Double whammy! See there? You didn’t expect to see a blog out of me today, and instead I give you TWO of them, back to back! 😉
I see this complaint all the time on Facebook. When tragedy strikes (Paris and San Bernardino come most readily to mind), people get emotional and show solidarity for the grieving by changing their profile picture or issuing pithy statements. Invariably, there will be those who say that talk doesn’t change anything, that ACTION is what’s called for.
…only, how does action come about?
By… talking. Right?
See, that’s how ideas spread. Somebody considers XYZ truth, finds a way to put that truth into words, shares that truth with someone who finds it agreeable, who in turn shares it with people in THEIR sphere of influence, ad infinitum.
That’s how this nation was born, after all. Any nation can be born in base revolution, but ours was born in ENLIGHTENED revolution, where ideas regarding the future were as vital to the movement as emotions regarding the past were. We didn’t just consider what we were fighting against — we considered what we were fighting toward.
We had Patrick Henry’s famous one-liner to the Virginia Convention — “Give me liberty or give me death!” — which swung the balance of opinion, and served to kickstart Virginia’s participation in the Revolutionary War. We had Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense — a mainstay of the rebel colonists, and an inspiration to the authors of American freedom. We had the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, arguments from both sides of the federalism argument that gave a much-needed tension to the framers of the Constitution, admonishing them to not lean too much in one direction or the other.
We had wisdom. And that wisdom came from ideas. From talk.
But this axiom is not only true for the Revolutionary War. After all, where would slavery in England be without the likes of William Wilberforce? Where would women’s suffrage in America be, but for Susan B Anthony? And where would the Civil Rights movement be if Martin Luther King didn’t “have a dream” and share it with us?
It’s true that Facebook doesn’t have very many luminaries, but to be quite honest, our founding fathers — and mothers — weren’t particularly luminous themselves. But they were informed. They didn’t simply know what they hated. They also knew what they wanted. They had a goal that was BEYOND revolution, BEYOND griping and complaining and “civil disobedience” and what have you. They had an end game, a solution, a conclusion to their struggle that SATISFIED the reasoning for it. And they shared this reasoning with others, who shared it with others, ad infinitum.
“Talk doesn’t change anything”? Bah. Talk can’t help BUT change things. What we need, though, is the right talker. We need people who can put their thoughts into compelling words, with a logic that proves the validity of their argument and with a conviction that will set hearts ablaze. We need a Thomas Paine for this age, a Ben Franklin, a Thomas Jefferson, a Samuel Bryan, a Frederick Douglass, a William Wilberforce, a Martin Luther King. We need people who don’t simply feel or think, but who know WHY they feel or think that way, and can explain that why to others.
Far too many people believe that America will never see another Revolution, another Civil War. While I could hope that this is the case, I expect that it’s not. Tempers are rising, swords are being rattled, and all it will take is the right trigger at the right time, and life as we know it in these “idyllic” United States will come to an end. I’m afraid that it’s inevitable, because no matter how tolerant you are, no matter how pacifistic you try to be, everybody has a limit, a line in the sand that they absolutely WILL NOT CROSS, and when they are PUSHED over that line, they will respond. They will ACT, just as the “talk doesn’t change anything” crowd expects to see.
But not all change is for the better, and THAT is where the power of talk comes into play. When change does come — and it will come, make no mistake — what we change to is at least as important as what we’re changing from. It behooves us all to know NOT just what we want to be rid of, but where we ought to be heading. People complain about economics, but show very little understanding of its principles. That needs to change. And the government itself? It’s almost impossible to find people, not just on the street but in Washington DC itself, that actually understand what our government is SUPPOSED to be — its nature, its limitations. THAT needs to change.
Revolt if you must, and however you must, but if you do, you owe it to yourself and to your posterity to know as much about where you want to go as what you want to leave behind.