4/21/2006

My Reflections: Where is the John Adams of the 21st Century?


Well my friends, it’s been a heck of a week. One of my busiest of the year. It’s been so busy I’ve not had time to make it out into the field and shoot. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get out in the field this weekend and get some new shots.

I’ve just finished reading “1776” and “John Adams” by David McCullough and “Team of Rivals” by Doris Goodwin, which deal with George Washington and his contemporaries, John Adams and Jefferson, and Lincoln. I’m currently reading “Alexander Hamilton” by Chernow. I’m in awe of the genius of our founding fathers. It’s fascinating reading about John Adams (who had to be the most intelligent founding father we ever had), and Alexander Hamilton, both who were attorneys, and just imagine how their practices were in the 18th and early 19th Century. From what I’ve read, these folks won their cases on their wits and oratory and not by acting like rude, pompous, bullyboys.

The genius of our founding fathers is awe inspiring. I guess I’m so sick of the current times we’re living in that I have found solace discovering the times of our forefathers who created a Republican form of government from scratch. Their use of the English language was amazing. These folks were learned in different languages (French, Greek, Latin), were well read in the classics, and philosophers, and were all deep men of faith.

John Adams carried a book everywhere he went and his passion was reading. Jefferson amassed a huge library in his day. To them, knowledge was more valuable than gold.

I just stop to ponder what John Adams would think of America today. I’m sure he would be vilified because of his faith. Folks today feel they don’t have a need for God anymore. John Adams devoted so much of his life to public service and spent years away from his family whom he loved so much to ensure that their noble experiment of government by the people, and for the people would work. This was a time when men like him favored service and duty to their country over personal gain.
He drafted the original Massachusetts Constitution (which became a model for our US Constitution years later). Two of the provisions are quite noteworthy:

Article II

It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious
worship.

***

Section II: The Encouragement of Literature, etc

Wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislatures and magistrates, in all future periods of this commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the university at Cambridge, public schools and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings;
sincerity, good humor, and all social affections, and generous sentiments among the people.

These two principles are striking especially when viewed in today’s era. Both of these principles are virtually gone today. In fact, if one were to say today “It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe,” you would be labeled a religious extremist. The second principle that “wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue” are “necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties” was truly revolutionary; not just for its day, but even today. Everyone talks the talk on education, but nobody really cares. Neither the federal, state, or local governments in this County place the importance on this as they should. Teachers are one of the lowest paid professions in this Country. How sad is that. What is even more disturbing is that the people do not care either. They do nothing to demand their government the resources needed to ensure that our children are given the wisdom and knowledge they need to ensure the preservation of our rights and liberties.

The masses will go out to criticize immigration reform while at the same time burn the flag and wear Che Guevara shirts. They will protest the war wearing Che Guevara shirts, praising folks like Hugo Chavez and Fidel and the idiots who follow them. They will go out in mass to protest in favor of saving pregnant pigs wearing Che Guevara shirts. Why do these people wear the shirt of a murderer? Why do our youth worship criminals and drug dealers? It’s simple: lack of education. They are not taught the truth of the atrocities and murders that this man perpetuated. The masses are education by the mass media and advertising rather than by reading the classics; rather than reading history. How sad is it that most young African American can name you the name of all the rap stars and not have any clue who John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Theolonius Monk, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis were when it was African Americans who gave us jazz music. It’s lack of education. How many young people in America today, of all races and creeds, do you think can tell you who Alexander Hamilton was? Or James Madison? Or their achievements. I bet not many. But they all know who J-Lo is.

Again, think about what John Adams wrote when placed in the converse: that without wisdom and knowledge, our rights and liberties will wither away. Many of us ask ourselves how people like Hugo Chavez, Hamas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Evo Morales, and others of their ilk can be elected by the people. It’s simple. Lack of education. Tyrants thrive among the illiterate. This is where Castro found his largest supporters. Once in power, tyrants keep their power by keeping the public ignorant. Well, you can get eye surgery in Cuba today, but heaven forbid you give the people internet access to the world of ideas.

I recently purchased the complete correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Some of the excerpts were contained in the “John Adams” biography. You read their letters and they spoke about Cicero, and Newton. In fact, after resuming their correspondence in 1812, in response to Adams’ letter, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following: “I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid; and I find myself much the happier.” How many of our leaders today do you think would know who Jefferson was talking about? Get my point.

And so as I end my rambling thoughts at 1:52 a.m., I wish you all a great weekend.

3 comments:

The Universal Spectator said...

"Without wisdom and knowledge, our rights and liberties will wither away." That perfectly encapsulates the America of today. Sad.

Charlie Bravo said...

Those are the benefits of a classical education that all of our politicians seem to have eschewed. Actually, the liberal education has done away with the best part of the real education because it according to them, the world has to be dumbed down so our politicians (future and present) can graduate from college.
The trend seems to have started with those frauds, the Kennedies, and it hasn't stopped.
Again, the founding fathers were educated gentlemen, no soapbox politicos. They were not politicians in the contemporary sense of the word, they were the best crop of society who took on filling the void of the stagnant colonial society to bring the ideal of democracy to this continent.
A founding father is to a politician what a Renaissance man is to a street hustler. Not only in the States, but universally. Look for example at the case of South America (I refuse to believe that Chavez would have any position of relevance in the Caracas of the independence fathers) or kasstro, who would have never rose to any position of preponderance in the times of Cespedes and Marti.

ziva said...

About 20 years ago a book titled "Cultural Literacy" was published. It provided a list of the basic's one should know to consider themselves "literate". I fear many of todays young people would not be able to read the book. It's a sad day when individuals like Sean Penn, Maxine Waters, and Snoop Dog are respected while truely educated men and women of vision are ignored. Great post.