L. Neil Smith's
Number 329, July 24, 2005

"You've GOTTA be kidding"

The Dream
by Ron Beatty

Special to TLE

The other night I had a dream.

I was sitting by a campfire, a pot of coffee perking on the grill. The air was heavy and still, and a mist was forming in the valley. Suddenly, there was a soft noise, and the dogs were looking toward a fallen tree. I peered toward it, but couldn't make anything out, then gradually, almost like ghosts, two shapes appeared out of the mist. They stood, looking toward the fire, and I called to them.

"Come on in and warm yourselves," I said, for the night air was chilly after the heat of the day.

The two looked at each other, then came toward the fire.

"Would you like some coffee?" I asked, politely.

The first man, a tall redhead, looked at me, then shook his head. The second one, a tall man with a courtly air and a military bearing, answered in a soft, southern accent.

"No, thank you, Johnny," he replied, his voice deep and clear.

I started, for even though these two looked familiar, I knew I had never met either of them before.

"How do you know my name, Sir, and what is yours, if you don't mind my asking?

The tall redhead chuckled, and spoke, also with a southern accent. "Johnny, you are the whole reason we're here. My name is Tom and my friend and colleague is called Bob."

The man with the military bearing smiled slightly, and gave a small, formal bow. His hair was brown, with a brown beard, streaked with grey. "Pleased to meet you, sir," he said. "And yes, my friend Tom is quite right, we are here to speak with you. Actually, we wanted to ask you a few questions, if we might."

I was uneasy, but something about these two reassured me. "I'll try and answer your questions, if I can," I replied.

The courtly fellow called Bob looked at me sadly, then asked, "What has happened to the courage of the American people? Where is the outrage? Where is the fire for freedom? Where is the determination of a free people to remain free? Why do they persist in allowing the tyranny which exists today in our country?

The redhead, Tom, continued the questioning. "Two hundred twenty nine years ago, before we were even a country, only thirteen small colonies, we fought the most powerful empire on earth. Now when this once great country is led by liars and tyrants, why will no one stand up to resist their infamy?"

I didn't know how to answer, and hung my head.

"One hundred forty five years ago, the South rose up against Northern tyranny. They knew they couldn't win, not in the long run, but they rose anyway," he said, sadly and gently, his voice soft.

"Why won't the American people put these tyrants in prison? They have broken every law and rule put in place to curb exactly this kind of conduct!" Tom said, despairingly.

Bob gave him a warning look, then turned to me and asked softly, "Have the American people forgotten what it means to be free? Have they forgotten that freedom is bought with blood and toil?"

"Have they forgotten that every generation must fight to remain free?" Tom asked, sadly. "Oh, not always with guns, but with principle, with courage to stand up for what is right, with faith that there is some purpose and reason in life?"

Tom looked at me, his eyes sharp. "The Bill of Rights has become no more than a moldy parchment! The people have allowed the cowardly curs in government today to totally disregard all the safeguards that were put there! Where is the fire for freedom? What has happened to so totally enslave such a proud people? Why do they not hold these craven excuses for men to their oaths? Why do they choose to remain slaves?"

"Softly, Tom," Bob cautioned.

I tried to answer, but I could only hang my head in shame. For some reason, these two made the same questions I had asked so many times, even publicly, seem weak and cowardly. Why had I never pushed for the answers? Why had the American people allowed despots and tyrants to come to power, even cheered their election, disregarded the evidence of treason, of megalomania, of so many high crimes and misdemeanors? Why would not one single politician rise above the petty party politics and demand an impeachment of the person who occupied the Oval Office? Why were the members of the Supreme Court not charged with violations of their oaths and removed from the bench? Why is it that most of the politicians in Washington, men and women you wouldn't trust to watch your children for an evening, were constantly being re-elected to office, then expected to live up to a public trust, a trust which they had proved time after time that they were unworthy of?

Suddenly, I looked up, and Bob smiled. "I think we've accomplished our purpose, Tom," he said gently.

The fiery redhead looked sternly at me, and all of a sudden, I knew who they were. I knew, and was ashamed.

They got up from the log they had been sitting on, and started to walk away without a word.

I struggled, and finally got out a strangled question. "What can we do, in today's world? Things are so different now than they were back then!"

Bob turned and looked at me. "Is right and wrong different? Is principle different? Is freedom different? As far as what to do, I can't tell you that. It must be your own free choice as to what actions you take. You know what choices we made, don't you, Johnny?"

I nodded, and watched as they disappeared into the mist. I watched, and a new spirit filled me, a new determination. I looked at the mist where they had vanished, and made a solemn vow.

"I will be the kind of American that can take a place with the heroes of history. I will be the kind of man who can join Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee, and not be ashamed!"


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