Today is independence day in the United States of America. The celebration of the Second Continental Congress’ ratification of the Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen American Colonies.
It wasn’t the formal beginning of the Revolutionary War (Lexington & Concond, April 1775). Or the End (1783). Or the day the United States of America was formally formed (Articles of Confederation, last signer MD, March 1781). It wasn’t even the day the document was formally adopted by all signatories (August).
Heck, it wasn’t even a document all of them wanted to sign, much less even originally create. It was the tireless work of the “founding fathers” (a lose term to describe a large group of Revolutionary luminaries) to negotiate through their differences and find a common ground in this single act of cession from the British Empire.
Why do I note all this?
Because, unlike the “founding fathers” we as a nation are so fond of quoting to aspire to, it is entirely too en vogue to be just plain stupid. Education on the whole is looked down up as being elitist, entirely too progressive and downright unnecessary when any random tweet or sound bite might be enough for someone to consider themselves an expert.
What to know just how unintelligent some people really are? Just go to any news articles comment’s section and see all the misinformation spewed. Want to know just how uninformed most people really are? Poll the next 25 people you see and ask them what actually happened on Independence Day.
How did we become a nation of idiots when we aspire to be like the intellects that helped shape our early history? Well, part of it might be just that, we don’t really know who helped shape us in the first place.
So we should all just be uneducated, unenlightened, mindless sheep following a bunch more uneducated, unenlightened mindless lemmings who argue in endless circles rather than produce effective debates?
Nope, we shouldn’t, so lets not do that and continue our brief history lesson with special thanks to a number of references from my local public library, the history channel website, several government sites, wikipedia and so on.
The typical list of “founding fathers” might not all be familiar names even
The Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration:
Jefferson attended William & Mary before being admitted to the Virginia Bar, was a horticulturist, political leader, diplomat, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, musician, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia…
Franklin was a author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, librarian, statesman, and diplomat studying various trades in London, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts as an apprentice, understudy and student…
Adams attended Harvard College at age sixteen before becoming a professor and being admitted to the Massachusetts Bar and later becoming political leader, diplomat, author and political theorist…
Robert R. Livingston – one of the original drafters of the Declaration as part of the Committee of Five – attended King’s College (Columbia) and was a lawyer, politician, diplomat (negotiated the Louisiana Purchase), writer and was nicknamed the Chancellor.
Roger Sherman – lawyer, politician, writer, mathematician, attended Yale
Other important Fathers to the country:
Jay attended King’s College (now Columbia Univ.) before being admitted to the New York Bar and becoming a Supreme Court Chief Justice as well as serving as a politician, diplomat, legal theorist and author…
Madison attended College of New Jersey (now Princeton Univ) and studied a number of topics including law, philosophy, Hebrew, rhetoric and politics before becoming an author, politician and political philosopher… Hamilton attended King’s College (Columbia) and was an economist, banker, politician, author, diplomat and political philosopher…
Washington was the only one without a formal education but studied military theory as part of his leadership and continued learning economics, politics, philosophy and more as part of his rise to the Presidency.
Education is one of the few riches in life that can be treasured throughout life regardless of almost any circumstance. It is a very stupid person who devalues the need for consistent and constant learning and a dangerous person who just plain ignores its necessity. We should, as a country, aspire to the wealth of knowledge our Founding Father’s possessed rather than shunning intellects as if they were lepers. They used their diverse backgrounds that included law, the arts, science and politics to craft debate around a range of matters that formed the basis of the nation. They didn’t usually agree, but they were able to use those disagreements in order to move the nation forward in light of the common ground not the division of the differences by drawing upon the skills only strong education can provide.
We’ve gotten too far away from this core though and introduced untrue artifacts into our own history due to our own inability to learn it effectively as we grow to eschew education more and more as a society.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this nation as a whole. I just don’t love every individual element that makes it up quite equally some days. It’s no different than loving yourself but not loving your knees on a day the arthritis kicks in and you can’t run and play… or loving your partner but not the time there’s nagging about how the dishes still aren’t cleaned quite right.