Sep 022020
 
 September 2, 2020
1st Things First
Our Republic calls for knowledge and virtue in order for Liberty to survive. It sounds like an easy formula, but our founders drew upon 700 years or more of history to pen many of the principles required for us to live as a free people, not to mention how they risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for the sake of Liberty. Their words of wisdom were passed down mostly by their ancestors, but they also sought many other sources of information, including the Bible, different forms of governments from all over the world, philosophers throughout history, as well as personal experiences with King George and his power-hungry Parliament.So, you may ask, what knowledge is it? And, how do you define virtue? Isn’t this all subjective? Well, if you want to keep alive the axioms necessary to being an American, there are concrete answers to those questions.From our Republic’s very beginnings, our founders passed along to us what they termed “self-evident” truths. These are truths based upon, as stated in our Declaration of Independence, the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The basis of what is known as the laws of nature can probably be summed up by the great statement found in that same document that begins with “We hold these truths to be self-evident……”. I call it our American creed. Our very Bill of Rights also gives us, based on solid historical facts, wise reminders of our rights and the necessary limits to be placed on government. Any rational human being can recognize these first principles.

Here’s an excerpt from The Law by Frederic Bastiat with a wonderful explanation of these truths:

Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.
Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?
If every person has the right to defend – even by force – his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right – its reason for existing, its lawfulness – is based on individual right.

 

He goes on to discuss a just and enduring government to secure those rights. These are first principles that must be fully understood in order to have that knowledge necessary for maintaining Liberty.

So, the next ingredient in this Liberty formula is virtue. Who determines what is virtuous and what is not? Well, let’s first define virtue. It’s defined as behavior showing high moral standards. Some of the synonyms are goodness, morality, integrity, dignity, decency, rectitude, honor and respectability. It wasn’t too long ago that we taught such things in our schools or even did things like, God forbid, proudly display the Ten Commandments in public. One thing for sure about virtue, it is clearly evident when it’s absent. When you see someone exhibit behavior that isn’t virtuous, it’s pretty obvious. There’s also the old adage, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or the fact that we, being on guard for our own rights, should realize it’s wrong when we infringe upon someone else’s rights. It’s easy to recognize injustice once an injustice is done to you. As Americans, we should hold each other to this higher moral standard.

Our founders had a great opportunity to start with a blank slate and rely upon on their knowledge and virtue in order to form a more perfect union. We should honor their hard-fought efforts, along with all who have shed blood, sweat and tears (along with small fortunes) for Liberty, by passing along the needed knowledge and virtue requisite for the survival of our great Republic. It’s a formula that has worked well and helped change the entire world for the better; let’s help promote, protect and defend it.

In Liberty,

Ray

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