April 11, 2011 | Posted in: Philosophy
republic |ri?p?blik|noun. a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch • a community or group with a certain equality between its members.
I had no idea when I was growing up that I would ever possess a love for politics (the art and science of governing people). As I grow more comfortable in my skin, and as I watch the political chaos swirl around me, my thoughts turn continually to what is required to fix this unbelievable political mess we’re in. To that end, I’ve found great solace and courage in the study of one of America’s greatest patriots, John Adams. The brilliant New England scholar [and first cousin to legendary revolutionary, Samuel Adams], John was the intellectual powerhouse behind our Constitution. Statesman and President Adams has since become one of my greatest heroes.
Though I understand human nature is exceedingly complicated, and the maintenance of a republic even more so, here is what biographer, Page Smith, aptly distilled from John Adams thoughts on the subject:
The foundation of a healthy republic is morality and at the heart of morality is self-discipline [emphasis mine]. A people who indulge their appetites without restraint are a people ill suited to govern themselves or to support any orderly and stable government. Adams, bent on the vast and serious enterprise of saving souls and laying the foundations of an unshakably republican government, knew that the American Republic would never survive the erosion of its morals. And of one thing he was certain: “at best, a republican system is not easily sustained. It is the most difficult and demanding, if not the most rewarding, of all forms of government. Without a firm moral foundation, it will not endure.”
As it pertains to living a happy and meaningful life, my coming of age in the 70’s and growing up during the disgrace of Nixon’s Watergate scandal, has exacted of me a long time to fully understand the magnitude of possessing moral virtue, honesty, good character and self-discipline. The current unscrupulousness of our politicians is a mere reflection of the generally held sentiments of our people. Greed abounds not only in those who would govern us, but those who are governed. Adams would be appalled by the rampant moral decay of our society.
For the sake of this discussion, morality, is mutually exclusive of religious beliefs. Quite literally, the issue of morality revolves not around religion but around principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. No religious bible thumping here. Just the facts.
It appears to me we, as Americans, have lost our way in regards to knowing what is right or wrong, good or bad. And, I can’t help but think I’m required to do my part to make things better by engaging the power of self-discipline. To always be a person who does right and good … no matter the personal cost to me or mine. It’s rationale to believe that if I cannot create it in myself, I’ve no right to demand it from my government.
Currently, we’re fighting for our lives. On all levels. Economically, physically, mentally, spiritually. My study of our Founding Fathers has led me to conclude that if my American republic is to stand the test of time and and remain healthy … my government must be a reflection of good and moral principles. That being the case, a democratic republic requires moral self-government from its people. Since that’s the case, in order to keep this sinking ship afloat, the best political action I can take is to daily strive for the holy grail of self-discipline based on moral principles. As always, rather than moan and complain about the circumstances over which I have no control, it’s best to start with those in which I do.
Thank you, President Adams. I remain, your devoted student,