Updated: Oct 2, 2019
by Mr. Ted Metz
Bear witness to ensure that other do unto others as you would do unto others and have others do unto you.
The necessity of the Character of the citizenry in the long term stability of a nation must not be overlooked. Here is a brief discussion of what constitutes Character. First, Integrity is a foundational base for the achievement of Character, there is more to it than a person having Integrity alone. Integrity is the application and practice of the understanding of order. Integrity only comes from learning proper critical thinking skills, used in conjunction with education to live up to upholding moral and ethical dealings with others in a society. Integrity is being true to one’s sense of right and wrong, truth, honor and Justice, even if no one else is there watching. Character means not only to have Integrity, it is defined as standing up to bear witness to and demanding Justice for breaches in Integrity, even if the breach in Integrity was personally committed.
There is an often overlooked concept known as the Silver Rule, which is “Do no harm to others.” Most are familiar with the Golden Rule, which is “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Then there is the Platinum Rule which has seemingly been totally forgotten, it is “Bear witness to ensure that other do unto others as you would do unto others and have others do unto you.” Integrity is living up to the Golden Rule, Character is living up to the Platinum Rule. America was founded on Character.
The Pilgrims came to America to escape the Bondage of Tyranny and Oppression in the form of Religious persecution from the various countries they had settled seeking Liberty. It took Great Courage for them to leave the known world for the unknown to establish a society in which they had Liberty and the Freedom to develop their Character based on their sense of order. After a century of hard work, there was Liberty and Abundance in America. America was thriving economically, socially and morally. Americans were blessed with high literacy rates, a reverence for education and achievement and a bias for benevolence and the greater good for society.
Now at the turn of the 18th century, just after the peak of the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment was in full bloom (credited to the Guttenberg Press). In America, any man with the desire, fortitude and persistence to pursue a Classical Education was free to do so, unlike in the old world where education was reserved only for the aristocracy. Many common American men worked to become uncommon men by educating themselves and worked to develop Character to become Gentlemen. During this period in history, there was a mutually accepted standard for self education that included Etiquette, Diplomacy, Math, Science, Economics, History, Theology, Philosophy, Literature, Latin and Greek. In fact, the entrance standard for Harvard (and other early American colleges) was the ability to translate the first 10 chapters of the Bible from Greek, into Latin and back into Greek, furthermore all classes were held in Latin and speaking English was forbidden on campus.
Full understanding and the ability to demonstrate mastery of the subject matter in each of the text books of the day was sufficient for one to be considered educated, however that alone was not enough to be considered a Gentlemen. To become a Gentleman, it was required to analyze one’s personality faults, to put the solutions in writing and then to practice those resolutions until one was above reproach. Being self-sufficient, educated, benevolent and striving to develop Character was held in high regard in this period of American history.
What happened next is what makes America unique among civilizations. While America enjoyed peace and prosperity in the Age of Enlightenment during the Liberty and Abundance phase of the cycle, across the Atlantic Ocean, King George urgently needed to replenish his treasury after years of war over command and control of non-renewable resources and over-zealous imperialism. Seeing the prosperity and industry in America, King George set about on a quest to plunder America’s bounty.
Fortunately for America there were enough men of Character to call out King George for Tyranny and Oppression and gathered together to pen the Declaration of Independence. King George hurled America into the Bondage phase of the cycle with his tyranny and oppression. Because of their individual and collective understanding of all available subjects written to date, they were able to clearly state what no other men concluded regarding the nature of man and the role of Government.
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, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
For the first time in history, the recognition that rights were not granted by Rulers or Governments, but came from the Creator, were inherent in man and could not be taken away, was written for the world to see. Such profound statements had not been entertained since the days of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Such words could not have been written without the wisdom these Gentlemen attained through their Classic Education.
With these great and wise words, America was propelled to the Great Courage phase of the cycle and these noble Gentlemen organized enough citizens with the conviction and sacred honor to sacrifice their freedom, their fortunes and their lives to successfully end English Rule in America.
And next they formed a Government. A body of Gentlemen took what they had learned from the reading list that formed a Classic Education, discussed and debated, wrote, read, revised and debated further to create the Constitution. The framers did not do this in a dark, smoke filled room either. The Framers published their reasoning along with the historical perspectives, legal precepts, established moral background, theological rationale and much more information for masses in the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist Papers. (If ever today a sitting President were to say that “there is no way for anyone to truly know what the Founding Fathers were thinking when they wrote the Constitution” he should be impeached). Still today the Constitution is the most brilliant and insightful framework for a Government ever conceived, and would still work today if the infringements and over-reaches were eliminated. From the end of the Revolution until the Civil War, America was right back to the Liberty and Abundance phase.
Still today the Constitution is the most brilliant and insightful framework for a Government ever conceived, and would still work today if the infringements and over-reaches were eliminated.
Among the notable Americans that took part in this Revolution are George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. Both were self educated in the Classic Tradition, both were self-sufficient, industrious and prosperous but there is more to them than that. Both were considered to be Gentlemen and both were considered being of irreproachable Character. Both had written resolves.
As a young man Franklin was considered to be the most rude, callous, obnoxious and objectionable man in America, despite his genius. Franklin had the desire to become a Gentleman and with perseverance and a Classic Education eventually arrived at his 13 Resolves, his personal list of behavior modifications to make himself into a Gentleman. He practiced his 13 resolves daily, reflecting on every encounter he had to check his behavior against his resolves and to analyze how he could have done better, every night before he slept. Until the day he died, he continually strove for personal excellence. Franklin is still considered to be the greatest Diplomat in history because of his Character.
George Washington grew up as a self described country ruffian. He too wanted to become a Gentleman and put himself through the Classic Educational Process as well as analyzing his faults. Washington had a list of 140 Resolves that he practiced until his death. Washington’s Character was so great that he willing gave up his Military Power and Authority after the Revolution. Washington’s eulogy as delivered by Henry Lee is a moving and powerful testament to the depth and strength of Washington’s Character.
What each of the Framers and Founding Fathers held in common was a Classic Education coupled with Resolves to build Character. What it really takes to build Character is the commitment to change one’s self first.
America began slipping deeper into the Selfishness phase up until Lincoln declared Martial Law in his Gettysburg Address. There are conflicting views among historians about the precipitation of the fracturing of the Union, some saying that the Northern States wanted trade equality with Europe and that the Cotton trade was disproportionately enriching the South with no benefits to the North. Again, rage over resources was more likely the cause. The point is that America had transitioned into the Selfishness phase of the cycle. For a generation leading up to this fateful event, Americans by and large had lost the vision and understanding of the value of education and the pursuit of Character. This was also the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, were a large number of people had highly polished technical skills, but diminishing education.
Americans by and large had lost the vision and understanding of the value of education and the pursuit of Character.
Many unfortunate and despicable things happened in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Act of 1871 converted the Federal Government into a Corporation, and changed the people of America from sovereign Persons, residents of the individual states, into Citizens of the U.S., wards of the Federal Government and placed the U.S. under Admiralty Law. No men of Character were there to call out the Federal Government’s tyrannical maneuver.
To be continued . . .