Today, I would like to talk with you about the origin and significance of human rights, how they relate to our governance in a Constitutional Republic and what we can all do to help save our Republic from any number of bad outcomes.
What makes a being human? Some people say it is the human mind that separates us from the animals. Some believe that it is the soul. Whatever it is that makes us human, there are several conditions that must be true in order for us to live AS humans.
We must be alive. Obvious yes, and it is something that we share with the other animals, but it is important to remember this condition when we discuss the right of self-defense.
We must be FREE to think and act. Otherwise, that which makes us human, is stifled. While humans are creative and able to communicate in various media, animals cannot act much beyond the chains of their instincts.
We must learn to respect the boundaries of other humans. The worst kind of brutish, animalistic behavior is the initiation of the use of force in our dealings with other humans. Be careful to note that I am not referring to the defense against the use of force, but rather the initiation of it.
Whether you believe that rights exist as a result of man being a creature of God or of Nature, the same rules apply. Man cannot live as a human without rights. Another conclusion is that rights are not granted by the state but rather they preexist the establishment of government since government is a product of mankind.
The Constitution “Power from the People”!
It is the men and women who agree to participate in their government who give that government its power. That power does not BELONG to the government, it is INVESTED in the government BY the people. The people may at any time choose to revoke or withdraw those powers if they believe that it is in their best interest. Our founders, and the people who created the framework of our government were wise enough to construct a process by which THE PEOPLE may control our government. We all know it as the Constitution.
Republic vs. Democracy
We are quite fortunate that our founders did NOT establish the United States of America as a Democracy. They choose instead to establish a unique version of a Constitutional Republic. A government OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people. The reason we benefit from this decision is that in a pure Democracy, the majority may indeed vote away “the exercise of” the rights of the minority. That SHOULD not be possible in a Constitutional Republic *IF* it is healthy. I deliberately included the words “the exercise of” when speaking of the infringement of rights. I did so because, although you can prevent a human from EXERCISING their preexisting, inalienable human rights, you can never take them away. This is more than just an arbitrary semantic argument. It is an essential concept for those of us who truly believe that human rights ARE inalienable.
Why the Second Amendment?
As you know, I am the President of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society. You may be wondering how Amendment number 2 fits into this discussion. Please allow me to explain.
First, the right to keep and bear arms is essential to preserving life. When used properly, it works as a deterrent to crime. When questioned by researchers what the one thing is that criminals fear most, the answer is NOT the police. What criminals say that they fear most is being shot by an armed individual who encounters them committing a crime.
Second, people are not free to think and act when they live in constant fear for their lives. In order to LIVE free, one has to FEEL free. Some urban residents, as well as some suburban and rural residents are constrained by the daily fear that someone will break into their home or car, or will murder one of their loved ones or neighbors. That is not a way for people to have to live.
Third, the people must have a “last resort” in the event that their elected officials refuse to abide by the dictates of the Constitution and follow the will of the people as guided by the Constitution. That is a roundabout way of describing tyranny. No matter how remote some people may think that possibility is, it does exist and must be considered. Without the right of the people to keep and bear arms, there would be no teeth whatsoever to enforce the Constitution.
Why is Participation Necessary?
I stated earlier that it is the PARTICIPATION of the people in their government that invests that government with its power. Ironically, the LACK of participation by the people in our government results in granting them a LICENSE to do as they please. Perhaps I neglected to mention that there is a responsibility to do more than just vote if one wishes to participate effectively. This is where the solution comes in. The reason our documents refer to “we the people” instead of “they the three branches”, is because our founders and framers knew from bitter experience what it was like to live under the rule an aristocracy. There would be little difference between the British Aristocracy and a “special” higher class of humans controlling the three branches of our government. The problem is, the people must WANT to participate, or an aristocracy is what they will get by default. And that is what we have today. A group of people in our legislatures, that believe they know what is best for their constituents, an executive branch that is so far out of touch with the reality of the middle class that they might as well be a monarchy, and a group of “specially qualified experts” on the Supreme Court who have complete and final authority to interpret the Constitution as they see fit. And WE allow this.
Our Own Worst Enemy!
The odds are against us. That very well may be true. Those who do not agree with our strict interpretation of the founding documents have been extremely successful in moving our nation further along toward socialism. Does that mean that we will give up? Of course not. Our children, grandchildren and loved ones mean more to us than that. It just means that we have to work harder to change the direction of our nation. How do we accomplish that? Well, if ultimately the government *IS* “we the people”, then we must go TO the people. Why? Any child who has seen the movie “Ants” can tell you the answer. There are a whole lot more of US than there are of them.
This nation was built on the ideals of individual freedom and responsibility, also known as independence. Because of this spirit of independence and an abundance of natural resources, we eventually developed a strong capitalist economy. In spite of the perversion inflicted upon capitalism by people on both sides of the political spectrum, it is still possible for an individual to raise capital and to build an empire from one really great idea. This would not be possible under socialism. We have a system that rewards creativity, intelligence and hard work. If we understand this system and believe in it, then we have to stop being so schizophrenic about “those greedy rich people”, and accept that except where government intervention has given someone an unfair advantage, capitalism is still the best economic environment through which our future generations can obtain the American Dream. We need to support it enthusiastically. It is the anti-socialist bombshell. Being lukewarm on capitalism is like not understanding the difference between solid ground and quicksand. It is a VERY dangerous position to hold.
Is Knowledge Power?
So, assuming we agree on the preeminence of human rights, freedom, responsibility, independence and capitalism. What do we do with this knowledge? We share it with the people. There are many ways of sharing our knowledge, but first let’s be sure of our standing. Who here has not heard the terms “preaching to the choir” and “speaking to each other in an echo chamber”? While it is quite natural for people with like minds to gather together, it can also be a petri dish of growing misinformation. We are not required to check our facts in an echo chamber. It is only necessary to echo back what we have heard and read from the exact same sources as everyone else in our circle. This natural tendency is a HUGE “gotcha”.
In order to overcome this tendency, we must work a little harder to educate ourselves on the issues. That is why there are so many different groups out there. Some are concerned primarily with parental rights and common core. Some concentrate on religious freedom. Others are working very hard against Agenda 21 and for property rights. As you know, my group, the NJ2AS is fighting to reverse the dangerous trend towards gun confiscation and prohibition. It would be exceedingly difficult if each of us had to try and focus on all these different issues. Luckily we don’t. That is why I suggest that you choose an area that you are passionate about and focus on that. It is MUCH easier to educate oneself on one or two main issues than to become an expert on all of them.
Saving the Republic Requires Action.
OK, you have chosen your issue(s). You have read up on the subject and you have become somewhat of an expert, or even just knowledgeable. What next. Well, the knowledge that you have locked up in your head will not help to save the Republic unless you are willing to find a way to share it. If you can speak, then try to find some venues where you are not necessarily ONLY preaching to the choir. While it is not a bad idea to have some like-minded people around for moral support, if needed, what you really want is to reach those who would not otherwise even be thinking about your issues. I will share an example that we have used successfully in the recent past. In order to draw in a receptive crowd of people who may not even have a position on gun rights, we have been offering free Home Security Seminars. We bring in all kinds of experts from security systems companies to martial arts and self-defense instructors, and other experts in home safety and security. We also talk about the right to keep and bear arms, and about gun safety. We introduce people to the process by which they might obtain a Firearms Purchaser ID card. The point is, we offer people something of value that includes information they want, and we also provide them with information that we believed they need. It truly has turned out to be a win-win opportunity. I am sure that some of you are already using similar strategies.
Another approach for those who are not yet at the point where they are comfortable speaking in front of people, is the written word. Anyone can write a blog post to a relevant website, or a letter to the editor of a local newspaper or perhaps even an opinion piece. To those who say it will never be printed, I can tell you from personal experience that is not true. The more you write and the more you submit, the better you will get at it and the more you improve your chances of getting your piece printed. The problem is that most people don’t even try. I hope that will not be the case with this crowd.
Some of us are veterans, others belong to the Knights of Columbus, the Italian-American Club or other groups. These people are your friends and acquaintances. Don’t you think that they would want to help save the Republic if they knew how? You can teach them. The old saw about not talking about politics or religion among friends is nonsense. You should be welcome to talk about whatever you are passionate about. However, we must be careful not to be bullies. Because of our passion, we have a “slight” tendency to proselytize. That is not a good way to get someone to honestly consider what you are asking them to think about. There is a better way.
The Issue is NOT the Message!
If you understand your issue, then the next thing to do is to construct your message. This is something I have learned from taking the Tennessee Center for Self Governance (tncsg.org) Level 2 course. I highly recommend this series of classes for those who are serious about saving the Republic. In any event, what I learned is, that the message is NOT your issue. They are two entirely different things. There is a reason that I stress this. You are talking to people who may not care about your specific issue, but they may care deeply about the underlying message. So, for instance, my issue may be preventing guns from being prohibited. If my listener isn’t a gun owner, he or she may not really care one way or another about guns or gun confiscation. However, they probably do care about keeping their home and family safe. I want to construct my message to reflect THEIR concerns, not mine. If I concentrate only on my issues, I am way more likely to fail at making a connection with the people who might otherwise be willing to help me save the Republic. Conversely, if I speak to their concerns, I may move closer to forming the beginning of a relationship that could develop into a partnership.
I am not suggesting that constructing a good message is a simple task. It takes a good deal of thought and preparation. But compared to the sacrifices of blood and treasure that our founders made, if we perform our task successfully, we can avoid the same fate many of them suffered.
This discussion can never be concluded. Even after we succeed in saving the Republic (and we will), we will need to continue to keep it safe. This will require, as they say, “eternal vigilance”. That’s OK. It is hard to imagine what could be more important or more satisfying than knowing that we have helped to create an environment that will nurture our future generations. Let’s review what we discussed.
Rights exist by virtue of our being born human rather than something that is granted by the state. We have a right to our own life, and by extension a right to protect our loved ones. We are by nature meant to be free and cannot thrive unless we are. No one has the right to use the initiation of force against another human, but we most certainly have the right to defend against such force.
The government gets its power from the people, however, the people are constrained by their agreement to the dictates of the Constitution. If the people wish to change the Constitution, there is a process for that as well. This means that in a Republic, certain rights are NOT subject to the whim of the majority.
In order to protect the Republic and the Constitution, the founders included a Bill of Rights in the form of Amendments to the Constitution. Amendment 2, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, is critical as a deterrent to tyranny, and as a last resort in the event that it fails as a deterrent. The Second Amendment also has several other implications such as for self-defense and defense of family.
However, the key to saving the Republic is the participation of the people. In fact, without the participation of the people, a Republic cannot truly exist.
The bones of our nation consist of our founding documents. The economic engine is capitalism. Each depends heavily on the other to work. All that a free market requires to flourish is that the government perform its main function of protecting individual liberty and responsibility, and otherwise staying out of the way. The more involvement the government takes, the more we move into a “mixed” economy and the more we will suffer the consequences.
In order to save the Republic, we must educate ourselves on the issues. This is the time to focus on the one or two issues that we are passionate about, and to eliminate any misinformation from our repertoire. We need to step outside our comfort zone and become subject matter experts, and then we need to ACT. We need to find venues and media opportunities to spread our knowledge to the people.
Constructing our message is key. The object of a good message is to connect with the people or person we are interacting with. It is extremely important to understand the difference between our issue and the message that will be meaningful to our target audiences.
There is no way that this talk could cover this entire subject faithfully in this one document. Again, I recommend that those who are interested in in depth training to contact the Tennessee Center for Self Governance to find out about their courses.
Let’s work together to save our Republic. Thank you.