Essays

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Walt Whitman’s 4 Words For Every American: Resist Much, Obey Little

Today we’re told America is divided. We’re told we’re partisan. We’re told our country is deeply split. But if you sit and reflect for a moment, you know in your heart that’s not true.

America is strong because we’re all bound by a single vow, one that goes deeper than color, creed, or politics. And if you ask me, Walt Whitman described it best:   

To The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.
— Caution, Walt Whitman (1860)

Resist much, obey little. If you were born here, you knew those words before you could speak. If you emigrated here, they were the words that drove you to make this your home. If you’re Native American, those words are written in your blood.

Resist much, obey little.

Those are the words that gave men like John Hancock, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson the courage to sign their declaration of treason 238 years ago today. They’re the words that still fuel this great experiment.

So when you’re told to choose one party’s politics or the other, remember the words. Resist much, obey little. When you’re driving across the country or standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, remember the words. Resist much, obey little. When someone asks you what it means to be an American, remember the words. Resist much, obey little.

Resist much, obey little.

Resist Much Obey Little