Sunday, March 24, 2013

Questions For Your Conscience

[A] few questions to your conscience, for I know you have one. Is the present state of the nation republican [here used in the sense of  “democratic”] enough? Is virtue the principle of our government? Is honor? Or is ambition and avarice, adulation, baseness, covetousness, the thirst of riches, indifference concerning the means of rising and enriching, the contempt of principle, the spirit of party and of faction, the motive and the principle that governs? These are serious and dangerous questions, but serious men ought not to flinch from dangerous questions . . . . *

Those are good questions these days, seeing as we do have a governing body that can’t get beyond positioning itself for the next election, the people be damned. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting rather leery of anyone who sets out to establish himself or herself as a “politician.” We have fallen on what I can only describe as “evil times.” But it isn’t the first time.

If you read history, either in the form of biographies or accounts of events written by those distanced enough to make balanced judgements, you soon discover that nothing happening today is happening for the first time. History does repeat itself. Over and over.

I am appalled by the number of those (elected and un-elected) who think they can speak for me about what are totally private matters, yet cannot seem to find a voice to discuss as rational men and women, those issues that are really the heart of governance: equitable taxation, rational defense, fair compensation for labor, compassionate and honest concern for the health and safety of all.

When the “great experiment” finally fails (and history tells us that surely it will), it won’t be because the idea was flawed, but because those (with the consent of the rest of us) who undertook to conduct the experiment, were themselves flawed.

Oh, the quotation at the beginning of this essay? It is from a letter dated 6 February, 1805. The recipient was Dr. Benjamin Rush, considered the father of modern medicine in America, but also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The author: our second president, John Adams.

How would you answer?

* From Benjamin Rush, Patriot and Physician, by Alyn Brodsky, Truman Talley Books, St. Martin's Press New York, 2004.


  1. Yo...... Well said. I have been frustrated and saddened by the overall lack of civility, honor, and honesty found today in our elected governing bodies. The use of misinformation, distortion, and occasional lies utilized to gain the support of voting blocs and/or to explain support for issues that are frequently illogical and destructive to so many citizens of this country is an obvious catering to those whose money keeps the legislators in their jobs. History repeating itself unfortunately also includes the agendas and weaknesses of our elected officials.

  2. Carl from WilmingtonMarch 25, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Assuming those are your editorial brackets in the quote, my question is: do you really think Adams was using "republican" as a synonym for democratic? They don't mean the same thing, and certainly had different philosophical and emotianal connotations for the Founders. My answer would be, no, I don't think we're "republican" enough. And he left out one principle: liberty.