arbitrary, and are tolerant of all races and cultures.
Maybe that America never really existed, but it is a hopeful vision. Today as they did in Siegel and Shuster’s time, people look to government as the answer to all their problems. Back then it was Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Today President Obama could easily be identified by some as the personification of the superhero in red cape, who promises to stamp out injustice and corruption, intolerance, feeds the poor and provides for the uninsured. Superman was fiction then and is fiction now.
America needs it heroes, but perhaps instead of new heroes dressed in business suits, making speeches, and promising the stars, we just need to look further back in time. Maybe we need to try and reconnect to an older group of heroes than Superman. We need to look to the lives and lessons learned from super men who founded this country more than 200 years ago, or better still one Superman who was hung on a cross more than 2000 years ago and came back from the dead.