Those words were penned by Thomas Paine - American - on December 23rd, 1776, in a pamphlet called "The Crisis". Words which are as applicable today as they were 233 years ago. Paine was a true believer in freedom. Freedom from, freedom to, and freedom for all Americans. Freedom from tyranny and government oppression. Freedom to assemble, associate, speak, write and worship. Freedom for all motivated Americans to develop their full potential, or to earn a fair and reasonable wage for their labors. To worship - or not - in the manner of their own choosing, and to be the architects of their own destiny. Thomas Paine, although something less than a social and financial success, was the personification of "the American spirit".
At that time Paine was expressing his opposition to Britain's King George III's tyrannical rule over the American colonies. The wording is a bit archaic, and therefore awkward for today's reader, but tyranny is still tyranny, and revolution is still revolution. "These ARE the time that try mens souls."
In today's United States of America there is a significant political, philosophical, and moral rift between the left-wing "liberal progressives", and the right-wing "conservative traditionalists". There is a second Revolutionary War being fought as I write this blog. Thus far the skirmishes have been restricted to the mass media, the halls of Congress, and the "town hall meetings"... and the fusillades are only verbal. Retaliatory barrages from the White House consist of verbal smokescreens designed to blind and confuse the opposition forces, while simultaneously obscuring the intent of those who wish to rule rather than govern and discrediting those who are most outspoken against the rapid, insidious development of the infrastructure needed to support that rule. Citizens are governed by choice - slaves are ruled by whatever means necessary! Paine also said, "Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth." (Two hundred thirty three years is a bit long, but I think that - were Thomas Paine alive today - he would be having a deja vu experience.)
Paine continues, delineating the difference between Tories (conservatives, sometimes called "loyalists") and Whigs (liberals, social reformists, believed in loose interpretation of the Constitution) -"Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave."
Today's "Tories" are, politically speaking, primarily Republicans, Independents and assorted impotent-third-party followers. Mostly conservatives, they believe that the Constitution is an enduring document requiring little, if any, "interpretation". They also believe that the best government is the least government.
The "Whigs" of today are the Democrats - and their liberal following of government-dependent entitlement whores, who would sell our freedoms for a big screen TV and a couple of more government give-away programs. They believe the Constitution is a "living document" - one that should be changed as often as they change their minds... or their underwear, whichever comes first. The "blame America first" crowd, whose words and actions echo those of the Pogo Possum cartoon of 1970, wherein he proclaims "We have met the enemy and he is us."
The difference today is that the Tories are the ones who would "protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic", while the Whigs would tremble, quake and hide, while crying out for their nanny-government to protect and save them.
Our constitution - for all the wonderful rights it does promise us - it does not promise that we will be given anything other than that which we earn! It does not promise that we have a right to take that which another has earned, nor do we have a right to not be embarrassed, inconvenienced or otherwise upset by something we may experience during our appointed time on this Earth. We have the opportunity to fail in our endeavors, as well as the opportunity to succeed! How we exercise those rights and opportunities is entirely up to us.
Thomas Paine was not just a "man of his time"... he was a man for all times, and his words ring as true today as they did on December 23, 1776! Where will you be when the voices of opposition are silenced... right before the other noises begin?