In September 1787, state delegates to the Constitutional Convention exited Independence Hall in Philadelphia having signed their names to a new form of government. Curious citizens had gathered nearby to try and find out what had been produced behind closed doors. One woman called out to Benjamin Franklin: “Well, Doctor, what have we got- a republic or a monarchy?”
Dr. Franklin replied without hesitation, “A republic. If you can keep it.”
Many of us believe that the United States has been here for a long time and will be here forever. However, as Franklin’s comment suggests, it’s actually dependent upon what we do with it. The creation of the American Republic was an experiment in self-government unlike anything tried before in the history of the world. Other nations had tried similar experiments only to end in failure.
So how do we avoid the pitfalls of those nations and keep what was given to us? Ask this question to professors of political science and politics, and you’ll get the answers of: “Speak up!”; “Participate in the process and vote!”; “Do your civic duty!”; and so on.
The Responsibility Lies With Us
While those things are certainly important, I think there’s a little more to it than that. What many of these professors and so-called “experts” miss is the underlying principle of self-governance. I’m not talking about self-governance at a national level; I’m talking about self-governance on a personal level. If we can govern ourselves (individually), we’ll be equipped to govern ourselves (nationally).
To help illustrate my point, consider what John Adams said:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Avarice. Ambition. Revenge. We certainly have an abundance of those qualities permeating through our society today. Explore social media for a few minutes, and you’ll see what I mean. Our culture has become selfish, greedy, hypocritical, and morally bankrupt. To the degree in which we take part in this culture, it not only hurts our nation at large, but it harms our families and limits our own potential.
The fact of the matter is that each one of us takes part in the experiment of self governance every single day. The cure for our societal ills is to learn how to govern ourselves in each aspect of our lives. If we take responsibility for our own lives and actions, we can eliminate many of the problems we face day in and day out. After having improved our own lives, we can be better equipped to effect change in the world around us.
An Urgent Need
This is the purpose of the Self Governance Project. We want to make our country and our society a better place, and the best way to do that, we believe, is by helping the individuals that make up our society govern themselves. We don’t claim to be perfect individuals, but we have seen our own lives improve from the principles and topics that will be discussed here on this website.
The future isn’t certain, but I believe there are tough times on the horizon- economically, and for our society as a whole. If we can learn to be in control of our emotions, our actions, our finances, and our households, we’ll be able to more effectively navigate any challenges that arise.