Sunday, October 28, 2007

Empty oaths, etc.

An oath that every military man and woman takes is one that swears to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution (not the actual physical document, but the ideals embodied within). If I recall correctly, this is true of law enforcement officers as well. But I just gotta ask this: How can anyone take an oath to uphold and defend something they know nothing about?

During my short enlistment in the U.S. Army, I took that oath in perfunctory fashion along with everyone else, but it wasn't until years later, I'm ashamed to say, that I actually read the wonderful, government-fettering document itself. Making people swear allegiance to a document of ideals they haven't actually been required to read themselves causes the entire process to become about as useful as a Marine's ceremonial sword on a modern battlefield, and a whole lot less meaningful.

Where will these people, who risk life and limb, get exposure to the U.S. Constitution? They certainly won't get it in public schools, which are government run and apparently loath to teach that the true power in this country resides with the people, not the politicians. About the only way they will learn about what the U.S. Constitution is, why it was written, and why it is as vital today to America as the day it was penned, is through self-motivated learning. This is about as likely to happen as elementary school children clamoring for less free time and more homework. Yes, there will be those few motivated individuals with enough intellectual curiosity to pursue the mystery, but if most are ever to learn of it at all, they'll need exposure at the K-12 level. I won't hold my breath waiting for this to happen.


Now to veer off on a tangent that is not wholly unrelated, why, in God's name, do we need a professional, standing military at all? A professional military is just too tempting a thing for politicians and bureaucrats, not the most balanced people on earth, to play with. Many, of course, will say that the world is a dangerous place today and that we need a standing military for protection. Granted, the world is a dangerous place filled with liars, cheats, cutthroats, poseurs, and megalomaniacal dictators/politicians. But those who know their history realize it's always been that way, and it always will be.

If the U.S. would come out with a policy, freely stated to the rest of the world, that America spiritually--NOT monetarily/militarily--supports true liberty for all people in the world who are intelligent and motivated enough to secure it for themselves, it would once again set the standard for the rest of the thinking world to want to emulate. A small, professional cadre of--at most--100,000 soldiers/sailors/airmen, backed by many millions of citizens who could volunteer* and become soldiers within 90 days, would let the world know we really love peace-- as opposed to just mouthing that we do--but that we'll fight to defend ourselves if pushed.

America, for all its might and good intentions, simply cannot change the world for the better through force. By taking this avenue, what will change, and has changed, is America itself. To support this huge imposition of American hegemony throughout the world, a gargantuan governmental infrastructure has had to develop. This behemoth has gained its own momentum and routinely tramples on and ignores liberties that just a generation or two ago would have been unthinkable, and I'm talking about here, at home, not in some far-flung backwater. The U.S. Constitution, that blueprint for liberty, may as well not even exist for as much as it's been obsereved over the past 100 years.


How do we get back to a government that resides within the limits of the ostensible supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution? People obviously have to be taught about the document and read it for themselves in the historical context in which it was written. Until a majority of the population implicitly understands what the U.S. Constitution is and why it alone can guarantee lasting liberty, America will continue its ever-quickening slide into totalitarianism.

As I mentioned before, I am not too optimistic about this happening. Asking government-run schools to include this subject in its basic curriculum is essentially asking government to commit suicide. Demanding that this be done may help, but I am dubious about even this. Long ago, when America was another country (and, no, I don't think everything was great in the "good ol' days"), a subject called civics, which taught how the American government worked and its constraints, was a basic requirement in many American schools. It was considered vital to the perpetuation of American ideals and liberty to pass this information on to the next generation. Somewhere along the line this fell out of fashion, and we've become a poorer nation for it ever since.

*This is an essential idea. A draft would be, and is, antithetical, to the notion of liberty. When a citizen volunteers to go into combat to defend his interests, it means he believes his rational self interests and, by extension, his country wherein his rational self interests are exercised, are endangered by the threat. Woe betide an enemy who threatens any man's rational self interests; those who fight with righteous conviction are greater than the sum of their parts. No government needs to coerce a man to defend his rational self interests. The only time a government need resort to coercion of a rational man is when the aims of the government and that man are in direct opposition. In other words, when the man sees no danger to his rational self interests in what the government is calling a threat.

Take care.

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