Boston Tea Party and
On December 16, 1773, a sizable group of men masquerading as Indians boarded three ships in Boston Harbor, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver. Their mission? A daring act of vandalism protesting a tax on tea imposed by British Parliament. With English marines stationed nearby at Castle Island, their act carried serious risks - but these young patriots, mostly apprentices, were intent to follow through.
Having vowed beforehand to both secrecy and control, their numbers and sudden appearance overwhelmed both officers and crews. Thankfully, there would be no violence. The lads quickly and carefully went about their work, careful not to damage either ships or cargo - except for numerous crates of unwanted East Indian tea.
The rest is history. Over a period of several hours, they shattered the crates with axes, threw the contents overboard, and then graciously cleaned-up the mess. With that, they quietly returned to their homes.
The story did not end there. Inspired by this dramatic act, the Sons of Liberty in several colonies united the people in their boycott of British tea. It wasn't easy. Tea was a very popular commodity. Businesses didn't want to lose their usual profits, and the government was on their side. A lot of citizens considered the boycott, forced on them by intimidation (with occasional acts of destruction and violence), an impingement of their freedom. And they were right. Two views of liberty had come into conflict. On one side was a weak colonial government defending the legitimate status quo, and the other the fearsome threat of an angry mob. It was a conflict that eventually led to war and the birth of a new nation.
Today we live in a very different world. We enjoy precious liberties that our citizen government guarantees. Nevertheless, we have problems that deserve our serious, mobilized attention.
One of the most urgent is climate change. Oddly enough, the situation has similarities to those of our early Boston patriots.
Businesses that earn their profits from burning carbon-based fuels want to sustain and even expand their usual profits, even as dire threats continue to escalate. Our state and federal governments, like those of the early colonies, listen more to the influence of money and the status quo than the good of the people. Loud voices, with no science to back them up, expect us to believe, without regard for common sense, that discharging 36 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year is completely harmless.
Meanwhile, the people who know better, including climate scientists, meteorologists, fire-fighters, and just about everyone who sees the effects of climate already underway, have to contend with unconscionable resistance.
What the powers that be fail to realize, however, is that the problems will continue to grow until masses of people rise and say "no more." If leaders and businesses continue to do the wrong thing, they will bear the price of public distrust. Their short-sighted policies will be shamed and their legacies despised for all time.
Right now, we are faced with a dire state of uncertainty. The freedom of commerce, which Thomas Jefferson warned has no regard for nations (as in the real good of the people), is positioning itself to be in conflict with the Laws of Nature, upon which the general welfare and pursuit of happiness of true liberty rely. People of conscience and good will have to take sides. They might delay their choices for as long as possible, at terrible risk, but at some point they must respond to circumstances as vital to our survival as nature itself. We will put our petty distractions aside in order to meet our greater obligations. The economic premise of tunnel vision greed, upon which our culture has long gone awry, will give way to higher moral principles.
It is time for each of us to support energy conservation and clean energy alternatives. Solutions cannot be delayed for the future, when the disruptive chain-reaction is beyond remedy. We need the foresight and moral fortitude to start now.
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