"We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." - from the Declaration of Independence
I have a tradition on the 4th of July.
It's not an old tradition quite yet.
I get up in the early watches (before the kids get up and spoil the silence with arguing who has the most pancakes or they ask me to settle "The Great Crayon Dispute"), and pour a large cup of coffee.
And I read Bill Whittle's "Freedom" essay:
...The American Revolution surely is unique in the sense that its ringleaders -- Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, etc -- were men of property, wealth and prestige; in other words, men with something to lose. Compare this to any other revolution in history, where the ringleaders were outsiders; plotters staring in through the windows of prosperity, powerless. The Russian Revolution, French Revolution, etc -- these were joined by desperate people fighting mind-numbing poverty and severe political repression.
And yet the Founding Fathers were men who were as well-off as any men on earth at the time, and furthermore, any of them could have been (and were) political leaders under His Majesty's government. The average colonial farmer likewise led a life far more comfortable than those of his cousins in Europe, to say nothing of Asia or Africa.
For all practical intents and purposes, these people had absolutely nothing to gain, and everything in the world to lose, by taking on the greatest military force the world had ever known. Why would they do this? What possible motivation could well-off, comfortable people have? Militarily, they seemed certain to lose, and they knew before they started -- and Patrick Henry made that abundantly clear -- that they would be hanged as common criminals if they failed.
Of course, the answer is, they did it to be free. And they did it to make the rest of their nation -- the poor, the disenfranchised -- free as well. And it is clear as crystal from their collective writings that they took that risk to make Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore and the rest of us in their unseen posterity free, too. They could look down the dim, moonlit riverbanks of the future and see a society worthy of their sacrifice and determination. They knew that God, (or for me, chance perhaps) had put them together in a time and place where bold, courageous action, followed by much suffering, doubt, blood and fear could, perhaps, unleash in mankind an energy source the likes of which they could not imagine...
All of his essays are unique and powerful. History, Tribes and Freedom are among my favorites. Do yourself a favor and read them (again). They put our times and issues in context with history in a personal and spiritual way.
A few years ago, back when Jimbo was a Commenter instead of planning world domination through Blackfive, he left this note:
What a joy. Reading Bill is like watching my thoughts reach their true potential. He grabs the deepest core of why we are and then travels the world with the idea. I bought my Dad his book right after finishing it just to pay him some tribute.
My first foray into the Blogosphere was in 2002 when a pal wrote me, "Matt, you have to check this out." with a link and I pulled up Eject! Eject! Eject! on my computer. Not only were there amazing essays but one of the greatest collection of
rogues Sheepdogs the world has ever known (the first being the Founding Fathers). Some from those early days are not blogging anymore, some have been beaten down and quit - others found other things to do, and some are still at it (right Pinch?).
Blackfive may be the inspiration for some to start blogging to make a difference.
Bill Whittle was mine.