I was listening to talk radio again this morning. I have had an increasingly difficult time doing so lately. The more I learn about the past, the more I understand why things happen the way they do today — and the more my eyes open. The more my eyes open, the less and less I trust the voices I once relied on to inform me, and this includes most of the people on the radio and all of those on the television. Still, if you understand them and know how to listen to them, there are still a few voices on the radio who will bring some truth to you, and these are the few people to whom I still listen. Unfortunately, though they are the ones who should know and understand better than most, even these people can miss the most important details. So it was for me today. I was listening to one of the few voices left for whom I have any trust. This talk radio host calls himself a ‘Conservative/Libertarian” (it depends on the day). Lately, he has been telling his audience that the problem with our nation is we keep finding ways to ignore, dismiss or violate the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Sadly, this is entirely wrong. This person — one of the very few who should know better — shot for the stars, but he missed the entire sky.
I have written about this issue before, but it needs to be repeated. In fact, it cannot be repeated too often — especially given the level of ignorance in our nation today.
The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are just the ‘How” of America. The “What” and the “Why” of this nation can only be found in The Declaration of Independence!
This is why the radio talk show host keeps getting things wrong: he keeps looking for the answer in the “how” and not in the “what” or “why.” So, what do I mean by that? Well, if I could, let me ask you to think back to your grade school days. How well did you understand and retain the information you were supposed to be learning when you actually studied the principles and events as opposed to just studying what was likely to be on the test? For example: if you learned the foundations of math, you can probably still work some proofs that will help you derive an equation. However, if all you did was study the equations so you could get past the test, you have most likely lost the majority of your command of math (I fall under this second category, myself). Or, if you actually studied the people, places and events in history so that you could understand why things happened the way they did, you most likely still have a better understanding of history than those who studied just to get past the test (I fall in the first category here). This is what I mean when I say there is a difference between the “what” and “why” of things as opposed to the “how.” One leads to lasting understanding, the other just gets you past the test and is then ‘brain-dumped.’
The same principle applies to understanding why our society is in a state of decay: because we not only do not understand the “what” or the “why” of America, we’re not even studying the “how.” This particular talk show host should know better, especially since he is known for teaching history to his audience. But he, like most, has identified a symptom and not the cause, so he has decided on a wrong solution rather than a course of action that might actually work.
The point here is simple, and we were warned by none other than John Adams:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
— John Adams, Address to the Military, October 11, 1798
In short, it is impossible for an immoral or even amoral people to obey the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights — period! And, contrary to the opinion of anyone who may disagree, John Adams was correct. He was correct because he was expressing an eternal and immutable principle of Natural Law. But Adams does not stop here. He explains the foundation of morality, as well:
“Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions.”
— John Adams, letter to Mercy Warren, April 16, 1776
In other words, without public virtue/morality — where people put society before themselves — there can be no liberty: and without personal, private virtue/morality, there can be no public virtue/morality. So how does one acquire private virtue/morality?
“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families…. How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers?”
— John Adams, Diary, June 2, 1778
Notice that Adams has linked virtue/morality to religion. Once again, this is an eternal and immutable principle of Natural Law. But Adams did not stop here, leaving posterity to argue over which religion or no religion. He goes on to tell us:
“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite….And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: . . . Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”
— John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated June 28, 1813
Finally, to those who would object, and demand that they can reject all belief in God and still be a ‘good’ or ‘virtuous/moral’ person, Adams says:
“The idea of infidelity cannot be treated with too much resentment or too much horror. The man who can think of it with patience is a traitor in his heart and ought to be execrated as one who adds the deepest hypocrisy to the blackest treason.”
The Papers of John Adams, Robert J. Taylor, ed., (Cambridge: Belknap Press [Harvard University], 1977-89) vol. VI p 348 to James Warren on Aug. 4, 1778
Now, lest we think Adams is talking about adultery, or some other meaning for ‘infidelity,’ let me stop the reader right now. In Adams’ day, the word, ‘infidelity,’ was used to describe those who had no religion or belief in God, or who denied that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. Look for it and you will find this word used by other founders to describe such people. And, if you look for it, you will find other founders who spoke out against those who do not believe in the God of the Bible, and in much harsher language. So, what is Adams telling us? In short, he was warning posterity that, if they ever left their Christian roots, they would lose their freedom!
Well, none of this is found in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. It is all found in the Declaration — and my talk radio host should know this. We should all know this — because these are eternal and immutable principles of Natural law!
BTW: My talk radio host should know and understand that the Bill of Rights cannot and will never stop people from harming each other. However, if the whole of a society knows, understands and embraces the principles and ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, then they will have no need for a Bill of Rights — because they will naturally police themselves. This is the difference between a virtuous and moral people and a people that has grown corrupt and lawless.