What actions are to be taken when a group of people reach a “decision point”? There seems to be a general lack of consensus among many of today’s grassroots groups. Some are content to join their voices and assets with existing structures. Others are intent on striking out on their own. The Occupy protests have clearly gleaned political insight from old Mickey Rooney movies where staging dramatic plays or making showy statements will win over a perceived cynical or jaded elite. However, to see which model is a success we only need to look to our own history. There seem to be some common misconceptions held about our founding which are made painfully clear today. It seems that many now believe that the early Americans had simply “reached a point” where they had enough. Under this view, there was allegedly a wide consensus that something had to be done and as a result a revolution occurred. It is a statement on the poor education standards in this country that this view persists. This lacking is proved in the actions of the recent occupy “movement”. A group of disaffected youths, most of who recently graduated from an institution of higher learning, also reached a point where they felt something must be done. At reaching this epiphany they gathered. The plan seemed to stop there. They gathered and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. There was no uniform plan or specific goals and nothing was achieved. Although loosely organized, by the time they disbanded, the groups resembled nothing more than angry mobs. At no moment did they come close to emulating the careful and organized example of our founders.
Many can recall the midnight ride of Paul Revere but few today realize the thought and planning that went into the endeavor. The midnight ride was the culmination of months of planning, information gathering, and training. Revere’s ride was not a vain attempt to warn the masses. There was no yelling through the night about the coming British. It was a targeted measure to wake particular houses known to contain those who had already volunteered. In the dark of night Revere and a growing number of riders carefully avoided British patrols, and darted to and fro in secret, readying the volunteer force that would oppose the coming British troops. In fact, for Revere, the primary purpose of the ride that night was to warn leaders, John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the force that was coming to arrest them. Once he reached the home where the two men were staying they concluded that the force was far too vast to be designed for the capture of two men. It was then concluded that the purpose of the march was to apprehend the supply of weapons that the Sons of Liberty had amassed in Concord. It was at this point that riders were dispatched to the surrounding towns to ready for a fight at Concord. Even the system of lamps, one if by land and two if by sea, were readied days ahead of time.
On the way to join the growing patriot forces Revere was captured at gunpoint at a British roadblock. His two fellow riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, managed to avoid capture. While being interrogated, Revere warned his British captors of the army they were going to face. While slowly being walked along with the British to Lexington he was quickly asked the meaning of the sound of the crack of gunfire as it echoed across the early morning sky about a half-mile outside Lexington. He calmly replied that it was a signal to “alarm the country”. Revere was finally freed when upon closer approach to the city the forward British troops heard the town bell ringing. They went back to alert their commanders and released their prisoners while doing so. The British continued their advance and quickly became aware of the purpose and outcome of those midnight rides. A trained militia stood between them and their goal and in the opening salvo of the American Revolution the British army retreated and was harried by organized militia the entire way back to Boston.
Without the forethought and planning the Sons of Liberty would have been crushed and defeated, only a footnote in a very different American history. But luckily for us today, men of wisdom banded together to create a plan of action, and act they did. The shot heard round the world shook political foundations in nations far away. It altered the very fabric of human history as the first time a free nation took its breath. The impact is felt today but can be measured even more accurately by the reaction of great leaders of the time. In the aftermath of the battle John Adams left his home to tour the battlefields. Upon watching the history unfold before his long seeing eyes he said, “The Die was cast, the Rubicon was crossed”. Thomas Paine was in Philadelphia when he received the news; upon hearing it he stated that he “rejected the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England forever”. The future general of the Continental Army and first President of the United States, George Washington remarked in a letter, “The once-happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched in blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?” These last words are pertinent in our time just as they were then. While we do not stare at the choice of slavery, it is true that our freedoms that were so dearly bought are ebbing away. While blood does not threaten to sully our lands the tape with which we are currently drowning in is a familiar shade of red.
The men who built this country did not act with reckless abandon or without careful consideration. Their plans were built upon knowledge that was gathered meticulously and always done with a goal in mind. Not for such a nebulous idea as freedom, but for the God given right of self-governance. The sparks that lit the Rebellion were taxes, it is no different today. We look at an increasingly distant Washington D.C. in an ever shrinking world wondering why our right to self-governance is slowly eroding under the weight of an expanding tax code. In response to these egregious affronts from the British crown our freedom fighters organized peacefully. The words of the Declaration cannot be surpassed,
“We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”
All attempts were made to avoid open war. We have avenues not made available to our founders. Our ability to organize should be made easier now that lives are not on the line. Our ability to voice our concerns should be much simpler since there are endless opportunities to communicate. Our specific goal is the FairTax. It represents the largest transfer of power from those in government back into the hands of the people since the Revolutionary War. To make the same impact we must act as they did. We must organize and join forces. Our cause is singular; there is no need for duplicative efforts. Notice too, it was an army of volunteers that repelled the attack. There was a cache of supplies. We need men and women of courage and conviction. While we do not need guns and ammo, we need donations and aid. Above all else we need people of action. Those who are not afraid of gathering strength in the dead of night to meet the storm. Those who have ears to the ground and can keep us informed. Those who are ready at a moment’s notice to jump to the aid of the cause. It was individuals who won our country’s independence and individuals who guard it today. If we rely on organizations and politicians to win today’s battles then we have already ignored the key lessons of our founding. The shot heard round the world toppled an empire. It ended the effectual monarchy. It brought rise to the voice of the people. Imagine what a second volley would do.