Last week on the night of April 18 celebrated the anniversary of Paul Revere’s heroic ride to Old North Church where he lit the first lantern which indicated the British were coming by land. Every rebel Patriot put lanterns in their windows and lit them for the militia to see as a warning to prepare for battle.
Some 250 odd years later, we have lived under the freedom that Revere and his patriots all fought for and we are reminded that fighting for freedom is more than physical battles. The rebels had all agreed to light their lanterns when it was time to stand up for liberty. Back then, the Patriots weren’t popular. There were loyalists everywhere who believed that the British were just trying to keep peace and keep everyone safe. Those loyalists were not acting irrationally. They believed that the rebels were a clear and present danger to the lives of their friends and families. They were willing to report them to the British for their crimes no matter what the penalty. They believed their actions were noble. To them being a traitor to liberty and to their neighbors was fair because liberty might come at a cost to their safety.
But the Patriots knew that in the end, no one would be safe until liberty was established. The British had threatened their food supply, their labor rights, their children’s education and promoted the enslavement of human beings. Battle may threaten the immediate safety of their families, but it would protect them indefinitely.
So when Paul Revere told them “one if by land, two if by sea” they all prepared. And when they saw the light at Old North Church they lit their lanterns one by one.
Today – our lanterns look a little different. Our lanterns come in many forms as signals to each other that tyranny has come and we have to be ready to fight it. We light our lanterns by tweeting. We light our lanterns by showing support when churches hold services in their parking lots. We light out lanterns by refusing to turn in our neighbors when they have guests over during the pandemic. We light our lanterns by calling fascism by its name.
The threat of the virus is real but it does not lessen the threat of tyranny. Every day we allow for “shelter in place” orders and curfews to go unchecked, the proverbial British come one step closer. You have watchmen set. We have lit the first light. It’s time to light your lanterns.