On August 3, 1857, in a speech at Canandaigua, New York, abolitionist Frederick Douglass reminded his fellow Americans of the costs of freedom. His words, which foreshadowed the coming Civil War, are among the most famous of his many orations:
The general sentiment of manking is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvience to gain it for others....
The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all tumolts to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
(The American Patriot's Almanac)
Exactly true, nothing will change until THEY get the message that there is a limit as to what we will put up with. So far they keep pushing the boundaries and nothing happens, so they push further. How much does it take until people can absolutely tolerate not one other wrong?
What holds us back from acting, I'm afraid, is ourselves. Some of us INSIST, despite all the evidence, that our representatives are working hard for us and deserve our respect.
There is no evidence that supports that ridiculous belief. Not only must we overcome THEM, we must deal also with the blinded ones among us.
They look upon those of us who are restless and unwilling to abide the injustice that grows by the hour as tyrannists inciting insurrection. In their eyes, WE are the problem.
That knowledge, the betrayal by our own, is the thing that wears on me the most and makes me wonder of change can ever be accomplished.
Anne, I also wonder if the Founding Fathers and Patriots like Frederick Douglass had similar feelings. They had to rise above their contemporaries and strive for their dream of a better world. I'm sure there was resistance. I'm sure there was scorn. I'm sure there were nights they laid in bed and wondered if it was all worth it.
We may not be making the huge strides in policy and public awareness like we want. But we are making a difference. We have to keep up the fight no matter how much the media tries to tell us our efforts are futile. We have to keep up the fight because we don't; no one else will!