Traditional history and civics education is boring, redundant, and uninspiring. This is a tragedy because studying the wisdom of the past has brought me much peace and poise to my demeanor and outlook on modern America. The peace that students can experience for themselves comes from learning a deeper sense of history than the superficial names, dates, and events that our education system promotes.
The results, or lack thereof isn’t just tragic, is also unsustainable to preserve the good and virtuous principles of a great and free society. In order to combat this normalcy I made an online course and live semester class that highlights the profound principles and ideas that inspired our Founding generation and made our American Revolution and Declaration of Independence possible.
Here are seven profound lessons from my Language of Freedom: Founding Principles course on liberty, tyranny, rights & more that is not taught in a traditional American history education.
- Duty is reciprocal to Rights
I had a discussion once with a really smart medical professional about gun control. I explained to him that the Right to bear arms comes with the corresponding duty to use arms virtuously & for self-preservation.
When you violate the duty to use arms for good you sacrifice the Right. "Gun control" then is baked into the very nature of the Right. You do not have a Right to use a gun to murder, harm, or steal from another. By doing so you violate the duty of having the gun in the first place.
Another example of this is with our personal health. We have a Right to Life therefore we have a Duty to take care of ourselves, eat well, and exercise. Self-preservation is the first duty of life. By living an unhealthy lifestyle you are living out the sin of gluttony.
There is a responsibility that comes with being free and having unalienable Rights given to us by God. These responsibilities are to protect the Rights of others as if they are our own but also to honor the Rights that we have as individuals.
Remember for the next time you are thinking about working out that you should do it not because it is healthy but rather because it is your duty.
- A love of power is sown into the nature of man
Washington and our Founding generation knew the tendency of power to breed tyrants. They also knew that there was nothing we could do about the love of power that lives within the human condition.
The only thing we could do was to be proactive with internal & external controls built into the system of government in order to counteract the natural ‘ambition’ of man.
But it was essential to be honest of the realistic estimation of the love of power and likelihood of abuse that we would face. This is why we should not be surprised by government corruption and we should air on the side of caution when it comes to believing broad claims by government officials.
This is also why we should be extremely cautious and skeptical of the unelected bureaucracy and military industrial complex. With so much money and power that runs through these organizations and without the ability to be held accountable by citizens, corruption, greed, and self-interest are almost inevitable.
- The purpose of historical education is to better understand, recognize, and prevent tyranny
There is a saying that history does not repeat itself but it does rhyme. While internal and external controls built into the system of government are vital, historical education creates the wisdom to be better judges and detectives of man and governments true motives.
Through historical education we would recognize greed, corruption and ambition under every disguise, use experience as our guide, and better guard our liberty.
Then take appropriate action with the knowledge we have.
We don’t study history to regurgitate superficial and hollow names, dates, and events but to better guard the liberties and system of government that secures our Rights. History has become a weapon to be used in order to consolidate power away from free citizens. This is why studying history gives us the emotional, intellectual, and moral maturity to ignore these false attempts to control and manipulate the historical narrative.
- Tyranny destroys the courage of man
I love this passage because it describes what tyrants do to the nature of man. Much like what the government did to our children because of Covid, tyranny is ignorant and brutal.
Tyranny destroys joy, it ruins the human spirit, it makes people little and mean, and it stands over humanity like demons over a graveyard.
Look and see what tyranny did to Venezuela & Cuba. They aren't the exception, they are the rule for despotism.
Tyrants take power and control for themselves and make ordinary and good people submit by force. Then, once enough people have suffered the good and strong give up in order to save themselves, their families, or what is left of the country. Tyrants do not slow down, reconsider, or appeal to reason. They only know control.
That is why it is so important for free citizens to recognize this result and prepare accordingly in order to be brave in the face of tyranny.
- What we are willing to suffer for determines our greatness
One of my favorite stories that most people do not know is the Newburgh Address by General Washington. The Officer Corp was threatening a mutiny due to payments they have not received. Washington, knowing that tensions were very high, met his Corp and spoke before them to get them to see the better angels of their nature. This moment is so special not because he gave some great speech but because he reminded his men that he suffered too.
He suffered through the winters too, he suffered through the battles, he suffered through the long marches, and he suffered through sickness.
He gave his body to the cause too. He was with them every step of the way throughout the past seven years. He never abandoned them and he never asked them to do something he was unwilling to do.
Reminding the Officer Corp. of this truth ended the mutiny, saved the Revolution, & solidified victory. Before it was a political slogan, greatness was a way of life. But greatness is never found in comfort, it is found in struggle.
Through pain, we find out what we are capable of, and how much we want and what we are willing to do for victory.
- Freedom is not Liberty
Where there is no law, there is no freedom.
When everyone can do anything, no one is free.
On one end of freedom you have licentiousness and chaos and on the other end you have tyranny.
You will find liberty elevated above freedom.
Liberty is living virtuously. It is knowing that just because I can that doesn't mean I should.
Liberty is rightful & ordered and even though Locke says within the limits of the law, it is only law that doesn't violate the individual rights of another.
- Despotism can do without faith, but not liberty
In a world of tyrants God kneels to man. In a world of liberty man kneels to God.
With despotism there is no need for truth, beauty, goodness, and God for all that the tyrant knows is force and power.
Liberty in democratic republics requires something greater than force in order to preserve itself. That something is a belief in a Being greater than ourselves.
Each one of these lessons you could spend hours on diving deeper and deeper into their meaning while discovering examples of their legitimacy. My goal is to present students and families with timeless lessons that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. There is a certain type of peace that you rediscover when studying the wisdom of the ages. I hope to share that peace with others because America needs it.