A Heart that Burns

….for its country.  It’s a revolutionary concept.  Seems like something we should all try, especially our politicians.

These are not the vapours of a melancholly mind, nor the effusions of envy, disappointed ambition, nor of a spirit of opposition to government: but the emanations of an heart that burns, for its country’s welfare.  No one of any feeling, born and educated in this once happy country, can consider the numerous distresses, the gross indignities, the barbarous ignorance, the haughty usurpations, that we have reason to fear are meditating for ourselves, our children, our neighbours, in short for all our countrymen and all their posterity, without the utmost agonies of heart, and many tears.”

~ John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, 1765 (emphasis added by me)


Adams wrote the above on the eve of the American Revolution.  He no longer recognized the country he loved.  The Colonial America that was firmly tied to a benevolent Britain was disappearing, as the British locked down their rule on the colonies.  Adams feared the outcome of the situation America had found itself in because if something didn’t change, the country he’d been born in and loved was doomed to become a shadow of its former self.  We may no longer be a mere colony of a great power (we may even be a great power in our own right), but we have come to a place in our history where the choice between our paths is the same as our Founding Fathers.  We all know something is wrong in the very heart of our government – in how we plan and how we legislate and how we act, that’s due to both us and our chosen elected leaders.  We have a choice right now to either accept the status quo, to accept our government and our situation as it currently stands, or to make a complete paradigm shift and demand that liberty, freedom, and the will of the people take ascendency once more.  This was the exact same choice our Founding Fathers made when they decided they would not settle for anything less than a good government ruled by the people.

It’s not like we don’t already have the tools to do this.  The Founding Fathers recognized that without safeguards and a good Constitution, the nation wouldn’t be able to find its way again once it started to stray.  And they knew we’d face decay.  There is a certain amount of inevitably in the history of all nations and all governments; those in power always seek to remain in power.  They also tend to think they alone know what is the right path, and that anyone who disagrees is fundamentally flawed.  (Sound a lot like the political talks you hear each day?)  The American people, though discontent, are not discontent enough it seems.  And that’s the real problem, because the true resting place of power in our government is still in all of us.  We keep reelecting politicians we know are failing us.  We don’t push for changes in our own communities or in our broader country through our words and activism.  When was the last time you wrote your Congressman when they said or did something you absolutely hated or thought was completely unproductive?  We vote without thinking about a candidate’s merit or about the real issues behind a piece of legislation (and be honest here, did you REALLY research every last candidate, even the local ones when you went to the polls last fall).  We don’t even check our own friends and family when they contribute to the problem instead of the solution.  Basically, we accept the status quo, even if we complain, because its easy.  Unfortunately, what’s easy isn’t always what’s right.


Res Publica


Documentation without Representation:

John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, No. 4, October 1765


Electronic Text Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

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