It is said that our life events and experiences shape us into the person we grow up to be. These events and experiences are our own personal history; both the good memories and the bad ones. Although there are probably events from each of our lives that we are not proud of, we should not deny that they played a part in making us who and what we currently are, and therefore we should seek to ensure that the history of those events is as accurate as possible for our posterity.
Is a country really that much different; isn’t the history of a country what makes it into what it becomes? Therefore should not that history also be as accurate as possible for us to understand how we went from 13 independent Colonies to the United States of America?
As countries are made up of men, and men are imperfect creatures, no country can claim sainthood – be above reproach for things that it has done. Yet those events each played their role in shaping that country into what it has become, and therefore should be examined with that in mind.
Growing up as a kid I hated history with a passion, but that was because I did not understand the importance of it. If you do not know the history of your country, you can’t say with any certainty that you understand what your country stands for; its core beliefs.
Maybe now that I’ve said that the following quote will make more sense than it might have when I used it in the past, “A nation that is ignorant of its past is a nation that is ripe for deception and manipulation. Therefore, it is not what happened, but rather what people believe happened which determines the present actions of a nation.”
Putting aside partisan differences there are three basic categories of people in this country. There are those who are politically active; meaning they pay attention to current affairs and vote for the candidates they believe will best steer the country in the direction they believe it should go. Then there are those who are politically apathetic; they simply don’t care about politics or what their government is doing. Then there are those, such as myself, who care about such things but have studied the past and learned that the government we have today is a far cry from the one that was promised to those who were charged with deciding to either accept or reject the plan proposed by the delegates of the Convention of 1787.
There is not much one can do to get those who are apathetic to care. As long as they have a job, a home, food on the table, and things to keep them entertained they are content to remain ignorant about what is going on in the world around them. Yet the truth is that they are no less enslaved than are those who are forced to submit to the laws being enacted by people they did not vote for.
Is a herd of cattle any less a slave to the range owner just because it is free to graze at its own pleasure? Don’t they all end up as meat on our table? I suppose, even as they are being put to death to provide us with steaks, roasts and ground beef, that they never realize that they have lived their lives enslaved to their owners. Can you honestly say that an ignorant populace is any less different; only it isn’t our life that is being taken from us, it is our liberty.
Yet so long as these people are comfortable and entertained they could care less about what goes on in politics; what laws are being enacted that affect their freedom. In his book The Politics of Obedience, Etienne de la Boetie writes a passage that explains this phenomenon, “Do not imagine that there is any bird more easily caught by decoy, nor any fish sooner fixed on the hook by wormy bait, than are all these poor fools neatly tricked into servitude by the slightest feather passed, so to speak, before their mouths. Truly it is a marvelous thing that they let themselves be caught so quickly at the slightest tickling of their fancy. Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned subservience as naively, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”
Then there are those who consider themselves politically active/informed. These are those who pay attention to current affairs and vote and pay their taxes without complaint; they are the ones who believe they are true American patriots because they support our government, our military, and our law enforcers.
But what if the government is not doing the job it was promised it would do when the people of the united States of America chose to adopt it; what if it has grown tyrannical and oppressive – why would you still support it and those who enforce the laws it enacts? And how can you even determine if your government is doing the job it was promised it would do if you DO NOT study the history of its establishment?
Twenty some odd years ago I was a staunch Republican; believing the Democrats were Communists and that the Republican Party held the keys to America’s salvation. Of course now I know better, but that knowledge was not a sudden epiphany; rather it was a slow and gradual process that took place as I learned more and more about the history of this country and the establishment of our system of government. In other words, that change didn’t happen overnight.
The first step of my, if you could call it that, enlightenment came when I sought to learn what the Constitution actually meant. It seemed only logical to seek out books written specifically about the Constitution; such as the Federalist Papers and Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution.
Even though that was but the first step on a long journey towards the truth, it still placed me on a plane of knowledge above more than half, (and that’s probably a generous number) of the people in this country. Combined, the Federalist Papers total around 485 pages while Story’s Commentaries total out at a whopping 700 some odd pages. How many people do you think would be willing to put forth the time and effort to read over 1,000 pages relating to what the Constitution means; that’s assuming they have even read the Constitution itself – which contains a mere 4,543 words?
But I didn’t just stop at trying to understand the Constitution I developed a hunger for the history of the entire period beginning with the Revolution up through the establishment of our system of government. So I began amassing quotes and documents written by various Founding Fathers. It was during this process that I stumbled across a quote from Thomas Jefferson, where he states, “On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit of the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
So not only had I already progressed far beyond most people in understanding what the Constitution supposedly meant, I had also learned far more about why our Founders rose up against their system of government to become free and independent States than the average high school student is taught about U.S. History.
Now I’m not claiming to be any kind of genius; just that I had, what you might call, an obsession with learning as much as I could about our government and the history of this country; which automatically elevated me above those who either don’t care, or passively accept the limited amount they were taught in school.
I thought that others would be just as excited to learn the things I had uncovered in my studies; so I began writing about them. I was a fool; nobody cares. If there is one thing I have learned it is, the more one learns, the fewer there are who care what you have to say. If you stick to your partisan loyalties and don’t rock the boat too much, you will have a multitude of friends; a peer group to support you in your beliefs. But the moment you begin espousing ideas and facts that threaten people’s core beliefs, you end up losing friends like rats jumping off a sinking ship.
I recall losing a very good friend years ago who, after leaving the Air Force, went to work for the TSA. He was a staunch supporter of Bush and the War in Iraq and he simply could not handle the questions I was leveling at him regarding the gaping holes in the official story about 9/11; so he blocked my e mails and stopped sending me Christmas cards.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend in Human Resources last week about this phenomenon. We were talking about 9/11, and how the government is capable of committing such atrocities, and she said that some people simply do not want to accept things that threaten their beliefs; they find it difficult to accept them even though there may be overwhelming evidence to support them. Well, she didn’t use those exact words, but that was the general drift of her comments.
I agree, people do not want to accept ideas and beliefs that might cause them to abandon their entire belief system. Yet for some people, such as me, the search for the truth is much more important than holding onto beliefs which have been proven to be based upon lies. I know that the source for this quote may be justification for some to ignore it, but nonetheless Aleister Crowley once said, “The sin which is unpardonable is knowingly and wilfully to reject truth, to fear knowledge lest that knowledge pander not to thy prejudices.”
To me it is a matter of personal integrity that I base my beliefs upon the truth. That’s why I have changed my beliefs over the course of the past 20 some odd years; because as I’ve learned more truths I’ve been forced to choose between accepting the truth or adhering to beliefs that are based upon lies. I find it a matter of honor to say that I try to base all my beliefs upon things that can be backed up by facts and evidence. Now I’ve been proven wrong many times, and I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong again. But an honest man/woman will admit when they were wrong and change their position according to the truth. Conversely, an intellectually dishonest person will adhere to beliefs regardless of whether evidence is presented that proves their beliefs to be based upon falsehoods.
Getting back to my own personal journey for the truth, I didn’t just stop with learning about the Revolution and the causes leading up to it, I took Jefferson’s advice and began seeking out the debates over the Constitution to further my understanding of what that document said, and did to the fundamental structure of our country and its system of government.
I began collecting the writings of those known as Anti-Federalists and the various debates held in the State Ratifying Assemblies; and have now begun the slow process of reading through them to discern their warnings about what would happen if the people chose to adopt this system of government.
I am only a fraction of the way into those documents and already I have decided that most of what they feared would happen has happened. I also believe that what has happened has not happened because the people were inattentive to the affairs of their government; I believe the system itself was designed in such a manner as to all but assure that we ended up with exactly the government we have today.
You see, I did not just limit myself to the debates both for and against the Constitution, I also read the notes taken during the convention that produced that document. That gave me a certain insight into the process by which the Constitution was written, and the thoughts and beliefs of the participants of that convention had towards what form of government would best suit their goals.
There were some, although you are not taught this in school, who sought to abolish the State authority altogether. There were some who felt that an elective monarchy was best for America. You may disagree, but I find the reading of such material fascinating. I get absolutely giddy when I uncover something new that shines a light on why our government currently does certain things which violate my understanding of what powers government was delegated to exercise on our behalf.
I have a small following of people who read my little rants; okay, not always so little. Of them, I can’t say whether I have had any success in changing their opinions or beliefs, unless of course they tell me so directly. Some of them have told me that I’m very intelligent and knowledgeable. I would disagree. I tend to see myself as a rank amateur when it comes to the extent of knowledge I have acquired. I have friends who are virtual libraries of knowledge, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for helping me in my quest for the truth.
It has certainly been one heck of a journey, and the funny thing about journeys is that it began with a single step. Sadly, I know a great many that have chosen not to take that first step. But, if you imagine two friends standing side by side, and one decides to take a journey, that person will grow distant from their friend the further they go on their journey. If you think about society, or peer groups, the more one learns of the truth, the more distant they become from their former friends. They will be viewed as outsiders or outcasts, and their opinions will be denigrated and ignored.
But the truth is its own reward; I do not need friends who have chosen to believe lies and propaganda. I would much rather have a small circle of friends who value the truth as much as I, than have many friends who care absolutely nothing for the truth.
And if that causes you any discomfort, don’t get mad at me; rather I suggest taking a good hard look at yourself in a mirror and ask yourself how much the truth means to you, and what you would be willing to sacrifice to find it.