Education and Liberty

Next week our nation will celebrate its 238th birthday.   Though we live in challenging times and America’s standing in the world is not what it once was, I still believe America is a big deal worth celebrating!   No other nation in history has been as generous, friendly, and committed to liberty.

The founders of our country were united in their belief that education was a pillar of the country they had fought to create.   They knew instinctively that liberty would be one of the first casualties if America failed to provide an education that emphasized knowledge and virtue. 903222_f260

Following their advice, our education system must be rich in content so students have the knowledge necessary to preserve liberty.    Following their example, we can only overcome tyranny as a virtuous nation.

In 1786, a decade after the American revolution, Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush wrote a letter to a friend.   His words from way back then are certainly applicable now.

Most of the distresses of our country, and of the [opinions] which Europeans have formed of us, have arisen from the mistaken belief that the American Revolution is over.   This is so far from being the case that we have only finished the first act of the great drama.  We have changed our forms of government, but it remains yet to effect a revolution in our principles, opinions, and manners as to accommodate them to the forms of government we have adopted.  This is the most difficult part of the business of the patriots and legislators of our country.   It requires more wisdom and fortitude than to expel or to reduce armies into captivity.  I wish to see this idea inculcated by your pen.  Call upon the rulers of our country to lay the foundations of their empire in knowledge as well as virtue.  Let our common people be compelled by law to give their children (what is most commonly called) a good English education.  Let schoolmasters of every description and morals be subjected to examination before we employ them…This plan of general education alone will render the American Revolution a blessing to mankind.[1]  (emphasis added)

Our founders had clarity about what it would take for America to endure.   They knew that students who understood the principles upon which America was founded would be willing to fight both evil and entitlement in order to preserve liberty.

Though America is not worthy of worship, it is worthy of study.   It is not perfect and certainly has blemishes in its history that students should understand.  But they should also know that America has also stood strong in the face of tyranny and tragedy on behalf of ourselves and others less fortunate.

On this July 4th, take time to talk to your children about America.   Visit the local library and check out some good children’s books about American history.   Take an online field trip through some of the Smithsonian museums (or take a vacation to Washington, D.C).

And when election time comes, whether local, state, or national, take your children with you to the voting booth.   Show them what America means to you.

[1] Bennett, William J. “Our Sacred Honor.”  Simon & Schuster.  New York, NY  pg. 252-253 ISBN: 0-684-84138-X

Published by

Michael J.


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