Of, By, and For the People – Chapter 10: Family

Of, By, and For the People – Chapter 10: Family

Greetings my fellow Americans!

As we continue to traverse the 28 Principles of Liberty as defined in The 5000-Year Leap, it’s become increasingly difficult for me to refer to the beliefs and intent of the American Founders without comparing and contrasting to the state of our government and culture in these areas in the 21st-Century United States.  This could also very easily turn into an indictment of our fallen society, and an expose’ into how we got here from there.  Insofar as there are plenty of articles, on this site and elsewhere, delving more deeply into these aspects, it has been my intent from the beginning to make this review of our founding principles a roadmap to the future, and it is in this latter spirit that I proceed with the next Principle:

26. The core unit which determines the strength of any society is the family.

I’d like to work backwards on this one from what Skousen (the author) put forth in this chapter of his book, and start with a converse premise of this principle:  any action by government which frustrates the normal husband-wife-child relationship is a threat to the society over which it governs.  I am just going to leave this here, and proceed with prima facie acceptance of it; please share your thoughts about this in the comments otherwise.

So, what is a “normal husband-wife-child relationship” then?  Let’s take the American Founders’ view as a starting point, which was consistent with the Bible:  Each adult had a specific role, and rights appropriate to that role; husband/father was protector and provider, wife/mother the stabilizer and solidifier of the family unit.  Both were equally responsible for child rearing, and to help those children become mature adults with the capability to exercise freedom under minimal civil laws while utilizing self-discipline under God’s.  Children were obligated to honor, respect and obey both father and mother equally, to display public esteem and reverence at all times, and be guided by the will of the parents until coming of age (21).   The man was responsible for representing his family in political elections.  All of this was for the sake of order, stability and unity, not for dominion.

Overly idealistic?  Compared to our culture today this would seem to be nothing more than a pipe dream, and completely unrealistic and unachievable.  So, rather than diving more deeply into the Founder’s overall views, I’d like to key into the one I’ve emphasized in the previous paragraph in the context of constructing that roadmap to the future to which I alluded earlier.

Freedom through self-discipline:  Is this obvious?  An oxymoron?  What do freedom (and liberty) actually mean?  We say we have unalienable rights under our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, but how well do we truly understand our familial and societal obligations to preserve, protect and defend those rights?

The nuances and exceptions to this notwithstanding, I think we can all agree that family (or what represents it) is how we all learn how to coexist peacefully and respectfully with other people.  We come into this world with no a priori knowledge of anything other than basic bodily functions.  We learn all we know from the others with whom we are surrounded as children, and with whom we surround ourselves as adults.  Those others are primarily family for us when we are young.

The American civilization and society we have enjoyed in the United States has been considered the freest and most prosperous in human history.  It was rooted largely in self-governance, and minimal general government and codified civil law.  How has this been possible?

Overly idealistic or not, there was a time when we strove, as a nation, to raise children into mature adults with the capability to exercise freedom under minimal civil laws while utilizing self-discipline under God’s.  Today, we bemoan politicians, bureaucrats, and civil leaders who utilize a behemoth and ever-growing government apparatus to codify new and highly intrusive laws and rules of basic life and conduct.  Why does it seem that more and more people (especially those who are younger) are looking to government to provide those laws and rules?

As with many words in our language today, I suspect that “freedom” and “rights” would elicit a gamut of reactions and responses, many of which would not include personal responsibility nor self-discipline, and rather would be premised on what the government says is allowed or entitled.  I anticipate these would also be likened to those of children of previous generations explaining how their parents told them what they could and could not do.

America was founded on the notions of unalienable rights and individual freedom and liberty.  Our Constitution limits government’s ability to infringe on those, but we have a responsibility to self-discipline instead, and to inculcate our children with that responsibility if America is to survive.  As with any ideal, the closer we can individually get to reaching it, the more people who strive to achieve it, and the more we hold each other personally accountable for achieving it, the closer we get collectively to it.  America’s freedom is freedom with responsibility, rather than from it.

This also implies that a code of self-discipline is required, and the Bible served as that code to previous generations of Americans.  Government has not (and should not) impose nor enforce adherence to that code, but neither should it in any way inhibit our own adherence to, or free expression of, that code.  Government should also not replace any member of the family relationship either explicated or implied in that code.  Government has increasingly done so primarily in the increasing absence of any such adherence or abidance.  And based on the premise of this Principle of Liberty, this intrusion into, and substitution for, family threatens the very foundation of our American society. This tide needs to be stemmed, amongst ourselves and in our immediate circles of influence, for survival.  It needs to be reversed for renewal.

Can this ideal be a prescription for rehabilitating our current U.S. culture as a whole?  I started this series with a prophetic quote regarding the fundamental sameness of people today to those of our founding; on that premise I will say perhaps, though it’s hard to know whether we’ve truly strayed from this foundation to a point of no return as a United States.  Regardless, for America to be renewed, we must start somewhere.  We have been the problem, and we are the solution.  It will be simple, not easy.

Of, By, and For THE PEOPLE!

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1 thought on “Of, By, and For the People – Chapter 10: Family”

  1. My goodness! Where does one start?

    Of course, the family is paramount to the survival of our republic. The left has been at war against the Bible, the family, the replacement of rugged individualism with welfare and government programs, as their way of obtaining power. The public education system is an example of an insidious form of welfare, where the family is taken over the course of decades of incrementally being twisted and perverted by the teachings of Marx.
    The last time I looked, which was fairly recently, the US had a birth rate that is barely sustainable of maintaining our society. Actually, we need about double the birth rate it is, currently, which is slightly over 1%. For that to happen, the marriage decline would have to go away, completely, because of all the damage from other areas, like free will abortion, and declining religious traditions. Just getting people to go back to church would go a long way to repair that problem because then, more people might start up that family through marriage.

    When you look at our decline, every bit of it stems from the flight from religious traditions, to the more earthly desires of most demographics, which is how the Roman Empire came to an end.

    Our founders had a lot more on the ball than most everyone today has. They knew the problems associated with large bureaucratic governments. The problem they couldn’t correct was that incrementalism that plagues us. When the Ten Commandments was marginalized, to the point of extinction, that’s where we finally ran off a cliff, but the process began well before any of us were born.

    Say what you wish, but the end times are near, because of the lack of those Ten Commandments. That was our foundation that everything else was built on, and without that, the family becomes a very rare thing.
    Great article!


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