Govern Thy Self
(July 26, 2012)
As part of the Second American Revolution (or “2AR”), it is heartening to see the robust debate between Americans of differing political sensibilities center on the Constitution. Given that the presidential election cycle is gearing-up, we are sure to hear more about the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
However, in the debates so far and even going back over my entire voting life – something has been missing in our discussions about America as an exceptional nation and government by the people for the people. Something so essential to the notion of self government that although it is so obvious, its absence in our debates creates a gap so big you could drive a truck through it. Yet, no national leader or candidate that I can think of is talking about it.
Before I reveal the missing link, let’s go back in time. Specifically, let’s go back to the summer of 2011. My son and I went to our local shooting range to get in some target practice one bright sunny morning, an exercise of our Second Amendment rights. As we checked-in with the front office, the man behind the counter offered my son a pocket-sized version of the Constitution. I decided to take one too, since I couldn’t remember the last time I read it (maybe grade school?). If I was going to set a good example for my son, I reckoned I better read it too, so I stuffed a copy into my makeshift range bag, took it home and promptly forgot about it.
Only a virtuous people can be free
Later when I found myself cleaning-out my range bag I re-discovered the pocket Constitution. I flipped it over and looked at the picture of George Washington on the cover holding a quill pen, looking very stately as if he had just signed the document into the law. What was truly valuable about the pocket Constitution is that it included key quotes from some of the Founding Fathers on what was necessary for it to remain the law of the land.
And, it were these quotes that hit me between the eyes:
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
“The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. While, on the other hand, if we are universally vicious and debauched in our manners, though the form of our Constitution carries the face of the most exalted freedom, we shall in reality be abject slaves.” – Samuel Adams
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson
Govern thy self…with thy Self
I would hazard a guess that most of us would consider our society more vicious, more selfish and more materialistic than in recent memory. We’re dissatisfied with our political and business leaders because they are products of a culture that we created, one that today that looks and increasingly feels like the one our Founding Fathers warned us about.
The notion of freedom has become distorted and for many the Constitution is no more than a license for rationalizing the indulgence of our most selfish desires, appetites, habits and compulsions (the attributes of our ego and lower self) instead of a sacred compact between each other for living a life of creativity and prosperity.
Over the past several decades, the ideal of the American Dream has been perverted by an objectivist “greed is good” philosophy that we now see has led us to the edge of disaster. The understandable reaction has been to create even more unenforceable laws and stifling regulations to suppress the worst of those who are unable, or unwilling, to govern themselves.
Partisans on the left and right yell an awful lot about what is un-Constitutional, yet none of them talk about the need to govern your self (or them selves!). The lower self filled with its desires, appetites and habits has run amuck and created a society that we are all dissatisfied with.
A society can only be free if its citizens govern the worst of their lower selves to be harmless to others and enable a harmonious life for all. Why don’t we hear more about this requirement for a free society from our leadership in politics, business, media and elsewhere? Easy, it’s not a message that opens the wallets of wealthy campaign donors, but look to the place where they have led us.
If this trend towards a more vicious society continues, then we will lose our right to live free.
The Second American Revolution (a more perfect union) is at hand!
The Second American Revolution is indeed calling! That revolution starts inside you and me, not in Washington. The highest aspiration of the American Dream is to form a more perfect union between the heart and mind. From that union comes the wellspring of wisdom and prosperity. And, if you are reading this, then you are one step closer to joining a new generation of patriots.
And, since we’re talking about virtues – universal standards of good common to all religions, faiths, creeds and even none at all – the Founding Fathers were not promoting any specific one. Generosity, honesty, justice, beauty, truth and freedom are all great living virtues that we can bring into this world right now with our daily thoughts, actions, words and votes. We used to call that the American Way, and we certainly don’t have to wait until the next election to start. Look closely and you can find these virtues in every belief system aligned with the Creator.
The good news is we can take back back our culture from the LIE MERCHANTS on both the right and the left who have poisoned it with their illusions, biases, ideologies and distortions that obscure or blind us to the truth that we are One. We can do this by developing the eternal virtues of the soul, the true Self – the image of God in which we were minted before we came into this life. This achievement will produce more lasting, positive change than the election of any particular party or person.