There was something different about our revolution. There was plenty of injury and frustration – the protesters listed 27 brutal injustices – but where was the rage? Why did they bring their complaint “in the most humble terms” and draw attention to their “patient sufferance”?
These were not wimps, hoping to be rewarded for asking nicely. They signed their names to this dangerous Declaration, making themselves targets of a vindictive regime they could probably not defeat, demanding an independence they would probably never experience. With trembling hands, they signed, one after another, “pledg[ing] to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor”.
That was 244 years ago. A long time, for sure, and some people doubt their words matter anymore, though we have inherited the freedom they suffered to create.
I mention all this because I am about to do something infinitely less dangerous than they did for me, though I hope to do it with their honorable goal and their humble spirit. Tomorrow, I will join the protest at Michigan’s capitol, asking our state government to remember that it “derives its just power from the consent of the governed.” I will do this because I believe restrictions recently imposed on our citizens are arbitrary and capricious, reflecting a profound misunderstanding of the legitimate power and purpose of government.
I’m not angry. I don’t want a revolution. I’ll go and – if asked – I’ll present my complaint in humble terms. I don’t know what this protest will accomplish, but I hope our leaders will pause to remember who we are as a nation and how we got here. I hope they’ll remember that we are free, not because they allow it, but because this right is “endowed by our Creator.” I hope they’ll remember that “Governments are instituted among men”, not to rule over us, but “to secure these rights” for us.
Our founders were not motivated by anger, but by their certainty that government exists to serve its citizens and that it has no legitimate power without their consent. They were right about that, and it’s a good time to remember.