30 September 2016

Thoughts on History, What We Know, and What We THINK We Know

(Author's note: this may seem to come from out of the blue, but it's never far from my mind. I've not written much about it lately, but - in my humble opinion - it bears repeating.)

What the much more slowly-paced 18th century Founders would think of our frenetic lifestyles and MTV video/e-mail/texting length attention spans is anybody's guess, but I think they would believe we're mad as hatters (mad, I say!).

Seriously, I believe that - upon comparing their times and pursuits with ours - they would decry the hours wasted in front of the TV/idiot box/boob tube/vast wasteland ... among other things.

They would mourn the loss of time spent absorbing the classic writers, such as  the Bible, the classics (i.e. Cicero, Tacitus, Livy, Plutarch, etc.), and works written by Enlightenment Thinkers (John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Baron de Montesquieu, Immanuel Kant, etc.) and wonder how it is that we've learned anything at all.

They would agree with Santayana that we, who have mostly failed to learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it. If there's any doubt about that last statement, watch the national news and then compare it to the 1760-1775 events in our own nation's past. I firmly believe that if we had been paying attention - and if we had not been dumbed-down by the Progressive takeover of the State-run educational systems (but that's another rant, for another time) - we'd have realized more quickly what the revisionists were doing, and put a halt to it MUCH sooner.

You know that Internet meme that "The Founders would have been shooting by now"? Yes. That.

But I digress.

Those of the late 18th century would also, I believe, decry the loss of written communication to and from other individuals. No e-mail, no matter how eloquently or elegantly composed, can take the place of the same words painstakingly written on paper ... and passed from the writer's hand to that of the recipient. However, I will stipulate that there is much high-quality thought being expressed on-line ... if only we can find it. There are a number of conservative-cum-libertarian thinkers who delve deeply into topics that most avoid for lack of insight.

The internet has become the medium of choice for rapid dissemination of news, and of course there's a need for e-mail; I'm no Luddite. Regardless, we've lost something when one's personal thoughts are represented by pixels composed of liquid crystals. No lesser a light than Bill Gates once famously remarked that if we knew how many hands through which our e-mails pass, we'd never write another one.


There are still good men, and to think otherwise would be foolish. There will always be those who choose honor and integrity over the quick and easy way. Like President Kennedy speaking of the pursuit of an expedition to the moon, some of us will always choose to do some things precisely because they are hard ... and therefore the accomplishment of those hard things will have significance; it will mean something.

But one thing the internet has accomplished is to obviate the meeting together of personalities and minds, which has led many to believe that they are alone in their opinions. There are millions upon millions of good, honest, hard-working, conservative people who believe in God, family, the Constitution, sanctity of life, and so on.

But the mainstream media has been embarked for decades on a quest to isolate us, and make us believe that we're lone extremists, unsupported by friends or community.

I submit that that simply isn't so. But one must leave the computer/phone/iThingy, and venture into the public realm. Get out and talk to someone, for Heaven's sake.

For my part, reading the Founder's writings has meant (in some cases) going back and re-reading things I read several decades ago. But that's okay. Some things are worth the expenditure of time to achieve. We may find, after a long time pursuing those things upon the Founders based their ideas, that we've become nothing more than tolerably-accomplished old fuddy-duddies. But I don't think that's what will happen here.

No good ideas about freedom, liberty and personal responsibility will ever be a waste of time or energy to consider, and to share.

It has been, in some cases, that I've forgotten the source(s) of some of my ideas and opinions. In many of those cases, the concepts have been honed and refined (at least, I hope so) over time as I've read other works on the same topics. But revisiting the original source is never a bad idea; it will be instructive, and may illuminate some ideas which have been only half- or poorly-remembered, and may have drifted, over time, from the original thought.

It is always a good idea to refresh our acquaintance with the Founders of this Constitutional republic, and be reminded of how deeply they considered the concepts upon which this Nation was created.


PeteForester1 said...

Told to me a while back:

An old couple was traveling in a car, when the wife said "The magic's gone, George." "Why'd y'think that, Gladys?" the husband said. "There was a time when we'd be in the car, and we'd be cuddled close together. Now look at us; you're on one side, and I'm on the other!" "Gladys," George said, "I'm where I always sit... when I drive..."

That being said; just because there's a chasm of distance between us and the uber-Liberal "social justice warriors," it doesn't mean WE are the ones who are wrong! Indeed; the Bible is rife with accountings of what happened when God's people did just what today's Liberals are doing, and of the ensuing result.

There IS a right. There IS a wrong. It's NOT fluid. It's NOT subjective.

Stick with God. He NEVER changes. He is NEVER wrong!

Rev. Paul said...

Spot on, Pete. Well said.

Anonymous said...

Something I told myself I would do: Get hard copies of the Federalist Papers, amongst other Enlightenment-era writings, and keep them around for posterity.


I look at the mess unfolding around us, and I realize that there may come a time where we'll need to pass this kind of knowledge (and depth) along to younger generations, because we'll be in a position where we have to bootstrap up a civilzation where another once stood. If it comes to that point, there won't be an internet, or maybe even libraries. At least, not as we knew them.

I may have said this before; I'm transitioning more from a "how do we fix this" state of mind, to a "how do we rebuild" one. It happened because some wise folks said "be a sign of hope" to me. Maybe this is one way to be that.

Perhaps we have no roadmap but that of history...

Rev. Paul said...

airphoria, that's a large part of my purpose here. IF we don't know how the Founders arrived at their decision to bequeath the liberties that are almost gone now, then we won't know what they were - or how to attempt to restore them - after any collapse, rebellion, or social upheaval. Thank you.

LindaG said...

I believe the Founders, and anyone who believed in personal liberty, is probably rolling in their graves at the way our society has turned out.

I like the internet because I find, as you say, that I am not alone. That there are people like me out there.

I often think of "The Founders would have been shooting by now". I think of the oath of enlistment, and I think of the possible (probable) need of revolution, and it seems like it would be daunting, if not impossible to do now. They had problems organizing 13 colonies. How do we organize millions now?

Well written.

Be safe and you all have a blessed weekend, Reverend.

Rev. Paul said...

Thank you, Linda.

Fiona said...

I so enjoy reading and re reading the Federalist papers. Ralph and I recently read an article that stated that the young people today do not have the patience to read full news stories of any length and get their information is tiny amounts, this means they never get the whole story on anything, hard to for concrete, strong and accurate opinions with a quarter of the information you need. I wonder how many under 30's have read all of the Constitution?

Rev. Paul said...

Fiona, I find that extended on-line sessions cause my own attention span to shorten dramatically. I have to start out with the printed word, or I'm back into that "internet" mentality.

And I'm guessing that the answer to your question is "most".