I owe an apology to the recently deceased, Academy Award-winning actor, Charlton Heston. Not for any slurs against his acting or political activism, but for my ignorance of the meaning of his "invitation" to pry his gun from his "cold, dead hands." At the time of this pronouncement, I was naïve enough to think that he was being melodramatic, reliving his Moses character with the similarly impassioned plea to "let my people go."
As I began writing an e-mail to a friend, in response to one of the many pronouncements of one of the presidential candidates, Mr. Heston’s expression rose from my subconscious. I wrote that my freedom could only be taken from my own cold, dead hands.
Why am I so serious and discussing terms such as "dead" and "guns?" Those who know me well will probably chuckle to think about the physical coward they know, and a weapon – other than a pen – being used in the same sentence. So to clear up any confusion, this article is not about guns. It is about the preservation of our freedoms. The right to possess a gun, granted by the Second Amendment, is but one facet of our multiplicity of freedoms.
Many of our freedoms are being eroded as
we look on helplessly. We still have the right to free speech, but for
how long if we do not ensure that both the ruled and rulers understand
and abide by this fact?
I carry around with me a booklet from Hillsdale College, containing the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, so that I can remind myself that on July 4, 1776, the Congress of the colonies met and declared: "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.”
In the 1996 movie, "Jerry McGuire,” Renee
Zellwegger tells Tom Cruise, "you had me at hello." In the same way, The
United States of America had me from the first lines of The Declaration
that "all men are created equal." I live in this country because I want
to be able to claim my "unalienable right...to Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness." I carefully note that I have no right to
Happiness, but to the pursuit of it. Some omit the "pursuit" and feel
that we are entitled to Happiness, even at the expense of the country or
our fellow citizens.
The 1776 Congress went on to state that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. So if governments (read politicians) derive their powers from the consent of the governed, why are the governed the last to know about many of the things to which they have supposedly "consented?" I wonder what John Hart, Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, William Williams or William Ellery – a few of the 56 signers of the Declaration – would think if they were magically transported from 1776 to 2008?
No doubt they would be fascinated by the newfangled ATM. Would they think, as I am beginning to, that ATM now means "American Taxpayer Machine," as "we the people," mainly without our "consent," are being expected to pick up the tab for each and every exotic idea that springs from the fertile imagination of those who derive their "just" power from us?
True, "universal health care" may not fall into the "exotic" category. It is also true, that many Americans are without health insurance, albeit some by choice. But why are the two Democrats running for president proposing universal health care, conceivably leading to mandatory health insurance, that explicitly excludes the consent of the "governed"? I must have skipped over the part in the Constitution where it states: "Congress shall make any and all laws respecting the establishment of a universal health care program and prohibiting the free exercise of choice of participation by the governed."
We are told that universal health care is going to be "affordable." When one rakes in anywhere from $4 million to around $120 million a year, anything is affordable. How about Congress passing a law that states: "Congress shall make no laws forcing the governed to pay up to 45 percent of their income in mandatory contributions”? Additionally, the governed will be allowed the economic freedom to have more money in their pockets, and pursue their version of happiness, be it freedom to spend their money as they wish, including on affordable health care, or not.
Also, Congress will no longer be the baby
sitter of the governed, and force them to eat their peas! How about this
for good measure: "Congress will no longer encourage class warfare by
the use of tactics such as soaking the rich, soaking the middle class,
and targeting the single, well-paid citizen, to support various programs
that suck up hard-earned money like vacuum cleaners on steroids."
If they were alive today, would the signers of the Declaration of Independence notice that there is less fidelity to the will of the people, for example in protecting the sovereign borders of the U.S. – sovereignty for which William Hopper, John Penn, George Walton and Arthur Middleton bravely signed that 1776 document, knowing full well that they were opening up themselves to suffering the full wrath of the King of England?
Terrorists murdered almost 3,000 innocent Americans on September 11, 2001. We rightfully waged war on both known and suspected terrorists. Good so far. We even helped some countries build borders to protect their sovereignty. Somewhere along the way in fighting "terror" in foreign countries by land, sea and air, we forgot that we also have land, sea, and air to protect!
Are the bravery and courage, so ably exhibited by the 56 signers, now in danger of extinction 232 years later? It is with deep chagrin that I look at the "presidential" campaign and witness "cooks" who should not be in the kitchen because they cannot stand the heat. Have "whining" and well-timed sound bites now been elevated to "qualifications" to be president?
I care not at all who gets the first question in a debate. I do not want to hear the potential president, who will control that red phone, whining about ducking from buffets. But I do want to see or hear that candidate grab the damn buffets and hurl them back. Pretend that the buffets are being hurled by some two-bit dictator threatening harm to the "governed." Should any dictators threaten the country, what action would be taken? To call in the pastry chef!
When my freedom is
at stake, I want to see a division of Marines shooting to kill, and
asking questions later. I "consent" to be governed, but I want to see
strength and truth in action, not speeches about paté and croissants! I
do not want to see "typical white grandmothers," or, for that matter,
typical any color, thrown under the train in order to protect a
candidacy. I want to hear a modern-day John Paul Jones rally: "I have
not yet begun to fight!"
Now I am beginning to see why those guns should never be taken, not even from our "cold, dead hands." We may need them to protect our land, if those to whom we have given our consent to be governed, are of a squeamish disposition. Bring back Lt. Colonel Allan West, who lost his military career because he dared to allow a gun to be shot in the ceiling (or wherever) in order to scare a suspected "insurgent" in Iraq, thereby saving the lives of soldiers under Lt. Col. West's command. I get the impression that Lt. Colonel West does not have the time to discuss the culinary merits of quiche or arugula, but he could not only stand the heat in the kitchen, he would probably be the source of that heat!