Here is an interesting word.
For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them. — Aristotle
Unfortunately, in the context of that Wikipedia article, that quote is used to justify a particular mode of education which risks putting the students in charge of the teachers. So as much as we might agree with the quote, the application is dubious. Another article, Civic virtue, considers how the definition of what constitutes civic virtue has changed over time.
What is our definition of civic virtue today? Google the news for civics. Our politicians want to “teach” civics. What will our politicians do to teach civics? What do they usually do? They will use the poor quality of civics education they already provide as an excuse to spend more money. In addition, they will use their failure to “teach” civics as an excuse to further indoctrinate our children in the various “isms” supported by various special interests.
Unfortunately, politicians — and human beings in general — tend to over complicate things. What is civic virtue? Well, as Christians should we not consider how God defines civic virtue? And doesn’t He tell us? Didn’t God provide the Mosaic Code, laws for the nation of Israel?
Consider this passage.
Leviticus 19:17-18 English Standard Version (ESV)
17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
What does civic virtue boil down to? Loving your neighbor as yourself. As citizens of a community, a city, a county, a state, or a nation — even the world — we have an obligation to love and help each other. Government cannot teach us how to love each other. Love is something we learn from our Creator and each other, not our government.
Can our leaders set an example of the kind of self-sacrifice that people make because they love their neighbor? Yes, but politicians cannot use the government as an instrument of self-sacrifice. When politicians tax and spend, they tax and spend other people’s money, not their own. Politicians gain power from taxing and spending, by making other people sacrifice their property and even their God-given rights.
Hence civic virtue has these characteristics.
- Humbly recognizing the sovereignty of God. We try to see ourselves and our neighbors from God’s point of view. What is right, and what is wrong? That is for God to decide. What are our neighbor’s rights? What rights do we have? That too is for God to decide.
- Use the power of government only to protect ourselves and our neighbors. As good citizens, we do not abuse the power of government by using the government to impose our values and personal preferences upon our neighbors.
- Voluntarily giving whatever help we can to our community from our own resources. We do not rob from Peter to give “charity” to Paul. That is, we volunteer ourselves, not somebody else.
To Be Continued
Future installments will include the following:
- An Example Of Civics In Action
- What Kind Of Volunteer Is A Political Activist?