Death By a Thousand Cuts

A gentleman named James McHenry was born in Ireland in 1753 and immigrated to the American colonies just before the Revolutionary War. He served as an officer in the Continental Army during the war and fought under the command of Major General Lafayette at the Battle of Yorktown. He later served as secretary of war under presidents Washington and Adams.

As a Maryland delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, McHenry kept a journal. On the last day of the Convention, September 18, 1787, he wrote this:

“A lady [later identified as Elizabeth Powel of 224 South Third Street in Philadelphia] asked Dr. [Benjamin] Franklin, ‘Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy?’ Franklin replied, “A republic, Madam … if you can keep it.’”

Collective Amnesia

We can’t keep it. We won’t keep it. By our willfully ignoring all that’s been done to undo the republic and its Constitution over the past 233 years, we refuse to keep it. People who’ve never read the Constitution swear to uphold it. We believe them. Then we believe everything they promise us in their shameless efforts to stay in office. Thereafter, we re-elect them, again and again.

In response to our collective amnesia, it’s easy to imagine Benjamin Franklin rising up and giving us a collective bitch-slap. It’s equally easy to imagine his fellow signatories of the Constitution flopping in their graves like freshly caught flounder.

And please be absolutely certain of this: When the shit goes down, we’ll assemble a circular firing squad.

I won’t say I told you so.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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  1. Mark O’Brien…in three words: Brilliant. Tragic. Truth.

    What comes to mind, is the Helen Keller quote, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
    You sir, have both, 20/20 sight and vision. It is a tough spot to be these days, a lonely spot. Especially when such a large number of people would much rather look to fairytales and empty promises rather than to really SEE what is our self-determined future as a democracy.

    • Wow. The Helen Keller quote is spot on.

      Your comment about loneliness is interesting. Sometimes I feel like the only one who hears the toilet flushing. I know that’s not true. It can’t be. I’m not the only one who thinks this way. You do, too. But isn’t it hard not to wonder where the rest are and why they’re invisible and quiet?

      We just have to keep raising hell, I guess. 😉