“A word, not standing for any idea, is only a bare sound; and it is no more, to one who knows not what idea it stands for. The agreeing therefore in sounds, and not agreeing in the meaning of them, is no agreement at all.” – Trenchard, Cato’s Letters #120
There can be no true communication if both sides do not agree on what ideas are being said. This does not mean that everyone must be on the same side; merely, it means that meaning must be clear in order for anything to come across in the correct manner. Hamilton and Jefferson hardly ever agreed on the issue at hand, but they understood what the other was saying and, therefore, could have proper discourse. We know that it is very hard to speak unless one knows the meanings behind the words, but this raises many questions. How is it that we can communicate to the public the true necessity of liberty if they don’t even know what that truly means? The answer to that question is simple, and it has been answered countless times over: you must educate the people before your speech will be effective. This, of course, means you must first educate yourself, but after that, the education of the public is the next step. You can’t hope to get anyone to believe what you say unless they can first understand it. Teach before you explain, and it will be much easier moving forward.
In theory, this is a simple plan, easily executed. But, real life throws many curves. Sure, we can write about what is true, we can try to educate the people on what they need to know, but what if no one pays attention? Is it really worth it, to go about explaining what you’re saying and making sure everyone is on the same page if no one has even picked up the book? You must first ask yourself, what if they do? What if someone is paying attention to you, and trust me there is at least one person who can hear your cries. Maybe this, however, is not enough. We have been programmed to believe that it isn’t, so what should we do next? Well, our job is to do what we can. I know this isn’t the most promising answer seeing that it doesn’t give any satisfaction, but it is really all we can do. We read, and we write, and we speak, and we move all in the ways we hope others will imitate, but we can not control what they do. We are clearing a road and waiting at the end, hoping that one day, someone will follow our path, but we can not drag others behind us. We can not push them down the road less traveled. They must make those choices for themselves because it will be much more meaningful for them if they make the decision.
In the end, people will walk our road. Someone will stumble upon it and decide that it’s right for them. Maybe some people already have, but we are just too far ahead to see them coming. Because at the end of the day, we are changing the world every second of every day in the most minuscule of ways, but all of those little moments pile up into something incredible. Like it or not, the world is already a different place because of the efforts we have made. And the world will always be a different place because of what it had shaped up into. You must put effort into this if you want anyone to even have the chance to do it themselves. Prove that you trust what you are saying by making the road to liberty as clear as it can possibly be. Define your thoughts and make sure you understand them yourself because we can not believe these ideas are the truth, without knowing what this truth really is. As Trenchard wrote:
“For, a man cannot believe without believing in something; and he must know what that something is, that is, he must know what he believes, or else his belief is only and abstract word, without any subject to believe in, or any thing of.”
~ Victoria Smith