The Destruction of Freedom, Part 10 to blupete's Essay
"A child will weep a bramble's smart,Throw a frog into boiling water and it will immediately eject himself free of it; but content a frog, at first, in water of normal temperature and to gradually increase the temperature: -- why, then, you can boil him alive without restraint. In a speech to the Virginia Convention, on June the 16th, 1788, James Madison (1751-1836) said: "I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." Lurking dangers to our liberty exist, not only to "insidious encroachment"; but, as a much respected judge of the U. S. Supreme Court, Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), pointed out, after echoing Madison's view, the greatest danger exists in "men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."19 More dangerous, still, is for the rest of us to fall asleep:
"A maid to see her sparrow part,
"A stribling for a woman's heart:
"But woo awaits a country, when
"She sees the tears of bearded men.
- Scott: Marmion.
"Here, then, is the summation of the matter. We had thought, the decent people in all countries, that government by the people under democracy, and with it equal liberty for all, were things definitely achieved. We were forgetting the long struggle and the heroic sacrifice that gave them to the world. Bygone tyrannies and cruelties were forgotton in the nearer perspective of lesser things. Hence came a kind of inertia - a little slumber, a little sleep, a little folding of the hands to sleep - and thereby a creeping paralysis that made us almost let freedom slip from our hands."20 (The Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock.)Leacock wrote this in 1942, at a time when most all of Europe was under the Nazi boot. The Nazis did not spring with their racist policies full blown onto the stage; their atrocities were proceeded by a series of steps that took place over many years, steps that had the implicit consent of a sleepy people that were, are, no different than the rest of us.
[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]