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Bullets to Save Ballots Honorable Mention
What Lessons Can Modern Americans Learn from the Battle of Athens, Tennessee?
By Joe Kelley

Joe Kelley, a gun-owning former construction worker who once ran for Congress, is married with two children. He lives with his family in California. Mr. Kelley writes that his interest in defending life started early, and that history has always been his favorite subject, since the past allows us to prepare for our future. He credits his parents with teaching him to be informed, rather than relying on blind belief and dependence.

When citizens of a civilized society are able to overpower the forces oftyranny, such as the Athens Tennessee example, the principles defininggood government can be made clear and human beings can better preparethemselves to not only survive but to survive well. The battle forAthens Tennessee can stand to illustrate the need for reason, moraljudgment, and a strong defensive capability.

Whenever human beings perpetrate immoral criminal behavior it isimperative that other human beings are able to act in a manner thatlimits such behavior. This defensive employment of economic energydefines the boundaries of sound moral government and secures the meansto promote civilization.

When government is perverted to serve a select few at the expense of therest then government legitimizes crime. This is the essence of tyranny.It is a deception. Crime is not legitimate. Sound moral government doesnot allow extortion. Moral judgment forbids anyone to gain at theexpense of another against their will.

The crime of tyranny is made possible only by suppressing the truth. Atthe very moment a human being is able to recognize the deception oftyranny; the power of tyranny is reduced. No longer will that person beinclined to legitimize any effort toward the support of tyranny. Thepath toward improvement will be made clear. The questions of moraljudgment will be specified, leaving only the application of rightagainst wrong.

In order for anyone to gain power there must first be reason and thenthere must be a physical ability. Reason or the ability to decide drivesthe physical capacity to act. Economic power is both a capacity toreason and an ability to exert force. Economic power is the means bywhich people continue to exist on this planet. Each of us has this powerand it can be mobilized collectively toward either good or bad. Whenthis power is utilized toward good it serves mankind by promotingpeaceful coexistence or equal liberty. This application of human powertoward good is the essence of morality.

When economic power is utilized to enable some people to gain at theexpense of others this power is then no longer serving mankind, it nolonger promotes peace, it destroys equal liberty, it is the instrumentof tyrants, this perversion of economic power destroys civilization.The balance of power between those who exercise sound moral judgment andthose who perpetrate the crime of tyranny effects the heath of societyand the advancement of civilization. When the balance of power swingstoward tyranny and away from sound moral government there is a reductionin prosperity. The community can only exist if enough people add to it.If the community is filled with more people that take from it than giveto it; the community will deteriorate. If the community leadersprescribe behavior that is geared toward taking (extortion) then theywill shape a community that deteriorates. The benefits of a healthysociety are reduced as the community deteriorates under tyrannicalextortion.

The capacity to act cooperatively toward improving civilizationutilizing the idea of moral behavior is reduced as extortion increases.Transfers of wealth from good citizens toward evil tyrants will reduceoverall economic power and increase the economic power of the tyrants.Tyrants do not add to total economic power. As economic power transfersfrom citizens who promote civilization toward tyrants who perpetrateextortion a net physical capacity to extort is gained by the tyrants.This process has been labeled euphemistically, in our own recentAmerican history as 'protection money'. Society is drained of thecapacity to improve economically as more 'protection money' is used bytyrants in the business of supporting extortion. As society is drainedof economic power it is reduced in defensive capacity and is made lesscapable of resisting the forces of tyranny. Extortion is the means bywhich tyranny is made possible. Extortion is both an intellectual and aneconomic power.

The only way a community will improve is if enough citizens realize theneed to exercise sound moral judgment and apply the principles of goodself-government. Civilization depends upon the ability people have torecognized evil intent, to guard against it, and to promote equalliberty. As the number of people who make sound moral judgments increaseand as the actions of those people are directed away from extortion andtoward cooperative effort; the health of society is enhanced.To the extent that the citizens of Athens Tennessee were able torecognize tyranny and over power it; that historical example stands asan application of sound moral government.

Our future depends upon our ability to recognize and treat the malady oftyranny. We must see the truth of the situation or suffer theconsequences. We must act to promote sound moral government as thecitizens of Athens Tennessee were able to accomplish or we will continueto suffer under the abuses of tyrants.

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