Densic: InertiaWritten by Robert Densic | | email@example.com
Many years ago on December 25th, a man was born who would change the way we view the world. This man seemed to live a normal childhood, but soon began to distinguish himself. In his teenage years, he astounded those around him with his comprehension of complex issues and his teachings. His work carries on to this day. Sir Isaac Newton brought with him a deep understanding of the physical world. Three hundred and twenty-five years later, we still find his three laws of motion to be true. While astronomers, physicists and engineers alike work daily with these physical laws, we, the modern citizen often go about our daily lives oblivious to the extent these laws affect us in other ways.
Taking a closer look at the first of these three we are reminded of the tem “inertia.” Webster’s Dictionary defines “inertia” as “a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force.” An alternate definition states “indisposition to motion, exertion, or change.” If we look back in time we find the 1828 version of Noah Webster’s dictionary defining “inertitude” as “the state of being inert, or a tendency to remain quiescent till impelled by external forces to move on.”
If we turn our attention to the words of our nations’ founding fathers, we find not only pearls of wisdom, but warnings of the dangers of inertia in government. Upon ratification of our nations Constitution, two of our most respected founding fathers knew of their recent history, and provided a warning to future generations. Thomas Jefferson stated in a letter to a fellow Virginian “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain grown.” Fellow founder John Adams also frequently wrote of the inertia in governments; “Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
Modern day economist Milton Friedman echoed the thoughts of the founders in his observation of the creation and life of government ideas. “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” Inertia indeed! At what cost to freedom and liberty? John Adams again provides us the answer: “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” Daniel Webster commented “Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter, from the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government.”
The continual growth of government is anathema to personal liberty. Government needs “external forces” to act upon it to restrain its growth, and bring to affect the second half of Newton’s First Law of Motion. Here again we have to look no further than the examples of history.
Noted Anti-Federalist “Brutus” stated in his first paper, “A free republic must depend upon the support of its citizens. Such a government must be so constructed as to have the confidence, respect and affection of the people.” “Through the body of the people firmly attached, the government will always be sufficient to support and execute its laws.” Brutus knew an engaged citizenry would hold in check the natural progression of government and in so doing, restrain its growth and guarantee liberty. A national hero and patriot Samuel Adams, never known for mincing words stated it more concisely, “If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” Many years later, Abraham Lincoln agreed. “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
As the expansion and growth of government continued, the 20th President James Garfield implored the citizens of the states for their attention to the affairs of government. “Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption.”
The inertia through the expansion of government has brought us to this place and this time. We stand at the crossroads of two futures. One allows the object of government to be continually in motion, exponentially expanding its power at the costs of our freedom. The other requires an external force to act, to stop the motion, to restore freedom and liberty. This decision is not new. It is not one of recent times. Thomas Jefferson speaks throughout the ages in clearly defining the choice we have in front of us. “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”