This is the first of four posts that explains why you must be involved in public life.  This post is about courage, and it begins with a shortened recital of a traditional English folk tale. This is a tale we like to tell children. Like most of the old stories we tell children, this tale teaches a lesson. That is why Senator Jim Demint begins his book, Saving Freedom, with this story. 

What is the story? The story is that little tale about the brief and exciting life of the Gingerbread Man. The tale begins with a magical moment.  An old woman carefully prepares a Gingerbread Man out of dough. Then she puts her Gingerbread Man in the oven to bake. Latter, when she hears noise, she opens the oven door. To her surprise, her Gingerbread Man runs rapidly away.  He does not want to be eaten.

The Gingerbread Man runs surprisingly fast. The old woman cannot catch him. Her old husband cannot catch him. The Gingerbread Man outruns all the people he meets plus a horse and cow. He confidently taunts them: “Run, run, as fast as you can, You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!”

Unfortunately, the Gingerbread Man encounters a problem. With a hungry crowd in hot pursuit, the Gingerbread Man runs right up to the edge of deep river. There is no bridge. The river blocks his way. What if his pursuers catch up?

It is at that moment that a sly fox offers a suggestion:  “Jump on my back, and I’ll take you across the river!” Since the fox does not seem to be interested in eating him, the Gingerbread Man accepts the suggestion. However, as the fox swims across the river, by decrees his back begins to submerge into the water. The fox suggests: “Can you stand on my head, Gingerbread Man, or you will get wet.” Afraid, the Gingerbread Man moves forward. As the current becomes more swift, the fox suggests the Gingerbread Man move to his nose.  He does not want the Gingerbread Man to drown.   😈

Finally, the fox reaches the bank on the other side of the river. Then fox throws back his head and snap! The Gingerbread Man was never seen again.

In his book, Senator Demint uses the story of the Gingerbread Man as a metaphor for America’s slide into socialism. 

When we came out of the oven in 1776, we were hot. We sent the British packing, formed a constitutional republic, and were soon off and running. America was fast and confident. Soon, no other country could even come close to the strength and speed of our military, our economy, or our culture.

Like the Gingerbread Man, Americans valued their freedom above all else, No nation in history had ever made freedom work so well. We truly became “The Shining City upon a Hill” that attracted admiration and immigrants from every country in the world. But in 1929 America “came to a wide, deep, and swift-flowing river with no bridge to cross.” That river was the Great Depression. That’s when the federal government became our “fox.”

As Americans lost confidence in our free-enterprise economic system and our ability to cross this wide river on our own, the federal government came to our rescue. At first the expanding federal role seemed harmless enough, and the people were safely positioned far from the fox’s mouth. But as America endured one politically manufactured “crisis” after another, the fox has invited us to move ever closer to its mouth.

Today we Americans, along with our hopes and dreams, are perched on the tip of the fox’s nose.  We are in the middle of what seems like a deep river, and we are not sure we can swim. Now is the time for Americans to decide, once again, to fight for freedom.  

Fear is contagious, but so is courage. We look to each other for support. Will we support each other?

We know our leaders are too ambitious. We know some of our fellow citizens are too weak. We have a decision to make. Will we join with our fellow citizens? Will we join with those who have the courage to stand up for our freedom, or will we let that freedom slip away?

–Tom Salmon

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