For those of us who love liberty and freedom, who believe that each person owns himself, who hold the idea that a person can do whatever he wishes with his life and property as long as he does not infringe on the rights of another person or his property, we find ourselves beset on all sides by a State that is oppressive of our rights and the most violent and consistent aggressor against life and property.

The State, media, and government run schools are all working to teach our children a near blind obedience to government and its agents.

In an effort to combat all the State propaganda and ensure my children receive a more enlightened education, I began recording short podcast type lessons for them. The lessons are all designed to be about 5 minutes long and to teach the ideas of liberty in a language they can understand.

I'm posting these lessons online so that others who might find them useful can share them with their own children.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Tank Man," August Landmesser, and Saying "No!" to the Government

There are two famous photos of people standing up against their government at great risk to their own safety.  Both of these images can inspire people who want to resist abuses, theft, and violations of rights that governments force upon their populations.

The first photo is of a young Chinese man whose real name is unknown but is referred to as "Tank Man."  The Chinese are ruled by a communist government.  A communist government is one that restricts what property people can own, and severely restricts the rights of its population, even more than the government does in the United States.  They control all education, how much money people can earn and how much goods cost, who can own property, where people can travel, what people can say publicly, what newspapers can publish, what is shown on television, and don't allow citizens to own guns.  In 1989 college students were protesting in the capital city of Beijing against the Chinese government.  Protesters gathered in an area of Beijing known as Tiananmen Square, where at one point a million people joined together to protest.  The Chinese government sent 300,000 of its soldiers to Beijing to use violence and sometimes kill the peaceful and unarmed Chinese people.  Not much is known about Tank Man.  But from photos and videos that foreign journalists were able to sneak out of the country, we know that at some point he walked in front of a line of advancing military tanks.  He can be seen in the photos carrying a couple of bags.  I imagine he might just have been an ordinary person who was walking home from grocery shopping, saw the tanks advancing on where the protesters were, decided he had seen enough government violence against the people, and chose to do something about it.  When he walked in front of the tanks, the lead tank tried to go around him.  Tank Man moved and blocked the tank's path again. This happened several times, until finally the tank driver seemed to give up and shut down his engine.  Tank Man climbed on the tank and began yelling into the tank through different peep holes.  We don't know what he said, but I imagine that he might have told the driver to go home.  Maybe he told him it was wrong to commit acts of violence against peaceful people.  Maybe he asked the soldier to stop blindly following immoral orders from the government.  Finally he got back down from the tank, and continued to block the path of the line of tanks until some concerned citizens came out and took him away before the soldiers hurt him.
"Tank Man" blocking the path of the line of tanks.

Another shot that shows what "Tank Man" was courageous enough to stand up against.

The second photo is of a German man named August Landmesser.  In this photo, Mr Landmesser is in a large group of German workers who were gathered to celebrate the launching of a new Navy vessel at a shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.  All of the other workers are performing the Nazi salute, which is performed by extending the right arm out straight with the hand pointed forward.  August is surrounded by the sea of people, all signaling their obedience to Adolf Hilter and the German state, while he stands like a boss with his arms crossed.  Mr. Landmesser did not agree with the Nazi hatred of Jewish people, and had in fact married a Jewish woman.  Two years after this photo was taken, August was actually put in prison for two and a half years for marrying the Jewish woman.

A close up shot of August Landmesser standing with his arms crossed and squinting at the person leading the salute.

August Landmesser surrounded by the crowd performing the Nazi salute.

I like these two photos because they show two very different situations in which people refused to be controlled by the State, took a stand, and said, "No!" to wrong actions by their government.  In the example of Tank Man, we see a solitary man who is brave enough to go alone to stand up against the State.  Even though no one goes out to join him, he still shows his refusal to silently allow the State to  use violence against and violate the rights of his friends and neighbors.  I can hardly imagine the amount of courage it must take to stand before a moving tank, knowing that the soldier driving could roll over you or shoot you.

In the case of August Landmesser, we see a man who is brave enough to go against what all of peers, friends, and coworkers are doing and stand alone while refusing to show blind obedience to the State.  It can be difficult not to follow along with the crowd when they are all pledging allegiance to the flag, standing and singing the national anthem, or clapping for soldiers as they march by in a parade.  It takes a special courage to do the opposite of what all the mindless worshippers of the state are doing.

Once you decide that you're not going to go with the flow anymore, that you're going to march to the beat of a different drummer, you're going to find yourself in situations where you are uncomfortable.  If you have decided not to stand and recite the State's pledge at the beginning of the school day, it will be an awkward moment.  You will feel awkward if you stand and go along with the crowd, because you are doing something against your principles.  But it will also feel awkward to remain seated while the other 20 students and teacher all participate in the act of worshiping the State.  In a situation like that, I wouldn't blame you if you caved in to peer pressure and followed along just to avoid confrontation.  But maybe you'll be lucky and find some of the courage that Tank Man and August Landmesser showed us in these iconic photos.

Bonus: Actual video footage of "Tank Man's" heroics:

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