by Hari Heath (The Idaho Observer, June 2001)

America has been called the land of the free and the home of the brave. But is it true? Our nation boasts the bald eagle as a national symbol, but is the eagle still an appropriate symbol for our nation?

Mountains of irrefutable evidence show the corrupt nature of an unconstitutional central government that is regulating our lives, diminishing our liberty and taxing our property; our economy is based on a grand and fraudulent scheme of paper tokens; we pay more in taxes than we keep for ourselves and; we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world though the majority of people in our jails created no victim in the commission of their “crime.”

The list of tyrannical usurpations and oppressions by the government is endless, yet most Americans remain blissfully ignorant of the realities around them. Would our national character not be better symbolized with some other bird besides the eagle?

Standing up to 8 feet tall and weighing as much as 300 pounds, Struthio Camelus, the ostrich, belongs to a group of flightless birds known as the ratites. Originally from the grasslands of Africa, ostriches have been domesticated on several continents. With only two toes on each foot, they can run at speeds up to 40 mph.

The ostrich procreates in a fashion that some modern day feminists might find favorable: The male mates with several females, who all lay eggs in a single nest. The male then incubates the eggs and looks after the young.

But the quality of an ostrich that is most representative of the contemporary American condition is the curious behavior they reportedly exhibit when they become frightened. To avoid detection, ostriches are known to lie with their outstretched necks on the ground. This legendary behavior has become a figure of speech. Ostriches “hide their head in the sand” in the hopes that whatever is terrifying them will go away if they can't see it.

It works for the ostrich and apparently it works for most Americans, too.

The Great American Experiment

With the 1776 Declaration of Independence began the great American experiment of civil governance. Our unprecedented way of life where the citizen is sovereign was built around the concept that our rights to life, liberty and happiness -- freedom -- were granted to us by God and that governments haven't the right to take them away. The only purpose of government under our Constitution was to protect our rights.

Let's face it, Americans are no longer a free people and the experiment has failed. We have evolved into a well-regulated and exploited population of statutory slaves. We are managed in more ways than any of us know or would care to admit.

Our nation didn't begin that way but, along the way, we appear to have lost our way. When the raw unchecked power of a government exceeding its constitutional bounds became too frightening to behold, we looked away -- like an ostrich. We refused to see the truly evil conduct of those who usurped power and corrupted our system of governance. We “hid our head in the sand.” We chose to see only that which was close and comforting. We have avoided the inevitable conflict with the unfettered power of rogue government agencies by ignoring their menacing approach.

And now we reap the results of our inaction.

As long as there have been humans, there have been those who are dominant, and those who are dominated. Usually, the latter is by far the largest group, yet they allow their power to be statutorily stolen by a few overlords who gather it unto themselves.

The overlords of history have always been reapers, reaping the spoils taken from the producers in society to afford their lavish lifestyles. When kings, emperors and popes ruled the world, fear was the main mechanism used to maintain control of the masses of unwashed producers.

This is a costly method of social management. The overlords learned that fear, as a motivator, is not nearly as profitable as greed. The overlords no longer needed to rule by force and fear as they learned to reap immense profits by managing economies. Enticed by the lure of profits from our work, people become exponentially more productive than any feudal oppressor ever dreamed possible.

Banking cartels came to dominate even kings by the 1600s. The governing form no longer mattered as long as the monetary supply of a nation could be controlled. American ingenuity, productivity and our vast natural resources have given us a national standing as the richest nation on earth. Immigrants have flocked to America for centuries to pursue the American dream. But what is this dream and where has such abundance taken us?

Placated by plentiful possessions, haven't we become as children playing in a great sandbox? And who has become our parent?

Our constant quest for convenient consumption has provided a comfortable place to “hide our heads in the sand.” By refusing to face the challenges around us, our liberties have faded. By a process of constitutional atrophy caused by generations of ignore-ance, most Americans have come to prefer socialistic “benefits” to personal responsibility and freedom. We have lost sight of the principles of our nation and allowed those less principled to assume dictatorial powers over us. Has the American dream for a better life, a life of material prosperity, caused us to lose sight of the real American dream; the home of the brave and the land of the free?

Cognitive Dissonance

The nature of the mental condition that has caused our national decay is well known. Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance. Simply, when that in which one has a firm belief is shown to be contrary to the beliefs held, or when something which is contrary to one's beliefs is shown to be true, the thinking processes shut down and refuse to process the conflicting information.

America is a great nation which we have every right to believe in. We are taught great respect and admiration for the founding principles of our nation from an early age. But daily, news and information tells us of many things which are not right in our nation. Instead of facing the frightening conditions corrupting our government, our collective capacity for cognitive dissonance compels us to hide our heads in the sand so that we can avoid addressing the very real problems all around us.

Submission or Resistance?

Complacent submission to the powers that be, however wrong, is the easy path to avoid detection and harm. We follow the course of least resistance -- pay and obey -- hoping, like the ostrich, not to get caught.

Patrick Henry, in his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech, spoke of this spineless approach to existence: “Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”

The mere concept of offering “effectual resistance” to the abuses of government leaves most modern-day Americans in a state of cognitive dissonance. Unable to actively discern right from wrong, many become bound hand and foot, to serve the new master, government.

In the year before the birth of our nation, Samuel Adams had this to say to those who preferred the easy path: “If ye love wealth, better than liberty; the tranquility of servitude, better than the animating contest of freedom; go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

And where are we now? Worshiping paper tokens and numbers “stored” in an account? Wallowing in never ending servitude to our masters in government; freedom has been reduced to something we sing about before sporting events.

And oh how we lick the hands which feed us for we have forgotten how to feed ourselves. Chains set lightly upon us? How about taxes exceeding half our income? Regulations governing every aspect of our lives? Bureaucrats grasping for more control daily? Licenses to buy, sell, build, travel, import, export, manufacture, minister our faith, teach, carry a gun, marry, gather firewood, hunt or go fishing? Posterity has not forgotten its countrymen. We are Samuel Adams' posterity and we have forgotten our country -- that is, the country that began being born with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Do we soar like eagles from great heights, with keen eyes keeping watch over our land? Or, are we more likely to be found in a flightless flock making its way across the fruited plain, ever ready to drop our head to the sand whenever something frightening appears on the horizon?

The eagle or the ostrich as our national symbol? You tell me.

With thanks to Brian Rashko for giving us the man with the portable sand box.

The American Ostrich

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