Can I Get You To Think (Or Is That Asking Too Much?)

Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.
~Samuel Adams~

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations,
or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

~John Adams~

We Americans place a great deal of value upon a good education. It seems that wherever I go, I seen these cars with bumper stickers on them boasting how the driver of that vehicle is the proud parent of an honor student. For 13 yrs we send our kids off to the public school system to obtain an ‘education.’ Afterwards a great many of them move on to college to obtain a degree in the hopes that it will help them get a good paying job somewhere.

I know that this is not the thing to say right out of the starting gate, but I’m gonna say it anyways: with all this education going on, why are there so many stupid people in this country?

People mistakenly believe that being smart means knowing lots of things. Our education system crams all kinds of information into our children’s heads; much of which is a distortion of the truth, and some of which are outright lies. Does that make our children smart? Pick up any volume in a set of Encyclopedias and they are chocked full of information; does that make it smart?

Being smart is not simply the ability to store massive amounts of information in your head; it also entails being able to think. What good is all that information if a person is unable to think about it? On the flip side, what good is thinking if you are only listening to, or have only been provided with one side of the data?

It would be a safe bet to say that every American has an opinion on the issues that face this country. My concern is the basis upon which these opinions were formed. Are people just repeating things they’ve heard the news media say; recalling tidbits of things they learned back in school, or chanting the slogans of some movement they believe in; which has a specific agenda?

Why is it that so many people in this country are loathe to consider any evidence which contradicts their existing beliefs and opinions? How can people claim to have truly thought things over when they refuse to consider ideas which prove their beliefs wrong?

Our modern ideas of what constitutes a good education are quite different from what was considered a good formal education back in the time when our nation was in the throes of its struggle for independence. I remember when I was attending the public indoctrination centers, (as I have taken to calling our schools); the primary focus was on reading, writing and arithmetic. History and civics were also taught to a lesser extent, but even back in the 70’s, before my son ever set foot in a public school, what we were taught was but a fraction of the knowledge bestowed upon those who participated in establishing our Republic.

Jefferson is best known for being the author of our Declaration of Independence, but he also wrote many other articles and treatises which contain a treasure trove of information regarding how he viewed everything political; from the nature of our rights to what we should do when government abuses its power and authority.

Did you know that by the time Jefferson was 17 he had mastered the English language, as well as learned Latin, Greek and French? He was also exposed to a great many political thinkers which helped him in forming a well rounded, (and fact based opinion I might add), upon the purposes for which government should exist, and the balance between liberty and tyranny.

In 1962 President Kennedy hosted forty-nine Nobel Prize winners at the White House. While they were there, Kennedy remarked, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House ― with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

If one were to compare the vast gulf of difference between the education of a man like Jefferson and the one our children receive today; is it any wonder why the principles of liberty and self-reliance are so difficult to people to understand. Or, to put it another way, the education Jefferson received provided him with the ability to write the most amazing document ever written regarding our rights, the nature of government, and what right the people have when government exceeds its power. Compare that to today when the average high school graduate cannot even grasp the principles enshrined within that document.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the brightest lamp in the room as it pertains to my formal education. Maybe that’s what sets me apart from everyone else though; I sucked at school and that is why I am more able to take the knowledge I glean from the writings of our Founders, and then turn around and use it to form my own opinions without being influenced by partisan ideology, or what I hear on the news.

Maybe the truth is that I have not been conditioned, indoctrinated, brain-washed, (call it what you will), into accepting that the system of government we have right now is the one outlined by our Constitution. Maybe that is why every time I hear someone, be it an elected representative, or a member of the public, say something which is blatantly wrong, warning bells go off in my head and I have to say something in an attempt to present them with the facts.

The problem is, people today don’t know what to do with the facts when they are presented with them. There is an outstanding quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which states, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”

What good are facts if you do not utilize them to form an educated opinion? What good are contradictory facts if they do not lead to a change in your opinions on a subject? The two words I despise most in political conversations are; Yeah, but… When I hear that I immediately know that whatever I had just said has gone in one ear and out the other without registering with the brain of the person I’m talking to. The people who say that to me are living proof that Sam Adams was right; Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.

When I write I attempt to use a simple train of thought which provides one indisputable fact; which then leads to another, and another, until I reach my conclusion. But what good is it when nobody gives any of the facts I provide any credence?

For instance; there is the old saying: What came first; the chicken or the egg? Now if you apply that to governments it would read; What came first; governments or the people? The answer to that should be obvious; people came before government. Therefore any system of government must be a creation of the people. It must also be true that any power held by these systems of government was either granted it by the people, or it was assumed by those who decided to assume the name of ‘government.’

In either case, man existed before government. I think it is safe to say that is a point which cannot be disputed. Therefore, if man existed before government, then what about our rights? If you are of the belief that rights are things that government gives you, then does that mean prior to the formation of any kind of government that man had no rights whatsoever?

There are certain things which, at the time our nation was being founded, our Founders believed to be self-evident truths. I don’t know if you understand what self-evident means, so I’ll explain. Self-evident is something that does not need to be demonstrated or explained; something that is obvious.

When our Founders declared their independence from Great Britain, they affixed their signatures to a document which declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” They didn’t need to be told that, they already knew it in their hearts; it was part of their core belief system.

But then the very next sentence in that document states, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Therefore, according to them, the purpose of government is to secure those rights which the people had prior to the creation of that system of government. It also means that whatever powers held by that government come from the true fountain of all political power and authority; the people. That is the nature and definition of sovereignty; the absolute political power within a society. In our country it resides with the people; not with the government we established.

This fact is affirmed in the next sentence found within the document under discussion, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” If the people were not the sovereigns, how could they alter or abolish a system of government?

But there is also a hidden meaning in there that very few people seem to even notice. That sentence also means that it is not within the power given government to determine what the extent of its own powers; and when government does overstep those powers it is within our rights as the true sovereigns to completely dismantle government and rebuild it in whatever form we deem is best designed to secure our safety and happiness.

The government we created has no say in whether we the people decide it should continue to exist, or even if a portion of the country chooses not to suffer under what they consider to by the tyranny of that government.

Prior to the formation of our system of government each State was considered a nation unto itself; with all the power and authority of any nation in Europe. The only part of that sovereignty they surrendered by agreeing to the Constitution was that which is specifically mentioned in the Constitution; they kept the remaining power and sovereignty. This is the concept behind a confederation; a group of nations, or States, that have a centralized government which was established for certain specific purposes in regards to the interactions between the States and for the common defense of all of them.

On the other hand, there is a consolidation; where all the States merge into a single entity; in this case the United States of America. In a consolidation, all State authority is usurped by the central government, and it may pass laws that directly affect, or benefit the people within the component States.

The question is, which does the Constitution create?

According to James Madison, who is considered to be the Father of our Constitution, we have a limited central government; whose powers are for specific purposes and limited to certain objects.

In Federalist 45 Madison writes, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

When James Madison addressed the Virginia delegates chosen to decide whether to accept or reject the Constitution, he said, “[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty clear cut to me; if the Constitution does not say it is within our government’s power to do something, then our government cannot do it without violating the Constitution, and the oath of office of every single person who supported such a measure.

Why is it then that we tolerate so many abuses of power by our government? Why do we support so many things which violate the rights our government was established to protect? Why do we call radicals, or traitors, those who decry these abuses of power, or expose the crimes our government is guilty of committing?

I find it a truly sad commentary on the America people that something historian Charles A. Beard said is true; that “You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.”

Yet people today call themselves true America patriots because they support our government when it sends our fighting men and women off to die in the ‘supposed’ defense of all our country stands for. Yet at the same time, on the home front, they support measures designed to keep them safe which obliterate all this country stands for. We proudly wave the flag and vote for candidates whose campaign promises are clear violations of the Constitution.

You can choose to remain ignorant if you so desire. You can choose to continue following partisan platforms instead of the principles upon this once great nation was founded. You can choose to accept slavery as the terms for your safety and security. What you cannot do is force that slavery upon those who wish to remain truly free. Your choices, whatever they may be, must only affect you as an individual, and the moment you begin imposing your views and beliefs upon me, then we are going to have a problem.

There is an old saying that I wish more people would adhere to, “Live and let live.” If you do not like guns, fine, don’t buy one; but don’t try to take mine away. If you do not like what I say or write, fine, don’t listen to me or read what I write; but don’t deny me the right to speak my mind.

I could list a thousand things about you that I do not like, but I respect your right to do or say those things. Why can’t you do the same for me?

But that’s the problem with many today; their belief system requires that I sacrifice mine so that theirs will work. Those of you who support Socialist programs to appease your guilt complex that we aren’t doing enough for the poor or needy require that I have a portion of my earnings taken from me and given to others. For your beliefs to work I must sacrifice my rights so that you can feel secure. For your system, or beliefs to work, someone has to give up a portion, if not all, of their liberty. And did not Patrick Henry declare, “… liberty ought to be the direct end of your Government”?

Therefore, according to Mr. Henry, your beliefs are in complete opposition to liberty; and that is something I have a problem with. I will not surrender my liberty just to appease your conscience, or see your dream of a Utopian society where everyone is taken care of and provided with all their needs.

One of the most repulsive things to liberty that I’ve ever heard is this mantra chanted by these social justice warriors, “The rich need to pay their fair share.” In an 1816 letter to Joseph Milligan, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

In his first inaugural address as president, Jefferson described his views on what constitutes ‘good’ government, “A wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”

If that is the correct definition for good government, then what would you describe our government today as being? But to answer that would require that you think; and that apparently is something most people are incapable of doing.

And, in closing, I’d like to leave you with one final thought from James Madison. This was written in 1785, four years prior to our Constitution being written, “The preservation of a free government requires, not merely that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained, but more especially that neither of them be suffered to overleap the great barrier which defends the rights of the people.

The rulers who are guilty of such encroachment exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them and are slaves.”

Again, I’ll ask you to try to think one more time. If what Madison says is true, then which are you; a free man, or are you a slave?

About Br'er Rabbit

I'm just one person out of millions of others. The only thing different about me is that I don't walk around with my head up my ass.
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