“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 their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Thomas Paine, “The Crisis,” December 23, 1776.
Recently, I visited Colonial Williamsburg with friends. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of this 300 acre historical area with still existing, restored and reconstructed buildings representing this once thriving, former capital of Virginia during the Revolutionary War era. Through the living history of people dressed in period costume who spoke and acted consistent with that time, and the many and varied 18th century buildings, shops, trades and other establishments, we experienced life as a Virginia colonist.
It was here in colonial America that our nation and the fundamental principles upon which it was built were conceived in the minds of great patriots like Patrick Henry and future Presidents Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and James Madison. Principles like responsible leadership, bravery, honesty, integrity, self-sacrifice, public service, and individual freedom were birthed by the blood of men who were willing to give much for the greater good. I left Williamsburg with a deep appreciation for the sacrifice and courage of the common colonial man and woman as well as a renewed sense of admiration and thankfulness for the vision, leadership and resolve of the men who founded our country as one nation under God. Men who understood that united we stand, divided we fall.
Our Founding Fathers proclaimed certain truths to be obvious:
- All men are created equal; and
- God gave all men certain non-transferrable rights, including the right to life, the right to be free, and the right to pursue happiness.
Relying on God for protection, these men, on behalf of all of their fellow colonists, declared our independence from Great Britain and pledged to their countrymen and to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
They did not want war and had done everything reasonably possible to avoid it, absent surrendering their freedom. That, they would never do.
Our forefathers understood that man’s right to liberty is God-given. Freedom was God’s idea long before they fought the War of Independence 240 years ago. God gave each of us free will – the right to decide for ourselves our destinies, whether to follow his ways or to abide by our own ideas of right and wrong apart from him.
Yet freedom has never been free. Freedom comes through sacrifice.
For God, that meant sacrificing his right as the Creator to control our decisions, including the decision whether to follow him or to reject him.
For the brave men responsible for founding our great nation, the cost of freedom meant that each one, without exception, had to be willing to sacrifice his life not only for the sake of his own freedom, but for the freedom of his family, his neighbors and of all those he would never know who would come after him.
If our nation builders wanted to breathe free, then they and their fellow colonists would suffer pain and severe hardship. Freedom would require great sacrifice.
But as Thomas Paine recognized:
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
What does that concept mean to you? What are you willing to give up to ensure that you continue to have the right to pursue happiness, the right to live free? Unless you have volunteered to join the military, unlike the colonists you will not likely be required to give up your life, or even your manner or standard of living.
What about the upcoming Presidential election? Can we be bothered to sacrifice 15 minutes of our time to register to vote, and then to fill out and submit a ballot? Is the gift of freedom which we have enjoyed for as long as we have been citizens of the United States of America worth at least that much? Or will we use the excuse when the election is over that we were too busy, we forgot, or that because we did not like either the Republican or the Democratic nominee, that we opted not to vote?
Please vote. It involves the most infinitesimal sacrifice and yet, is one of the most important rights and duties that we, as citizens of a free and democratic nation, possess and owe to our country, to each other and to our descendants.
I encourage you to vote for someone who embodies your values and who you deem fit to hold the office of President and Commander in Chief, an office once held by gentlemen such as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. If that person is Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, then by all means, vote for him or her.
But if neither of those two people possess the character, integrity and ideals that you hold dear, then please, do some research and vote for someone who does. Do not listen to the pundits who tell you that you will waste your vote or that you will be casting a vote for the “other” party’s candidate if you vote for anyone besides these two individuals.
That is a lie propagated by the longstanding, ill-advised and now defunct two party political system that was incapable of offering us candidates that we can vote for, rather than simply against. If we must hold our nose and vote for a demon instead of the devil, then that is no choice at all. A vote for either is a vote for evil. The truth is that if neither of these candidates represents our values and beliefs, and you and I and tens of millions of others vote for somebody else who does, then, even though the outcome of this election may not be altered, change indeed will come as another shot is heard round the world.
This shot will mark the beginning of a different kind of revolution. A revolution in which your vote will be counted with those who dared to stand against the Democratic and Republican political tyranny. A revolution wherein the winning candidate will have been elected with the smallest percentage of the popular vote in history, effectively representing a vote of no confidence and certainly no mandate for him or her. A revolution that will, eventually, end the absolute dominion and control over our government exercised by these two political parties.
With this shot heard round the world, we will begin to take back our freedom to vote for whomever we want to govern us from the political parties to whom we have too long voluntarily surrendered that right.