We Need Another Selma
While sitting in the theater yesterday waiting to see “Unbroken” I watched a trailer for an upcoming movie called Selma. While the trailer was short it did give me this title to this blog.
Now I know you are experiencing a feeling of puzzlement wondering how I am going to incorporate a series of events that happened in the South Central section of Alabama in the early 1960’s into a blog I usually reserve for Constitutional Conservatism. Well, I can’t think of a better place to start.
In the early 1960’s the Black population in America was just beginning to realize the timing was right for them to reach out and secure what was rightfully theirs and that was the simple right to vote. Along with the right to vote was their right to other freedoms and opportunities. A short list of the areas to be gained was; desegregation of schools, equal opportunity for work, the right to succeed or fail, the right to enjoy the Constitution of the United States, The Declaration of Independence, The Emancipation Proclamation and other rights given to them and all Americans by our Creator, Founding Fathers and Presidents. Could President Lincoln have known that exactly 100 years after he signed his Executive Order and his Proclamation in 1963, the black population would still be fighting for their freedoms and rights? Probably not but neither did our Founding Fathers who signed the Constitution and Declaration of Independence know that in 2015 Americans would be losing the rights they afforded us.
It took a few people, brave enough, tired and frustrated enough to go against the “establishment” and come through as victors. Now I do admit their victory wasn’t without pain, sacrifice, blood, sweat and even lives. Was it worth it? The short answer is yes. Anytime a person, group or in this case, a race can stand up, make a statement and back it up with action and come through winners; Well, that is demonstrating exactly what our Founding Fathers had envisioned when they sat down and penned the articles giving us the United States of America.
Unfortunately, those same papers that allows us the freedoms to assemble and demonstrate peacefully also allows those who hold disdain for America, the American people and the American way of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness want to see America changed into what our ancestors fought so hard to escape from.
This country was founded on the belief that all men were created equal, (white skin, black skin, red skin or any color skin) as long as the laws of the land were upheld and that no group was singled out, suppressed or in any way not allowed the freedoms given to all. Our signing fathers were well read and educated. A large number of them had read and was familiar with the Bible that was used as guidance in their personal lives and as a basis for establishing the writings used to bring about this great country. A lot of our founders being well spoken and well read were familiar with the writings of John Locke. John Locke was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of enlightenment thinkers and known as the “Father of Classical Liberalism”. The list of people he influenced is quit lengthy including Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, a rather odd individual, Voltaire, who authored the quote “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize”, along with many others.
John Locke held some views that our Founding Fathers found favorable in their thinking toward the way this country needed to be formed. Our country’s Founders included the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God in The Declaration of Independence. What did they mean by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God and how does John Locke come into this? For that answer I went to The American View web site that gave the following:
John Locke’s understanding of Natural Law is summarized, “Humans know what is right and wrong, and are capable of knowing what is lawful and unlawful well enough to resolve conflicts. In particular, and most importantly, they are capable of telling the difference between what is theirs and what belongs to someone else. Regrettably they do not always act in accordance with this knowledge.” Although Locke understood that man was a fallen and sinful creature, he still recognized that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are able to modify our behavior and conduct our thoughts and actions in accordance with God’s law even as sinners.
Man, since the beginning of time has always known there was a greater force of something out there. They may not have known it was God but they knew there was a force or in some cases “the great spirit” which could have been any number of things from the sun to an Eagle or the wind. But even then they knew (as stated above) the basic laws of nature and right from wrong.
An opposing view of this Laws of Nature and Nature’s God was Thomas Hobbs. His summarization was, “Our knowledge of objective, true answers on such questions is so feeble, so slight and imperfect as to be mostly worthless in resolving practical disputes. In nature, people cannot know what is theirs and what is someone else’s. Property exists solely by the will of the State, thus in nature men are condemned to endless violent conflict. In practice morality is for the most part merely a command by some person or group or God, and law merely the momentary will of the ruler.” Hobbes’ view of mankind and government closely resembles that of Stalin – “You conceded your rights to the government, in return for your life.” Hobbes believes that government must be all-powerful – TOTALITARIAN – because man cannot live together with man for three reasons: competition (greed), distrust (covetousness) and individual glory (pride). Because of man’s nature, Hobbes believes that the State must have all the power and that whatever the State does, is just by definition. Society is a direct creation of the State, and a reflection of the will of the ruler according to Hobbes. Therefore, the duty and rights of the citizen is summarized as “Shut up and do as you are told and then you have the right not to be killed. But if the State wants to kill you, well the ends justify the means and it is not unjust because it is the will of the State.
It is understandable why our founding fathers took the route of John Locke over Thomas Hobbs. To some degree this was exactly the reason the Puritans, Samaritans and the Separatist came to this new land to begin with. They were under Authoritarian rule where the individual had no rights, either personal or property, and any religious belief other than what the State declared as current religious studies were condemned. There are still limits on individuality today in some form or another. The people of England have no property rights unless expressly given by the Crown and they themselves during history have been recognized as subjects of the Crown. As of current times these laws and rules have taken a diminished position as the citizens of England now hold more individual rights than at that time in history, although only a few years past a person could not cut a tree from his property without the governments permission. They could own the house on the property but not the property.
History has also shown that anytime a person is elected or placed in an office where they have authority over the writing, implementing and enforcement of laws, rules and taxation there will be those that want to get personal gain from the position. Here is where the views of Thomas Hobbs show true. When all was settled and done and our new country held its first elections it was never intended for our Representatives and Senators to be full time politicians. They were to go to Washington, conduct their business for the people and return to their farms or businesses and remain there until the next session. Nor was it intended for them to make a career out of their political office. This is where Hobbs proves his first theory (greed) right. As the years continued our politicians started to realize the power they held while in Washington and being removed from their constituents allowed them even more freedom to shift the original intentions of elected officials from “For the People” to “For Ourselves”. They also realized that if they passed out just enough returns to the people they could get re-elected. Thus began the Welfare and Government Assistance Programs. Politicians today appear to only want a surf society where we are under their total control from womb to tomb.
It seems now as we enter 2015 we are shifting from a government of “By the People” to an even more “For the Government”. What is it going to take for this to end so we have a chance to return to the way our government and country was intended to be? I believe it is going to take another Selma. Not the city but the actions that came about in Selma. It was the efforts of a few strong willed people in Selma who weren’t deterred by the threats of the establishment and the incredibly strong determination of a single black woman named Rosa Parks in Montgomery in 1955 that has changed the course of America. The numbers weren’t large in the beginning (actually they were small in number) but as others saw what was happening they saw hope. They saw hope in growing numbers and took positions along side of their brothers and sisters and endured the pain, the night sticks, the black jacks, the water jets and even bullets along with other forms of intended discouragement and drove forward achieving what must have seemed an impossibility. The right to vote: a simple vote. The right to cast a ballot for the politician of their choice.
How does that equate into today’s situation? Americans; Black, White, Hispanic, American Indian or any other nationality that has legal citizenship has the responsibility to vote and we need to feel the anger that was felt in the 60’s. We need to stand up and shout to have our voice heard. We do not need to accept what appears to be a conspiracy in Washington that the politicians can just do what they want to without having to answer to anyone. Our rights are the same as they have always been. The politicians and Washington as a government is there to serve us not us serve them as many there believe. We are not their surfs; we are not living at their permission as Hobbs believed and wrote in his theory. We do not work our lives to provide for them first and our families second. We have an out of control government that will only grow more rabid unless we rein in their out of control attitude. How do we do that? We do it the same way Black Americans did it in the 60’s. We start with a grass roots group of people that are willing to stand up and shout loud enough to be heard and start a movement. To use a phrase that has been used in the past, we start a “Take Back America” movement. Don’t let all the pain, sweat, blood and lives that have been lost, both black and white, be for nothing. Let our voice be heard.
For Liberty and Freedom.