My longtime friend and Dothan Eagle editorial writer, Bill Perkins, penned words below that bear repeating. Basically he is saying that the doomsday naysayers now roaming the land are very poor students of this country’s history who prefer fantasies to realty. He is right.
“In unsettling times, it’s beneficial to reflect on the situation at hand and how it came to be. Politicians and pundits who say we’re living in unprecedented times should review the Old Testament; the nameless author of the Book of Ecclesiastes writes, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”(Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Our Founding Fathers apparently believed that, as many of their letters and speeches of the day suggest they were prescient in devising governing documents for our new nation.
While the disturbances of late, exacerbated by tensions frayed from weeks of uncertainty in a pandemic, are novel to current generations, they’re hardly unprecedented. The Founders could not have known the specifics, but they were banking on future unrest:
“Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison in 1787. The translation: “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”
We are in the midst of that preferred tumult, and could reflect on some more Jeffersonian wisdom to make sense of the present:
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions,” writes Jefferson in a letter to Virginia lawyer and historian Samuel Kercheval in July 1816. “But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
In the midst of this stormy Fourth of July holiday, an instructive and appropriate exercise may be a review of the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers and other documents that reveal the story of our nation’s birth. Such a review should bring healthy perspective to where our nation has been, and where it is going, along with suggestions for personal interaction:
“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.” Thomas Paine
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” — Jefferson, to William Hamilton.”