Saturday, November 03, 2007

Igniting Brush Fires in American Minds

“It does not require a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority
keen to set brush fires in people's minds.”
Samuel Adams

Reading through this month’s issue of The Front Line, I found myself utterly inspired by the words of my neighbors. As each presented their case to our Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS), I caught a glimmer of patriotic splendor I thought had passed from the American scene.

In the newsletter, I also noted the above quote from Samuel Adams, an American patriot himself, who set many a brush fire in the minds of his neighbors, and helped launch the revolution which led to the birth of our nation. Apparently, patriotism not only lives, but thrives in the minds and hearts of many Prince William citizens. What a relief. What a comfort to this lonely and weary patriot.

In our media-driven, pop-culture age, patriotism seems passé. From my vantage point, it appears as if those who control our print media, those who produce our television programs and make our big budget movies, view patriotism as out-of-date, old fashioned, or even obsolete.

We Americans have been browbeaten over and over again by the purveyors of political correctness. Many of us have felt so intimidated that we hesitated to even speak up in public about the rapidly rising plague around us. Perhaps, at last, that cursed spell has been broken. As more of us rise to speak, joining our voices with others, we find ourselves invigorated, encouraged, and revitalized.

Samuel Adams was but one of several outspoken voices of his age, crying for deliverance from what he deemed to be excessive taxation by the British. Appointed to prepare instructions for Boston’s four delegates to the Massachusetts General Assembly, Adams’ words aroused others in his circle of influence, igniting brush fires that grew to become the American War for Independence.

Adams’ writings complemented others of his era, an age when patriotic pamphleteers delivered regular ideological fuel to feed the fires of freedom in the American colonies. Among his peers we find Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense. Paine’s pen ignited many a brush fire in the days when our nation’s founders gathered in Philadelphia and severed their ties with Britain.

Following Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown in 1781, our leaders gathered again and cobbled together our Constitution, the document that still holds us together some 230 years later. But the American people had to be persuaded that this new form of government should be the law of the land. And so, American pamphleteers pulled out their pens and cranked up their presses again.

Our nation has always been at its finest when everyday people join the struggle to make necessary changes. Prior to our unfortunate and bloody split in 1861, writers and circuit lecturers like Lyman Beecher, the Grimké sisters, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Beecher Stowe used words to convince the public of the need to end the scourge of slavery.

Likewise in the ante-bellum South, pastors used their pulpits and pamphleteers their pens in an effort to defend the “peculiar institution.” They wrapped arguments for their very indefensible institution, in the very defensible cloak of states’ rights.

Later that century, and on into the next, women suffragettes used their pens and their voices to lobby for the right to vote. Their words succeeded, and the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution became law in the summer of 1920.

In the twenty-first century, pens and presses have been replaced with keyboards and printers. Today, Internet bloggers and political pundits feed our minds with ideological observation and analysis.

But perhaps today’s most instructive voices are those right here amongst us. Because our national leaders have ignored our open Southern border, we citizens have begun sounding a loud distress signal. All across the land, everyday people are rising up and speaking. State and local leaders are beginning to listen. Some, like ours, are taking steps to defend our nation and our culture from what Prince William’s own Robert Duecaster calls “an invasion of this country.”

From those who argued for enforcement on October 16th and 17th, much wisdom flowed. Consider the words of Kathleen Godfrey who told the BOCS “what we’re talking about is dishonesty. What we are talking about are basic, core values—decency, telling the truth, and not taking what is not yours.” Or Judith Taylor who reminded the board that “it’s about respect, respect for the laws of this country. If the people expect respect, you must also give it, but you haven’t given it because you haven’t respected our laws.” Mary Ellen Espinosa Lewis, granddaughter of legal immigrants from Mexico, explained that those who are really “being treated unfairly are those who are waiting very patiently in line to come here legally.”

Brush fires have been ignited. The minds of many Americans have once again become engaged in rational, clear-headed thinking. Citizens across the land are speaking up, taking steps, and inspiring others to do the same.

We have only begun. As Charles Burgher of Woodbridge declared that lengthy, wearying night in October, “It’s time to take America back.”

"Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation
must bear the fatigue of supporting it.”
Thomas Paine


At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice job. This is a good piece.


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