Courage, But At What Price?
During the spring runoff in the canyons of Utah, the rivers become raging monsters. At a beautiful place known as Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, families come to watch the spectacular falls and the raging river below them.
This spring, the four year old child of one such family, fell into the river. Instinctively, the mother jumped in to save her child. As she was swept away, a complete stranger, a man, jumped in and was swept away, then another man tried to save that man. All of them perished by the overwhelming power of the currents.
All showed super human courage and unselfishness. None of them thought of the consequences. In business, risk versus return is known as a return on investment. The return on the investment may have given them a special status in the heavens, but their grieving families will never be the same.
HONORING THE POLITICAL PRISONERS
A Facebook supporter honored the Bundys and other political prisoners for being examples of courage.
Those who support the political prisoners can agree that they are true examples of courage, in the finest traditions of our founders and the framers of the constitution.
Courage comes first, then the consequences for the actions based on such courage. Many times people do not think about the consequences. Ryan Bundy quoted a famous church hymn which says, “Do what is right, let the consequences follow.”
COUNTING THE COSTS
Few, if any, of the protesters probably gave much thought to the consequences of angering the raging monster known as the federal government. Few probably ever analyzed what could happen if charges were brought against them and that the presumption of innocence was dead, meaning that they would have to go to pretrial hell (prison), prior to any trial or conviction. Few, if any, thought that the consequences would entail over 601 days of prison, much of it spent in solitary confinement.
Few, if any, ever thought that the federal government could deny them a host of rights including a speedy trial. The federal prosecutors gleefully indicated that the recent courts uphold the government’s right to delay trial for over 5 years and that the political prisoners could remain in prison for that long without ever being convicted.
In my discussions with many Americans, most still hang on to the notion that, “This is America, things like what happened to the Bundys and other defendants in the Las Vegas courtroom, is not normal, it is an exception. If I am arrested, it will be different and I will get justice.” But will it be different?
AWAKENED TO THE AWFUL COST
The Bundys and their supporters have awakened many people to just how awful the judicial system (prisons included) is. And, as intended by the federal government, people have awakened to the awful reality of what could happen to them if they participate in future protests against the federal government.
Many people ask themselves, “Would I be willing to risk what the Bundys and other political prisoners are going through?” “If the Bunkerville protest were to happen again, would I show up at the risk of being indicted as a co-conspirator and thrown in prison for many years, prior to any trial?”
(photo courtesy Shannon Bushman, used with permission)
The lesson to be learned about the Bunkerville protest and its consequences, is to not wait for it to reach a boiling point and the point of no return.
The lesson at Bunkerville, was to not relax after the successful release of the cattle. Along with the celebrations, should have been constant preparations for the defense against the monster who would surely double down in the ensuing years.
The lesson is not that it is wrong to bring guns to a protest. The lesson is not that it is wrong to ignore the first amendment zone or to disobey federal employees. The lesson is that decades ago, we should have been vigilant so that it would not come to this.
The lesson is that years ago, when the Hammonds, the Bundys, the Hages, Joe Robertson, Schaefer Cox and many others were fighting their private battles, we should have been there with them, sitting in court, filing affidavits against the biased federal team (judge, prosecutors, law enforcement).
We should have met with our legislators, formed grassroots organizations, passed out flyers on voting records, and in a myriad of other ways “blown the whistle” on the unconstitutional growth of the federal government before it became the monster it is today.
THE MONSTER KEEPS GROWING
Gary Hunt, in a recent interview, pointed out that the number of paid informants used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is over 30,000. He points out that the growth has skyrocketed and that most of these informants are moved around, like contractors, from assignment to assignment.
Of course, the FBI justifies such numbers based on the horrifying threat of terrorism since September 11th. But these professional informants are not spying on foreign terrorists, they are spying on fellow Americans.
The courage to stand up to this relentless growth of injustice, is met by the reality that these informants can lie and make up charges to be used by a Grand Jury to indict an unsuspecting protester, placing them in pretrial hell (prison).
In a stroke of genius, the federal team, those who have a vested interest to increase size and power of the federal government, have used informants to divide and conquer. Rather than focusing on the erosion of constitutional rights and injustices to the political prisoners, informants sow dissension, create suspicions, generate accusations, encourage fear and in many ways disrupt and divide those who would be a threat to the federal team.
But, genius or not, we should not aid and abet this strategy by the feds. We should not allow informants to divide and conquer. We should not feed them by giving them attention nor helping them be successful.
ARE RALLIES THE ANSWER?
Recently, the MOAR (mother of all rallies) was held. Such rallies certainly have their place and do help in waking people up and spreading the word.
However, like any battle, it requires being in the trenches. It requires having face to face meetings with legislators. It requires drafting model legislation and handing it to the legislator. It means giving up leisure time and money for the cause. It means never giving up on writing to elected officials, making flyers, getting involved during elections.
IF YOU ARE PREPARED, YOU SHALL NOT FEAR
The tragedy at Bridal Veil Falls could have been avoided with a number of safety measures. The tragedy that occurred two years after Bunkerville, could have been avoided or reduced if we had not relaxed, but remained ever vigilant. “Do what is right, let the consequences follow” makes sense, IF, we manage those consequences.
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