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Movement, Mainstream, Monument

Every revolution--political, spiritual or philosophical--follows the same path. In the beginning is an idea, a world changing idea. That idea becomes a movement. The movement, if successful, in time becomes the mainstream. With the further passing of time it becomes a monument to what once was. Examples are everywhere: the Roman Empire, the Industrial Revolution, even the Christian Church in Europe. Each began as an idea that became a vital and energetic movement. Each changed the way people thought and acted and communicated. In time, each became one with the nature of the societies they existed within, defining those societies and moving them forward. They built large civic buildings, factories and cathedrals to facilitate their philosophies. They became mainstream.

After a movement becomes mainstream, it either accomplishes its original goal, is subverted, or is usurped by another revolution. After becoming mainstream, some movements simply lose their way, their momentum failing, their age passing. A few movements live beyond the mainstream and become the monument. No longer vital and alive, they exist simply as reminders of what once was.  People no longer go to the Senate building in Rome to practice politics. The visitors to old factories are historians, not workers, and the thousands of people who pass through the great Cathedrals of Europe?  Tourists, not worshippers.

Is this the fate of our American Revolution? Is this what we can expect for the future of American government? We certainly have the monuments. From New England to New York to DC we have plenty of places to go and remember the greatness of the Founding Generation. The buildings that housed the call of liberty have been reduced to a backdrop for Senators who would rather give sound bites than debate ideas. Our great founding documents can be seen under glass, but are rarely read. Our leaders pay homage to them, but often ignore them when making decisions. These documents remain as artifacts of a time when men of reason sought to build a country of liberty and justice. Have we already become the monument? Are we living in a Post American Society?

Are we living in a Post American Society?

There is only one way that any revolution can be saved. It must be reborn as a movement. The original idea must be rediscovered and restored. It’s an awakening that occurs when people’s minds are reopened to old truths seen in a new way. John Adams once said

Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

To Adams’ mind the war was not the Revolution; it was a product of the revolution that had already occurred. This is the kind of revolution we need today. If eyes can again be turned towards the ideals of the Revolution, then minds will turn as well. What if students and senators were again discussing the ideas of liberty, justice and republic, instead of simple party policy? What if our citizens demanded that politicians explain their basic philosophies rather than just their positions? Washington dreamed of a country led by Patriots without party. Jefferson thought that his political party was a temporary thing that would end with his inauguration, not a machine that would come to decide which choices we have for leaders.

    The options for us are simple and clear: Do we choose to live in the ascent of a country or its decline, the monument or the movement? Monuments are comfortable, beautiful and stable. Monuments are safe and predictable. Monuments are preferable to movements in almost every way but one; monuments are dead. There is no hope in monuments. The only thing that monuments can give us is inspiration. The inspiration we need to begin a movement. 


Every generation needs a new revolution.”   Thomas Jefferson


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