I'm probably a bit of a coward, but more on that later.
Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. I'm a complete cynic when it comes to holidays. I don't care anything about holidays made up by big corporations to guilt you into buying something. I don't care anything about pseudo christian holidays superimposed on top of pagan celebrations. I really am no fun in this area. I like holidays that commemorate something that really happened, and as such Independence Day is pretty close to the top of my admittedly short list.
It's one thing to make smarky comments about the Brits in the back booth of some pub to a sympathetic crowd of friends. It's one thing to grumble and complain about the state of affairs. We all do this, especially in liberty minded circles. It is an entirely different matter to sign your name to a document, submitting yourself to the opinions of all mankind, that marks you as an enemy of the status quo. They were guilty of high treason, at least from the monarchy's point of view, and with no knowledge of how it would turn out, they exposed themselves and their families to privations. They had no control over the chain of events that their declaration set into motion, and no guarantee that it wouldn't be met by a crushing monarchical boot of oppression.
The men that signed the Declaration were heroes in this sense; they didn't seek anything new, they sought something very old. They sought the recognition of their natural rights as enshrined in the English Constitution. Their government had broken the law, and they called them on it. Having failed at attempts to settle the disparity through diplomacy and parliamentary efforts, they struck out on their own and made themselves enemies of the state. They would be hunted men, and many of them fared very poorly in the days that followed. It's hard to find any modern parallel until Edward Snowden came along.
We in liberty-minded circles , for the most part, operate from the relative safety of our computer screens. We write, we blog, we pass along youtube videos and internet links and we tell ourselves that we are fighting the good fight, and maybe we are. we try to make peopel think, and that's always a good thing. But how many of us would be willing to put it all on the line with no guarantee of success? I have full confidence that, Snowden's exposure notwithstanding, the NSA will continue their illegal activities. They know that I am writing this, and they know that you are reading this, and they have no intentions of stopping.They will either catch Snowden or he will live the rest of his life in exile, his life permanently altered.
I just wonder what I'm really made of in this area. The truth is I have a wife and four children who depend on me, and it is one thing to alter my life, its very different to alter theirs. Would I be willing to put it all on the line knowing that so many people wouldn't care and that the monstrosity I exposed would most likely continue? Would my 1776 counterpart be willing to sign that paper, or would he prefer to let someone else be courageous?
I understand that there are lots of different ways to push back. I also understand that we all have different lines in the sand, we all have different points at which we say 'if they do this, then I'll do that'. I just know, for myself, that no one has ever yet asked me to pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor. when that day comes, what will my answer be? What will yours be?