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Writings of an American Mother in 2010: Principles of the Founding Fathers and Current Issues... planting the seeds of Leadership
By Mary E. Ali
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Mary E. Ali
All right reserved.
Chapter One1st Principle:
"The Only Reliable Basis for Sound Government and Just Human Relations is Natural Law."
Current Issue: Healthcare Reform "All citizens have a right to healthcare"
Dr W. Cleon Skousen points out in The 5,000 Year Leap (1), the Founding Fathers favorite expositor of Natural Law was the writings of Marcus Tullius Cicero in his books Republic and Laws.(2) In these writings Cicero projected the grandeur and promise of some future society based on Natural Law. The American Founding Fathers shared a profound appreciation of Cicero's dream because they envisioned just such a commonwealth of prosperity and justice for themselves and their posterity. They saw in Cicero's writings the necessary ingredients for their model society which they eventually hoped to build. To Cicero, the building of a society on Principles of Natural Law was nothing more nor nothing less than recognizing and identifying the "rules of right conduct with the laws of the Supreme Creator of the universe. Cicero's concluded that once the reality of the Creator is clearly identified in the mind, the only intelligent approach to government, justice, and human relations is in terms of the laws which the Supreme Creator has already established. The Creator's order of things is called Natural Law. (The 5000 Year Leap by Dr. W. Cleon Skousen)
Cicero defined Natural Law as True Law or right reason, in agreement with nature, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions ... it is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. "Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst punishment."(Quoted in Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers, p133.) (3)
The First Great Commandment: To Love, Respect, and Obey the all-wise Creator.
-God's Law is "Right Reason".
-When perfectly understood it is called "Wisdom".
-When applied by government in regulating human relations it is called "Justice".
-When people unite together in a covenant or compact under this law, they become a true "Commonwealth".
-And since they intend to administer their affairs under God's law, they belong to "His Commonwealth"
All Mankind Can Be Taught God's Law or Virtue-Cicero projected throughout his writings an optimistic view of the potential improvement of human beings by teaching them the elements of virtue through education ... Cicero wrote IN FACT, THERE IS NO HUMAN BEING OF ANY RACE WHO, IF HE FINDS A GUIDE, CANNOT ATTAIN TO VIRTUE. (GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS, p134.)(4)
Cicero's Conclusion: "Men must eliminate the depravity that had lodged itself in society and return to the high road of Natural Law. They must pledge obedience to the mandates of a loving and concerned Creator. What promise of unprecedented grandeur awaited that future society which would undertake it!
"As one and the same Nature holds together and supports the universe, all of whose parts are in harmony with one another, so men are united in Nature; but by reason of their depravity, they quarrel, not realizing that they are of one blood and subject to one and the same protecting power. If this fact were understood, surely man would live the life of the gods! (ibid., p. 135.)(5)
Returning to the purpose of this paper, examples of Natural Law are:
The concept of UNALIENABLE DUTIES (twenty of these unalienable rights are listed, appendix 1)
The concept of UNALIENABLE DUTIES (twenty of these unalienable duties are listed, appendix 2)
The concept of HABEAS CORPUS is based on Natural Law.
The concept of LIMITED GOVERNMENT is based on Natural Law.
The concept of SEPERATION OF POWERS is based on Natural Law.
The concept of CHECKS AND BALANCES to correct abuses by peaceful means is based on Natural Law.
The right to SELF-PRESERVATION is based on Natural Law.
The right to CONTRACT is based on Natural Law.
The concept of JUSTICE BY REPARATION or paying for damages is based on Natural Law.
The right to BEAR ARMS is based on Natural Law. (The 5,000 Year Leap, pp. 46-47.) (6)
Skousen points out, thus one can see how extensively the entire American constitutional system is grounded in Natural Law. Natural Law is the foundation and encompassing framework for everything we have come to call "People's Law."
In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers wrote:
"... that God has endowed all mankind with certain unalienable rights that AMONG these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
The universal emphasis on "rights" has seriously obscured the unalienable duties which are imposed upon mankind by divine law. There are two kinds of duties-public and private. Public duties relate to public morality and are usually supported by local or state ordinances which can be enforced by the police power of the state. Private duties are those which exist between the individual and his Creator.
Our unalienable duties, both public and private, are an inherent part of Natural Law. They constitute a responsibility imposed on each individual to respect the absolute rights or unalienable rights of others.
The Second Great Commandment: You Should Love Your Neighbor As Yourself
Skousen writes that Cicero, without being either a Christian or a Jew, was able to discover the power and fundamental significance of obedience, not only to the first great commandment, but to the second one as well ... Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"(6)
Dr. William Ebenstein comments on this rather fascinating insight among Cicero's writings by saying:
There is another note, too, in Cicero that points forward, toward Christianity, rather than backward to Plato and Aritstotle: Cicero's consciousness of love as a mighty social bond. (Great Political Thinkers, p. 124.)(7)
Skousen writes, Cicero raises this point in connection with his discussion of Justice. He points out that Justice is impossible except under the principles of God's just law ...
For these virtues originate in our natural inclination to love our fellow-men, and this is the foundation of justice. (Ibid., p. 134.)
Skousen continues, so to Cicero, the glue which holds a body of human beings together in the commonwealth of a just society is love-love of God; love of God's great law of Justice; and love of one's fellow-men which provides the desire to promote true justice among mankind.
Cicero projected throughout his writings a particularly optimistic view of the potential improvement of human beings by teaching them the elements of virtue through education. He wrote:
Out of the material of the philosopher's discussion, surely there comes nothing more valuable than the full realization that we are born for Justice, and the right is based, not upon men's opinions, but upon Nature. This fact will immediately be plain if you once get a clear conception of man's fellowship and union with his fellow-men ... However we may define man, a single definition will apply to all. This is a sufficient proof that there is no difference in kind between man and man ... IN FACT, THERE IS NO HUMAN BEING OF ANY RACE WHO, IF HE FINDS A GUIDE, CANNOT ATTAIN TO VIRTUE. (Ibid., p 134.)
Cicero also had a warning against legislators who undertake to pass laws which violate the "laws of Nature and of Nature's God." Cicero wrote:
But the most foolish notion of all is the belief that everything is just which is found in the customs or laws of nations.... What of the many deadly, the many pestilential statutes which nations put in force? These no more deserve to be called laws than the rules a band of robbers might pass in their assembly. For if ignorant and unskilled men have prescribed deadly poisons instead of healing drugs, these cannot possibly be called physicians' prescriptions; neither in a nation can a statute of any sort be called a law, even though the nation, in spite of being a ruinous regulation has accepted it. (Ibid., pp. 134-35.)
All laws must be measured by God's Law, which is described by Cicero as follows:
Therefore Law [of the Creator] is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with that primal and most ancient of all things, Nature; and in conformity to Nature's standard are framed those human laws which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good. (Ibid., p. 135.)
Cicero also emphasizes that the essence of an evil law cannot be mended through ratification by the legislature or by popular acclaim. Justice can never be expected from laws arbitrarily passed in violation of standards set up under the laws of Nature or the laws of the Creator. His argument:
But if the principles of Justice were founded on the decrees of peoples, the edicts of princes, or the decisions of judges, then Justice would sanction robbery and adultery and forgery of wills, in case these acts were approved by the votes or decrees of the populace. But if so great a power belongs to the decisions and decrees of fools that the laws of Nature can be changed by their votes, then why do they not ordain that what is bad and baneful shall be considered good and salutary? Or if a law can make Justice Injustice, can it not also make good out of bad? ( Ibid., pp. 134-35.)
that men must eliminate the depravity that had lodged itself in society
they must return to the high road of Natural Law
they must pledge obedience to the mandates of a loving and concerned Creator
Skousen writes that the American Founders believed this. They embraced the obvious necessity of building a highly moral and virtuous society. The Founders wanted to lift mankind from the common depravity and chicanery of past civilizations, and to lay the foundation for a new kind of civilization built on freedom for the individual and prosperity for the whole commonwealth. This is why they built their system on Natural Law. This is precisely what Thomas Jefferson was talking about when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
These well-remembered phrases from America's initial charter of liberty are all primary pre-suppositions under the principles of Natural Law.
Conclusion: Healthcare Reform is not an unalienable right of all citizens of the USA, rather Healthcare for the uninsured/poor/ truly unable to work ... is an unalienable private duty (between the individual and his Creator) of each citizen of the USA.
Suggestion: Instead of getting the federal government involved and raising taxes, a community census of the number of people with no health insurance due to inability to work be completed. Then following the quarterly 1% township tax, the next month people of the community choose to donate 1-10% of their quarterly income to help the needy in their community, shifting back to tithing in our churces. And local newspapers could report what the money was used for and who was helped. That leaves a good feeling for all and teaches the children a valuable lesson ... don't confuse unalienable rights with unalienable private duties.
Chapter Two2nd Principle:
A Free People Cannot Survive Under a Republican Constitution Unless They Remain Virtuous and Morally Strong.
Current Issue: President Obama stated "America is no longer a Judeo Christian Nation."
"Modern Americans have long since forgotten the heated and sometimes violent debates which took place in the thirteen colonies between 17751776 over the issue of morality. For many thousands of Americans the big question of independence hung precariously on the single, slender thread of whether or not the people were sufficiently "virtuous and moral" to govern themselves. Self-government was generally referred to as "Republicanism" and it was universally acknowledged that a corrupt and selfish people could never make the principles of republicanism operate successfully. (Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap., p. 49.) (1) As Franklin wrote:
"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." (Smyth, Writings of Benjamin Franklin, 9: 569.) (2)
"Morality is identified with the Ten Commandments and obedience to the Creator's mandate for "right conduct," but the early Americans identified "public virtue" as a very special quality of human maturity in character and service closely akin to the Golden Rule. As a modern historian epitomized it:
In a Republic, however, each man must somehow be persuaded to submerge his personal wants Into the greater good of the whole. This willingness of the individual to sacrifice his private interest for the good of the community-such patriotism or love of country-the eighteenth century termed public virtue ... The eighteenth century mind was thoroughly convinced that a popularly based government "cannot be supported without virtue." (Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 [Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1969], p.68)(3)
The people had an instinctive thirst for independence, but there remained a haunting fear that they might not be "good enough" to make it work. These self doubts were actually the eye of the hurricane during those final pre-revolutionary years when Americans were trying to decide whether they had the moral capacity for self-government. They were moved by the powerful expressions of faith and confidence pouring forth from men of "admired virtue" such as John Adams, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and Josiah Quincy. Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, assured Americans they were ripe for independence. He pointed out that most of the people were "industrious, frugal, and honest." He added that few Americans had been corrupted with riches the way people had been debilitated in Europe, where all they wanted was "luxury, indolence, amusement, and pleasure." Furthermore, there was a spirit of equality and public virtue unheard of in other nations because "the people of America are a people of property; almost every man is a freeholder." (Quoted in Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, p. 100.)(4)
And what of the Americans in 2010? How are we described?
This self-examination or "reflective thinking" over a period of several years resulted in a remarkable reform movement which spread up and down the entire Atlantic seaboard.
Suggestion: Americans, annually, ask themselves "Are we a virtuous and moral nation? Are we up to the task of self government.... or do we need "to get our house in order?"
Many Americans became extremely self-conscious about their lack of "public virtue" because of non-involvement in the affairs of government. They began to acknowledge their obsession with self-interest, the neglect of public affairs, and their disdain for the needs of the community as a whole. Gradually, a spirit of "sacrifice and reform" became manifest in all thirteen colonies.
Suggestion to ponder: How about all states
Many Americans became so impressed with the improvement in the quality of life as a result of the reform movement that they were afraid they might lose it if they did not hurriedly separate from the corrupting influence of British manners-the monarchial aristocracy of England.
Excerpted from Writings of an American Mother in 2010: Principles of the Founding Fathers and Current Issues by Mary E. Ali Copyright © 2011 by Mary E. Ali. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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