Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The first days of this month have brought several things which led me to focus on those two words at the top of the page, not the least of which has been marking a birthday for the statement of our founding purpose and Thomas Sowell turning 91. If any one person could be used as a figurehead for intellectual clarity, Dr. Sowell would have to be a prime candidate. The Declaration of Independence was not necessarily an original document but a brief clarification of principles gleaned from the troubled history of mankind.
Having observed some of the more recent examples of hot air and unprincipled mutterings, I have for a few moments left my dugout to add some of my cluttered thoughts to the mix.
Having referred to Thomas Sowell, I am reminded of his emphasis on evidence and logic when approaching an issue. Hopefully, we can keep both of those in mind as we work our way through my twisted thoughts in search of some clarity in them. It may take a few sessions.
I have always believed it was necessary to have clarity about the ultimate objective. You have to get that right. And you have to organize the rest of the effort around it. Most chases down rabbit holes and up sideroads are a result of not being clear about exactly what the objective is.
A vital part of that clarity is understanding what the necessary, essential elements are to meeting that objective. Chasing the emotion of the moment or the hottest brush fire leads right to rabbit holes and sideroads.
I believe that we are at a critical point in our course as a self-governing people. A mistake here and our ultimate objective will be set back, if not damaged. There is always the possibility of losing it altogether. There always has been. There always will be. Those after us will have their critical minutes, just as those before us did. This republic has hung by a thread in the past. If it survives, it will again.
But this moment is on us.
As to our ultimate objective, I have stated before that in my simple and uncomplicated mind, this nation is an experiment before the world to show that man can live in individual liberty in a form of self-governance which maximizes that individual, God-given liberty as much as possible within an ordered society through a limited government based on the consent of those in that society. I know that hairs can be split about what is needed for that “ordered society”. But a part of that vision is a limited government, controlled not by a political class but a free people. I don’t mind from time to time discussing the twists and turns of that. This society, this nation will never be completely perfected by our own hands but we have the opportunity to keep sailing toward that goal as long as our objectives remain clear. But I tend to take lightly those of the establishment and political class, or those who somehow imagine themselves one of either, who delight too much in the argument.
I foresee discussions concerning some of those necessary, vital elements; such things as secure elections, the central role of Judeo-Christian ethics, education, justice and the rule of law, proper limits on government, and not just the importance of a constitution but our Constitution.
But first, it might be prudent to acknowledge some rabbit holes and sideroads, otherwise known as distractions. And I will say this about distractions, it is not their fault that they distract. It is the fault of those who become distracted.
I often tire of all the labels we have in our political discourse. There are only those who have an instinctive commitment to liberty and those who don’t. I told you my mind was simple.
Those who lack that instinct and commitment are easily distracted, often by their own pretending to be more committed than they are. I enjoy and value full-throated discussion about those aforementioned twists and turns practicing and holding liberty, or even liberty’s very nature and defining elements. None have the whole answers but like souls are capable of wrestling through the details. But you have to first belong to the culture of liberty to honestly discuss or wrestle. Politics is valued among those of that culture only for what it can contribute to liberty. And personality is secondary.
Those serious about liberty understand that laws and the necessary evil of government are needed to provide borders for imperfect men. But the religious foundation of our society and the founding nature of our government declare that man can be the master of his own life and destiny. Those liberties endowed to man are for the growth toward fulfillment of his best self. They involve both growth and responsibility. They are not for idle pleasure or ease. They are to inspire the positives in human nature and dampen the negatives. No, liberty is not for the lazy or the fearful.
One thing that does count is practice. With that in mind, it might be said that the usefulness of a political party could be judged not by whatever principles it proclaims but what it accomplishes toward those principles. Both parties and individuals might then be judged not so much by how they justify their actions and inactions but what results from those same actions and inactions.
I have already stated that this moment is ours. I will admit that it is a critical moment when some things around us seem to be torn apart and even backward. A thing as seemingly simple as physical gender has no clear answer if we allow the world around us to rule our language. Some would contend that all the elements of the “end times” are staring us in the face.
But regardless of the depth of our “tribulations”, these times are ours, not to simply accept but to direct. We are entrusted with these times. If they become a reversal of the human high-point that this nation has been, it will be our failure.
There is a tight and convincing case to be made for our constitutional liberty and positive national history (as well as its future course). The detractors may well have most of media, world elites, the academy, and a sea of misplaced emotion. But the hard evidence of both history and the present support us. Not to mention logic. Our course is to gather evidence, point directly to the harm done by leftist policy and practices, be unapologetic in our language, avoid the language of the left, and to speak to people, not media.
History tells us that this nation will not live forever. But it was built on the shoulders of others who left us a higher point than had been constructed on before. Merely holding ground is to lazily enjoy the benefits of centuries upon centuries of sacrifice and hope. To surrender ground is a betrayal of not just those centuries upon centuries but also of those future generations who will have to reclaim that ground if they are to live as well and as free as we once did. We are entrusted with these times to supply them with new, even higher ground to build on.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way and mudded the waters of confusion, I can sit down and begin clearing my mind on some of those necessary, vital elements.
Tribulation and challenges are not curses. They are gifts and opportunities. They are where we find our true selves, our true strengths. We rarely have perfect moments in response to them. But we do have our greatest, most meaningful moments in the midst of them.Published in