“These are the times that try men’s souls: the
summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this
crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he
that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man
and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered;
yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder
the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we
obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly…” - - (Thomas
Paine, The American Crisis. Dec. 19, 1776.)
-- --- I
n the 1700’s a group of angry patriots dared
to sparked a revolution. They did all they could by
diplomatic standards - going so far as to leave the
“civilized” country they were born and raised in, simply
wanting to live in peace unencumbered by the
insecurities of a ruling class who sought to restrain
their dreams. Willing to migrate across treacherous
seas, to trade the “comforts of home” for a wilderness
setting filled with unknowns, these rebels had a cause;
a desire for freedom from tyranny, taxation and the
oppressive rule of a king who cared little for his
subjects and all for his capital gains.
doesn’t come easily, nor can it be given. The early
American revolutionaries did not rely on the efforts of
others; they did not wait for a savior to rescue them
from their plight. They saw the futility of holding out
for the empty promises of the ruling parties in their
fatherland and took matters in their own hands knowing
the standards and principles on which they based their
actions were worthy of the sacrifice.
Fear struck the hearts of the sophisticated gentry
who had been left behind as they came to realize they
might have to learn to fend for themselves; to make
their beds, clean their yards, tend their children -
give up the “good life” for the reality of Life.
As red coated aristocrats stepped across open fields
with arrogance befitting the ignorance of those highly
pampered elitists who believed their money left them
invincible and able to conquer and manipulate a world
which must have been created for their pleasure, the
carefully laid rebellion began in earnest; lessons of
survival adding to the strength of will of those who had
tasted freedom for themselves and understood what was
needed to remain free.
What the leaders of the lords of London failed to
recognize were the character and strength of the rebels
whose disrespect to the “king” they had hoped to quell.
They could not understand the drive and commitment these
rebels held for preserving their individual freedoms.
They had little respect for the meaning of those
freedoms; their sense of freedom having been bought, not
earned. Yet the fear they held for the strength of men
they did not understand caused them to raise their
weapons to destroy what they feared, and freedom loving
revolutionaries were left with no other option but to
defend themselves in kind, even as they continued to
hope for peace.
“It is easy to perceive that individuals by agreeing
to erect forms of government, (for the better security
of themselves) must give up some part of their liberty
for that purpose; and it is the particular business of a
Constitution to mark out how much they shall give up.
- (Paine, Letter IV, Four Letters of Interesting
It was not an ill-conceived love of country or
nationalist pride that gave these revolutionaries the
right to be called patriots. They were patriots for
having laid a foundation for the way of life they
envisioned, and believed in it enough to be willing to
defend it with a commitment only others like them could
understand. They worked tirelessly to create a set of
laws which would serve as a guideline for their vision,
Laws of Humanity incorporated into a Constitution which
they believed to be just and fair to all even as the
authors admitted to flaws which would only be tempered
by time. Each was willing to give up something so that
all could live in the greatest freedom possible. They
were patriots because they stood their ground for the
right to live with their own high standards and
principles, and their individual sacrifices were
deserving of their expectation that those standards be
maintained in the actions of all who chose to live in
the new nation founded on their blood.
Where have all the patriots gone?
We have hired defenders for every action under the
sun; lobbyists in Congress, advocates in business, in
school, in healthcare, and soldiers at war. What was
once a new country formed by the vision of independent
thinkers is now a nation of followers passing the buck
to anyone who craves publicity - although today’s “buck”
barely scratches the surface of the price followers pay
for someone else to be their voice of “truth.”
The patriots of 1776 were willing to fight with all
they had for the freedoms defined in their newly penned
Constitution simply because it had been their hands
which had done the work to establish the nation whose
laws were represented by that constitution; they were
their own voice of Truth.
They did the work and earned the right to declare
Now, with every day that passes United States
citizens lose a little more of their freedom, at least
on paper. But did they have that freedom to begin with?
Certainly not the freedom they demanded, nor had they
earned; not as a nation and not in recent history.
United States citizens have been living with the
illusion of freedom for generations now. With nothing
much more than a slap on the wrist, they allow the
administration’s actions of corruption and deception to
continue; “sunshine patriots” and “summer soldiers”
giving lip-service to the words of the Constitution but
little attention to their meaning, willingly conceding
more of their freedom to avoid the hard work required to
deserve what freedom really means.
Freedom is not free - and United States citizens are
losing more of their freedom every day as they freely
choose to allow others to make their decisions for them;
justifying their actions from the safety of their living
rooms saying “it’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we
don’t know what else to do.”
What else to do?
STAND UP AND FIGHT!!!!!!
Fight back with a willingness to sacrifice comfort
for the principles of law which give us all our freedom.
Fight for what you have earned. Wait. What has been
earned? This freedom you speak of has no meaning, no
value; it remains illusion - words spoken from the
podiums of a thousand different protests and a hundred
different congressional caucuses as if giving a dramatic
soliloquy from the center of a spotlight on an otherwise
dimly lit stage - freedom earned by the sweat of those
on the frontlines is only real to those willing to
sweat. Oh, how Americans seem to be so afraid to sweat.
Our soldiers are dying, our veterans have suffered
the lasting effects of fighting for an unjust, undefined
cause. Our country is fading from a once proud new
nation of rebels with revolutionary ideas, willing to
sacrifice their luxuries for the right to live in
freedom, to a land of elitists willing to sacrifice
their freedoms for the right to live in luxury.
Where are the revolutionaries? We do not need more
self-proclaimed “patriots” re-enacting pages from a
history book—we need revolutionaries.
Revolutionaries are determined to maintain high
standards, strength of character and demonstrate their
respect for others as our Constitution demands, even as
they stand for change in a corrupt, increasingly immoral
shadow of a country once founded on standards, strength
of character and respect for others.
Revolutionaries know they must be, within themselves,
all the changes they want to see.
Revolutionaries are willing to fight for their
freedom with everything they have, giving up nothing of
themselves in the process, earning the right for that
freedom by living the cost.
Where are these rebels who understand the depth of
“Every man who acts beyond the line of private life
must expect to pass through two severe examinations.
First, as to his motives, secondly, as to his conduct.”
- (Paine, Letter I, Four Letters of Interesting
The conduct of United States citizens clearly defines
their commitment to the cause - it is past time for a
revolution - the final exam is scheduled to begin. Will
our conduct reflect the high standards true freedom
demands? Or are our motives simply a cover to hide the
fact that we have not yet learned what freedom really
Monica is the wife of Sgt. Kevin Benderman, a
ten-year Army veteran who served a combat tour in Iraq
and a year in prison for his public protest of war and
the destruction it causes to civilians and to American
military personnel. Please visit their websites,
www.BendermansBridge.org to learn more. Monica and
Kevin may be reached at