I was a part of a scout troop as a young fellow. The Boy Scouts of America program is designed to teach young minds and train them to be good citizens, work hard, set and achieve goals, and in outdoor skills. Outdoor skills include things like "no trace camping", orienteering so you dont have to depend on a GPS and general respect for all life. Scouts are not the ones carving initials into tree trunks or leaving wrappers behind, rather they are the ones removing others garbage and leaving places better for those who follow. I learned so much about life and myself while a scout. I started to take responsibility for my own actions instead of taking the easier way out of a situation. I also learned that achieving the goals I set for myself helped improve my self image and serving others made my self esteem jump another notch. I worked hard and earned the Eagle Scout rank. Something that means a lot to me, more now than at the time.
As an adult I have volunteered my time to give back to the organization that helped me. I have been a Scout Master and also a Unit Comissioner. I have seen how the organization runs and how it is supposed to run. I must say that if more young people were scouts there would be less waste of natural resources, more care for the outdoors, more involvement in politics and more kind deeds done.
One of the merit badges I earned was the required Citizenship in the Nation. I wrote a letter to one of my state's two senators. I also had to talk to a merit badge counselor about the way our government works and the history of our nation. The merit badge counselor with whom I met really liked to study history, especially the history of the revolutionary war. We talked for a long time, he even showed me a flint lock, long rifle that had been used by one of his ancestors during the war. We talked about our consititution and what it means. This was a short experience for me but I learned some things.
A few years ago, on 16-Aug-2009, I had the oportunity to attend a speech by this same merit badge counselor. He talked about the Articles of Confederation and how it led to our Constitution. The Articles of Confederation was our first attempt at self governance. Many of those who helped to write it feared a strong federal government with a potential heavy hand. They had experience with the British parlimentary system, King George, the burdensome and sometimes outlandish laws. They realized that sometimes the government can be so far removed from the people that it becomes a burden. The articles were drafted and we formed a union. It was rather more like an agreement to be nice to each among the 13 former colonies and they acted more like separate soevreign countries. There was trouble with the monertary system and trade as well as putting forth a cohesive foreign policy. With the Articles of Confederation, as a nation, we learned that there must be some strength in the government. So in order to keep that power from getting out of control, systems were developed that checks and balances out the powers of the federal government. That is why our Constitution starts out "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The first check the writers of our constitution put into place was that the idea of sovereignty. The constitution clearly states that all rights of governing belong to the people, not to the government. They then state that unless a power is specifically written in the constitution it can not belong to the federal government, it belongs directly to either the people or to individual states. Note that our Constitution starts with the phrase "We the people..." not "The government...." or some other statement of power.
In the history of the world, this is a unique idea: that the power of goverment comes from the governed and not from divine right or by power. The rights of government belong to the people. We cede some of that right to the government so that there can be peace and order. We must not forget that it is We that hold the power not some body of beauracrats.