Vail Valley Voices: Liberty dies in apathy |

Vail Valley Voices: Liberty dies in apathy

Shane Musgrove
Vail, CO, Colorado

Political labels constantly change throughout time, depending on the point and perspective of history that you view it from.

For example, the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were seen as enemies of the state, and from Great Britain’s perspective a charge of high treason was placed upon them. Today they are looked upon as heroes in the eyes of this great nation of men and women, not only for their great courage but also because of their thought and insight to political philosophy.

Labels are often blurred, and the terms liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, tea-bagger and libertarian are used as vague descriptions, insults or for political gain.

They mean little and are generalizations that attempt to define us as a person or ideologue.

Ousting these labels for myself and others, I have found one thing in common among “We the People”: a common distrust of those in leadership, perpetual propaganda exploited to the masses by those in control, and a lack of understanding of our beginnings as a nation and of history as a whole.

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My point and the question that continually burdens my mind, as well as many others, is: How did we get to such a complacent and apathetic standard and viewpoint of our own education and understanding of the political schemes around us?

It is often said that he who controls the mind controls the people. Adolf Hitler referred to great liars as “true magicians.”

“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think,” Hitler said.

As painfully as it is to admit, Hitler was correct in this statement, which is proven by history.

We as a country rely on state- and federal-run education and our education ends there, as if we have arrived to our intellectual ascent.

However, the cycle of propaganda swells upon us every day, and eventually our minds are controlled by all others but ourselves. The outcome is apathy and dependency upon others. Politically, it ends in at best chaos and at worst a dictatorship.

Men begin their reign of power in states, republics, democracies and throughout history, the great civilizations by the bending of minds rather than militarily.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages gained power throughout Europe by the ignorance and illiteracy of the people, made itself rich by the means of power and imposed laws for penance that were built upon its own greed and corruption.

The people’s savior for this corruption was Dr. Martin Luther and 95 Theses — a man who by his own lack of compromise took it upon himself to take control of his mind and let no one corrupt the truth, lest he go down in history as apathetic and therefore his name would have no place in history.

Nietzsche was aware of this, Hitler was aware of this, Marx was aware of this, and Stalin was aware of this. A bold but true statement: Our government is aware of this.

How does a minority take power over a majority that believes differently? Indoctrinate their minds. Indoctrinate their minds in state-run schools, via media outlets and at worst, universities. There is no need militarily, but only subtle changes in a progressive climate bent toward reshaping the minds of the youth of America.

Again, I quote Adolf Hitler: “He alone who owns the youth gains the future.”

So today, we are faced with many issues that are not only reshaping the minds of many, but are destroying a culture of independence and liberty — liberty and freedom of the person and the mind.

Among these issues are many, but they are more than worthy of thoughtful consideration and useful debate in more than just this commentary. However, it must be duly noted that most who speak of these things speak out of ignorance, and the irony of it is that it falls at the hands of the literate (unlike those under the previously mentioned people who were robbed by the early Roman Catholic Church).

Thankfully, Americans have a foundation to look upon and a document to revere: the U.S. Constitution and a plethora of writings from our founding fathers.

As I may offend, if you have not read the U.S. Constitution or studied our country’s heroes and writings, your apathy toward the freedoms that you enjoy every day at the stake of many of lives lost for the cause of a foundation laid out by the founders of this country and an American ideal lie upon your shoulders, and your conscience will be shed upon the next generation.

You sit complacent and wait until your 1984 (aka “Big Brother”) becomes a reality. And my question to you: What shall you do then? What shall you say? Sit silently, as you have in the past, because you have lost all control over your own liberties?

I plead with you to have a spirit of resistance and a spirit of renewing your mind with truth rather than propaganda.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it always to be kept alive.”

View history as an example, be a steward of it, and learn from the mistakes of the men who preceded us.

As Edward Gibbon writes in the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.”

Apathetic, dependent, complacent? As I said, set all labels aside, as my purpose is not to start a war between political labels and as we know a new label will arise tomorrow.

I’m simply trying to make you think. I’m trying to make you feel “as if life is happening and it means everything.” I’m pleading with you to take back your mind.

A time comes when you and I have to honestly look ourselves in the mirror and ask the question, “Where am I on Gibbon’s list? Who am I?”

Shane Musgrove is a part-time Vail and part-time Denver resident who attends the University of Colorado.

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