Russian friends have graciously shown me churches, palaces, gardens and parks and museums from the Moscow region to St. Petersburg.
Via these excursions I’ve learned a lot of Russian history as well as a lot about Russian culture, society and people. My Russian friends view 200- and 300-year-old historical places as relatively contemporaneous examples of a vast landscape of traditional values Russians still revere.
By comparison, America is much more dynamic not only because of our diverse mixture of cultures but also because of our shifting generational values. America’s educational academy has systematically turned traditional American values backwards via Howard Zinn’s contrarian interpretation of America’s founders and their writings. The advent of social media has accelerated the jump to the political left among those who know neither accurate American nor world history.
Last week President Donald Trump commemorated the 400th anniversary of the first assembly for democracy in America at Jamestown. Settlers there had braved all kinds of terrors to cross the Atlantic to the New World to seek unlimited possibilities and, most of all, freedom of religion and freedom from tyranny. The settlers quickly organized and naturally adopted democratic self-government, opening a path of freedom for all who would follow.
One-hundred and fifty-seven years later, representatives from 13 British colonies officially declared independence from the monarchy. Again, following the lead of those who had come before them, they chose to form a representative government of, for and by the people.
History, accurately written and recounted, teaches human nature has been remarkably consistent throughout mankind’s tenure on this planet. America’s founders did not know how this experiment in self-governance might fare but they did know basic human nature always seeks power over others.
In those early days America was largely an agricultural society with basic rural values serving families and close-knit communities. Practically all needs were met within families and communities. No one looked to any central authority for help. The American aristocracy had not yet risen to power.
Nevertheless, founders knew human nature would eventually overpower self-governance. Thomas Jefferson told James Madison, “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be as long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America. When they get plied upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe.”
Last week, America’s attention was drawn to decades of major problems in inner cities across the nation. Corrupt politicians and government officials from local urban centers to state levels and on up to Washington are largely to blame for crises in the inner cities.
America was founded by those who sought religious freedom and opportunities to make their own ways freely in the new world. God, family and community were pillars upon which early Americans built our early society.
Human nature is naturally corrupt. Leaders are always tempted to attain more and more power, usually in the name of what’s “best for the people.” By removing God, redefining family and creating artificial identity communities, politicians have continued to centralize and garner power and control over the people. We need to return to our freedom to worship God, to two-parent families who support their own members and communities that support those in need while respecting individual freedoms.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville, Mississippi. You may contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.