By Calli Townsend
When I tell people I attend Hillsdale College, I usually get one of three responses:
“Where is that?” or “Isn’t that a private preppy school?” But most often, I hear, “Wonderful! That’s a great school. We need more students like you.”
After three and a half years of this, I think my favorite response, however, was when I met an older man in Florida who said, “A conservative! Wow! May I shake your hand?”
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Now, I am not a very political person. I’m studying sport management after all, so I spend a lot of my time in the sport complex taking sports finance and community health classes.
But outside of those classes, I learn the classics. I learn history. I learn our history — the true version of it.
I trust this is true because our professors hand us packets of primary source documents every semester that take me forever to learn how to read because they’re either written by old philosophers or in Old English.
But I’d rather struggle through those old readings and learn the truth than simply be told the “truth”.
One of those “old” documents I’m studying right now is the U.S. Constitution. Every Hillsdale College student is required to take the Constitution class, preferably before their senior year, but here we are.
Honestly though, I’m glad I waited until my senior year to take this class, mostly because of our current political climate. By the end of this class, I’m sure I’ll feel more equipped and ready to analyze the events and decisions that occur in our country.
I’m already feeling more prepared. On the first day of class, my professor brought up the day’s current events, one which happened to be another call for the impeachment of President Trump.
The first thing he had us do, before making any further comments on the subject, was refer to Article II of the Constitution that discusses the executive branch, the power it holds, what constitutes grounds for impeachment, and the process by which to do so.
Before making any analysis or jumping to any conclusions, we read the original intentions for what was about to take place. By doing that, we laid a foundation of truth and common understanding for future discussion.
There’s something so powerful about that. In the middle of all of the chaos and confusion, this one document offers clarity. It might not fix everything, but it at least tells us how things are supposed to be. It gives us a sense of order and justice.
When it seems impossible to know what’s right or wrong, legal or illegal, just or unjust, at least we have this founding document that can guide our thinking and action.
But its existence isn’t enough. It’s up to us to refer back to it, study it, and live by it.
John Adams warned us of this. He knew our foundation had limitations created by our sinful nature and if we didn’t guard against that, the Constitution would lose its power.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion,” Adams said. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We’re proving Adams’ point right now. As we deemphasize religion and morality, we risk losing sight of our founding principles. We need religion and morality to guide us back to the reason for which our country was founded: freedom and equality.
We can’t have freedom in chaos. Chaos and confusion blot out truth and inevitably give one group or another the opportunity to rise to too much power.
We’ve been blessed to live in freedom over the last 200 years because people with common understanding were willing to submit to our Constitution that provided a greater good. It’s the one thing that’s held our country together for so long. It’s withstood the Civil War, World Wars, the Great Depression, and so much more.
I think if people were to read this great document and appreciate the courage, wisdom, and faith it took create it, they would see our country for what it really is: the miraculous beginning of a free world.
We need this now more than ever. In a world where chaos reigns, we need something to guide us. We need to refer back to our founding and remember what makes our country so special.