“We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”—Benjamin Franklin
As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s character reflects in The Gulag Archipelago:
How we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if … during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.
Take your stand now—using every nonviolent means at your disposal—while you still can.
Don’t wait to reflect back on missed opportunities to push back against tyranny.
Don’t wait until you’re the last one standing.
Time is running out.
Listen: we don’t have to agree about everything.
We don’t even have to agree about most things.
We don’t have to love each other. We don’t even have to like each other. And we certainly don’t need to think alike or dress alike or worship alike or vote alike or love alike. But if this experiment in freedom is to succeed—and there are some days the outlook is decidedly grim—then we’ve got to find some way of relating to one another that is not toxic or partisan or hateful or so self-righteous that we’re doomed to failure before we even start.
America has been a warring nation—a military empire intent on occupation and conquest—for so long that perhaps we, the citizens of this warring nation, have forgotten what it means to live in peace, with the world and one another.
We’d better get back to the fundamentals of what it means to be human beings who can get along if we want to have any hope of restoring some semblance of sanity, civility, and decency to what is progressively being turned into a foul-mouthed, hot-headed free-for-all bar fight by politicians for whom this is all one big, elaborate game designed to increase their powers and fatten their bank accounts.
Maybe Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, was right: maybe all we really need to know about “how to live and what to do and how to be” is as simple as remembering the basic life lessons we were taught as children.
What were those lessons? Fulghum reminds us: