We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? … I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! Patrick Henry, 1775
Although I’ve never been in the middle of a conference on what to do about going to a raging war with someone (unless you count that one time with that girl—but that’s another story), I love Patrick Henry’s speech at the Virginia conference because it represents two things I undeniably believe in: standing up for what you believe in and fighting to the death! (Relax. I’m kidding.)
My old elementary school sits right next to patch of woods, which was like a forest of epic proportions to fifth-grade me. This particular patch of woods seemed beautiful. There were endless flowers, birds flying, and bushes that contained the most delicious honeysuckles anyone could ever imagine. Being the fifth-grade philosopher I was, I would sometimes swing on the swing set in front of that patch of woods during recess and contemplate the meaning of life. One day, during my meaning-of-life contemplation, the rumor mill circled about the school cutting down the forest to make way for a bigger, better parking lot. I was fond of my thought-provoking, honeysuckle-giving forest and if anything – anything! –happened to the beauty and animals inside, well … Give me liberty or give me a five-minute time-out.
My petition wasn’t nearly as compelling and filled with metaphor as Mr. Henry’s, but it was good enough to get 50 or so signatures against the cutting down of the forest. After marching into the principal’s office, petition in hand and a hard head on my shoulders, she signed and pinky-promised not to cut it down.
Lo and behold, 11 years later, the forest still stands.