Morality in America

Natural law, as explained by 17th century philosopher John Locke, is described as a basic set of principles based on the actions a reasonable man would take to insure his success or his ability to flourish. Conceptually, natural law is a set of general moral standards based on sound practical thought including methods and processes which delineate acts that are morally right or morally wrong. The necessity of principled morality in building and maintaining a strong and enduring nation was well understood and a common emphasis of the Founders of the United States of America.

In Essays Concerning Human Understanding published in 1690, Locke articulates that man’s ideas are a reflection of his experiences. The future direction of man or the foundation of a nation should rely on moral decisions based on experience. Without experience, history is the only reliable source of human and worldly experiences. History is mankind’s diary of both good and bad experiences and should be used as a learning tool.  Spanish philosopher Santa Yana noted that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Integrating history and current experiences in a purposeful manner requires at least a basic level of intelligence. Mirabeau Lamar, second President of Texas, stated the educated mind is the guardian angel of democracy. Lamar’s statement suggests a successful democratic style of government required intelligent thought processes and responsible participation.

Intelligence gained by refined education may serve as a source of reason; however, reason without benefit of history and experience can be misleading. Therefore; responsible decisions are those made by careful deliberation and incorporation of morality, experience, history, and intelligent reasoning. Only Divine revelation provided by Nature’s God is needed for sound decision-making for an individual and a nation. The foundation and fabric of the United States of America and the future health of our nation require these characteristics.

In his farewell address, George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…….and let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can exist without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle”.

The United States of America was founded on principles of morality consistent with the laws of nature and of Nature’s God.  Guidance was sought from and due diligence was given to Nature’s God.  Now, elected leaders at all levels of government, with supposed elite educations and questionable politically correct experience have shunned Nature’s God and refuse to accept history’s lessons. A gradual and continuous degradation of national morality threatens the very fabric of American Society.

Separation of Church and State

Ideological differences between segments of American society reveal a question on the role of personal religion, or theology, versus the constitutional role of government in the lives of Americans. Natural law, as explained by 17th century philosopher John Locke, is described as a basic set of principles based on the actions a reasonable man would take to insure his success or his ability to flourish. It is a set of general moral standards based on sound practical thinking. Also included are methods and processes which distinguish between acts that are morally right or morally wrong.

Most of the founders believed that man was to serve God and government was to serve man. Theological or faith-based norms and morals were recognized by the founders as social and personal feelings and beliefs, and as such, should be constitutionally separated from civil governance. George Washington stated in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports……And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…..reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

In 1801, a group of Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut wrote the letter to Thomas Jefferson concerning the First Amendment. Their plight revolved around an opinion where the state of Connecticut extended to them the ability to worship their Baptist theology as a state-granted privilege rather than a constitutionally guaranteed right. Jefferson’s response in January of 1802 did not address the state of Connecticut issue on religion; however, he emphasized that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution erected a wall of separation between the church and the State (Federal Government).

As can be seen by the history, faiths, and convictions of our founders, the Judeo-Christian philosophy of a very personal and private inner spirit between God and man is intended to be beyond the reach of the State, or government. If man is to serve God and government is to serve man, then the dichotomy of man’s moral and spiritual beliefs as opposed to his structured civil needs requires a wall separating the two distinct entities. The duties and rights given to man as a result from his relationship with God are very personal, inseparable, and not transferable to anyone else. The rights from God are natural, not foreign; they are unalienable. The unalienable rights given to man by the creator depicted in the Declaration of Independence are the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The rights were so brazenly stated to let everyone know that there were areas of humanity where government could not infringe. These very personal, God-given rights were meant to be untouchable by any governing decree. It should be no surprise the Declaration of Independence incorporated man’s unalienable rights from God while the founders provided within a parallel Constitution that human necessity of limited civil governance by the State.

A man’s duty to his family, his church, and to his fellow man are personal and not unlike the relationship with his God. In personal dealings and faith, emotions influence our actions and persuade us to do what we reasonably think is morally right (natural law). The success of any government for a civil society requires that man separate his personal and emotional obligations from his civil duties. However, when man mixes what should be considered emotional and personal obligations with civil statutory law, the Constitution is threatened and the nation it governs begins to fail. Alexander Hamilton’s admonishment in the Federalist’s Papers rings true again; “…it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example (emphasis added), to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” Social and emotional issues must be separated from civil affairs for any government expecting to be sustained more than two hundred years.

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To Compromise or Not?

A new Congress taking the helm for the United States of America is set to take on an almost impossible task. Striking any sign of compromise will be a most difficult undertaking for the leadership of the House and the Senate. Compromise is often touted as the essential element of politics. It must be remembered that for over 100 years, progressiveness has grown through compromise and has created both, an enormous and unmanageable Federal Government and one which has become cost-prohibitive and unsustainable.

Principles instilled by our Founders called for individual liberty and personal sovereignty as essential for our Nation. Yet, recent years of progressiveness have led to a total loss of conservative ideology like that of our Founders. In 2015, liberal and progressive ideology has alienated conservatives such that our society faces a broad polarity of governing ideology. The left is so far left and the right is so far right that compromise is almost out of the question. Our current government does not reflect the one set forth by our Constitution.

A man of sound mind excels in his own state of nature with individual liberty and personal sovereignty. Two men, both of sound mind and in their natural states with their liberty and sovereignty intact are a cumulative force for good. A multitude of men in their natural state with their liberties and sovereignty intact becomes the force of a nation. Therefore; for the greater good of each and the nation, a Constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and personal sovereignty is essential. Any act or manipulation that supplants individual liberty and personal sovereignty weakens the whole of the man and the nation.

Does this sound familiar: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they declare the causes which impel them to the separation….”? Dare we prevent a repeat of our own history? As College coach Gordie Gillespie said, “Society today treats the Ten Commandments as if they were ten suggestions. Never compromise on right or wrong”.

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About the Blogger

Eddie Dunlap is a common man, born of common American ideology. Educated via the public school systems with additional training by the United States Military. A small business man for over thirty years dealing closely with local, state, and federal government entities, his perspectives reflect those of an evolving conservative who fears for the future of a once Great Nation. Hats off to the founders and their brilliance, Locke and Montesquieu included. May we live not to see a repetition of our mistakes.

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