I am always amazed that the voices of our Founders, now some 240 years distant, remain as relevant in our day as when they were first spoken. One of the firebrands of liberty was Samuel Adams, who stated:
The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.
Adams’ last statement, “to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men” is the telling one for our generation. We often romanticize the struggle for liberty. If faced with a tyrant like King George and his marshaled forces of the British Empire invading New York, Boston and Philadelphia, then we think we would resist. Or if, like me, you grew up during the Cold War and participated in bomb shelter drills of the 1980s or the “Duck and Cover” drills of the 1950s, you (at least in your mind) were ready to defend America against a Soviet invasion. So liberties “wrested” from us Americans would, no doubt, be met with a struggle.But what of liberties “cheated” from us from “false and designing men”. What of subtle changes that appear benign enough, but that nevertheless strip us of liberties, perhaps something as simple as choosing one’s own healthcare plan? With the NSA spying on our telephone conversations, it is perhaps safer to blog about these things than to speak of them to one’s friend. But it is difficult for a thinking person to reach any other conclusion than that we are, in fact, being cheated out of our liberties.
What then should we do?