“These are the times that try men’s souls:
the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from
the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and
thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily
conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict,
the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem
(Thomas Paine, The American
Crisis. Dec. 19, 1776.)
1700’s a group of angry patriots dared to sparked a revolution. They did all
they could by diplomatic standards – going so far as to leave the “civilized”
country they were born and raised in, simply wanting to live in peace
unencumbered by the insecurities of a ruling class who sought to restrain their
dreams. Willing to migrate across treacherous seas, to trade the “comforts of
home” for a wilderness setting filled with unknowns, these rebels had a cause; a
desire for freedom from tyranny, taxation and the oppressive rule of a king who
cared little for his subjects and all for his capital gains.
Freedom doesn’t come
easily, nor can it be given. The early American revolutionaries
did not rely on the efforts of others; they did not wait for a savior to rescue
them from their plight. They saw the futility of holding out for
the empty promises of the ruling parties in their fatherland and took matters in
their own hands knowing the standards and principles on which they based their
actions were worthy of the sacrifice.
struck the hearts of the sophisticated gentry who had been left behind as they
came to realize they might have to learn to fend for themselves; to make their
beds, clean their yards, tend their children – give up the “good life” for the
reality of Life.
As red coated aristocrats stepped
across open fields with arrogance befitting the ignorance of those highly
pampered elitists who believed their money left them invincible and able to
conquer and manipulate a world which must have been created
their pleasure, the carefully laid rebellion began in earnest; lessons of
survival adding to the strength of will of those who had tasted freedom for
themselves and understood what was needed to remain free.
What the leaders
of the lords of London failed to recognize were the character
and strength of the rebels whose disrespect to the “king” they had hoped to
quell. They could not understand the drive and commitment these
rebels held for preserving their individual freedoms. They had
little respect for the meaning of those freedoms; their sense of freedom having
been bought, not earned. Yet the fear they held for the strength
of men they did not understand caused them to raise their weapons to destroy
what they feared, and freedom loving revolutionaries were left with no other
option but to defend themselves in kind, even as they continued to hope for
“It is easy to perceive
that individuals by agreeing to erect forms of government, (for the better
security of themselves) must give up some part of their liberty for that
purpose; and it is the particular business of a Constitution to mark out how
much they shall give up. “
(Paine, Letter IV, Four
Letters of Interesting Subjects, 1776.)
It was not an ill-conceived love of country or
nationalist pride that gave these revolutionaries the right to be called
patriots. They were patriots for having laid a foundation for the
way of life they envisioned, and believed in it enough to be willing to defend
it with a commitment only others like them could understand. They worked
tirelessly to create a set of laws which would serve as a guideline for their
vision, Laws of Humanity incorporated into a Constitution which they believed to
be just and fair to all even as the authors admitted to flaws which would only
be tempered by time. Each was willing to give up something so
that all could live in the greatest freedom possible. They were
patriots because they stood their ground for the right to live with their own
high standards and principles, and their individual sacrifices were deserving of
their expectation that those standards be maintained in the actions of all who
chose to live in the new nation founded on their blood.
Where have all the patriots gone?
We have hired defenders for every action under the
sun; lobbyists in Congress, advocates in business, in school, in healthcare, and
soldiers at war. What was once a new country formed by the vision
of independent thinkers is now a nation of followers passing the buck to anyone
who craves publicity – although today’s “buck” barely scratches the surface of
the price followers pay for someone else to be their voice of “truth.”
The patriots of 1776 were willing to fight with
all they had for the freedoms defined in their newly penned Constitution simply
because it had been their hands which had done the work to establish the nation
whose laws were represented by that constitution; they were their own voice of
They did the work and earned the right to declare
Now, with every day that passes
States citizens lose a little more of their
freedom, at least on paper. But did they have that freedom to
begin with? Certainly not the freedom they demanded, nor had they
earned; not as a nation and not in recent history. United
States citizens have been living with the
illusion of freedom for generations now. With nothing much more
than a slap on the wrist, they allow the administration’s actions of corruption
and deception to continue; “sunshine patriots” and “summer soldiers” giving
lip-service to the words of the Constitution but little attention to their
meaning, willingly conceding more of their freedom to avoid the hard work
required to deserve what freedom really means.
Freedom is not free – and United States
citizens are losing more of their freedom every day as they freely choose to
allow others to make their decisions for them; justifying their actions from the
safety of their living rooms saying “it’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we
don’t know what else to do.”
What else to do?
STAND UP AND FIGHT!!!!!!
back with a willingness to sacrifice comfort for the principles of law which
give us all our freedom.
Fight for what you have earned. Wait. What has been earned? This freedom you speak of has
no meaning, no value; it remains illusion – words spoken from the podiums of a
thousand different protests and a hundred different congressional caucuses as if
giving a dramatic soliloquy from the center of a spotlight on an otherwise dimly
lit stage – freedom earned by the sweat of those on the frontlines is only real
to those willing to sweat. Oh, how Americans seem to be so afraid
Our soldiers are dying, our veterans have suffered
the lasting effects of fighting for an unjust, undefined cause. Our country is fading from a once proud new nation of rebels with
revolutionary ideas, willing to sacrifice their luxuries for the right to live
in freedom, to a land of elitists willing to sacrifice their freedoms for the
right to live in luxury.
Where are the revolutionaries? We do
not need more self-proclaimed “patriots” re-enacting pages from a history
book---we need revolutionaries.
Revolutionaries are determined to maintain high
standards, strength of character and demonstrate their respect for others as our
Constitution demands, even as they stand for change in a corrupt, increasingly
immoral shadow of a country once founded on standards, strength of character and
respect for others.
Revolutionaries know they must be, within
themselves, all the changes they want to see.
Revolutionaries are willing to fight for their
freedom with everything they have, giving up nothing of themselves in the
process, earning the right for that freedom by living the cost.
Where are these rebels who understand the depth of
who acts beyond the line of private life must expect to pass through two severe
examinations. First, as to his motives, secondly, as to his
(Paine, Letter I, Four
Letters of Interesting Subjects, 1776.)
Monica is the wife
of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in
Iraq and a year in prison for his public protest of war and the destruction it
causes to civilians and to American military personnel. Please visit their
websites, www.BendermanDefense.org and www.BendermansBridge.org to learn more.
The conduct of United States
citizens clearly defines their commitment to the cause – it is past time for a
revolution – the final exam is scheduled to begin. Will our
conduct reflect the high standards true freedom demands? Or are
our motives simply a cover to hide the fact that we have not yet learned what
freedom really means?
Monica and Kevin may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org