A Question of Time

I hold a great passion for history.  I have held a passion for history since I was a child.  It has never been about dry facts and dates, but the real experiences of people who lived before us.  I find it inspiring, and at times heartbreaking.  I’d rather sit down to a good history book than a novel.  I like to see how the pieces all link together, and imagine what I would have done in those times.  Our history is the roadmap of how we came to today.

I recognize that a lot of people don’t share that passion, and that history as a subject for American students is woefully lacking.  While I respect that it is not everyone’s passion, we do a tremendous disservice to our youth by neglecting such an important area.

There has always been the issue of history being dry facts and dates, but history is anything but.  If that is what the student has received it is because the teacher has failed to make it come alive.  The textbooks don’t help either.

I have five children, all still in school, and I was shocked when I went through their history books with them.  The presentation is disjointed and makes huge leaps while presenting an overly simplified version of American history.  It is overtly hostile to the American people and leaders, while whitewashing all others, except maybe universal bad guy Adolf Hitler.  It is more concerned with propaganda than history, which is never so black and white as they might say.

I do enjoy going over the history lessons with them, but if the little bit of history that is taught is unbalanced and hyper critical of the United States, where is the benefit?  If we to raise a generation to believe that their country is evil should we marvel if they fail to believe in it?  How are we to join as one nation united under certain ideals if none of that is taught?

The United States has done some great things, and yes, some evil things.  It is in the balanced presentation that we can correctly understand our past and move forward to make the corrections that will bring us closer to the ideals upon which our nation was founded.

As history has become politicized, the truth has largely become hidden under false emotion by those who are more concerned with their agenda than reality. To stand up in front of a classroom and condemn George Washington while wearing a Che t-shirt hardly reflects balance or academic responsibility.

The only motive in presenting our past as a cartoon loosely based on reality is to subvert any pride in America with the intention of removing it far from it’s foundation.  There are those who want that in America today.  These are the same people who denounce John Wayne movies and the like as American propaganda, but what is presented in those movies, biased as it is, is far more balanced than what is presented in classrooms across the United States.

To these people, American can have no heroes, because they are flawed people.  The reality is everyone no one is perfect, but that does not take away from their heroism, or the value of their ideals.

When U.S. college students don’t know our history, what hope do we have of preserving our nation?  What hope does the concepts of liberty and freedom have against the teacher in the Che shirt?  Will the sacrifices made for freedom hold any meaning to those who can identify Cesar Chavez, but not Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln?  To those students, the United States is nothing to be proud of.

If only they knew…

Quoting the Founding Fathers

Some people quote the Founding Fathers as if they were quoting the Bible.  There were differences in viewpoint between the Founding Fathers, but you can get a sense of the intention they had in founding the Republic, and the values they desired our nation to show.  Some today believe those values outdated, while others wish to see them restored.

The value in any quote is that it speaks to you personally.  With that said, here are ten Founding Fathers quotes that speak to us today.

“When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.” –Thomas Jefferson

“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.” –Ben Franklin

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force. Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master.” –George Washington

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” -Thomas Jefferson

“A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when acquired.” –Alexander Hamilton

“Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honor, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions.” -John Adams

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” -George Washington

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage than prevent homicides from an unarmed man, may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”  –Thomas Paine

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”  -Samuel Adams

“But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm… But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity.” –James Madison

An Open Letter

There are those who look to government to dictate a utopian society through laws, regulations, bureaucracy, government intervention, oversight, and funding.  I don’t believe that those who feel this way are evil in their intentions at all.  I think they honestly do wish to see a better world, where people are cared for, and all have an equal opportunity to find happiness.  It is difficult to find fault in the intention.  It is the means that I find most troubling, and where much of the division lies among Americans today.  Whereas one group looks to the heavy hand of government to force an ideal society, the other group finds much to fear in that, for government is far too often owned and controlled by a powerful minority that cares little for those over whom they govern.

George Washington once said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

My ancestry, like that of many Americans, experienced first hand the wisdom of Washington’s words.  By and large, they fled to America to find a place where they could be free from the heavy hand of government, free to pursue life, love, and happiness.  My ancestors were Huguenot, French Protestants driven out of their country upon pain of death for their faith.  They were Germans from Russia, a people forced into Russia under Catherine the Great, and hated for generations until Stalin saw fit to destroy the bulk of them who remained in Russia.  They were Cherokee, forced out of their lands on the Trail of Tears.  They were Confederates, who saw a savage and brutal war waged against them, and in their surrender, a harsh military occupation and the loss of their voice.  These people all saw their homes, their peace, their happiness shattered by the brutal hand of government which sought to destroy them and to demonize them to create their own utopian vision.

I have inherited a healthy distrust for government.

I believe in people, and I believe that people will generally do what is right.  Where they do not, a free society generally does a pretty good job of taking care of those issues.  People will rise up to right injustices through various means, and when they do they are very effective.  People will and do take care of each other with a compassion that no government agent could ever hold.  I have far greater faith in my family, my neighbor, my community, than I could ever hold in an entity which draws power not from compassion, love, or community, but rather from the end of a gun.  That gun should exist to protect the people and our freedoms.

Therein lies the cunundrum.  There are problems that we collectively face, but while one sees the hand of government as the best solution, the other sees a more Orwellian view of such efforts.  As Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to supply you with everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”  I would rather place my faith in those things which are deserving of such a trust.

Do not mistake my distrust of power as racist, or uncaring, or any of the other words that political diatribe in this nation has eroded to.  I’m sure this election will further erode the bonds that bind us, but it is my sincere hope that we can heal the rift, and understand not only the fundamental differences in our world views, but that each wishes a better life for all.