Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Putting the "Cool" back in Coolidge....

I find myself with a little more time on my hands these days.  So, between seeking my next source of income, studying The Book of Romans and other of life's responsibilities, I decided to enroll in Hillsdale College's online course: "Constitution 101"(free - BTW).  In the process I stumbled upon (required reading, actually) a speech from the apparently often overlooked president, Calvin Coolidge.  In the speech, President Coolidge says the following:

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.... 
No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.  [all emphasis added]  - Calvin Coolidge, “The Inspiration of the Declaration,” in Foundations of the Republic: Speeches and Addresses (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1926), 441–54 
What a great argument against those who believe the founding documents are "living breathing" documents whose meanings are subject to change with the times.  No.  Not at all.  Not even close.  That was precisely what the founding fathers where attempting to keep from happening when they declared:
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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, 
Wow.  Powerful stuff....  Thank you Hillsdale.

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