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October 22, 2010

Teaching What is Right

Joe Charlebois

I am happy to report that 8th grade isn’t bad after all. Not that I am having flashbacks, nor have I enrolled as a student at the local middle school; but rather I am happy to report that the basis of our Declaration of Independence is being taught and taught correctly in Frederick County Public Schools.


My daughter, over the last few weeks, has been studying the composition of the founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America as well as the makeup of the federal government and the rationale for the establishment of a check and balances system.


To my surprise she learned about John Locke and the principles on Natural Law and Natural Rights. She learned that we are all “created equal,” and endowed by our “Creator” with certain unalienable rights – as written in the Declaration – as well as the application of Locke’s position on governments, which is that governments are only legitimate if given consent by the governed.


Why do I bring this up? Because what Mr. Locke wrote over 300 years ago, and what our founders modeled our form of government on, has largely been ignored by our own government today.


In the Second Treatise on Government in Chapter II, Mr. Locke gives us the foundational principles of our government and the framework for our Declaration of Independence.


Writing in 1690, Locke’s use of language may be a little difficult to process at first, but it is worth the effort if you want to understand what our Founding Fathers were reading and discussing in the mid-18th Century.


“To properly understand political power and trace its origins, we must consider the state that all people are in naturally. That is a state of perfect freedom of acting and disposing of their own possessions and persons as they think fit within the bounds of the law of nature. People in this state do not have to ask permission to act or depend on the will of others to arrange matters on their behalf. The natural state is also one of equality in which all power and jurisdiction is reciprocal and no one has more than another. It is evident that all human beings – as creatures belonging to the same species and rank and born indiscriminately with all the same natural advantages and faculties – are equal amongst themselves. They have no relationship of subordination or subjection unless God (the lord and master of them all) had clearly set one person above another and conferred on him an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.


“Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station willfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.”


Simply put, Mr. Locke states the case for due process and Natural Law. Man is born free of servitude and no one, without just cause, can take away life, liberty, health, or property.


Those who know realize that it is through increased regulation by government agencies that those unalienable rights are whittled away. Whether it is improper use of eminent domain by certain governmental jurisdictions (Kelo v. New London, 2005), or through ever increasing intrusion into what is considered a wetland by the Clean Water Restoration Act (e.g. my koi pond), you must realize that the continued growth and uncontrolled issuance of overarching regulations will swallow our freedoms, our liberties, and our ability to maintain property as spoken of in Locke’s Treatise.


Why is it important now? Why am I happy that my 8th grade daughter has learned this in 8th grade? It is important because our elected officials need to be reminded where they derive their authority. It comes from the consent of the governed.


Our next generation will either be fighting this evolution of governmental control or helping restore a renewed revolution in the model of John Locke.


Liberty has eroded over time.


Property rights have eroded over time.


Prior to casting your ballot November 2nd, find out how your candidates feel on eminent domain and the practices of the regulatory agencies.


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