It is with sadness that I note Mike Vanderboegh passed away Wednesday, August 10, 2016. Usually, when a person writes words like that, what follows is a long discussion of his relationship with the person who has recently died, their common interests, their friendship and the things they shared. Most of that* I will not include here for a very simple reason. I did not know Mike Vanderboegh. We never met. While I read his blog fairly regularly, I was not a subscriber. I have no illusions that he even knew my blog existed. We never exchanged emails. We did not write each other letters. We have never been speakers at the same event (largely because my public speaking has been largely limited to preaching and because I am pretty much unknown in the liberty or patriot movement). Further, based upon what I have read of his blog I suspect he and I differed on any number of things. Why then the sadness? To explain, I need to give you a brief overview of my understanding of Mike Vanderboegh. It won’t take long. I’m going to try to cut out all the non-essential things and just say what I think matters the most.
Mike Vanderboegh loved freedom.He loved liberty. He loved of the United States of America. There are a lot of people who claim to love freedom, liberty and their country. There are far fewer whose passion will lead them to sacrifice greatly in the interest of those things. They are, I submit, a distinct minority. Their passion makes other people, the majority of people, uncomfortable. Passionate people do that to the dispassionate – especially if the passion of the passionate seems to be almost all-encompassing. If the thing about which someone is passionate is frisbee golf, then perhaps that person’s passion is just an annoyance. If their passion is related to the multi-level marketing company with which they just affiliated themselves, then perhaps it is a little more annoying. In both cases it is annoying because people outside their circle of fellow enthusiasts I simply don’t see what is so exciting about frisbee golf or one more multi-level marketing company. But what if their passion is related to something more fundamental? What if their passion is for something that underlies the very fabric of a nation? What if their passion is so great it calls into question my commitment or your commitment to the founding principles of our nation? What if a person’s passion is so great it calls into question my love of home and country? At this point I become more than annoyed. At this point you become more and then uncomfortable when this passionate person comes around and begins to talk. Now his passion makes it clear that though I may claim to love freedom, liberty and nation, my claim may have little to do with reality. More than that, such a passion for liberty must invariably call into question whether a given government has become an impediment to the people being able to exercise their liberty. It calls into question the extent to which an ostensibly free people are truly free. And, it calls into question whether the policies and actions of government and its agents are consistent with a love of country. It’s no wonder, then, that such people are so quickly and easy labeled “fanatics” and “extremists.”
Mr. Vanderboegh (I didn’t know him and so won’t presume to simply call him “Mike” and using his first and last name has become unwieldy) seems to have aroused those negative responses in a lot of people, private citizens and agents of the government alike. We shouldn’t be surprised. Unfortunate though such responses are, that’s just the nature of the beast. People don’t like feeling uncomfortable and they often actively dislike those who arouse their feelings of discomfort – and inadequacy. People become angry with men and women like Mr. Vanderboegh because such men and women expose the huge gap between what people say and what they do. They become angry because they fear being exposed, to themselves and others, for what they are. Anger arising out of fear is simply human nature. Anger, however, isn’t the only response to the discomfort.
As a RN I’ve worked in a lot of clinical areas. One of my favorites has been psych/mental-health. I’m also a hypnotist and executive life coach. In both fields I’ve learned there are some universal truths regarding change. One of the most important is this: Change is painful. Staying the way we are can be painful, too. People don’t like pain, so they avoid change if they can because it seems more painful than staying the way we are. This means people, all people, only change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing. While the discomfort caused by the passionate leads many to annoyance and anger, it leads some to change. This is why the death of a man I did not know saddens me. I am convinced his passion for liberty and freedom led some people to change and to become more dedicated in their own defense of liberty and freedom. The sort of passion I see on his blog always leads some to change is such positive ways. The change may be small or great. It doesn’t matter. If people become more committed to what matters, that cannot be anything but good for freedom, liberty and America.
We desperately need people like Mike Vanderboegh, Stewart Rhodes and others. We need them, not because they can make us free, but because they lead others to do what they do – they set “brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.” This leads to the “irate, tireless minority” without whom we cannot be free.
Thank you, Michael Brian Vanderboegh… I did not know you, but your words have changed me and my approach to liberty for the better.
*The things I’m confident we had in common were a love for freedom, liberty and the US.