On the necessity of teaching the Constitution, civics in school.

The Constitution
Happy Constitution Day! Keep the Constitution alive by learning about it and teaching it to your kids.

A generation ago, civics classes used to be ubiquitous in public schools.  Now, as more and more schools teach for standardized tests, the study of the government and the Constitution has fallen by the wayside.  Many Millenials don’t even have a basic knowledge of the Constitution or of civics.  Often when asked, they can’t even name the three branches of government. This is a dangerous trend in this democratic republic we call the USA. For a republic to properly function, it is essential that we the people are aware of our rights and responsibilities as citizens.

If you have school-age children, do you know if their school has any sort of civics curriculum?  Celebrating Constitution Day is a great time to think about such things and take action with your local school board to recommend bringing back civics if it’s not being taught.  If it is, please take time to praise them for supporting civics and Constitutional studies.  You may find that along with music, art, and physical education, that civics could be on the chopping block due to budget cuts or greater emphasis on teaching for standardized tests.  Your speaking up could help innoculate wavering school board members from pressure to cut such valuable programs now and in the future.

If you don’t have kids, take some time to read our important founding documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  You are in charge of your own civics education.  If you have never read them before, or haven’t since you took civics in school, you might be surprised and enlightened by what’s in them.  There is also something about reading the actual, unfiltered texts that you can’t get by reading a book or hearing about them on TV. (Of course, no harm in doing both!) Arming yourself with this knowledge will help you fight for and protect your most sacred rights as an American.

Advertisements

Thoughts on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

IMAG0003_1As we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, here are some reflections on its key concepts:

2014-07-04 16.10.36
“The Signer”

Life:  Life is the basic right of every human being.  All good laws should contribute to its protection and edification.  What life should be protected?  All of it, as much as can be.  Civilized humans avoid needless violence and killing.  Killing animals for food and other resources is the way of life, killing purely for sport, or out of cruelty is the way of death.  The unborn?  We’ll if it’s a life, then yes.  The old and the sick?  Death is also part of life, but again, it should not be brought about wantonly or casually. People talk about dying with dignity, especially as a rationale for euthanasia.  I prefer the idea of living with dignity.  How is it beneath anybody’s dignity to fight until their very last breath?  Being in a pitiful physical state does not equal being pitiful in a spiritual state, on the contrary, it is often the opposite.

Liberty:  Liberty is the chance to use our gift of life to its fullest advantage.  Without basic liberties, mankind is held back from reaching its fullest potential.  That is why liberty curtailing forms of government like Communism and Socialism are immoral, or at best, amoral. Liberty comes with the freedom to fail, and learn from our mistakes.  Liberty, the Founders knew, is a fragile thing, easily destroyed.  We must protect our liberties jealously because once lost they are very difficult to regain.  Of all the laws that have ever been passed, how many have increased liberty?  Very few compared to the number of those that limit it.

Our American government has done well extending liberty to classes of people that once lacked it.   That is government at its best.   The problem is that government rarely expands the freedoms of its citizens at large.  Upon gaining the rights of the majority those same formerly oppressed groups find themselves at the lifetime high water mark of their freedom, only to have other liberties gradually taken away and suppressed by mountains of regulation.  It’s like a castaway that washes up on the beach of an island to safety, only to find the beach is eroding into the sea.  Our freedoms are like those grains of sand, being eroded one by one until someone decides to fight it.

The Pursuit of Happiness“The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.”  –Benjamin Franklin.  The Declaration of Independence only suggests that humans have that right to pursue happiness, but the achievement of it can only be done by ourselves. The biggest mistake is to confuse happiness with pleasure. Drugs can produce pleasure, but never happiness. Pleasure is fleeting, true happiness can be maintained over much longer periods of time.   The other mistake we humans make is to think that happiness will just happen.  Sometimes it does, but most of the time it must be earned.  Members of the Armed Forces often forgo the happiness of home and family for long periods of time so that they and others can have it to a fuller degree when they return.  The miracle of happiness is that giving it produces more of it.