OPINION – Watershed moments in history are seldom recognized as such in the moment.
This is true of turning points in personal matters as well as at the societal level.
Last summer, when I received a letter from a newly published author named LaVoy Finicum asking if I’d be interested in interviewing him on my radio program, I nearly passed on the opportunity.
Thankfully, something made me take a second look.
In his brief yet respectful letter, it was clear that this man spoke the language of liberty, freedom and natural rights. This is not to be confused with the overwrought legalese of those who have been led astray by artificial rules.
I invited Finicum to join me on the air and, a day later, I met the cowboy whose name is now well-known to friends and critics alike.
From his cowboy hat to his dusty boots, Finicum looked every bit the part of a man who was at home in the American West.
But this wasn’t simply a character he was playing. He was the genuine article.
Finicum possessed a sort of authenticity that is rare in a world that adores style over substance. He was down to earth and utterly humble in how he treated others yet immovable in his deepest convictions.
That’s a rare combination.
My friend Jason Smith perfectly described Finicum as:
One of the most intelligent people I’ve ever spoken with – not the stuffy PhD type of intelligent, but a man who was wise because of work, wise because he was self-taught and wise because he was humble.
In my first interview with Finicum, he spoke of his experience at Bundy Ranch in April 2014. He related how it had caused him to think more deeply about how many Americans were tamely surrendering their liberties and what could be done.
It was this conviction that federal authority was becoming more aggressive and more harmful in consolidating unconstitutional power that led him to make his stand to educate others about properly limited government.
Ilya Somin summarizes why legitimate government must have more than simply force, it must have the consent of the governed:
Other things equal, the exercise of coercive power without consent is a bad thing, especially if resistance is often subject to severe punishments such as imprisonment, heavy fines, or even death. It should only be permitted where there is strong evidence that the consequences really are beneficial, and cannot be achieved any other way.
Otherwise, the authorities might manufacture a situation where camping while peaceably armed but without official permission could be considered a capital offense.
Regardless of whether one agrees with the tactics of Finicum and others who peacefully occupied an empty wildlife refuge to air their grievances, there’s no doubt that they had real impact.
Without pointing a single gun at anyone or firing a single shot in anger, Finicum was successful in personally educating hundreds of citizens about the nature of proper government, their natural rights and the need to stand for liberty.
Thousands more have become aware because of his efforts.
The Thomas Jefferson Center for Constitutional Restoration makes this essential observation about the difference between actual terrorists and protestors:
The fact that the protesters didn’t fire a shot gives immense power, validity and innocence to the cause of the protestors. It gives them the moral high ground in every way.
That they were able to do this in the face of the most concentrated media and government smear campaign of our time makes this even more remarkable.
Finicum was no violent revolutionary, as evidenced by his life of sincere service and the words of forgiveness and understanding spoken by his family. He was an effective spokesman for the idea that we the people must be willing to step up as the guardians of our rights.
Blogger Stockton Raso spells out the key point that too many are missing:
The government is afraid of such an idea, and they should be. It is a powerful idea. It is an idea that the Federal Government does not want the American people to believe in. It is an idea worth killing over, and it is the idea we should all be talking about.
Of course, at this point, it’s only the authorities who find it an idea worth killing over.
Right now, a good portion of the populace is experiencing Stockholm Syndrome on a massive scale. They have been conditioned to identify with and to defend their captors as an abstraction of lawful authority.
Dan Sanchez in his essay “The Virtue of Defiance” describes what this type of spiritual disorder brings:
This indoctrination has been so thorough, that otherwise proud and decent people will submit to the most abject indignities, and will comply with orders and edicts to commit the most horrible atrocities.
LaVoy Finicum’s life may have been ended by frightened men acting under the color of law but the resulting awakening in the minds of ranchers and citizens alike is only beginning.
Education, rather than bloodshed, is now a far more credible threat to the power of those denying our liberties. It will be interesting to see how far they’ll go to try to stop an idea that is bulletproof.
Courage can be contagious.
Time will tell if this was a watershed moment in American history.
Bryan Hyde is a popular radio commentator and opinion leader in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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