Saturday, July 4, 2009

American Independence

When great minds gather, things change. Academic and intellectual rebellion is a given. The status quo starts to bend. The pen, they say, is mightier than the sword, but without the gun, America does not stand. With the gun, the status quo breaks.

Names forever burned in history. The great luminaries, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, speaking words that will echo for as long as mankind is capable of thought. The great diplomats, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, whose success at enlisting French and Spanish aid lent credence to American ideals as international enterprises. The father of the Constitution, James Madison, whose ability to think beyond himself led to a governing document replete with both conservative and liberal values. The great soldiers, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who knew that without armies of men willing to die, the hopes and dreams of an infant nation would amount to little more than a stillbirth.

This great experiment, this persistent drama of the world's stage, Act I in humanity's next great play. Fostered not just of American thought, but of French, of Dutch, Spanish, Polish, and Prussian. Even British. Philosophies of Locke and Rousseau come to life, philosophical seeds watered with the blood of the Patriot, the militia, and the regular. Revolutionary, yes, and Civil. The very definition of American. A Republic from a monarchy, a Congress from a Parliament. Great minds capable of governing themselves.

"... and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America."

Thousands of names forgotten, or simply unlearned. John Hancock is little more than a signature, Sam Adams little more than a beer, Ethan Allen little more than a chair. Richard Henry Lee, Samuel Huntington, Nathanael Greene, and 25,000 of those who chose to take up arms. What did they fail to do in order to be remembered with the names of others?

This great experiment, borne of war in April of 1775. The first wading step into the Rubicon. A swimming thought unsure where to make landfall. The bold John Paul Jones sailing to England itself. Montgomery's charge into Canada. Great feats propelling and propelled by the ramblings of thoughtful men in Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York. An unlikelihood in Saratoga creating waves in Paris. This great experiment, "in the way you shall think most proper," and "the shot heard 'round the world."

When in the course of human events, after all. Liberty is not free. It requires a pen and a gun. Let us hope the pen remains loud and the gun remains silent.

21 comments:

  1. Awesome, Jeff.

    Happy Independence Day to you, one of those who helped us hold on to it. Thank you.

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  2. Where man once fought to not go hungry and feel the pains. Man now must work to feel the hunger, to feel the pains. We are evolving from the selfish to the selfless, individuals of the state.

    -jonathan

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  3. O.K. now I can post a comment. Before, no box. Great comment, huh. All about me. :)

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  4. I wish that I could say that the America written here is still alive, but sadly there is only a shade left in the dust. Put there by the lazy and the entitled to be trampled by the socialists. Few remember that America as envisioned by the people of the day was supposed to allow the common citizen freedom to succeed or fail without government intervention.

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  5. written like a true stateman..nice historical magpie! Your last line is my hope as well!

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  6. Beautifully written a wonderful tribute...I Love American History and you just reinforced that Love...bkm

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  7. Please excuse my impertinence, I am not an American so perhaps should butt out, but can't resist stating my disagreement with one 'anonymous'.
    The simnplicity of a concept of 'freedom' that equates state (community) assistance for the unemployed, sick and insane as encouraging laziness is that side of America we hoped had been repudiated with the election of Obama!

    Where you have (out of control) people who can control their incomes in such a way as to give themselves huge bonuses despite contributing to the demise of their own businesses while causing world wide pain, who meanwhile talk about people living in cardboard boxes as lazy, there is a lot to learn.

    All that said, the USA still represents the realm of the possible and opportunity for individuals.

    However, we all hold our breath as we wonder how far freedom of market forces, like the the freedom to drill oil wells in sensitive and dangerous areas can be allowed before 'socialist' concepts like common good and long term environmental considerations kick in to put the brakes on. Under 'socialist' Obama both those issues seem to be receiving attention.

    I am confident most of we mere onlookers thank you for your account of American history and timely restatement of her dreams. Very well written. Thanks Jeff

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  8. Beautiful tribute, Jeff. Your last line is a great summation.

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  9. Hey, I just noticed your new header image. Did Tom do it for you? Crazy-quirky-cool!

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  10. Wonderful series of interesting thoughts!
    If only the pen could be always loud and the gun silent! But I have a few fears about the pen! Somehow it seems that the keyboard is replacing it. Somehow I feel that in many ways we are moving closer to another form of "gun"!

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  11. the problem is that the pen can become a gun-a very thought provoking Magpie.

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  12. very well written. thought-provoking. interesting. never truer words spoken. standing ovation!

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  13. "Let us hope the pen remains loud and the gun remains silent. "

    Amen

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  14. This is you, using your "pen" with such power! Wonderful job, Jeff.

    Two things come to mind:

    1. Those brave people you write of took amazing risks to build a better life, a life of freedoms, for themselves and their descendants. I just wish they and their descendants had believed that others, such as the people here before them and those who came after for all the same reasons, were entitled to those same freedoms and better way of life.

    2. I visited friends in New Zealand a few years ago, feeling a bit embarrassed about the state of affairs back home. My friends said, "You are America! You always pull it out." I was moved to hear more hope coming from them than I heard at home.

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  15. Liked it. Shared it. ... Don't forget: light fire cracker and throw.

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  16. Idon't know how I missed this. I wasn't reading you in 2009 but it looks like you re posted judging from the time stamp on the comments. Saw it on Facebook. Very powerful piece and makes me realise how little I know of American history. Here's hoping I live long enough for me to see the US. It is still, I think, a great country no matter how the outside world regards it. You'll have to educate me!

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  17. Enjoy . . don't forget to 'ooh' at the fireworks. I love fireworks. I just realised that was an old post. Fine words my friend. Kinda sad but fine.

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  18. very well said jeff...thanks for remembering your history and inspiring us to remember ours...happy independence day...

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  19. Wow, great post. It is amazing how easily we forget how our story started and the sacrifices that were made, all because of an idea....a very good idea.

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