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Can Americans Conjure The Courage Of The Pilgrims?

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Embarkation of the Pilgrims - Robert Walter Weir

Of the 102 Mayflower passengers, 45 died during that first winter.

If the Pilgrims of 1620 had known what their freedom would cost, would they have turned back? They sought liberty at great risk.

On this side of it, I’m tempted to think, “Guys, just tolerate a little tyranny. Better to be alive and comfortable under authoritarianism you can probably adapt to, than to be free but possibly dead, right?”

You see where I’m going with that.

But the first Americans longed for freedom, and while the chance came with much grief and suffering, they were willing to pay the price. These were the earliest Americans, our forebears, fiercely devoted to conscience and liberty, no matter the cost. They paved the way for many who would come after, for similar reasons.

A century and a half later, the authors of the Declaration of Independence wrote freedom into our founding documents. These among others they agreed were inviolable, and ought to be protected from encroachment by that great leviathan, the state:

Freedom of speech/expression

Freedom of assembly

Freedom of religion and worship

Every one of those liberties has faced a full-frontal attack in 2020, though the majority of the mischief has been at the hands of political leaders in cities and states, rather than the federal government.

Now New York City has set up checkpoints, like some kind of totalitarian state. “Papers, please.”

California is micromanaging people’s Thanksgiving gatherings: keep it under 2 hours, no more than 3 families, wear a mask except when you eat or drink, keep 6 feet away from everyone, and please don’t let people shout or chant or sing or play trumpets.

Meanwhile, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti reminds those tempted to disobey that they “may be taking people’s lives.”

Also meanwhile, some Americans' rulers have already been enjoying their own holiday affairs with utter disregard for the rules established for the plebs.

From the sound of it, the dictates might finally be too much for some Americans, as many clearly plan to make their own risk assessments for the holiday. But the tyranny of 2020 and many Americans’ complicity begs the question whether we feel as fiercely as the founders did when it comes to individual liberty.

You have to be careful talking about freedom these days; people will accuse you of being selfish, or dangerous. Liberty is hardly an American virtue anymore. Neither is courage. The actions of the Pilgrims and the words of Patrick Henry (still the state motto of New Hampshire) seem now nearly as anachronistic as a Shakespeare play or King James Bible: a curiosity, but incomprehensible and irrelevant. Can any one of us really say, with an honest and courageous soul, “Give me liberty or give me death”?

Have we been placated with food and booze and Netflix, stimulus checks and our own personally-curated news sources constructed to stroke our self-satisfied positions? Are Americans too comfortable to stand up and tell the state “No”? Are we too afraid of what we might lose if we do?

How do we reclaim the spirit of the pilgrims?

Only through risk. Risk to our own safety and property by speaking the truth amidst a whirlwind of lies. By refusing to forget facts that the state and complicit media shove down the memory hole. By not fearing censorship, page deletion, doxxing, retribution, losing our jobs or being threatened with even worse.

Freedom is not for the faint of heart. The history of humanity is mostly a history of being ruled, accepting varying levels of servitude. The kind of freedom upon which America was founded was an anomaly.

We risk much when we insist upon liberty. Thankfully, even little acts of resistance to tyranny can undermine the power of authoritarians in meaningful ways. Perhaps dinner around the Thanksgiving table today will be the most revolutionary action many Americans have ever taken. Could it be that we are, in a small way, channeling the courage of the Pilgrims by simply gathering together?

Anyways, it’s a start.


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