Push Them Forward

Sorry for the late posting! Something happened yesterday and the post didn’t go through. Here is this week’s entry!

In the coming days when our preparation is called into practice, it may seem overwhelming to suddenly be much farther along than others around you. Some of us may find ourselves in places of power or authority due to our developing knowledge and virtue, or we may be looked to as a guide to help others prosper. As Tacitus wrote, “Indeed, the crowning proof of their valor and strength is that they keep up their superiority without harm to others.” In many ways, there will be a sense of superiority amongst us. But it is important to keep a level head. It has been said that power corrupts, and even the most virtuous can sometimes be swayed by the temptation to push their limits.

I believe one of the keys to remaining virtuous while in a position of power is to remember where you started. We all were introduced to the principles of liberty and virtue in very similar ways, and we worked our way through books and readings like everyone else. Anyone could have the knowledge we gained. Anyone can work hard to be where we are. If we believe that everyone has the same possibilities, it is hard to feel superior. Because we all have the possibility to be virtuous. There is no need to prove our valor through harm and violence. That goes against the key principles we are upholding. Instead, we should strive to prove our experience through teaching and demonstrating. If we really believe in liberty, we must believe in it for all men. So, if we are trusted with a position of power, we must use it to give the people the liberty they deserve. We should use our superiority as a way to show the people the best way for life. 

We were chosen for a reason. We were presented with this information and the option to pursue it. Now, it is our responsibility to spread the wealth. We will be looked to as the guides for a better future, the future we are meant to have. We must not do harm to others; we must only push them forward. 

Yours Truly,

Publius 

Good Books

It is well known by now that we must continually seek to educate ourselves on the important matters at hand. I think it is important, however, to talk about what we do outside of our studying. Today, there are so many distractions in the world that seemingly surround us day in and day out. But it can appear extremely hard to distinguish what is truly harmful to us and our progress. Oftentimes, movies, television programs, books, and even people have become so commonplace that it is hard to see that they are influencing us for the worse. I am going to specifically be speaking about books. From the time kids are young, they are continually encouraged to read and engage in literature. In schools and in homes, people want their kids to grow up surrounded by reading. I know that I was even praised when I would read more than the average kid my age. But while we tell them to read their hearts out in school libraries across the country, rarely do we tell them what they should be reading. Of course, as young kids it’s mostly nursery rhymes and random books about animals or colors; however, as they grow older, a much larger variety is presented to them. The books marketed to teens and young adults favor themes and ideas that some adults might find abrasive. Yet we still applaud those who pick them up off of shelves because “kids just aren’t reading anymore these days”. While reading in and of itself is a great way to strengthen the mind, the subject matters that we are letting slip into our heads are sometimes less than ideal. There is a difference between a good book in the worldly sense and a good book in the spiritual sense. What the public decides in a “good” book is one that is technically well written and overall entertaining to the readers. But the the truly GOOD book fills our soul, teaches us important lessons, and doesn’t make us question what we know to be true. As Milton wrote in Aeropagitica, “He who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye…a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit.” We should not only be encouraging the reading of books in general, but of good books in Milton’s understanding of the word. Now I understand how hard this can be to accept sometimes. As Wordsworth wrote, “the world is too much with us”, and we have began to accept things into our lives that take the place of better options. I’m not saying you have to completely drop every fiction book you have in your collection and replace them with historical texts. There are countless good books out there that are works of fiction, even some newer ones believe it or not. We just must keep in mind that we should not spend more time focusing on entertainment that we do education. Be careful of those hidden influences in popular material, especially when it comes to the youth. And make sure to take a mental inventory every now and again; are you filling yourself up with what will ultimately help you in the end, or are you taking in meaningless “bread and circuses” more and more often?

Yours truly,

Publius

The Past and the Future

It is always advised to learn from the past. The past mistakes from us and from others teach us to be better people in the long run. But it is important to remember that while we look to the past for guidance, we must not dwell on those past experiences. As Francis Bacon wrote, “That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do, with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labor in past matters.” Everyone has mistakes they’ve made in the past that they wish to correct. Despite this, there is almost nothing at all we can do to alter that past. Just as we can not change history, our own personal backgrounds are set in stone. The key is to take that and build off of it. 

It is cowardly to only look behind you as you move forward. Fear of what is to come ties you to what has already happened. There is always hesitation moving forward, but that doesn’t mean we can dwell on what is past. It takes courage to venture into the unknown; the path is not necessarily unknown, however. Wise men take the past and use it as a lamp for the future. Just as Patrick Henry said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way of judging of the future but by the past.” When we study history, we know what steps we must take and which steps we must avoid. It is important to remember from whence we came. Every action done, every decision made has lead us to this exact moment. Even the poor choices and the missteps mean something. And more importantly they show us the way to a better future. Those who came before us died so we may live without their mistakes. It is disrespectful to ignore their struggles and simply learn it in our own. Move on from the past, but keep it in your mind. It will help you keep moving forward for years to come. 

Yours truly,

Publius

Curiosity

Everyone has heard the phrase “curiosity kills the cat”, yet we have also been told to question and search. It seems that we are once told to stick to the surface and again told to dig deeper. I believe that life truly requires a balance of both. There is always a time to inquire and a time to remain silent. Plutarch writes of this in his essay “Of Curiosity”. He describes how there are some people who think it is their place to know everyone’s business. They “cannot be satisfied unless they rake into the private and concealed evils of every family in the neighborhood.” People like this are rarely trusted and are seen as enemies rather than friends. There are matters that are meant to be kept private. “Without knocking at the door, it is great rudeness to enter another’s house,” as Plutarch puts it. Boundless curiosity is not only rude to the others around us, but is harmful to those who have it.

Despite this, there is a way to use curiosity in the proper setting. Plutarch proposes “to avoid the danger of this curiosity, divert thy thoughts to more safe and delightful enquiries.” Nature holds secrets that are meant to be analyzed. There are questions in life that need to be answered. If we direct any curiosity in those directions, it will not go to waste. Dig into ancient histories or books of principles and virtue. Seek to educate yourself on the things that matter. This will not be harmful. In fact, it is normally the opposite.

We cannot avoid curiosity in our lives. However, we can direct it towards the proper ends. There is nothing wrong with questions as long as they are focused on the proper issues. As we dive into knowledge, there is no limit. We should always strive towards understanding the world around us. Being inquisitive is not always a bad thing. We simply must learn where to direct our growing minds. This ability comes through maturity and education. Let us together push towards that perfect balance.

Yours Truly,

Publius

All Men Are Created Equal

This Thursday marks the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. One of the key phrases in it is “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. While most Americans are able to quote this line with confidence, very few actually understand what it means. Thomas Jefferson knee the importance of the words he was writing and chose them very carefully. He writes that “all men” have these characteristics. Today, the phrase has somehow started to mean all Americans. However, this is not what he is saying. All men, no matter where they are born or what country they pledge allegiance to, have the natural rights to life, liberty, and property among many others. The Creator gave these rights to mankind, and we have no authority to deny anyone of them. We claim to want liberty for all, yet we don’t let them choose how they receive it. We claim to respect the life of others, yet we take it away without question or trial. We claim to want the best for every citizen of every country, yet we march in and take over without pause. Why do we not respect all men?

You can not force men to be free. When independence was declared, the convention did not require everyone to sign the document. States joined the union voluntarily. The Bills of Rights was written to ensure that the government didn’t over step their boundaries like the monarchy that proceeded them. Every step of the way, America upheld the natural rights of man. So why does it stop at our borders?

While we celebrate our nation’s independence and the liberty that severance allowed the founders to act upon, keep in mind the principles that lead our founding fathers to that point. We were created to be free, as all men were. Our rights do not come from the government and do not stop at our citizenship. We are independent. Let’s start recognizing what that truly means.

Yours truly,

Publius