Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Down with Tyrants

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.
Benjamin Franklin, 1776

The words above were suggested by Benjamin Franklin for the motto to be placed on the Great Seal of the United States.  Six years and three committees later, in 1782, the seal we know of today was adopted, sporting the tamer motto "E Pluribus Unum" or "Out of many, one."

One month ago, most Americans might have had a difficult time bending their brains around what "rebellion to tyrants" actually involved.  Now we've seen it in Egypt, Libya and other parts of Middle East.  More than 60% of Americans polled think we're seeing it in Wisconsin.

Still, most of us are surprised to learn that in the 18th century, most folks had less notion of how to rebel against tyranny than we modern Americans do.  Sure, uprisings had occured since the dawn of time, often by the oppressed poor who got tired of being dictated to by the rich who hoarded all the wealth.  Until 1776, though, you didn't hear much about groups of wealthy, learned men who told their king, "Sorry, we've had enough of not having a say in what you're doing to us, so we're going to form our own country and a democracy at that."  Of course, their idea of a democracy didn't include the non-wealthy, non-male or non-white, but it was a step away from tyranny, at least.

People got behind the idea of democracy.  Who wouldn't?  So they wrote songs about standing up against tyranny.

We'll fear no tyrant's nod,
Nor stern oppression's rod,
'Til time's no more.
(from God Save Our Thirteen States)
Come join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call;
No tyrannous acts shall suppress your just claim,
Nor stain with dishonor America's name.

(from The Liberty Song)

Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
And slavery clank her galling chains.
We fear them not, we trust in God.

(from William Billing's Chester)

Torn from a world of tyrants,
Beneath this western sky,
We formed a new dominion,
A land of liberty.
The world shall own we're masters here,
Then hasten on the day:
Oppose, oppose, oppose, oppose
for Free America.

(from Free America)

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold
is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Thomas Jefferson

Your humble servants,

Facebook Profile

Facebook Fan Page