We have previously written about the importance of having a solid grasp of history. Unfortunately, historical ignorance has become too common, leading to all sorts of negative consequences. It affects our understanding of current circumstances and even our ability to decipher the many politically motivated messages that inundate us.
Looking at the America That Was
One major loss we are experiencing is the very concept of freedom. Too few today can envision what a truly free society should look like. What has replaced that image is one of commandeering the powers of the state to promote partisan agendas. The demand for government intervention has replaced the once prevailing theme of individual effort and responsibility.
Oftentimes it is worse than just allowing the government to do for us, we may not even be allowed to do for ourselves. It’s bad enough to rely on government for things we should be doing ourselves but it is much worse when we are prevented from doing so.
Here are some thoughts worth pondering:
Lost Memory of Freedom Past
“The idea that there was a time in American history when many more matters of daily life were considered the domain of personal decision-making and voluntary collaborative community effort has mostly been erased from people’s memory. To a great extent that is because it is rarely if ever taught anymore, other than in the most negative of images.”
American Individualism Seen as Essential to Liberty
“Americans were, indeed, rugged individualists. In fact, the word ‘individualism’ was used to convey an essential quality in the American character by that other famous Frenchman who traveled to the United States in the mid 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), and who wrote of his journeys in his classic two-volume political study of a free society, Democracy in America (1835; 1840).
“Tocqueville was not an uncritical devotee of American individualism, but he believed that its healthy aspects allowed the individual to see himself as a distinct person separate from the mass of humanity. The individual person was able to form his own freely chosen circle of partners and associations through family, friends, and commercial enterprise. Individualism was a bulwark against one of the most serious dangers in free societies with democratically elected governments: the tyranny of majorities, both politically and culturally.”The idea that there was a time in American history when many more matters of daily life were considered the domain of personal decision-making and voluntary collaborative community effort has mostly been erased from people's memory. Click To Tweet
Political Destruction of Private Virtue
“What honesty, truthfulness, politeness, or sincerity exists today in American politics? Such qualities were, no doubt, wanting in the politics of that earlier time, in the nineteenth century about which foreign visitors wrote. But today the political arena in America really is nothing but a cesspool of connivance and corruption.
“An understanding and appreciation of the underlying principles of a free society upon which the United States was originally established must be regained. Because even with its many contradictions, inconsistencies, and sometimes cruelties in its past, and into the present, the idea and ideal upon which it was founded, that principle of individual freedom was — and still is — the only enduring hope for mankind.”
Read this in full at The America That Was — The Good and the Bad.