Many Americans never take time to read the seminal writings upon which our forefathers based their ideas about liberty, free enterprise, limited government and self-determination. In fact, most have never even heard that such things exist. We're too busy watching YouTube, looking at funny cat pix, hanging out on Facebook, or tweeting to bother with all that moldy-oldy stuff.
What the much more slowly-paced 18th century forefathers would think
of our frenetic lifestyles and YouTube/tweeting/text-length
attention spans is anybody's guess, but I think they would believe we're
mad. Seriously, most have never considered how much one can accomplish if the TV is never turned on.
I believe that - upon
comparing their times and pursuits with ours - the Founders would decry the
hours wasted in front of the TV/idiot box/boob tube/vast wasteland, along with our smart phones, iPods, netbooks, and the 'web in general.
would mourn the loss of time spent absorbing the classic writers such
as Jefferson mentions, and wonder how it is that we
learn anything at all. They would agree with Santayana that we, who
have mostly failed to learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it.
there's any doubt about that last statement, watch the national news
and then compare to the 1760-1775 events in our own nation's past. I
firmly believe that if we had been paying attention - and if we had not
been dumbed down by the Progressive takeover of the State-run
educational systems (but that's another rant, for another time) - we'd
have realized more quickly what the revisionists were doing, and put a
halt to it MUCH sooner.
Those of the late 18th century would
also, I believe, decry the loss of written communication to and from
other individuals. No e-mail, no matter how eloquently or elegantly
composed, can take the place of the same words painstakingly written on
paper ... and passed from the writer's hand to that of the recipient. And writing things by hand gives the writer time to consider the words being used, and - arguably - can produce a better result.
internet has become the medium of choice for rapid dissemination of
news, and of course there's a need for e-mail; I'm no Luddite.
Regardless, we've lost something when one's personal thoughts are
represented by pixels composed of liquid crystals or LEDs.
still good men and women; many of us recognize them all around us. There will
always be those who choose honor and integrity over the quick and easy
way. Like President Kennedy speaking of the pursuit of an expedition
to the moon, some of us will always choose to do some things precisely
because they are hard ... and therefore the accomplishment of those hard things will have significance. That accomplish will mean something.
my part, reading the old texts, papers, and books will mean (in some cases) going back and
re-reading things I first read decades ago. But that's okay. Some
things are worth the expenditure of time to achieve. We may find, after a
long time pursuing those things upon the Founders based their ideas,
that we've become nothing more than tolerably-accomplished old
But I don't think that's what will happen here.
good ideas about freedom, liberty and personal responsibility will
ever be a waste of time or energy to consider, share and teach.
In some cases I have forgotten the
source(s) of some of my ideas and opinions. In many of those cases, the
concepts have been honed and refined (at least, I hope so) over time as
I've read other works on the same topics. But revisiting the original
source is never a bad idea; it will be instructive, and may illuminate
some ideas which have been only half- or poorly-remembered, and may
have drifted, over time, from the original thought.
Having a clearer idea of original intent can only help when speaking of it with others, even if it sounds foreign to them. Those who are open to new things will recognize good ideas when they think about them. At least, I hope so.
And that alone makes the effort worthwhile.
(And Jenny, if this sounds familiar, much of it came from my response to one of your posts, way back when, on your Alaskan blog).