Thursday, May 26, 2011

Government-Freedom and Liberty

A bit has already been said about self-governance; some men could, some must never. Evidence abounds for the lawlessness and evil that would certainly over-run the land if men were allowed to live unrestrained. Domesticated animals revert back to beasts when they are outside the confines of fence and leash. Some times mankind acts no better than a beast. We must have laws and restraints to pinpoint the offenders, not the civil law abiding citizen. The balance between fair and just legislation and oppressive and unequal legislation is placed in the hands of the elected. And, the elected must always answer to the electorate.

The injustice that propelled good men and catapulted the land into war was just this issue of unfair legislation and being powerless in the selection of a voice that would represent them before the crown. The Boston Massacre, Lexington & Concord, the attack on Bunker Hill (Breeds Hill), were actions destined to take place as men would no longer sit on their hands as oppression slowly choked the life of freedom from their souls.

During this time Edmund Burke was an outstanding orator and author living under the crown. He addressed Parliament on more than one occasion. He had an insight into the heartbeat of the colonies that  gave a great illumination to the questions of why war and the motivation behind the colonialist. On March 22, 1775, in his, Second Speech on the Conciliation with America- The Thirteen Resolutions, Burke addressed Parliament, saying: Religion, always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a persuasion not only favorable to Liberty, but built upon it.  All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our Northern Colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the protestant religion.

Burke certainly knew the heart and soul of the colonialist. A people so in love with liberty and their blessed free land are bound by their conscience to stand and fight. The fight was not against the need for government nor laws, not against authority and enforcing law. The revolt was against the loss of voice and self-determination. A voiced and self-determined people would be able to hold each other accountable. Laws would be enacted that their voice would give assent too. The laws of the colonialist were to be based on the ethics and morals of the colonialist, not a removed and distant crown.

In 1791, Burke wrote to, The national Assembly: What is Liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites... Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

The foolishness of modern man is his being convinced that ethics, morals, and religious conviction no longer have a part to play in the governance of man. The Old Testament give a powerful word to the wise: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.  Our mind is not god, our education, however great or noble, is not to be worshipped. The works of our hands and the greatest feats of science fall far short of the Divine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Government- Can man govern himself?

Our founders considered the government they were forming as one of the, greatest experiments ever attempted. The founding of a government elected by the people, a government with limited powers, set within three branches. The three branches of government designed to be checks and balances, to insure that no single branch might obtain power to control the others. Now, other countries have attempted and continue to attempt, such a government, with this exception. Our founders explicitly proclaimed that our aspirations of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were God ordained. And, even more, the aspirations for such are placed within the heart of man.

Now, can man really govern himself? Answers of yes and no abound. Some serious questions arise as one would think on the question. What is meant by govern? What is the purpose of governance? Who sets the standard for actions to be governed? I do not intend to exhaust time listing all of the examples of government and their success or failure. An understanding of world history will easily shed light on the successful as well as the failures, those that espouse liberty and those of tyrants and despots.

There are many fine individuals who could govern themselves. They have, through education, parental influence, religious conviction, understood and live within certain boundaries of actions and influence. They know what it means to be civil in a society that flourishes within those boundaries. In contrast, there are countless individuals who should never be allowed to govern themselves, or others. Yet, we live in a land where self-governing is allowed and encouraged. When those who cannot control their actions or certain influences. and trespass the boundaries of a civil society they are, or should be held accountable.

The actions and influences of people need to understand the sense of control that is placed over them. Governing is the intent and actions of making understandable the rules or directions people are to follow. Self-governing is the application of rules and directions by the people themselves, in macro and micro systems. The federal government down to our local principalities exert government. Those that exert government from great distances are at times questioned about their loyalties to certain groups or locations. Self-governance with representatives far removed is easily distrusted and suspect.

Now, to the point of government and the standards used. Many of the early codes of conduct instituted in our country were based on British Common Law and the Mayflower Compact. Common Law had its foundations set firmly on Biblical Codes of Ethics. And, many of the codes were intrinsic in the souls and conscience of man; murder, stealing, adultery etc. Our ethical system of behaviour is based on accepted actions and non-acceptable actions, or influences. Our system of ethics is based on moral standards which are in fact, accepted principles and instructions stating the way things are or should be done. What you are allowed and not allowed to do.

George Washington, in his farewell to the people he served said the following in regards to governance and morality, "And let us with cautious indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure; reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Our founders had much to say about the ability of man to self-govern. More than one Founding Father warned of the corrupting influence of power and placing such power in bodies without limitations and controls. I will be using many quotes from them in the next few postings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Patriotism- Is it Dying in the Land of the Free

In the city of Riverview there is a cemetery out on Sibley Road. It is like thousands of plots of land given to bury the dead and bring friends and family to remember the lost. The earth that covers the resting place of the thousands does not recognize the entombed as those who walk above do. The earth knows nothing about status, money, crime, goodness, philanthropy or greed. The size, or lack of, a monument or simple stone is not recognized either. Walking around a cemetery a person would probable have no idea of who might be underfoot. Unless of course, you were familiar with the area where you were walking.

The cemetery in Riverview, Ferndale Cemetery, is no different to countless thousands. It is different to people who have loved ones at rest there. It is different for me and my family. Some very special people in my life have Ferndale earth as a blanket. Ferndale earth is a blanket for a sister in-law, uncle, brother, mother and father. Even though it has been a few years I can walk directly to the monuments that mark their graves. I can't see the monuments from the two-track, due to cemetery rules all markers are now level to the ground for ease of mowing.

In a couple of weeks cemeteries across America, and foreign fields, will stand out as American flags, stapled to small round wood rods, give testimony to what makes America great. Monumental flags will point people to the resting places of the brave who served from Lexington-Concord to the mountains and desolation of Afghanistan. When taps are played many will shed tears. When the rifles fire in perfectly disciplined unison the scene sensitive still shudder or twitch. I know from first hand experience, tears from taps and shuddering from the rifles.

Brave men and women across the land and the ages were willing to face danger and death so the dream of real freedom would live on. That freedom, to think, talk, gather, worship, elect government, is so precious that the cost is blood. My brother Tag served in the Marines during the Viet Nam War, he died in December of 1969 from leukemia. Many of my friends will remember that ordeal he went through. My father served in World War II, in the jungles of the Philippines and New Guinea. He witnessed what was never talked about and carried in his body the reminders of malaria and jungle rot. I will always seek to honor them and the sacrifice they made.

Today it seems that patriotism is not in vogue. I can't pinpoint any particular reason, I suspect there are many. The evidence is obvious, attend any sporting event and count the number of people who do not take off their hats, talk and laugh and seem oblivious to what is happening. How about singing the National Anthem, even a superstar screws it up. There is even an alternate for people who do not like the original. How many of us even know that there are four verses to the anthem ? The fourth verse is quite militant in word and image, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto, "In God is our trust" And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

For a period of time I lived in a land that was ruled by a single party socialist government. The common people had no voice, yes they voted, for the only person running for president. They lived at the mercy of a corrupt government and a military that was as bad. While we lived there an attempted coup took place and the dead lay in the street around the government building to remind people of the cost. This country of ours in not perfect, far from it. But, it is the best form of government on the planet today.

Now, many people will not like a very personal opinion of mine in regards to our country. My opinion is this: If you don't appreciate freedom, if all you can do is complain and moan, if the sight of our flag and our brave men and women in uniform bothers you then, MOVE OUT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA