Thursday, July 25, 2013

"we advise every one to resist the oppressor, and to resist efficiently"

The Heroic vs. Non Resistant.

   In this age of struggle and strife, in this land of beauty, treachery and blood, it is not wonderful that character should be rapidly developed. Men living in old, quiet communities, listening, weekly, to long and prosy sermons, on the duty of loving our enemies, and forgiving injuries, yield an easy and gentle acquiescence, and pass through life with a full belief that" they are successful imitators of Christ--real or nominal non-resistants.

   Gentlemen who wear kid gloves, and patent leather boots, who tread daintily on Brussels carpets, sleep on down, and sip their tea and coffee night and morning, in the midst of a group of rosy children, with an affectionate mother to watch over and educate them, are, naturally, real or nominal non resistants. And so we might enumerate many classes of men whose interest and inclinations are so strongly for peace that they are willing to sacrifice even liberty that they may enjoy it.

   But not so with the true heroic. The brave man resists the wrong wherever he finds it, and never, from timidity or fear, shrinks from the performance of a dangerous duty. Our ideal of the truly Heroic may be found in George Fox and William Penn--always speaking in terms of rebuke against the follies and vices of the King and the Court--always testifying against oppression, in pen and manly terms, and taking, courageously and firmly, the punishment of corrupt and wicked rulers. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox, also belong to this class of the old Heroic. So do Washington, Hancock, Patrick Henry and others of the revolution. Some resisted oppression in one way and some in another--but all conscientiously. Under the then existing circumstances, whatever conscience dictated as the most noble, self-sacrificing course, they invariably followed. When numbers warranted an armed resistance, they resorted to that. When one attempted to resist a giant wrong, he resisted only mentally, but with equal courage. While there are laws governing the moral universe, and while right must ever stand in front of those laws, and wrong as its opposite, we must not confound right and wrong with guilt and innocence. Intention constitutes innocence or guilt. But if our intention to produce happiness fails, and instead thereof we produce misery, the action is wrong, but we may not be guilty of sin, because our intention was good. The confusion of these ideas has been productive of much wrangling, disputation and animosity. Yet the distinction is as clear as sunlight. Desiring, as we do, to promote the best interests of the people of Kansas, and secure for them and their posterity the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we advise every one to resist the oppressor, and to resist efficiently. And if, in the discharge of this most sacred of all trusts the protection of civil and religious liberty, and in resisting the oppressor--our own hand should, perhaps, transfer a brother man to another sphere of existence, we are innocent of crime, and do it, in the fear of God and love to man. By so doing, we advance the race and honor the truth. If, on the other hand, any one feels called upon to endure and to resist, mentally and by word only, let him stand by his convictions, come what may. His resistance is an honor, also, to the race. Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God, always and everywhere.

   These remarks have been called out by seeing, in the Liberator, Wm. Lloyd Garrison's paper, frequent allusions to men and things in Kansas, quite contrary to our views. How can a man, a thousand miles away from danger, surrounded by friends, in comfort and in safety, know how he would act and speak in our circumstances? Kansas produces a rapid development of the lower faculties, as well as the higher. No government, no religion, no women and children to restrain--men are not only left without these usual checks to vice, but they are aggravated by privations, hardships and wrongs. Accumulated incentives to revenge are piling up monthly, weekly, daily. While we are struggling for shelter and subsistences are struggling also to maintain the rights appertaining to every human being. And while we are thus struggling, who turns upon us the cold shoulder? Let the newspapers of the day answer. But we intend to go through, and we intend to triumph. We know that God and justice are on our side--and under this conviction we resist and shall resist successfully.

[The Kansas Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, Kansas, Saturday, May 03, 1856. Number 13--Volume II. Pg. 2]

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