Frisian Freedom gave all landowners the right to vote and elect their leaders. These elected officials would meet and establish laws and govern. It was a land where a visitor remarked, “every man was a noble unto themselves.”
However, by the late 1400s factions had developed that would spell the end this experiment in democracy. The Fat Buyers (the rich who could afford to eat fat) and the Speakers (those who wanted to first use words to solve problems) reached an impasse.
Their disagreements on how to govern had gotten so entrenched and they were so unwilling to compromise that in 1498 a group of Speakers secretly met with a neighboring Duke and offered him their loyalty if he and his army would "fix" their problems. They opened the gate and he did the rest.
They soon realized what a mistake it had been, but it was too late, the damage had been done. Rather than finding a compromise with their own people, they lost everything to become nothing more than a jewel in a foreign noble’s crown. So after 250 years, the Frisian Freedom was over and with it, the experiment with democracy.
This year, the United States turns 230 years old and its age is but one of the similarities between these two democracies. For here too, the word “compromise” is considered a sign of weakness and the attacking of our political opponents as stupid and idiots to the cheering of our partisans does nothing to foster the communal notion of “a more perfect union.”
The centuries of the Frisian Freedom are all but forgotten and someday the American experiment in democracy will end as well. After all, that is the nature of life.
I do not know if 250 years is an advanced age for a democracy or an early death, but I do know that our hatred and the lack of grace for those we disagree with does nothing to improve our nation’s health.
While we need to hope and pray that the end is still far off, we also must take steps like loving our neighbor as ourselves and respecting opposing views even when we disagree with them and then be willing to compromise. Be willing to give a little, so that the death of the United States of America will not be a self-inflicted wound.