Jerry R Lambert
As Moses prepared to lead the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, he addressed them as the tremendously insightful and successful leader that we know him to be. If we analyze his leadership actions, what can we learn? And how may we apply what we learn to point us to act under the current situation?
On the day they would depart, Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place. (More on the emphasized words later.)
Instructing them on how to remember, following the plan of the Creator, he established the holiday of Passover: Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
And ensuring that all succeeding generations would remember: And when your children ask you, “What do you mean by this rite?” you shall say, “It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when he smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses.”
And further instruction: And you shall explain to your child on that day, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt.”
And yet further: And when, in time to come, your child asks you, saying, “What does this mean?” you shall say to him, “It was with a mighty hand that the Lord brought us out from Egypt, the house of bondage.”
While he acknowledged the moment, the theme of Moses was not today, or tomorrow. He spoke of the distant future and the duty of parents to educate their children in their heritage. His language even hints that we should encourage our children to ask questions, so that the handing on of our heritage not be a matter of rote learning or lecturing, but of active dialog between us and our children.
If you are familiar with the Jewish Passover Seder you may remember that the scriptural instructions remain to this day a major part of the annual memorial celebration around the family table. Passover itself has continued to be an annual seminar on the handling of heritage memory.
“Moses’ insight was profound. He knew that you cannot change the world by externalities alone, by monumental architecture, or armies and empires, or the use of force and power. How many empires have come and gone while the human condition remains untransformed and unredeemed? (https://tinyurl.com/yygdonk3) (Further, how many empires have come and gone while the nation of Israel has survived, even if taking lacunae?)
“There is only one way to change the world, and that is by education. You have to teach children the importance of justice, righteousness, kindness and compassion. You have to teach them that freedom can only be sustained by the laws and habits of self-restraint. You have to continually remind them of the lessons of history, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt,” because those who forget the bitterness of slavery eventually lose the commitment and courage to fight for freedom. And you have to empower children to ask, challenge and argue. You have to respect them if they are to respect the values you wish them to embrace. (ibid.)
“This is a lesson most cultures still have not learned after more than three thousand years. Revolutions, protests and civil wars still take place, encouraging people to think that removing a tyrant or having a democratic election will end corruption, create freedom, and lead to justice and the rule of law – and still people are surprised and disappointed when it does not happen. All that happens is a change of faces in the corridors of power. (ibid.)
The United States of America vis-à-vis the Nation of Israel
As the story is told, Benjamin Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when a lady shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin responded, with a rejoinder at once witty and ominous: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
“It was John Adams who said: ‘The foundation of every government is some principle or passion in the minds of the people.’ Clearly, the Founders’ passion was liberty, and in order to secure that liberty, they sought out and incorporated into the United States Constitution those ideas and principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence. The French historian, Guizot, once asked James Russell Lowell, ‘How long will the American republic endure?’ Lowell replied: ‘As long as the IDEAS of the men who founded it continue dominant.’ Herein lies the answer to the question, “Will the Experiment Succeed?” It can and will succeed IF the motivating ‘principle or passion in the minds of the people’ is LIBERTY, and if that passion causes them to exert the determination and will to complete the needed restoration of the IDEAS upon which the great American experiment was based. (https://tinyurl.com/y2pud9h5)
“Can America Lose Her Freedom? An examination of the history of civilization reveals that nations have risen, and they have fallen. Governments have been formed, and they have been dissolved. People have become free, and they have fallen into slavery again. Toynbee observed that 19 of the world’s 21 significant civilizations disappeared from the face of the earth – not from assault by outside forces, but from deterioration within the society. Many would contend that America has departed from the intentions of its Founders in a number of significant ways. (ibid.)
We might well question ourselves these days whether the ideas of our founding fathers are being marginalized, superseded, corrupted and trashed by main stream media, socialist politicians and leftist couch potatoes who have no real clue that true liberty carries with it heavy responsibility. A key word here is “remember,” as Moses suggested or instructed. Those pulling down statues of stalwart thinkers fail to recognize their contributions to this nation. And those, whoever they may be, who condone such actions are complicit in silence.
“For the past five or six decades, several perceptive observers have remarked, an increasing proportion of the American population has ceased to feel responsible for the common defense, for productive work, for choosing able men and women to represent them in politics, for accepting personal responsibility for the needs of the community, or even for their own livelihood. (https://tinyurl.com/y3lkto2y)
But as responsible citizens of this great country, where do we go from here? How do we take action? What do we do? Of course, to do nothing is an alternative. But it’s not what we were created for. As Edmund Burke is quoted, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” But frankly, I am puzzled with the decision(s).
“In family, church, and school, until the middle of the twentieth century, the rising generation of Americans were taught that they must be personally responsible for their own welfare, for the care of their aging family members, for the security and prosperity of their community, for their patrimony of order and justice and freedom. (https://tinyurl.com/yygdonk3) But …
Observing patriots clearly see the decline.
Just as “those who forget the bitterness of slavery eventually lose the commitment and courage to fight for freedom,” those 2020 and beyond anarchists who intentionally fail to recognize where we came from as a nation lose the liberty they profess.
American historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman once wrote that Israel is “the only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, under the same name, and with the same religion and same language as it did 3,000 years ago.” (https://tinyurl.com/yxsmy9rd)
A major reason the Nation of Israel has perpetuated itself through the centuries, yea millenia, is its institution of education, again as instructed through the words of Moses. “Education in Israel is a precious legacy. Following the tradition of past generations, education continues to be a fundamental value and is recognized as the key to the future. The educational system aims to prepare children to become responsible members of a democratic, pluralistic society in which people from different ethnic, religious, cultural and political backgrounds coexist. It is based on Jewish values, love of the land, and the principles of liberty and tolerance. It seeks to impart a high level of knowledge, with an emphasis on scientific and technological skills essential for the country’s continued development. “The very world rests on the breath of a child in the schoolhouse.” (Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat, 119b) (https://tinyurl.com/y924p2dx)
When adults, parents or other teachers, fail to pass on heritage and principles, those sound thoughts and ideas are continuously diluted to the point of ineffectiveness.
“What God taught Moses was that the real challenge does not lie in gaining freedom; it lies in sustaining it, keeping the spirit of liberty alive in the hearts of successive generations. That can only be done through a sustained process of education. Nor is this something that can be delegated away to teachers and schools. Some of it has to take place within the family, at home, and with the sacred obligation that comes from religious duty. No one ever saw this more clearly than Moses, and only because of his teachings have Jews and Judaism survived. (https://tinyurl.com/yygdonk3)
On the contrary, spiritual culture of the United States seems to be in a death spiral. In 1962 courts effectively ended spiritual leadership in public classrooms. Television now often competes successfully for meaningful family discussion or dialogue. Single parent homes often struggle for heart time together because of financial pressures. Teachers and college professors are often either so secular or browbeaten they fear patriotic or spiritual accusations and so lean the other direction. As Dennis Prager says, no apolitical classroom exists.
So what can you and I do toward remembering and education of our heritage?
Good question? I’d like to know your thoughts. Seriously.
- A couple of ideas include getting involved:
Prager University educates millions of Americans and young people about the values that make America great. One effort is creation and provision of free-of-charge videos. (https://www.prageru.com/series/5-minute-videos/) PragerFORCE student ambassadors actively share PragerU content on campuses. PragerU Resources for Educators & Parents (PREP) help teach about America’s blessings and limitless opportunities. I wonder if PragerFORCE has a presence on campuses near me.
- Learning, character, faith, and freedom: these are the inseparable purposes of Hillsdale College. Resident campus curricula include liberal arts, studied the way they were meant to be: as a means of understanding the good, the true, and the beautiful. A wide variety of online courses are also available free of charge to any who wish to learn.
- Too many public school teachers, including college, are not grounded in the heritage, including spiritual, of this nation. To encourage them to recognize and remember, one thought is to gift into their hands, hopefully with heart-to-heard discussion, a copy of recent sourcebooks, e.g. (I have no vested interest.):
- Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land, eds., 2019
- Land of Hope, Wilfred M McClay, 2019.
I also recommend an article entitled “The Responsibility Of Citizens.”
If you have other thoughts about where we go from here, please comment so I and others can learn from you. We each have a challenge! Let’s roll!