3) The third idea to define the American way of life, is this: that individual lives are resting.
So, we are progressing. We are demonstrating in the right sense (or illustrating in our diverse ways). And we are resting. So, progressing, demonstrating, and resting. Lives resting on their political ability - on our own political savvy, our own political acuteness - to secure our own God-given rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. And I define pursuit of happiness here according to the Founding Fathers understanding of their livelihood. And well unfold that as we go along.
When any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people themselves to alter or to abolish it. By the way, when you alter or abolish something, it always has to be better than what you are supplanting. It has to be a superior answer, not inferior -- not to bring upon you a cure worse than the disease itself. We have to reason. These people knew how to reason themselves out of the paper bag that they were in.
One discovery today, if I may make a sidebar note here, is that its very difficult for individuals today, as a product of their education, to get from Point A to Point B. They have memorized and they have learned by rote many facts and information, but they cant link one idea to another idea. It doesnt connect. There is a broken synapse. It just doesnt compute. And so, what we have here in 1776, is a people who knew how to get from Point A to Point B, who knew cause and consequences.
Today we act without reasoning what the end result might possibly be. Were not trained to do so. Thats political ability. Otherwise, were going to face unintended consequences. They foresaw consequences, and they avoided those consequences they could foresee. Its a matter of political ability, to reason in that sphere of policy.
To be continued...
2) The second idea in the American way of life, or way of living (how we are living our lives), is that in this country we are actually demonstrating something to the world, without even realizing it. Were demonstrating the positive alternative, or answer, to despotism. And when we get there, there are only two kinds of governments in history. Despotism is one of them.
Now, what is despotism? Its government by the absolute or arbitrary power of one or the few. The Declaration of Independence identified what America is all about: When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism . So we are a nation that lives in rejection of despotism.
Now, thats a new deal. We reject it. It is and this is what we claim for ourselves it is their right, it is their duty, obligation. They owe it to themselves, to throw off such government. This is not violence. Throw off here does not mean physical violence. It just means to remove yourself, to throw off such government, and provide new guards for their future security.
So the people will take charge of their own security. You owe it to yourself. Despotism is unlawful. And so theyre not submitting to unlawful authority.
There are two kinds of authority, I might inject here: lawful and unlawful. And the Boston Tea Party was simply denying unlawful authority: to tax them without being represented. So, we dont just go throw off tea, but theres a principle behind it. Understand what the principle behind it is. Its not just the random destruction of tea. It was really a legal, constitutional act of a demonstration, which is in the British custom.
To be continued...
I want to begin with some presuppositions here. These are the three ideas that Im building on:
1) I want to propose to you that a way of life is a way of living. I believe that some of you are living in such a way that fits all three categories, but were not aware of it. Im telling you how youre living, and youre not even aware of it. This is a broad view of us as a nation. Im suggesting to you that the American way of life is individual lives progressing from what I call self-evident truth. Progressing means were not there yet. None of us have arrived. Progress means theres something thats unfolding.
What is that self-evident truth that pertains to America especially? This is all from the Declaration of Independence, and this again is the original idea that gave birth to this nation, so you cant run away from it; you cant deny it.
Our birth certificate says that our life, this nations life, began, and is built upon, this idea that all men ("all" being without exception, and to the exclusion of no man, just in case you dont know what all means. Men is a generic term for mankind, meaning females too, and children not your pets, okay?) are created (now this is troublesome were progressing created equal), and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And so not all of us are progressing at the same rate in this idea, and that is again at the core of this cornerstone of our existence.
To be continued...
Part 1: of a 28-part series
This phrase, the American way of life, has never been defined to my satisfaction. I dont know if youve ever thought about. I hear about it all the time. It has become a matter, or a phrase, that arouses disdain more than anything else.
I dont know how you have determined this phrase, or how its used in our current history, but I want to propose to you that there is something called an American way of life that pertains to every one of us in this room, because it has to do with our nation. It has to do with the life of our nation. Every nation has a personality. Every nation has its own life and its own way of living. So, it behooves us as Americans to get a grip, to get a handle, on some aspect that pertains to us and us alone.
So I want to propose to you three ideas that might define us, or should I say, define the American way of life. I come at this as a historian, or as a teacher of history, a leader of history. I want to propose to you some ideas for you to consider. Its not in any way a matter of absolute, of fixed law, but you consider these things and see whether if these things are so - in your experience, in your knowledge, and in your studies.
I want to deal with the American way of life. Of course, today many are concerned about our way of life, about whether or not it will be changed. Simply, what is it they are concerned about?
To be continued...