Thank you for returning to Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. This year promises to be an adventurous year, and not for the faint of heart! In order to be prepared for what lies ahead, I will be writing a series of articles on here that pertain to our founding documents. After all, ignorance is not bliss in our culture today. We need to be prepared, not only with knowledge, but with the ability to articulate what we know with facts and reason. We all have a circle of influence. One personal goal I have is to think like an American and let those thoughts affect my actions. In our first article this week, I ask some leading questions to consider. I hope you will join me each week as we review lessons that help us think, speak, and act like Americans in our culture. Let’s begin.
What does it mean to “think like an American?” Let’s answer a few leading questions:
Do you think that we have lost our constitutional system of government and now find ourselves in the position of having to restore it?
Do you know how your federal government is supposed to work? Or do you leave it up to those in Washington (some elected, some appointed) to do the work of governing for you?
What is the basis on which our Constitutional Republic rests? That’s right. It’s the Supreme Law of the Land, the U.S. Constitution, in partnership with our other founding organic document, the Declaration of Independence.
The organization of which I am a certified instructor, The Institute on the Constitution, believes that “we have lost our way because “we don’t think like Americans anymore.”
So I ask again, “What does it mean to think like an American?” How do we re-create the excitement of our citizenship? Ask a naturalized American who has lived in a totalitarian state. You will see their facial expression light up when they compare this country to their former one. They talk about opportunity, freedom, individuality, generosity, and variety. People who adopt this country as their own see the goodness of our country’s founding principles. (Of course, two and a half centuries of Americans didn’t carry out these principles perfectly because people are sinners and selfish). Still, the founding American ideals remain. They are not beyond our grasp.
When Americans think like Americans, they don’t have a forced show of patriotism. Instead, thinking like an American looks something like this:
“Patriotism is not a belief in a mistake-free history of a people or a society. It is a belief in the goodness, the desired goodness, of that particular civil society.”
To believe in the desired goodness of a particular civil society, one has to know the pillars upon which that society was built. One must also believe in a lawful government. Where do we find our American founding principles and the Supreme Law of the Land? They’re in our founding American documents. How do you know what to believe when it comes to being an American? As I always say, you will not find it in the press, from the politician, or the professor. We the People must study the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution for ourselves. And, if we agree with these principles (not the personalities involved, for they, like us, are not mistake-free), we adopt these fundamental constitutional principles as our own.
Let’s endeavor to review or learn for the first time our founding documents. Each time I teach a class, I review and evaluate these documents. This year, I hope to pass on what I learned to you. If you have become discouraged with our government, let’s focus on what America was founded to be in the coming months. Let’s think like Americans.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. 🇺🇸