Cautionary Fact #1: The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799. During which time history recorded the overthrow of a monarchy and the institution of a dictatorship under Napoleon.
Cautionary Fact #2: Joseph de Maistre, the most visionary of France’s early counterrevolutionary philosophers, in a letter written in August 1811, commented about Russia’s new constitution and in light of the French Revolution, stated “Every country has the government it deserves.”
Cautionary Fact #3: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) was a French political thinker and historian, In 1835 he wrote his most famous work Democracy in America. In that first volume he quotes another translation from Maistre: “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”
“Every country has the government it deserves”, “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve”. “We deserve”. In a recent weekend, four million citizens gathered in locations throughout this great country to clearly and emphatically state that we deserve better. The very next weekend, thousands of our citizens gathered in airport terminals throughout the country to protest action by our government to discriminate on the basis of race and/or religion, to over-reach, in violation of the Constitution of the United States. They, too, know that we deserve better…and we do.
Do we need to fight again for human rights? Do we need to fight again for woman’s rights? Do we need to fight again for voters rights? Do we need to fight again for the right to marry whom we love? These are battles that we fought and bled for and won. These are victories that may be reversed by those who are being placed in high positions. Yes, we do need to fight to protect our rights.
Do we deserve partisan politics that overrides our sense of justice? No! Do we deserve incompetence that overrides our sense of morality, honesty and common sense? No! Do we deserve arrogance that denies facts? No! Do we deserve for the United States of America to fall from respected and loved around the world, to putting our own troops at risk, to be seen as a thief stealing oil from poor countries and to be seen as aiding and abetting terrorists throughout the world. We do not deserve any of these.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” We have rights that our creator has given us and we have enumerated those rights in our Constitution. We are all created equal. All of us, not a select few, all of us. This is worth fighting for.
The French Revolution taught us the importance of people’s rights, that the voices of people have power, power to change. Unfortunately, the people of France took their eye off the ball and ceded power to a select few, laying the groundwork for the dictatorship of Napoleon.
These past few days we have demonstrated that we can rally in the face of threats to change this country we love. We have shown a fire, a spirit to gather and make our voices heard, our position known. But fire can be fragile, it can fail in the face of apathy or threat. This fire of ours needs support, needs to be protected and nurtured, and, most of all, it needs to be sustained through the coming weeks, months, even years. We need to be in the midst of this over the long haul, to take our stand, to be strong, encouraged by the courage shown by Sally Yates. Is this the new, peaceful American strong, Revolution? Time will tell.
Maistre and Tocqueville have both underscored the truth that we have the government we deserve. The question is do we accept that state of affairs or do we use the power of our presence and voices to bring about change, peaceful change? It is not up to others. It is up to us!
We are on solid ground. Just to remind you, here are a couple of gifts from our founders:
Second paragraph, United States Declaration of Independence. July 4, 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to…(protest, alter, change?)
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
What can you do? Here are a few ideas:
- Express your thoughts and feelings to your elected representatives. Use post cards, rather than e-mail, text or tweeter, to make a greater impact. Go online to get their addresses at: gov/representatives/find/ senate.gov/senators/contact/
- Be active, be involved. Support those initiatives or organizations that are working to protect your rights.
- Peaceful protest gatherings are visible and emphatically get across the message. Join with them, encourage them, and support them. These are our “grass roots”.
- Speak out. Share your concerns with family, friends. Spell it out, we are talking about the loss of our “unalienable rights”!
- Insist on facts and truth in your conversations, in your local newspaper, wherever you encounter those “alternative facts”.
There is so much more to be said and done. Watch this space.
For What It’s Worth.