Who should be able to Teach about the Constitution?
Any person who has traveled in any degree in this and other nations soon realizes that people generally have the same three desires - to be free, prosperous, and at peace. These seem to be the three great yearnings of the human heart. In this sense we are all alike. Throughout history there have only been a few times when these yearnings found expression, so that the life and freedom of every individual was as important as any other person's life and freedom. When such concepts have developed into a government it was seen as a commonwealth of freemen. All people were equal and there was no division into classes. All the laws applied to all the people.
Examples of a simple system of laws for a happy people
After Moses gave the laws of God to his people, he was told to "... proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof...." Everyone was supposed to study and know the simple laws of God, laws which were given to make a free, prosperous, and peaceful society. Of this law, the Psalmist wrote:
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." (Psalms 19:7-8)
William Tyndale, one of the first to translate the Bible into English for the common man, believed that the laws of God are so simple and sublime that every person can and should have them. He said to an antagonist:
"... if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!"
The ancestors of most of America 's Founders, the Anglo-Saxons, had simple, understandable laws for their commonwealth of freemen. It is what Thomas Jefferson studied and yearned for in his day when he said, shortly after the Declaration of Independence was adopted:
"Are we not better for what we have hitherto abolished of the feudal system? Has not every restitution of the ancient Saxon laws had happy effects? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the eighth century ?"
America 's Founders set up a simple system of laws for government
John Adams stated the desire of the Founders was to have "knowledge diffused generally through the whole body of the people." He said:
"They made an early provision by law that every town consisting of so many families should be always furnished with a grammar school. They made it a crime for such a town to be destitute of a grammar schoolmaster for a few months, and subjected it to heavy penalty.
"The consequences of these establishments we see and feel every day [written in 1765]. A native of America who cannot read and write is as rare ... as a comet or an earthquake. It has been observed that we are all of us lawyers, divines, politicians, and philosophers. And I have good authorities to say that all candid foreigners who have passed through this country and conversed freely with all sorts of people here will allow that they have never seen so much knowledge and civility among the common people in any part of the world.... Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.... They have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge -- I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers."
James Madison emphasized that the law must be simple and understandable so that all the people can learn and teach it. He wrote:
"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known and less fixed?"
The human tendency to make laws complex in a society
Over the centuries in ancient Israel , a class of so-called learned men arose who made the laws complex and multi-faceted. They introduced a wide variety of interpretations and applications which required the scrutiny of Talmudic scholars to defend a person before the judges. When the skillful ones confronted Jesus and tried to trip him up, he said that their scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers had "laden men with burdens grievous to be borne." He called them hypocrites and whited sepulchers because they didn't even live according to the laws they accused others of violating. Even worse, they made their living by presenting themselves as necessary interpreters of the complex laws they had invented.
The simple Anglo-Saxon laws became corrupted as result of the Norman invasion of 1066. The development of the feudal system of property, the divine right of kings, and the growth of ruling aristocracies, led to a complex system of law from which our Founders struggled mightily to extricate themselves. We have already mentioned the relief Jefferson felt when this finally happened.
A similar "elitist" class has arisen in America
Recently a few media outlets have commented on the attempt by several groups to get some NCCS materials into the public schools to be used by teachers during Constitution Week in September. This, of course, is to comply with the federal law passed a few years ago to have principles of the Constitution taught during Constitution Week in the schools of the nation. These media commentators have taken issue with the use of NCCS materials because they have not been approved by "respected academia" and they don't represent, as they say, a purely neutral political position.
When one radio talk show host asked me on the air about the "right-wing" political agenda of our book, The Five Thousand Year Leap , I asked her what particular position or doctrine in the book was she referring to? She had no answer. I then asked her if she had read the book, to which she said, "No." She later admitted she was repeating what she had heard about the book from someone else.
In another incident, a person began to attack the credibility of our material by attacking its author. I asked the person: "If I would tell you that Thomas Jefferson had some dynamic solutions to our present domestic monetary problems, would you be interested in Jefferson's advice or would you turn on me and begin quizzing me about where I went to school, what degrees I have or don't have, or what organizations I belong to or have belonged to in the past? If you are really interested in finding solutions, why would you not say to me; Show me what Jefferson said about how to solve these problems! Then we could sit down and discuss principles rather than personalities?"
The main focus of freedom is the message, not the messenger
America 's story is simple. The freedom formula is understandable. It is a story that can be told by the laborer or the professional, by the student or the professor. We are pleased that our team of instructors for our Making of America seminars includes: a cement contractor, an insurance agent, a justice of the peace, a farmer, an airline pilot, an engineer, a school teacher, a state legislator, an attorney, a landlord, and many others who are doing it on their own without even telling us. This is most encouraging. It is the story of freedom, prosperity, and peace that burns in the hearts of all good people.
We receive many inquiries about how one "qualifies" to teach our seminars. This is my usual reply:
Dear Friend of Liberty ,
Thank you for your inquiry and your desire to help teach the Founders' exciting message of freedom. Jefferson said the only true corrective of Constitutional abuses is education and the Founders' proven formula gives hope to those who hear it. It is positive and it has answers.
NCCS is organized quite differently than most organizations. First of all, we have no paid teachers. All of our teachers have other means of support and volunteer their time to teach our seminars. Some can do it more often than others but we seem to be able to cover our current requests. However, as you can tell, America needs a lot more teachers than what any one organization can provide. The Founders' message is one that all Americans need to hear and it will take thousands of teachers to accomplish this task. That's why every American needs to, first, learn the principles the Founders taught and then, second, teach them in any setting they can -- in homes, in schools, in businesses, at church, in neighborhood gatherings, etc. And so, there are many people who have attended our seminars who are doing just that. Our materials are packaged so that the message becomes teachable for nearly everyone who sincerely attempts to do it.
Having said that, when someone asks how he can become involved in teaching this material, my reply is very simple: Learn the material and begin teaching. You do not need special permission from NCCS to do this. We will be happy to make the materials available at special rates. Hold a seminar. Invite people to come and listen. Gather them in homes, churches, any place you can and begin teaching. As Americans, we should be thinking that it doesn't take so-called trained teachers or "experts" to teach the doctrines of freedom. As Americans, we should all be teaching one another the doctrines of freedom and liberty.
As one gains experience doing this and if we have requests where we need additional teachers, we may call someone we know is doing a lot of teaching and ask if he can take that assignment.
Anyway, that's the way we work and it seems to work the best. Let us know how we can support you in this most important undertaking of helping to save this great nation. Our website is www.nccs.net and for the direct seminar link, add "/seminars"
Hopefully, as the nation enters into a most critical election cycle, we can keep the focus of attention on the story of freedom and not be side-tracked by those wishing to derail us by talking about the messengers.
Earl Taylor, Jr.