My favorite one is the last on the list:
“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” –Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle
“A primary object.should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing.than.communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
-George Washington (www.nccs.net)
Stock Commentary of An Apologetic
Fifty-year-old American Citizen, by Vicki
Oh, for the good old days in the U.S.A. when all we needed to know about the rest of the world was that it would be there in case we ever got curious. It must have been instilled in most of us, though, that everything worth having and doing was here. We could make of it what whatever we put our minds to do. If we had the notion, we might even run for President.
In elementary school, the Pledge-of-Allegiance Flag represented both a spirit of freedom and unity. We were taught to be proud to follow laws, proud to break them if we had a mind to–but proud to be American either way. By the time we left public school, if the education was good, we had learned that our Constitution provided “checks and balances” to protect us from tyranny.
But, we didn’t really understand checks and balances, even if we had studied the vocabulary list and passed the multiple-choice test. We were never taught how very important we, ourselves, were for making those things work for us.
Most of us had grown up needing to believe that Government would run itself. There could never be so many “bad apples” in the cart that they wouldn’t be spotted and thrown out by –I guess, other apples. If even a President was proven corrupt–shame on him, we could be sad to see him go, but, happy to get back to our personal struggles and forget about Government. Besides– our communities had been stable, most of them, for the most part. Even those raised in the midst of the fights of the Civil Rights era had support networks.
When we cast our first-ever vote for President in 1980, many of us answered the piper’s call of Ronald Reagan because we thought this country could try anything once and survive. Then we re-elected him because we were tired–all of us–and we didn’t want to think about it.
If we made it through college, we might realize that the United States of America is the U. S. Constitution–that document. And, more importantly, it represents weighty ideas that centuries of highly educated men had pondered, but which we, largely uneducated descendants of hungry, disparate people from all over the world, were now privileged to use or abuse as the current protectors of that legacy.
Those of us now in our late forties, early fifties want to have our turn steering this country in the right direction, even though it’s very hard to shake the resignation we developed through all the economic recessions of our lives. What’s worse is that we have never really felt that we knew what we were doing. We remember “playing” U.S.A. in front of the Pledge-of-Allegiance Flag, but no one ever taught us who the tyrants were.