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The Tree of Liberty

Taxes serve as a wicked form of indefinite indentured servitude — a sort of access fee  levied against newcomers and existing residents alike who failed to get a stranglehold over the property and the population, then passively relented when the fledgling power structure claimed some rights and privileges over them.

The insulated ruling class — the power structure — then cultivates its power with the fertilizers of struggle, silence and stupefying sophistry, which bear the fruit of complex institutions that only the insiders understand, which collectively serve to benefit those who know how to navigate the growing and obfuscatory web, while the stupefied majority and the passive rule-followers look the other way or find reasons to avoid any conflict. 

What their principles demand of them, their fear and laziness overcome. 

They wishfully assume that justice will come into being on its own, that the world will sort things out — or they otherwise warp their perspectives to endorse intelligent-sounding designs in support of the incumbent institution. 

They altogether fail to acknowledge that individual human beings are ultimately responsible for that action, that no semblance of justice can emerge absent the courage or outright audacity of the few who are sharp enough to spot the affronts to liberty and brave enough to confront them. 

As the world modernizes and socializes, so too appears to diminish the average expected return on any fight for freedom. 

With what the average man would need to forfeit in return for a shot at freedom, it often doesn’t add up. 

With a long life of retirement ahead, along with a cozy pension, the many splendid vacations on the horizon, and the hopes of witnessing one’s children grow up and start their own families, the subject of freedom has become a topic for dinner-table talk, a rallying cry to sell books or fill auditoriums, a footnote in a high school history lesson. 

Few, if any, acolytes from the freedom camp have any intentions of ever acting on their distaste for the sordid system, beyond their bumper stickers, t-shirts and hats, or the occasional debate with a socialist who’s really close to moving out of his mom’s basement. 

What’s worse, the average adult learned nearly all of his history during his adolescence, when he was naive and impressionable between naps, trained to believe that freedom is the product of the good old Stars and Stripes, that the United States of America has already figured it all out: wherever the banner hangs or the flag waves, that is where freedom resides. 

What’s more, the cost of freedom is always readily paid by those who underestimate its value, who fail to appreciate the risks of having too little of it, and by others who are eager to gain special privileges by sacrificing it, for ends that are unmistakably tempting and well-intentioned. 

In the end, with the development of technologies, societies and published histories, we’ve been seduced into believing that we are too civilized for such an antiquated struggle, that the brutish savages of the past were simply too ignorant, uncultured and unrefined to coexist gracefully in civilization. 

Those brutes, rebels and revolutionaries of the past simply failed to grasp what is meant by civilization and proper freedom, and they were too confused by their own myopia to appreciate progress in their time; if only they had iPhones, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to preoccupy their minds — you know, the features of modern civilization — then they might have been spared the agony. 

Or, perhaps these men had just enough to die for, yet little enough to remain connected to planet earth and sensitive to the intangible value of freedom. 

Perhaps they cared enough about their families, their neighbors and townsmen, their farms and their communities, precisely because they were connected to them, not spared the moments of critical thought and reflection by today’s echo chambers in Hollywood, media and the occasional encounter with actual human beings who’ve been molded by their artificial existence. 

Whether by dullness, deference or calculation, freedom will continue to wane to their disfavor, under a flag that promises much more at the unseen cost of everything that matters. 

Before they arrive at the shining beacon upon the hill, they’ll inevitably sacrifice much more than they ever anticipated, and their elusive nirvana will only metamorphose on the horizon, sustaining the political pilgrimage with every imaginable shape, sound and form that can possibly hypnotize the masses into ignoring the diminishing landscape of their surroundings. 

The sacrifices will be glorified, their loyalty ennobled, and their tales chiseled into the historical record and the collective minds of those who wouldn’t dare question or insult the celebrated stories of their fathers.

By the time they realize the inestimable value of freedom, the costs to reacquire it will resemble the very savagery they and their smug predecessors censured from their ivory towers. 

Unfortunately, they will have, by then, sacrificed such a great measure of freedom — and the government will have equipped an obedient and unthinking soldiery with such a robust and advanced arsenal — that their power to rebalance the scales will have been regrettably reduced to a fool's errand.

They will invariably recall why Thomas Jefferson urged in 1787, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

According to Jefferson, that is the tree's "natural manure." 


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