October 10, 2006

The Tree of Liberty

The Tree of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson told us, must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

I can't help wondering, though - as we feed it the blood of innocents, what poison fruit will we harvest from it?

I suppose we'll learn, if we're not doing so already - and if we have ears to hear or eyes to see.

End pompous thought for the day that I can't get out of my head.

Posted by jbz at October 10, 2006 4:07 AM | TrackBack


Yes. However, I prefer to interpret the original quote to mean the self-sacrifice of those who would defend liberty, and the current irrigation to be more of a sacrifice of others - many of whom couldn't give two nickels for our notions of liberty and can't be called patriots. The Civil War, or if you prefer the War Between the States (I refuse to call it that other thing, thus continuing the breach) was combatants on both sides - while all manner of nasty things were done to innocents by all those involved, the two powers opposing each other did, in the main, seem willing to hazard their lives, their property and their sacred honor.

Had enough pithy phrases yet?

I dunno if I'm being clear. The current situation seems all about the deaths of an inordinate amount of non-Americans, too-damn-many Americans, and the suffering of those completely uninvolved with the fight simply because they have the wrong name. In this case, though, one side (and, sadly, it's ours) is, at the policy level, not willing to risk its own lives, limb and honor for the sake of liberty or peace. They'll risk other peoples' for the sake of even more abstract goals, the actual nature of which seem to swim into more venal focus every day ("you tried to hurt my daddy!") but not for liberty itself, much as they cloak their actions in that justification. If they truly believed in liberty and principle, that liberty and those principles would be considered worth far, far more than the very few lives (again, if any at all) risked by fighting measures which attack the very principles of liberty we built this place on. Furthermore, those "risking" their lives would actually be fighting for liberty through hazard, as opposed to simply exporting as much hell as possible.

Posted by: J.B. Zimmerman at October 11, 2006 12:33 AM

I seem to recall that tree getting pretty thoroughly watered back in the 1860's, with much of the problem being that the two sides had diametrically opposed definitions of "liberty", "patriot", and "tyrant". I'll leave it to you to pontificate on the fruit the tree subsequently bore.

Posted by: Mark Gordon at October 10, 2006 2:33 PM
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