Saturday, July 04, 2009

Revolutionary Ideas

Every year on the 4th of July, I am treated, weather and tree-line permitting, to a spectacular night view of fireworks from at least seven towns around Sebago Lake. Tonight, I am surprised by how many fireworks shows I'm seeing, and how many boats are visible on the lake. I would have expected that in these recessionary times, cities and towns would be cutting back, as many have across the nation. Instead, I'm seeing an almost rebellious spirit from the all parts of the lake, as town after town is lit up with bright displays, the likes of which I haven't seen in years. I'm also seeing more boats on the lake than I would have expected. It's as if every town and person decided to treat themselves in spirit, despite the difficult times. Somehow, the idea of celebrating this night became a focus for many people, who tackled it in their own way, and produced an evening larger than themselves.

I can appreciate the power of an idea. It's what I do.

As I see each new flash of color and light from Naples and Casco all the way down to Standish and I think even Portland, I think about the ideas that were stirring in the minds of people like you and me, 233 years ago (and from the 18th century in general). Consider, not just on this night, the thoughts of...

Thomas Jefferson:

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."
"A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit."
"An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes."
"Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing."
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

George Washington:

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
"Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all."
"Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved."
"The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments."

Benjamin Franklin:

"Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."
"Creditors have better memories than debtors."
"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing."
"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."
"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

What are your ideas?

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