image courtesy of google images and is owned by http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com

image courtesy of google images and is owned by http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com

 

 

[Previously posted on Marbles In a Jar]

 

 

No issue we face today is more socially relevant and topical to us as individuals, as families, and as a free nation than self-governance.

Is not self-governance the underlying premise we deal in when talking about gay marriage, religious freedom, crime, drug use, personal responsibility, abortion, the role of government, taxes, income inequality, or any host of subjects which make their way to the evening news and our Facebook pages?

It is possible that Michigan has become the 34th state to direct Congress to call a Constitutional Convention, thus triggering an historical first. If this is the case – and if a Convention is called by Congress (as would be required by the Constitution under Article V) – for the first time in known human history a great swath of citizens will have wide latitude and power to decide for themselves their own direction, independent of their leadership. We are perhaps entering uncharted territory.

The purpose of this piece is not to argue the relative merits of a Constitutional Convention – these have been elaborated on by others far more articulate then I, notably Chief Justice Warren Burger and the John Birch Society (against); The Goldwater Institute and Citizens for Self Governance (for). This piece seeks instead to focus on what a potential Constitutional Convention implies for the Republic and for the nation; I’ll be focusing on the issue of self-governance.

What does it even mean to be self-governing? If we are a Constitutional Republic – if we elect folks to represent our interests while they govern us – are we not then by definition self-governing? One would think so, but think of how many times we say to our friends (and to ourselves) “it doesn’t matter what I say, they (gov’t leaders) will do what they want”?

How many times have we gone to the polls (or have refused to go) saying ”it doesn’t make a difference anyway”? How many times have we complained about some policy or some issue, believing that our voice simply is not heard amid the cacophony of self-aggrandizement, legislative lobbying, and campaign dollars?

In relation to self-governance, on either side of the political divide there is much talk about ‘personal responsibility’ when it comes to a whole host of the nation’s ‘problems’. These folks have a vested interest in a possible Constitutional Convention. They have made their positions clear.

It’s not, however,  just in the issues of politics and government that self-governance comes into play.

When we talk about taking responsibility, we are implicitly talking about self-governance.  When we speak of taking a stand on the issues that concern us, our families, and our communities, we are speaking of self-governance. When we make our positions known to our friends, our community, or in the comment sections of our favorite blog – and when we must defend that opinion – we are taking ‘personal responsibility’ for what we believe. If we seek to be taken seriously we are prepared, then, to live by the principles we preach to others. Doing this is an act of self-governance – and is the act that matters most.

Life is nothing if not living by the principles we espouse and doing our level best to live those principles consistently. Personal responsibility is the willingness, the desire, and a plan to live no other way. Self-governance, then, is the method and means of putting personal responsibility into action. Such self-governance is an act and a badge of honor.

Honor, the philosopher Ayn Rand noted, is  “self esteem made visible in action”. More than our nation’s governance is put to the challenge in the case of a Constitutional Convention, as well as in the arguments for and against it’s relative merits.

Our honor,our sense of selves, our identity as a nation of individuals – also are.

Lest folks think that we the people are today not acclimated to self-governance, that we are unable or unwilling to apply personal responsibility to that end, I’ll remind them that  in his letter to William C. Jarvis (1820), Thomas Jefferson said:

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.”

As history is made around us, we are called to great acts of self-governance and personal responsibility.  These are a high calling, and ought not to be taken lightly. Our futures – and that of our posterity – is watching to see what we do with the awesome responsibility that awaits us.

May we act wisely.

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