Americans are known for their ability to find solutions to tough problems. We have thousands of machines doing everything for us from baking bread automatically to keeping us cool in the heat of the summer. We decided we were going to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth, and we did it. Americans are known for solutions. Why then can't we seem to stop our slide headlong toward tyranny in our country?
So many have suggested solutions. Politicians meet long hours in sessions trying to find the right answers. Citizens write letter, make phone calls, and hold meetings, all of which do some good. But where is the solution? May we suggest the solution is so easy, many are looking beyond the mark?
Perhaps the best answer is right in our own homes -- it is the careful rearing, teaching, and training of the rising generation that will make a greater contribution to the salvation of America than any other single effort. Indeed, said one wise American, "The greatest work you will ever do is within the walls of your own home."
Parents Duty To Teach Children - A Natural Law Principle
Dr. W. Cleon Skousen explains the responsibility parents have to their children:
"The trilateral construction of the family, consisting of father, mother, and children, raises the basic question of the duty of the parents to the children and the respect which the children owe their parents. Locke stated that the authority of parents over children is based on an important principle of natural law. Said John Locke:
'The power, then, that parents have over their children arises from that duty which is incumbent on them, to take care of their offspring during the imperfect state of childhood. To inform the mind, and govern the actions of their yet ignorant nonage, till reason shall take its place and ease them of that trouble, is what the children want, and the parents are bound to [provide].'
Knowing About Law and Freedom is Required for Maturity
"Locke then went on to point out that once a person has grown to adulthood and learned from experience and maturity the proper use of his reason, he should be capable of applying the revealed laws of God to his daily life:
'When he has acquired that state [of maturity], he is presumed to know how far that law is to be his guide, and how far he may make use of his freedom, and so comes to have it; till then, somebody else must guide him, who is presumed to know how far the law allows a liberty.'" (The Five Thousand Year Leap, pp. 285-6)
Saving America By Teaching Children Is A Heavenly Calling
Benjamin Franklin felt that the proper training of children accomplishes more than trying to change adults. This is the way he expressed it:
"I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are in my opinion, the strength of the state; more so than riches or arms....
"I think also, that general virtue is more probably to be expected and obtained from the education of youth, than from the exhortations of adult persons; bad habits and vices of the mind being, like diseases of the body, more easily prevented [in youth] than cured [in adults]. I think, moreover, that talents for the education of youth are the gift of God; and that he on whom they are bestowed, whenever a way is opened for the use of them, is as strongly called as if he heard a voice from heaven...." (Ibid., p. 35)
President George Washington said there is nothing more important in our republic than teaching youth the science of government. After seven years as president, this apparently weighed so heavily on his mind that he told Congress:
"A primary object...should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing on its legislature than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?" ( The Real George Washington, p. 672)
Two years after Thomas Jefferson left the presidency, he wrote:
"[Correct principles] ought to be instilled into the minds of our youth on their first opening. The boys of the rising generation are to be the men of the next, and the sole guardians of the principles we deliver over to them." (The Real Thomas Jefferson, p. 409)
In The Beginning, Americans Followed Founders' Advice To Teach Children
In order to help parents train their children in the principles of freedom and liberty, a famous little book was published in 1828 by Arthur J. Stansbury, called the Elementary Catechism of the Constitution of the United States. It was designed specifically for the schools but was also read widely by many adults who felt the need to know more about the mechanics of our system of self-government as designed for a free American society. He also prepared a number of illustrated books especially written for the training of children in good manners and character building.
Refering to the same early American time period, the young French scholar, Alexis de Tocqueville actually observed citizens whose parents had trained them while in their youth. Said he:
"In New England every citizen receives the elementary notions of human knowledge; he is taught, moreover, the doctrines and the evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of the Constitution. In the States of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to find a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of them is a sort of phenomenon." (A Catechism on The U.S. Constitution , p. 2)
He was also amazed about how much Americans knew concerning their own system of self-government. He wrote:
"It cannot be doubted that in the United States the instruction of the people powerfully contributes to the support of the democratic republic; and such must always be the case, I believe, where the instruction which enlightens the understanding is not separated from the moral education.... An American should never be led to speak of Europe, for he will then probably display much presumption and very foolish pride.... But if you question him respecting his own country, the cloud that dimmed his intelligence will immediately disperse; his language will become as clear and precise as his thoughts. He will inform you what his rights are and by what means he exercises them; he will be able to point out the customs which obtain in the political world. You will find that he is well acquainted with the rules of the administration, and that he is familiar with the mechanism of the laws.... The American learns to know the laws by participating in the act of legislation; and he takes a lesson in the forms of government from governing. The great work of society is ever going on before his eyes and, as it were, under his hands." (Ibid., pp. 2-3)
The appreciation and excitement which both youth and adult Americans felt for their country in the early 1800s was definite proof of the biblical injunction, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."- Proverbs 22:6
The early American experience stands in sharp contrast with our modern day situation where most young people and adults have not been properly taught. It is as Isaiah said would happen: "Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge..."- Isaiah 5:13
Surely God would Have Us Return to Our Most Urgent Duty --
Training Our Children About Freedom In 1788, as young America was teetering on the brink of destruction before the required ninth state had ratified the Constitution, George Washington bore a strong testimony that the Constitution is really God's handiwork and that this nation is meant to endure. Said he:
"We may trace the fingers of Providence through those dark and mysterious events which first induced the states to appoint a general convention, and then led them one after another...into an adoption of the system recommended by that general convention, thereby, in all probability, laying a lasting foundation for tranquility and happiness, when we had but too much reason to fear that confusion and misery were coming rapidly upon us. That the same good Providence may still continue to protect us, and prevent us from dashing the cup of national felicity just as it has been lifted to our lips, is [my] earnest prayer." (The Real George Washington, p. 663)
Do not the "fingers of Providence" impress upon parents the urgency of training their children? This cannot be left to the unbelieving world in the secular schools of today.
Years ago it was more difficult to teach children because of the lack of good, concise material from which to draw lessons. But no longer! NCCS has numberous books, tapes, lesson outlines, etc., to assist parents in this most vital task. We have only two suggestions: Start early and be consistent.
A New England Family Experiences Change
With NCCS's I Love America Series
For the Simcik family of Connecticut, patriotism has taken on a whole new meaning. Lori Simcik, the mother of three small children, says she can hardly believe how this new awareness has awakened curiosity, encouraged more interesting family discussions, and deepened their love for America. But, she says, it wasn't always that way.
Lori studied history in college. She was a product of the traditional approach to American History in the public schools. She recalls about that time the movie Pocahantas was making a big splash. Then someone told her about NCCS's material for youth, which she promptly ordered. Upon receiving the I Love America Resource Kit from NCCS, they were drawn to the section on Pocahontas and, to their amazement, discovered the real story to be quite different than what was portrayed on the screen.
The more they read and did the activities in I Love America, the more they felt somewhat cheated that they hadn't been exposed to the "real" stories before. Lori said her children have become fascinated with the flag. They know its history and how to care for it. As a result of doing the five-pointed star activity, they even know why that particular star design was used on the flag by Betsy Ross. This enthusiastic young mother says each topic of study in the I Love America series has been a springboard for family discussions and has even made library visits more meaningful.
As each holiday approaches, she says her children now know the holidays' true meaning. Even visits with their grandfather, a World War II veteran, have taken on a richer meaning as he discusses with them his love for America.
All in all, says Lori Simcik, our children thirst for knowledge and now their almost reverential feeling for America has spurred my husband and me on to study more about the real American story, its roots, and the unmistakable hand of God in its beginning. She said the NCCS study materials has changed our lives.
Seventy-five High Schoolers Taught American
History from the Founders' Perspective
I have had the privilege of teaching American History from the Founders' perspective to three classes of high school students during the past year. We divided U. S. History up into 20 periods or eras. As we discussed events and happenings in each era, we related them to the Founders' principles.
As part of each major exam throughout the course, students are required to identify a number of events in each era, relate each to one or more of the 28 Principles of Liberty, and then tell whether the principle was supported or violated by this event or idea.
As is the case with the Simcik family in Connecticut, I have had a number of students express to me how they have gained a renewed interest in studying history. Surely, the teaching of our youth will eventually prove to be a major solution to America's problem.
Which Youth Can You Influence Today?
Are you a parent, a grandparent, a teacher or leader of youth? Perhaps you should ask yourself this question: Can I commit to visiting regularly with one or more young people, formally or informally, about America? If you can, take a close look at the enclosed brochure describing some NCCS products for the teaching of youth. It you have felt frustrated because of the political scene, renew your spirits by helping some young people catch the vision of the Founding Fathers. As Washington said, it must be our "primary object."
Thank you for your continuing support.
Earl Taylor, Jr.