To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, said Theodore Roosevelt, or that we are to stand by the President, "right or wrong," is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
It is difficult to find truth these days, I have never seen truth in so much trouble, or so lost, or so many dazed and angry people wandering in search of it.
The philosophers always said that in a democracy, protest beyond the law is not a departure, it is absolutely essential to it. I thought about this a couple of month ago when I removed two "For Sale" signs that the landlord had placed in the window of the Round House Cafe.
I thought it was a hostile thing to do, the town was swept with rumors that the cafe had gone out of business. I thought it was an unnecessary blow to the idea of community the cafe had come to represent.
The move – my taking the signs down – was surprisingly controversial, in our culture of timidity and social media controversies, I had crossed a line, good people were shocked and disapproving, I felt like one of those turn of the century anarchists tossing bombs at bank offices.
I returned the signs the next morning, at the request of the cafe proprietors, but I was scolded by people who thought I deserved to go to jail or, at least, get arrested. After all, they were not my signs, and not on my property. I should, many said, be ashamed of myself. But I was actually quite proud of myself.
In a sense, I suppose I am a radical, although I do not see myself in that way. I am radical at least in the way I have chosen to live my life, for better or for worse.
I have not followed the many rules of corporate society. I do not have a million dollars tucked away so that I can grow old and give all of that money to other people and then die when they tell me to. I have sworn to face the truth about myself and tell it, and that is heresy in our anxious world.
In fact, I don't have much of anything tucked away. I just mean to live the life I want to live, for as long as I can and as well as I can, and I refuse to live out the fears of other people, and that means working for myself, and that makes me a revolutionary.
There is much pressure to be silent and quiet in our world. There are those trolls and raging mobs on Twitter, those identity thieves, those fanatics on the left and the right who hate anyone who thinks differently, all those self-righteous and nosy people on Facebook. I belong to the Church of Minding My Own Business, our congregation is small and shrinking fast.
It is simple enough to be silent. Silence becomes cowardice, though, when the occasion calls for speaking the truth and acting accordingly. An unbelieved truth can be more dangerous than a lie.
I was a journalist for many years, and journalism is an imperfect craft, not much maligned and mistrusted now, and also quite different from the journalism I knew and was taught. We were not nearly so mistrusted. I was taught never to lie. I was taught the sanctity of facts. I was taught that my mission was to seek out the truth and tell it.
Truth has been orphaned in our culture, no one seems to know any longer what it is or where to find it, or what to believe and what to ignore. False news is the news, lies the currency of dialogue, indistinguishable from facts. There is no longer any shame in lying, it is just another tool. I hear and read false things everywhere I go, from all kinds of people in all kinds of forums.
We no longer accept or share a common truth, we are each on our own, and a society without a common set of truths and beliefs is a house very much divided.
I believe in the truth. We all have a right to our beliefs, but there is an obligation to truth and facts, those are the underpinnings of government and believe and community and decency. George Orwell said when leaders lie, the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
So I am radicalized, I suppose, I am joining this revolution. The truth is now a revolutionary act.
It is my mission and purpose to seek out the truth and to share what I have found. It is my belief that the truth is more powerful than any lie, and will ultimate prevail. Perhaps I am naive about that, but I don't think so. The truth took me through the New York Carriage Horse controversy and showed me where to go. It brought me to my farm, and to the truth about myself.
It brought me to Maria, and to my blog and the books that I write. Every morning, I will look in the mirror, and if I respect the face I see, I will know I am on the right path. Those are the boundaries for me.
I wish the "For Sale" signs were still up, they have mysteriously vanished, and not by my hands. I'd love to go and take them down again.