Proverbs 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
We are nearing completion of a Circling Series on Truth. Before we finish that Series with Part IV of IV next week, I want to note that there’s an unbreakable analytical link between truth, freedom, morality, reality, and trust. Obviously, these ideas are connected, but they don’t mean the same thing. Notice that each word fits cleanly within one of our eight Worldview Pillars.
(If interested, please see the link to the post at the end of the prior paragraph on Worldview Pillars. To align each word with its Pillar: truth/Truth, freedom/Governance, morality/Morality, reality/World, trust/Human Being). This post will demonstrate how the eight pillars work together in praxis.)
Praxis Circle has commented on truth and freedom in various ways many times in the past, and we will continue to do so because of its vital importance in working through today’s national troubles. As suggested, Truth bears directly on Governance.
The USA cannot survive without the twin foundations of truth and freedom, supported by the courage of citizens to support them. Our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights (particularly the First Amendment), defines America’s governance. The Declaration of Independence outlines the American Way or Creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
If the American Way isn’t taught properly at home, in K-12, and in our universities, it will be lost. The consequence would be America as we know it will disappear. I know of no national model proven to work for a country this size that’s better than the one endowed by our Founders. Not even close.
The American Way is currently under severe attack in our “elite” universities.
We need more adults in the room to secure balance and restore lawful order. Truth and freedom are rapidly dwindling.
The Relationship between Truth and Freedom
Here is one of the best summaries of the relationship between truth, freedom, morality, reality, and trust I have found. (Morality is implied in the word “humane.”):
“Truthfulness” is one more invisible fiber that holds people together in humane community. When we cannot assume that people communicating with us are truthful, we cannot live with them in trust that they will respect our right to freedom to respond to reality. If we cannot trust each other to respect this basic right, we have lost our chance to be humane together in God’s manner . . . Speak the truth, be the truth, for your truth sets others free.” Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People by Lewis Smedes, page 237 (1989)
Why does the West (particularly America) seem to be only country in the world so concerned with freedom? Some say Americans are obsessed with it.
Almost certainly the answer is that American social freedom and its guarantee of individual liberty arose out of Christendom’s perceived duty to offer fellow human beings the conditions God has given us. Europe and North America required many centuries for this incite to take hold and prove itself broadly.
It’s the freedom to be human; the freedom to strive to be as much like God as possible through virtue. And to do this with gratitude and worship. This is our yearned for nature. Without such freedom, we die a bit each day.
It’s not anything like “individualism.” No, not at all. It never has been. (This has always been merely the opposition’s talking point.)
Instead, it’s a duty early Americans freely accepted. A covenant entered in to. It’s what we believed we were fighting for in every major war. Rights are nothing without corresponding duties to protect them. Duties first; rights a distant second. It’s the positive freedom to do what we ought, not negative freedom to do anything we want. Freedom cannot operate without truth, and vice versa. There is no truth without freedom, no freedom without morality directly connected to reality, and no freedom without trust among humans.
My own religion holds that God determines and sustains reality, not human beings. Our influence is critical, but secondary.
Jesus worked as a fisherman, and important Disciples were fishermen. Fish breath water (H2O) for oxygen to sustain life; we humans breath truth and freedom; the Word of God. What we seek is love, and our highest Christian duty outside the Great Commandment is to be witnesses to the Truth.
Within the Abrahamic faiths, God is Truth, and that will be a subject of our next Circling Series.
The University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson
Much of Virginia has recently noticed the editorial in the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, urging the school to disassociate itself completely from Thomas Jefferson, its founder. Here’s the link to The Cavalier Daily’s editorial (author: the five person editorial staff) and another to a related news report and interview of Douglas Murray, a British writer and defender of the West, offering comments on the article.
Finally, here’s a short summary of some of the truth of Mr. Jefferson. Here’s another. And another. And another. The scholarship on Mr. Jefferson would fill a library, and Bacon’s Rebellion in good populist Virginia fashion is leading the charge locally and regionally. Every generation will have its pass at this great man.
Obviously, to disassociate TJ from UVA or to refuse to hold him up as a great and good man is absurd. One does not have to agree with all of his political views. As is the case with all good persons, the views TJ received as a boy changed in praxis over the course of his life. When that’s necessary in truth, it sometimes happens; when it’s not, it shouldn’t.
The Cavalier Daily’s misplaced compassion or disdain for the actual course of American history offer no excuse. We all want more compassion coming our way or could complain about how our ancestors were treated – or about how our race is being treated right this second. No, only ignorance or pure maliciousness can explain The Cavalier Daily’s position on Thomas Jefferson.
History is narrative truth placed in the proper perspective. Historiography is based on truth, or it has nothing to offer us other than the story teller’s power play. We will agree with Karl Marx here: There is such a thing as true and false consciousness. In America, the correct consciousness is that we were blessed with perhaps the finest group of Founders that any country could ever have hoped for . . . within their historical context.
It’s getting tiresome to qualify every statement about them with a recognition that they were “imperfect,” along with the times they were born into and shaped. Of course they were. When has this not been the case? Is it true today? Look at what’s going on in D.C. and in almost all of our urban areas. Has the contest for power, property, land, or glory ended? The question itself is a laugher.
For their times, our Founders were brilliant, wise, visionary, good, and courageous leaders, who left not just America but the world with a lasting legacy that’s unparalleled in world history. They understood that the Union’s survival as a nation came first for the good of the world, and they were right. America is more vital now than ever to the world, and we have a duty to maintain our strength, which we are now rapidly squandering.
What we are doing to our nation is immoral. (Of course, given the free speech we still enjoy, you are free to disagree.)
Among the larger group of Founding men and women, Thomas Jefferson was recognized by his peers as being within a towering few of less than a handful. We would not be the envy of the world today without these extraordinary men and women.
In sum, this country is without question under siege from within. We are threatened by radically nihilistic and racist revolutionaries whose goal is to dismantle our national foundations and replace them with the dictatorship of themselves, the Woke. Today, given the state of education K through 12, students receive training in subversive methods and often arrive on college campus ready to go to work, vulgar Bolshevik-style disguised as the latest Theory..
What began as silly thinking within universities out in the open in the 1960’s has spread off campus outside the educational sector and across the country. Woke Cancel Culture is infecting all public and private sectors now, reaching the highest levels of institutional culture.
If you are a college student in your first year, you have probably already been forced to confess your race, sex, ethnic, and class failures or privilege, while adopting whatever hilarious pronoun your fellow unknown classmate suggests. This is how you went around the room to start some of your first classes.
Oppression on campus is everywhere.
I will not dispute that some CRT faithful have sincere intentions; of course they do. But the road to pure hell in the last century broke all conceivable records for murder and violence with similarly “good” motives. Good intentions are what they all express.
Wise up: Lies, oppression, immorality, and fantasy must cease for good relations to be reestablished on campus. This is the only way to return to trust, romance, humor, forgiveness, commitment, equality, fun, prosperity, and human flourishing. What human beings are meant to experience together.
What Went Wrong: No Adults Present or Accounted For
One wonders if sufficient adults remain in UVA’s administration, faculty, and governance. All seemed to be adults when I was a student in graduate school there between 1978 and 1982. One well-known faculty member there today likes to say that all alumni think it was better back in their day.
Well, maybe it was. History moves backward as well as forward with equal rapidity. All long-lasting societies, nations, or even empires have maintained a reverence for the wisdom of the ages, ancestors, and living seniors. Part of our current issue is that we’ve now lost most of our Greatest Generation who dealt heroically with real difficulty and danger, and that many of we older Boomers have lost our minds.
I’m afraid some of my fellow students and friends back at UVA in the early 1980’s who made it into school governance have since been largely responsible for letting the situation at UVA and across the national educational sector get outrageously out-of-hand. They were all, and I’m sure they all remain, well-intended. We all fall to poor judgment and peer pressure.
A principle of conservatism is that the good in society is hard to establish, yet destroying it is quite easy. All our Founders saw the natural entropy within social systems because most were students of history, when truth mattered. To them, truth was life or death. That’s why they were so keen on fostering virtue in each citizen. Laws cannot do what character won’t support.
Another definition of conservatism is preserving what one loves that’s good and vital to community well-being. The common good.
As of now, we are failing. I hope the Youngkin Administration is up to what it will take. They are making great strides, but have recently caved to Cancel Culture. And that has been very disappointing.
Indeed, politics is a contact “sport,” but these serious issues go beyond politics into long-term movement sustainability back to reality. Today we are seeing the consequences of a return to a pagan world in the West 2,000 years after the growth of Christianity began. Good luck with that one.
In contrast to the pagan world of 2,000 years ago, we are entering an atheist-dominated world of Latter Day Marxism where the Hegelian (state-dominated and ever growing, in contrast to “We the People” and family-oriented) categories of race, sex, ethnicity (non-white), and class have taken over for economics, unified by the concept of intersectionality. Stupid or overly compassionate-to-fragile or self-dealing whites are leading this charge. Moreover, we are experiencing the success which will destroy the country of 50 years of Marxist-inspired targeting of our educational and legal systems.
If we do not act to defend ourselves against this onslaught, the consequences will be dire and perhaps as murderous as Europe and Asia were a century ago. All of these movements started off with good intentions, too. Shiny objects like Orange Man, the Biden Oval Office, and Pelosi with her Flying Monkeys take our national eyes away from the very dark advance of near evil power.
To end this section on a happy note: With reference to the quote from Proverbs at top, one translation of fear the Lord is “know God and enjoy fellowship with him” and shun evil is “change your life to align with his will.” God is real and the Creator and Sustainer of time and space, the universe, the world . . . reality.
Only Truth, Freedom, and Bravery Will Correct the Situation
It seems “elite”schools like UVA and my own undergrad institution UNC-CH are obsoleting themselves. Such schools will not last long at the top with cultures that ignore truth and impose category-based orthodoxy in the humanities, social sciences, and now even STEM. Universities have become like the Roman Catholic Church at key times during in the High Middle Ages: the only such game in town, rich, bloated, at times corrupt, and more concerned with worldly power and brand than with truth . . . or with the good of the flock.
As a result, new schools and programs are popping up everywhere, and they will eventually put the elite schools in their place. Nothing like good old freedom and “the marketplace.” People don’t pay big bucks to be brainwashed, then handed useless degrees. They still want a good education most of all, along with a smattering of purchased status and contacts. And employers want well-educated entry level colleagues, not “Sustainable” DEI automatons.
One of the most interesting such new schools sprung seemingly from nowhere is the University of Austin (UATX). Bari Weiss delivered an address to its first students recently entitled The New Founders America Needs. She calls for a refounding in America based on original principles adjusted for today. Her call to action is for every American. It first cites The Declaration of Independence, then list ten principles we can all follow to become Founders ourselves. She was calling her student audience to become heroes.
I highly recommend Ms. Weiss’ speech and present her point #3 from the speech below in full, To be a founder means to defend freedom of speech. It explains the clear connection between truth and freedom:
“Free speech” is not just a slogan. It is a tool that is essential for the free exercise of the mind, for the ability to search for truth. The only way to get to the truth is to have the freedom to think freely and to speak clearly. Without free speech, there is no truth. No innovation. No ability to persuade or take risks or to make new things. Free speech—allowing horrible things or shocking things to be argued—is a radical value and one that has been the foundation for American success.
Free speech also means refusing compelled speech. It means refusing to speak untruths, either about yourself or anyone else, no matter the comfort offered by the mob.
So do not genially accept the lies told to you.
For example: that Abraham Lincoln’s name on a public school or his likeness on a statue is white supremacy. (It is not; he is a hero.) Or that looting has no victims (untrue) and that small-business owners can cope anyway because they have insurance (nonsense). Or that America is evil. (No, it is the last hope on Earth.)
If possible, be public and vocal in rejecting claims you know to be false.
Cowardice is contagious—but so is courage. And your singular example may serve as a means of transmission.
A Great Fan of Our Founding Documents
On behalf of the many who are working with Praxis Circle, I would like to end today where we start up top and finish below – with a terrific man, Mr. Khizr Khan. Last week we offered a tribute to him and his All American Gold Star Family for his Presidential Medal of Freedom award, the highest honor an American citizen can achieve.
Mr. Kahn carry’s a copy of The Declaration and The Constitution in his pocket and gives out copies everywhere he goes. I treasure the one he gave me. Mr. Kahn is a Johnny Appleseed for the importance of America to the world.
I have read his books and will never forget hearing him speak at St. John’s Church in Richmond and interviewing him at his home in Charlottesville at the foot of Carter Mountain. I doubt it coincidence that a man born in Pakistan would wind up living virtually next to Mr. Jefferson’s Monticello in a free country, similar to James Monroe at nearby Highland. At St. John’s Church, Mr Kahn stood where Patrick Henry gave his Liberty or Death Speech, also part of the American Way.
Henry’s timeless speech remains a symbol of truth and freedom everywhere in the world.
Mr. Kahn exudes a quality that seems so lacking today, gravitas. Such men can meet in a room together and compromise politically for the common good, a phenomenon prevalent in America when I was a young.
As a young man himself in Pakistan at his university, Mr. Kahn encountered The Declaration of Independence’s words for the first time with sheer amazement. His culture had never offered him those kinds of words: permission to be honest, transparent, and true in the face of the strongest worldly power. Its words spoke loudly to him as one experiencing internal, national political oppression and external, late-stage colonial influence.
To use a Western metaphor, the scales fell from his eyes. His fascinating life story from there eventually brought his children to UVA as students and him and his wife, Ghazala, to his home at the foot of Mr. Jefferson’s mountain.
I don’t know what Mr. Kahn would say about The Cavalier Daily’s article, but I suspect he would not divorce The Declaration’s and Constitution’s texts from its authors, a common trick of sophistry. Instead, in the video above, Mr. Kahn expresses understanding toward American faults of the past and great optimism and gratitude for his American inheritance.
He also reminds us that America has been in much worse shape before.
I, for one, need to keep his encouragement close to heart.
I did not name this post “Christian Truth and Freedom in Universities,” even though my study has led me to Christianity as the primary source for the American Way. (It will be a topic of future posts.)
Rather, I left “Christianity” out because I believe in universals; that God makes room for freedom to all from my own read of the Koran and other accompanying books. Most important, I did so in supreme respect for Mr. Kahn.
In America, we’re not all equal and never will be. But we are all equal in God’s eyes and all created equal; we are equal under the law.
Let’s do our duty with honor, and leave ultimate justice to God.
Mr. Kahn: Congratulations again. Well done.
And, finally, yes . . . “I’ll see you there.”
(In Rumi’s field, as noted in the short clip below.)
Two additional articles on The Cavalier Daily’s editorial staff’s position on Thomas Jefferson:
- Douglas Murrays’ article in The New York Post.
- Mark Tooley’s article in World Opinions.
- Jim Bacon’s article in Bacon’s Rebellion.