Throughout my high school years, there was one particular teacher that I always learned this most from; we all called him Mr. T. He was a driver for Pepsi Cola for more than 20 years before teaching at my high school for a few years. He was particularly insightful in politics, and often got off track in class about contemporary issues in the political world. But that was okay with us, as we all loved to hear him speak.
There is one axiom that Mr. T spoke of one class day that I will never forget, and that is the fact that an unguarded strength is a double weakness. When I first heard this, I didn’t fully comprehend why he was telling us. But with age and experience comes practical wisdom, and I now know what he meant.
To portray this axiom, he used an example that any good American can appreciate: the fall of the British army to the American Continental army. As at least a decently educated America, one should know the fact that the British army was rivaled by none anywhere in the world. They had the largest empire is human history, and it seemed like nothing could stop them. That is, until the Americans came along in the late 1700’s.
The greatest strength of the British army was its discipline. Their troops were highly trained in the ways of battle, and in times of war the army went like clock-work, at least when they were facing armies using the same tactics of European warfare.
When the Americans began the fight for independence, it seemed a daunting task to say the least. However, there was a fundamental weakness that the uncivilized, backwater colonists used against the might of the British army; and that was their discipline.
To demonstrate the British’s weakness, I have included a brief selection from “The Patriot.”
Warning: graphic content
As you can see, the first thing that Benjamin Martin did was to shoot down the British officer riding the horse. Officers were the key to ensuring that the infantry would be correctly directed in battle. The weakness was that without officers, infantry units were helpless and vulnerable to attack. Hence, through guerilla tactics, officers were often shot and killed, while the rest of the regiment would be thrown into chaos without their commanding officer. That is the weakness that the Americans used to win the war.
Such a principle still has practical wisdom for our day. The United States of America has come a long way from being a backwater British colony to being a super-power nation; at least until recent years.
How has our nation started to crumble? I contend that it is because of our unguarded strength.
What is that unguarded strength? Our freedom.
Freedom is one of the greatest ends a society can achieve. With freedom, innovation is endless, prosperity abounds, and people thrive. However, freedom also comes with the burden of responsibility to ensure that the freedom that has been inherited will be passed on to future generations.
Somewhere along the way, somewhere in the 20th century, Americans got the foolish idea that there can be freedom without responsibility. Once that idea had taken root in the mores of American culture, the vanguard of freedom was dismissed from duty, and freedom was left vulnerable.
Where there is no responsibility, there is no freedom. Without responsibility, freedom inevitably becomes license, or the ability to do whatever one pleases. License is not freedom; it is merely an illusion. This illusion allows the state to seize power at will, all while the people bask in their licentious place of eventual servitude. If Americans wish to remain free, in the sense of the freedom passed down from the Founding era, then responsibility will have to be restored. Only responsibility, collectively and individually, can stop the inevitable power grab that will place Americans at the arbitrary whim of an unbridled government.
An unguarded strength is a double weakness. Just like the British army, it seems that the United States of America has fallen into this trap of not protecting their greatest respective assets. Without responsibility, how can we expect to continue as a free nation? Under the guise of protecting our freedom, how many more politicians will we allow to trample the Constitution? Freedom is not free. It takes work to maintain. And right now, Americans are sitting on their lazy bums just hoping that someone else will take the responsibility of defending freedom. I ask, if not us, then who?