The Illusion of Hope and the Reality of America
by Kate Barry
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry spoke to the Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. Nearly everyone in this country can quote the last line of his speech, “Give me liberty or give me death”.
To modern ears, Henry’s proclamation, taken in context, may almost seem a foreign concept, even an extreme one, if we give credence to the memes repeated daily by segments of our media, federal agencies and former presidents. Intellectually, we know the founding generation overcame great obstacles to throw off a despotic rule, but emotionally, few of us can connect to the test of courage, hardship, and determination this generation endured to stand firm on their belief that death was preferable to oppression. Many of the patriots of that time did indeed pay the ultimate price. Others survived to forge a grand experiment of personal liberty, limited government and free enterprise. We are the heirs of this brave generation.
Today, we are faced with a situation no less ominous than the one early Americans overcame. How we cope with this knowledge varies as widely as hair color, but the vast majority of the population is aware something is terribly wrong. Be it the economy, terrorism, social issues, worldwide unrest or all of these ingredients, we feel the shifting of our foundation. We are on the cusp of crisis, no matter which event lights the fuse, and we must be clear about who we are and what we stand for. Now, we must decide if we embrace the philosophy of liberty our founders won or the one that says if you love this country, love liberty and accept the responsibilities of a freeman, you are an extremist. We must decide if we accept that communism and socialism is an equally valid governmental path. We must decide if we believe we can outwit the history of these failed ideologies and make them work or if we know in every fiber of our being that the reason these ideologies have failed in the past are because they are oppressive, murderous regimes where social justice turns out to be a great chasm of a small, very wealthy elite class and an impoverished everyone-else.
Have we forgotten the price paid for liberty? Let’s allow Mr. Henry to give us his take on such issues in the following excerpts from his speech.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
In vain..may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free…if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed….
Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
Besides, sir, we have no [choice]. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard…. The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale…will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
I don’t know how anyone can read Patrick Henry’s address to the Virginia Convention and not see the obvious parallels to our current situation. I pray we never come to a battle front such as his generation faced, but even if we avoid open combat, there is indeed a battle waging: a battle of ideologies, a battle of lawful protection and defense of the Constitution and a battle of honor.
A friend of mine who served in the military and in law enforcement said to me a year or so ago, “You understand this is a battle of good vs. evil, don’t you?” Since I believe words have power, I’ve been hesitant to assign ‘evil’ to most men, but the time finally arrived when I realized we are engaged in a spiritual battle as well. Yes, Virginia, there is evil in the world.
How someone internalizes this spiritual battle is up to the individual. It need not be religious, but instead, a battle for the spirit of America and for each of her citizens’ rights according to nature’s law. However, for those of us who rely on faith, it’s also a spiritual battle to protect and defend the gifts granted to mankind by nature’s God.
No matter how we view the primary source of our natural rights, the result is the same. Our rights are as native to mankind as the air is to life. History has taught us again and again that there will always be people who fancy themselves as more entitled and they will, by their own nature, seek to suck all the air from others for their own personal gain.
If we take nothing else from Henry’s speech, we can see where the founding generation stood at that point in 1775. Now, 235 years hence, despite all the technological advances and ease of obtaining an education for those willing, the dual nature of man has not changed one iota. You cannot unlearn human nature. We can only choose to nurture the truthful parts of our adult-selves or we can choose to fall victim to our basest childish instincts to lie, cheat and steal for personal gratification.
Big government, no matter what name you give it, is nothing more than a despotic, spoiled toddler pitching temper tantrums in various forms and under many guises to take what it wants by whatever means necessary. Our elite ruling class and their counterparts throughout the world epitomize immature children who want what they want and will use whomever and whatever they can to obtain it. If they succeed, they will crush their willing accomplices as easily as they would an empty paper cup and destroy opponents by the millions.
We all either know or have seen the empty cups in operation and the methods they use. A good primer for understanding the history of this process is ‘Dupes’ by Paul Kengor. Kengor’s sources are impressive–first source documentation from KGB files smuggled from the Kremlin and FOIA documents. Professor Kengor explains how ‘America’s adversaries have manipulated progressives for a century’ and he calls many of these high-profile dupes by name. As he points out, we cannot point solely at the left as dupes of foreign agents and subversive ideology. Progressive may make up the bulk of dupes, but people are people and many well-meaning Americans have fallen prey to the longstanding, organized effort to subvert this country from within. Eventually, alert dupes have recognized the manipulation and have gone on to actively work to reveal the lies. Unfortunately, too many never realize the role they play in advancing their own demise.
No longer can we take for granted America is the home of the free and the brave. If we hold this as truth, then it’s our responsibility to reject the insidious machinations of forces bent on our destruction with resolute determination to preserve bravery in the face of adversity, equal justice for all men and the natural right of all men to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s natural to fear what turmoil may come to rip the fabric of our country and our lives. Fear comes from not being prepared emotionally and physically. We have one another and we must help our neighbors through hard times. We cannot worry or mourn the loss of transient things, but stand firm on our most precious possessions: liberty, sovereignty and our unique ability to overcome hardships to create great wonders from nothing more than our imaginations and hard work.
Despite political spin and catchy mantras, sorrowful history does repeat itself when mankind indulges in the illusions of hope without truth. If we must repeat history, then let us hold fast to our founders’ belief in this nation and her people. Let us hold fast to the cause of liberty.