“As iron sharpens Iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs, 27:17
A picture is worth a thousand words. What then is the worth of an enlightened discussion?
Enlightened Discussion – what is it…not?
- Wrestling with a pig in the mud.
- Arguing with an idiot.
- Teaching a pig to sing.
- A poor substitute for deficient mental health therapy.
A blog post will come later.
What has Enlightened Discussion done for the world?
Well, lets start with the Federalist Papers. Published under the pen name “Publius” and written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, they were written arguments for the ratification of the newly proposed Constitution of 1787. What did the Federalist (later called Federalist Papers) accomplish? The case “for’ the ratification of the US Constitution. You know – the backbone of the world’s oldest continuous democracy.
Except that it wasn’t obvious that ratification from nine of the thirteen states would even happen, let alone all thirteen. Why? At the time, the following were considered legitimate concerns:
- The Continental Congress that produced the Constitution (and the resulting Federal model of Union and government) had ‘exceeded their initial authority to emend the Articles of Confederation’.*
- The document was written by the ‘well-born’ representatives to the Third Continental Congress and highly unfavorable to those who were not.
- It gave too much power to the Federal government at the expense of the states, who would be bullied and abused.
- Each state had to give up power to ratify it, for under the Articles of Confederation, each state had veto power over the whole Confederation.
- Most importantly, there was no Bill of Rights to protect the people from a ‘Tyrannical Government’.
Anti-Federalists were led by able statesmen such as Governor George Clinton of New York, and Patrick Henry and James Monroe in Virginia. In fact, both New York and Virginia were amongst the largest and most populous states, and they were near the last to ratify it. Had they failed to ratify, they would have become foreign governments. They could have crippled the new union simply by their absence.
Part of what came out of this Enlightened Discussion was the Bill of Rights. You know – Freedom of the Press. Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Religion. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Trial by Jury. Enumerated Rights.
And that was from the people who were *AGAINST* the Federalist cause. The Federalist position compromised to make one of the best ideas in the world even better.
What’s the problem?
Here’s the “*” from above. The Articles of Confederation – well, let’s just say that in reality, the idea ‘blew chunks‘. If you want details, please read Federalist #15-22. That’s 8 entries – almost 10% – on why the old thing – which was approved and ratified – just wasn’t working.
That means that the current facts on the ground were informing and instructing the Enlightened Discussion. Period.
- A single state could veto the united government under the Articles of Confederation. And you think Congress today is too slow and political! Congress only reacted to existential threats – and did very little else.
- No state was compelled to contribute money. If the payments are voluntary…they are certainly not consistent.
- Congress could declare war. But it lacked the power to compel any state to fulfill its quota of men and materiel to prosecute that war. It had no money for a Navy (see below)
- Individual states printed their own money….Ugh. States raised duties and taxes on interstate trade. More Ugh. Interstate highways? Hilariously out of the question.
- People – Good people – were willing to revolt against the government under the Articles of Confederation, punctuated by Shay’s Rebellion, which was influential in pushing George Washington out of retirement and into the leadership of the Third Continental Congress that produced the Constitution.
Footnotes – Historical timeline
- 1765 – English impose Stamp Act on the colonies, & later repeal it, but not before stirring up resentment. Etcetera.
- 1776 – after the Boston Tea Party (and the Tea Act of 1773), the First Continental Congress approves the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson.
- 1776-1781 – the American Revolutionary war is fought against the English (amongst other European wars and squabbles, and with generous aid from France – Merci!)
- 1776-1777 – the Articles of Confederation are written by the Second Continental Congress.
- 1778-1781 – Ratification of the Articles of Confederation quickly starts with eight states, but waits until Maryland ratifies it in 1781 to come into full effect.
- 1786 – Shay’s Rebellion in Massachusetts makes it clear that, “Houston, we have a problem.”
- 1787 – George Washington comes out of retirement to be the leader of the Third Continental Congress, which exceeds its (reform) mandate and produces a whole new governmental charter, the US Constitution.
- 1787 – The first of the 85 Federalist Papers are published in New York, marking the Empire State’s deliberations over ratification of the Constitution. They are later published in book form as well, and have impact well beyond New York. The Anti-Federalists also have their say in their newspapers and their channels, and other Enlightened Discussions happen in other states as well.
- 1787 – Starting in December, Delaware is the first of nine states to ratify the Constitution. The US Constitution becomes “a thing” when the ninth state, New Hampshire approves in June of 1788.
- 1788 – Virginia and New York become the tenth and eleventh states by (narrowly) ratifying the Constitution.
- 1789 – in March the new government starts functioning with 11 states. The Bill of Rights is proposed in Congress, which may well have helped with necessary votes to enable North Carolina to ratify and become the twelfth state.
- 1790 – Rhode Island becomes the thirteenth state – after earlier rejecting ratification in 1788.
In summary, Enlightened Discussion has these characteristics:
- Respectful dialogue
- that is informed by recent events and facts
- where the actors have common interests
- and they acknowledge valid points of the other side.
There may be more – but that’s a great start – no?
Another Enlightened Discussion Example:
Believe it or not, the United States of America used to negotiate with terrorists. From 1783-1803, pirates from Algiers to Tripoli regularly captured American merchant ships. Other European powers regularly paid bribes to these pirates – for “protection”, thereby enabling their shipping to proceed if squabbles over payments were resolved. And once America was independent (Per treaty of Versailles, 1783), the pirates regularly captured merchant ships from America and extorted payments. President George Washington paid. President John Adams paid. (American shipping was often interrupted under the Articles of Confederation because the government couldn’t pay!!!!!!) After all, America was following the precedent set by the European Great Powers. But Enlightened Discussion – and debates about what to do given the facts on the ground happened. Key debaters were Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, and John Adams, and more.
Then 1801-1803, President Thomas Jefferson received something his predecessors lacked – the *Brand New* US Navy. And he gave the Barbary States a follow-on gift – the US Marines (Hoo-ah!). And threatened violent overthrow of the
pirates warlords. Then America didn’t have to pay. And after that, neither did the Europeans. And that effectively ended Barbary States piracy in the Mediterranean Sea in the 19th century.
If you read the link, it wasn’t all that simple. But there was debate. Debate that was Enlightened (it was the age of Enlightenment!). Debate that was Enlightened by precedent, and evolving facts, and new circumstances, and principles (“What is the price of Justice and Honor?”, asked Jefferson)
Just Imagine – Enlightened Discussion in #Elections2016 – ala The Federalist
Okay. Yes, I am a comedian. I’m here through Thursday. Please try the veal, and enjoy your two drink minimum here at the Comedy Club.
Principle – Enlightened Discussion
The Ark of History is founded on the principle of Enlightened Discussion. End-of-story (and sarcasm). It has good precedents – US Constitution, which itself came from the failures of the Articles of Confederation, which itself flowed naturally from military success following political success from the Declaration of Independence. Which all were products of the Enlightenment. And Science. And the age of Reason. Etcetera. Etcetera.
People who join the Ark of History will be asked, “Do you believe in the principles of the Ark of History, including the principle of Enlightened Discussion?” Do you believe that Enlightened Discussion is possible today? That it should happen? That it is desirable? That it is necessary?
We all feel that Enlightened Discussion doesn’t really happen too much these days in the halls of the US Capitol – in today’s Congress. Or that it just doesn’t seem to happen.
Why – Simon Sinek
Over at www.TED.com, Simon Sinek has the #3 TED talk of all time. We are YUUUUUUUGE fans of what Simon has to say. What is the Ark of History? It is a place, where people will join, that is dedicated to the vision of unifying America to accelerate prosperous liberty through active principles of indomitable love.
Because people who join believe in these principles:
- Indomitable Love
- Activation and taking action
- Enlightened Discussion (this page)
- Long Term Vision and Value
- Competition and Growth
- Union and Combination
Because we believe in the Spirit of America. And we believe in what Americans have and will achieve. Because prosperous liberty and competition unlock the human spirit and allow us each to reach for our greatest selves. Because we believe that in America, no matter where you came from, your abilities should be the only thing that limit how high you rise. And because we believe in being Enlightened by our common history.
We believe that in the process of “making America great again”, many many many Americans must contribute to the Enlightened Discussion.
Call to Action:
- Learn history. As much as you can.
- Learn to listen to other people with love in your heart.
- Acknowledge that the persons who voted differently than you are indeed your fellow Americans.
- Agree that if you’re going to make fun of politicians (allowed – they’re public figures with big-boy pants) that you will not make fun of people who voted for them (or against them)
- Recommend this site to your friends.
- Comment below about any recent Enlightened Discussions you have had with people who voted differently than you.
- Seek to join the Ark of History – when the “Join” page goes live.