George Washington photo - public domainToday in 1790, President George Washington gave the first ever State of the Union Address, calling for such things as an armed population prepared to fight for the country, laws defining compensation for government employees, immigration, having solid monetary policy, the promotion of science and literature, roads and bridges, and the post office. Almost hard to believe this was 224 years ago!

One thing President Washington said in his speech that I find very intriguing, and agree with wholeheartedly, is that the people of a nation having knowledge is essential to the security of a free people and the Constitution. He said knowledge contributes to that security “…by teaching the people themselves to know, and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority.”

I think that is exactly what we need today. We’re in the midst of the information age,¬† where knowledge is available for free at the fingertips of just about every person in this country. Yet, knowledge seems somehow harder to come by. Many people don’t read. We have come to expect so many things to be handed to us in ready-to-go packages – from fast food meals (who has time to cook these days?!) to oil change lights (who has time to count to 3,000?!) to apps that navigate your every turn so you don’t even need to know how to read a map – that too often people want to know as little as possible to get by! It’s like once people are out of college, they’re out of learning altogether.

I truly believe that America will come to distinguish between oppression and lawful authority in contexts like the NSA, the IRS, war, and individual liberties when we learn to value knowledge, and embrace it on a personal level, not just as something required to get through college.

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