2021 Flag Day Salute

This Flag – The Flag of the United States of America, i.e., The American Flag – is the emblem of civil and religious freedom, and well deserves to have a special day to be honored by citizens, governments, cities/states/country, veterans. And may we citizens of the United States stand ever ready to shield and protect it, as we foster and promote that Divine Principle of which it is a symbol through the world.

Divine Principle – Liberty, to which the Founders added Life and the Pursuit of Happiness. Liberty, that Divine Principle that requires citizens to stand ready to secure and maintain as directed by the Biblical Book of Galatians, which directs us to “Stand fast in the liberty where with God has set you free and do not become burdened by the yoke of bondage” (Gal 5:1 NKJV).

Pursuit of Happiness that is a result of the very ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States; greatest documents that proclaim and provide avenues to ensure no government body or person will take away that ideal of freedom.

The Scottish Declaration of Arbroath, believed to be their Declaration of Independence contains one sentence that the Founders of the United States used as a guide in building our governmental ideals. The Scots said,

“For we fight not for honor, nor glory, nor riches, But for liberty, and that alone, which no honest man gives up, except with life itself.”

The words of Patrick Henry ring clear – “I know not the direction my country will take, as for me, give me liberty or give me death.

Liberty – that mystic tie than binds man to country, that mystic motivation that drove citizens from the origin of the Colonies and later the United States, to lay down their working tools and pick up their fighting tools to promote and preserve that Divine Principle. Millions paying that ultimate sacrifice in maintaining our freedom.

Thomas Jefferson, in one of his hundreds of quotes reminds us that “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

President and General George Washington chose the “Cause of Liberty” over being crowned King of the Colonies. He also said the stars represented a “new constellation in the heavens.”

We all must be reminded regularly that This Flag – the American Flag – is considered to be the Flag of Liberty that must be honored, protected and preserved because it is more than just an ordinary flag.

Heroes of ’76 Flag Salute

Old Glory – A Flag of Liberty
by
David McCuistion
U. S. Navy (Retired)

Just a ragged piece of cloth some say,
With no real significance in any way.
Then help me understand why,
And around the world she refuses to die.

Please tell me why if you will,
Her National Anthem gives such a thrill.
When remembering her raising on Iwo Jima’s hill,
 That very sight gives such a chill.

Tell me why citizens cherish her so,
And stand ever ready to take up arms and go
Defend that Divine Principle of which we know
Helps the tree of liberty continually grow.

What reason can be found
For rushing to defend her world ‘round?
What keeps he from decaying on the ground?
I ask you, “Can’t you hear the sound?”

That sound of Freedom that so loud doth ring!
The sound of God Bless America as we sing!
That sound of courage of Eagle’s wing!
That sound of liberty to which we cling!

Red and Yellow, Black, Brown, and White,
They all took up arms to fight,
To defend Divine Liberty as a right,
That keeps Freedom’s Light ever so bright.

This Flag, flown proudly in every American town,
Says civil and religious liberty can be found. 
This Flag raised daily to fly above the ground,
Exalted, revered, protected by citizens all around.

Just a ragged piece of cloth some say,
With no real significance in any way.
A Flag of Liberty like no other, I say!
Yesterday, today, always!

All Citizens: Keep the Freedom and Liberty Quest Alive!

Essential Element Number 6 – Daily Agenda

Maxwell’s quote says it all! However, the bottom line is making it happen.

Mastering Essential Element Number 6 in the Leadership Circle of Success requires a unique dedication to one’s daily agenda. The following behaviors and actions are a few ideas on improving one’s commitment to success.

Conscious Decision – This is the foundation to the beginning of success. Most new year resolutions never happen because the person resolving never makes a “Conscious Decision” to change behaviors. Change happens when one determines internally to take a new path to success. This means consciously – creating an internal “will” – deciding to devote time and effort toward accomplishing a task, goal, or mission. Without a conscious decision to change, no change will take place.

Core Values – moral and ethical beliefs based on Natural Law ideals and exhibiting uncompromising behaviors based on a system of doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Solid core values create a leader of character, which is foundational to who you are as a person that sets the standard for others to follow.

Focus – a point of concentration and behavioral center of activity and attention committed toward an intended purpose based on one’s conscious decision to devote to accomplishing a vision, mission, SMART Goals through a created plan of action.

Intentional Living – Maxwell wrote an entire book on the subject of which he says is the key to choosing and creating a life that matters. Intentional living is about making an impact on people to make them better in their own right. It is about serving the needs of other so that they can achieve their vision, mission, and goals.

Seek Advice – Surround yourself with like-minded people who can advise you, assist you, and contribute to your purpose. This includes partnering yourself with people who have the same value system as yourself (Maxwell – Intentional Living). Maxwell also advises that leaders need to follow his Law of the Inner Circle – people who are close to you as a friend, advisor, and supporter of your value system.

Consistency – Consistency requires self-discipline and self-management, which speaks of one’s character. Consistency in “practicing what you as a leader preaches” elevating the level of trust that others expects of you. Consistency keeps one focused, free from distractions of pleasure, and supportive of self-discipline.

Be Resilient – Resilience helps one recover quickly from setbacks. Resilience is supported by creating a personal vision of one’s purpose, keeping on track to complete one’s mission, and continually working to achieve the necessary goals to turn the vision into a reality.

Make your Bed everyday first thing – Admiral McRaven, in his 2014 Commencement Speech at the University of Texas, emphasized this as a requirement if you want to change the world. His theory is that completion of this daily task starts the day with an accomplishment and motivates one to continue with the self-discipline – i.e., consistency – that contributes to one’s motivation to continue with their daily agenda. I remember showing his speech to my NJROTC students at Cocke County High School. Not long after that video, one of my students told me that he started following that practice and his days were better. 

Following a positive, self-disciplined daily agenda, contributes significantly to a leader’s Plan of Action, accomplishes their SMART Goals, which achieves their personal mission, all of which turn their Vision into a reality. When supported by solid Core Values, leaders keep their Leadership Circle of Success continually turning to make a difference in the world, thereby impacting others and encouraging them to complete their personal circle of success.

Keep your Personal Leadership Circle of Success Alive!

Essential Element Number 5 – Plan of Action

Why is it that New Year’s Resolutions are never, or maybe even rarely, accomplished? Easy answer – a solid plan of action to complete is never written.

This is the exact reason for Essential Element number 5 in one’s leadership Circle of Success. Devising a Plan of Action – or an Action Plan – is quite simple. And there are several examples provide online – Professor Google has the answer. 

Here is a template provide by Zig Ziglar, one of the world’s most famous leadership planners and speakers.

As you can see, the template is like a SMART Goal format. In this format, Objectives are the individual Goals. Tasks are the individual parts of the goal, along with the Success Criteria – measuring all aspects of the task. The task, like the SMART Goal, is time restrictive. The last column is a list of needed resources for task completion. 

Another Ziglar example provides a separate page for each individual Goal.

Worksheet Goal Planning Worksheet Zig Ziglar Goal Setting – db-excel.com

Regardless of the method one uses to devise “A Plan,” one now has an outline of each step or task that must be completed to accomplish the goal. With this focus point people are more likely to stay motivated to complete goals. 

Keep the SMART Goal Plan of Action Completion Quest Alive!

Next, will provide Essential Element Number Six of the Leadership Circle of Success in my next Blog.

Why Goal Setting: Achievement and Happiness

An Essential Element of Leadership Circle of Success

http://www.yourtrainingpaige.com

Why?  “Just Because” is what my Mother would say. During my teaching career my students disliked my “Why” questions, seemingly, because it made them think. I used to not like Moms answer and then I read Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why!

So Why is Goal Setting an essential element of the Leadership Circle of Success? Because it has been an essential part of achieving what ones wants, dreams, and desires for over 40 years. Despite, the several articles on Google that say “Goal setting doesn’t work,” there are many more that say “it is a major step to achieving success, regardless of your business, desires and needs.” Furthermore, there are several ideas on how to go about setting goals, even SMART Goals.

Therefore, “Why Goal Setting?” Because they work. And setting SMART Goals has been the most purposeful and successful method to setting and achieving goals.

So, Accept the Fact that they work, resolve yourself of the need to set SMART Goals, and get on with it.

Setting SMART Goals is “Essential Element” Number 4 in the Essential Elements of Leadership Circle of Success! To fully understand its importance requires some research into the theory of motivation, which leads to David Hume’s Moral Philosophy, theory of the mind.             

Hume maintains that reason alone is not a motivator, but rather is the “slave of passions” that are derived from sentiments of feeling of approval, i.e. esteem, praise. These feelings provide the intrinsic values one places on the “why” of their behavior. The “passion” becomes the “intention,” according to Hume, driving the motivation.

As you may recall, we determined that “why” is about becoming something greater than self that is based on ones dreams or vision of a status in the future, which results in creating and writing a Vision Statement – Essential Element Number 2 in the Circle of Success. 

Regardless of one’s feelings and beliefs of the process of SMART Goal setting, many leadership writers, speakers, mentors, and coaches maintain, with strong evidence, that goal setting strongly supports the intentionality of motivation for success. And, SMART Goal setting is the overall best method of setting meaningful and purposeful goals. Following Hume’s philosophy, SMART Goals setting is the “means” by which the passion – intention – is turned into reality.  

https://www.roystonguest.com/blog/how-to-set-and-achieve-your-2020-goals/

SMART Goal Setting Process

There are five parts to the SMART Goal Setting process and well-established ways to construct each step. Well written goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable or Attainable, Realistic, and Time limited in accomplishing. Briefly below are suggestions on each part. Remember SMART Goals are based on one’s Vision and Mission Statements.

Specific:  Exact, to the point, clear and understandable.

So, let’s say you want to become a Certified Accountant with the vision of owning your own personal business. I can see the need for at least five separate goals to turn the vision into reality: Bachelor’s Degree; Certification; Location (city/state/address); Starting Business and Intention of Business (small business entities/tax preparation/corporate).

Example for bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

Graduate with a Bachelor’s in Science Degree from (college)…….

Pass and obtain Public Accountant Certification (CPA) …………

Measurable: Gauge for success, track to follow, college grades, and determine success.

Graduate with a Bachelor in Science Degree (college) with 3.75 GPA …….

Achievable/Attainable: Can I get into the college I want; do I have the grades to get in college and be successful; Am I (or can I be) admitted to the college I want? If all are achievable/attainable, then continue with above goal.

Graduate with a Bachelor’s in Science Degree from University of _______ with a 3.75 or higher GPA by…….

Realistic: If all the above answers to the above are affirmative, if ACT/SAT eligible and there are no other roadblocks, then continue to next step.

Time/Date: earliest time possible from the date of writing goal and current situation. Requires some calculations, motivation, and known restraints. Once determined, write the complete SMART Goal.

Graduate with a Bachelor’s in Science Degree from University of Florida (or selected college) with a 3.75 or higher GPA no later than June 30, 2025.

Given the example used in this article, you can now write goals for the other four situations I mentioned above. That way you have more than sufficient goals for Essential Element Number Four to meet your Personal Leadership Circle of Success.

The next article will cover Essential Element Number 5 that is absolutely necessary to accomplish your goals, which will in turn your Mission Statement, and therefore, your Vision Statement into a reality.

Additionally, and just as important, you never compromise your Core Values – Essential Element Number 1 – so that you will remain focused not only with Vision, Mission, and Goals, and your Character will remain as authentic as possible throughout life. 

Good luck and “Keep your Personal Circle of Success Quest Alive!”

References:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at https://plato.stanford.edu/hume-moral/.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume/#Mor.

Gregory, Alyssa, 2019. Getting Started With Goal Setting in Five Steps, Retrieved on 11/13/2020 from The Balance Small Business at

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/get-started-with-goal-setting-in-five-steps-2951808.

Ward, Susan, 2020. Your Guide to Setting Personal and Business Goals, Retrieved on 11/13/2020 from The Balance Small Business at

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/goal-setting-your-guide-to-setting-goals-2948131.

Additional References by David McCuistion.

https://vanguardldrship.wordpress.com/2020/07/26/circle-of-success-part-ii/

https://vanguardldrship.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/why/

https://vanguardldrship.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/3-essentials-necessary-for-sustainable-success/

Concepts of a Civil Society

What constitutes a Civil Society? The number of possible definitions surrounding a civil society makes one wonder if it has a definite and equitable meaning. Locke referred to it as a “peaceful place in which people respect each other, and where respect for property claims is a key principle.” In his inauguration address, President George W. Bush stated that: “A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.” Philosophers, including Aristotle, Lock, and Ferguson’s civil society indicate it means a civilized, political society in contrast to barbarism, paternal authority, and the state of nature (Honderich, 2005). A Civil Society is also defined as a “public space between the state, the market and the ordinary household, in which people can debate and tackle action.” (Weeks, 2019)

            Christianity teaches us that God created us in his image, although we wonder why there are so many different images of human beings on earth. However, both teach us that we are to be respectful of everyone regardless of their outward appearances and differences. Examples include: The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12; Loving others more than oneself, Romans 12:10; Show proper respect to everyone, 1 Peter 2:17; and Honoring your Father and Mother, Ephesians 6:1-3 (Bible Study Tools; Maxwell). The Bible Concordance contain 34 different verses with a basis of respect toward others, loving others as we love ourselves, treating others as we would prefer to be treated, and the Ten Commandments that outlines the laws of nature we should follow in our relationships and interactions with other people (Strong & Vine, 1999).

Natural Law as opposed to The State of Nature

Prior to the teaching of Christianity, the ideal and philosophy of a Civil Society of people begins with the rights, moral values, and responsibilities inherent in human nature, that those rights can be understood through simple reasoning. As humans were created in the image of God, all humans were inherently embedded with the Natural Law of God – being and doing good, reasoning to make sound decisions and behave accordingly, and a natural respect for the belief and nature of others. Natural Law is defined as “The belief that certain laws of morality are inherent by human nature, reason or religious belief, and that they are ethically binding on humanity.” Therefore, the law of nature is universal, meaning that it applies to everyone in the same way (Legal Dictionary).

Natural Law is the foundation of all ideals of moral and ethical behavior. Natural Law theory is a label that has been applied to theories of ethics, theories of politics, theories of civil law, and theories of religious morality. (Stanford.edu) Ethics and ethical behaviors are based on morals, which originate from the Natural Law. Proponents, i.e. Naturalists, of the belief and validity of the purpose of natural law proclaim that it is inherent in human nature regardless of government insistence on creating laws that are inconsistent with the natural law concept in humans. Furthermore, natural law ideals and beliefs are supposed to be incorporated into the legal system in order to maintain justice for everyone individually and citizens as a group (Free Dictionary).

They Theory of Natural Law is based on the idea right and wrong, knowing the difference and acting accordingly. Theories of natural law are viewed from three concepts: Divine providence; practical rationality; and historical application. The focus of this paper and presentation will be on the divine nature of a civil society, the reasoning used by the Founders in the creation of the American Government and the tool of the Speak your Piece Civility Project (Nine Tools of Civility). From these perspectives, one can see the advantages of civility among humans far outweighs the state of nature ideal of practical rationality, which has resulted in the uncivil state of nature and uncivil practices of communication, uncivil behavior, and, in some cases, unjust legal rulings and practices in America today.

            The Society of the American Culture was established by the Founders from their reading of great philosophers – Aristotle, Demosthenes, Seneca and specially Cicero. Additionally, they knew about Anglo-Saxon common law, and they had studied the European and English philosophers – Sir William Blackstone, John Locke, and Sir Edward Coke. Additionally, they were intimately familiar with the theories of St. Thomas Aquinas’ two theses, which were from a God’s-eye divine providence point of view, and from a human’s-eye point of view with its incompatibility with atheism and deism (NCCS, Plato.Stanford). Therefore, from the very beginning with the Declaration of Independence, the Founders felt that natural law theory was essential to America’s “freedom and unity.” The first two paragraphs refer to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God that entitles everyone to the Creator’s unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness (NCCS; National Archives – Declaration of Independence).

            Cicero defines Natural Law as “true law.” True law is reasonably aligned with nature, it has a universal application and that it is unchanging and everlasting. Blackstone said, “Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator…..they are eternal, immutable laws of good and evil.” Massachusetts patriot James Otis defined Natural Law as “the rules of moral conduct implanted by nature in the human mind, forming the proper basis for and being superior to all written laws; the will of God revealed to man through his conscience.” When the Constitution was completed, the Founders believed it was an expression of higher law. Madison believed it was a product of “the transcendent law of nature” and Hamilton called it “a fundamental law” of which no legislative act contrary to it could be valid (NCCS).

            America was created to be a “civil society” based on the “moral law” (according to Jefferson) by which all persons are subjected to by their Creator. For over one hundred years Congress used the basis of Natural Law and the reasoning behind all legislative actions. The belief that existed maintained the behavioral characteristics of honesty, painless fair play among others, and that people should render to everyone their just do. Reasoning felt that laws of nature were binding to the whole world at all times, and that no human law was valid when inviolate to natural law. In addition to an understanding of natural law theory, as well as the several writing on the subject, the King James Bible, and other versions, are based on the Natural Law (Oxford Scholarship Online). Additionally, John Adams regarded politics “the divine science” based on the Holy Bible, and he visualized a nation whose citizens would regulate their conduct on the precepts therein (NCCS). “One Nation Under God” was later added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag as an indication of the basis upon which America is founded.

Many today believe that the current cultural ideals override the idea of the consistency of Natural Law in that as individuals, organizations and governments progress it is acceptable to change the law of nature to accommodate the present state-of-affairs – the state of nature. Therefore, only the present matters, no consideration of past laws and/or philosophical ideals need to be considered in today’s decisions. For example, some of today’s politicians believe that the U. S. Constitution is a living document, and as such, changes in meaning as the country progresses. Under this theory, it is permissible to dismiss the state of nature during the time the Founders lived and wrote the Constitution, which also tends to exclude Natural Law theory as well.

            Social contract theorists described it – the state of nature – as a condition without government, characterized by deficiencies of which only governments could rectify. Philosopher Thomas Hobbes characterized it as a lawless state with no conception of right and wrong, justice and injustice. He believed that the only kind of authority was one with total and unlimited political control, preferably an absolute monarchy. Philosopher John Locke believed differently. He characterized a state of nature prior to a political authority, but that was still subject to the law to nature for government. Locke’s concluded that the proper remedy was the type of government ruled by the will of the majority who elect representatives to govern in a manner that promotes the common good. And, if those elected violate the trust given them, they can be removed from their office. (Oxford, pp. 894-895).

So, the question arises, “What happened to the Civil Society of the Founding of America?” Why does there exist in America today so much uncivility in behavior, in speech and in some of the Supreme Court rulings such as to favor abortion, gay societal behaviors, and other extremely liberal attitudes in the U.S? In the late 1800s and in the 1900s, the courts began to no longer consider natural law philosophy in rulings. In the 1920s, Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes denied judicial reasoning on the natural law (nlnrac.org). In 1947, Justice Hugo Black urged abandoning the natural law formula and argued that it was “a violation of our Constitution (NCCS). These statements from members of the Highest Court in America set the tone for subjectivity in make legal decision. It also became the beginning of the decline in civility, morality, and ethical standards in America, departing from the once objectivity of abiding by Natural Law precepts and standards of civility.

            In a recent article by Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University and renown speaker and writer, he quoted Attorney General William Barr from his October 2019 speech at Notre Dame Law School in which Barr said, “attacks on religious liberty have contributed to a moral decline that’s in part manifested by increases in suicide, mental illness, and drug addiction.” Barr also stated that it is intentional “organized destruction” namely: “secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.” He quotes John Adams, 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Williams also wrote that it is just the tip of the iceberg in our nation’s moral decline (walterwilliams.com).

These statements and comments are similar to writings of Edward Gibbons on the Roman Empire as The History of the Decline and fall of the Roman Empire. According to Gibbons, the root cause of Roman societal collapse was their loss of civil virtue and individual morality. Gibbons believed the laws of morality were as unchanging as the laws of mathematics and physics (thetrumpet.com). In other words, the laws of nature, Natural Law.

Return to “Freedom and Unity” – Civil Society

            To prevent what Gibbons described in the decline of Rome, the civility and morality of citizens in any form of government, the people must decide to return to the ideals of Natural Law and the resulting civil nature of people in their relationship with each other. The modern secular ideals that are propagated through media, movies, music, and public officials must be overcome using the same technological advances to reinstate the ideals of civility in the citizenship. The National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS) promotes several seminars and ideal to return to a moral society, with God-fearing statesmen who lead using the natural law principles upon which America was created. NCCS promotes a return to following the laws of scripture as a basis for civility, lasting peace, and happiness. Families and communities need open discussion on civility, natural law, and the precepts of the U. S. Constitution as the foundation of freedom and unity – e pluribus unum. There needs to be a return to the studies of the Holy Scriptures, which is the natural law basis of a free society. Prayer needs to be more openly practiced and promoted as a right under the Constitution (NCCS).

            All schools need to discuss, teach, and promote behaviors associated with various civility projects such as the Speak Your Peace Project to encourage civil treatment of all citizens in all forms of communication and organizational leadership. Teachers need an understanding of Natural Law Theory and teach the precepts and meaning of Natural Law morals and reasoned behaviors of ethics of moral laws. The following outlines and briefly describes the attributed and concepts of the Speak Your Peace Project. This is only one of the many efforts nationwide promoting civility.

            The following briefly describes the Nine Tools of Civility promoted by the Project whose vision is to urge the citizens of Duluth/Superior area to communicate in a more respectful and effective way. The idea is to enhance the ability to avoid unhealthy debate and conversations. The Project promotes their program using P. M. Forni’s book Choosing Civility.

Civility Described: polite, reasonable, respectful behavior, courteous, pleasantry, honorable and gracious. Quite naturally, uncivil is just the opposite.

Pay Attention: Observe surroundings, don’t interrupt without thinking first, listen intently, make an effort to remember (especially names), Others First.

Listen to Better Understand: ID the “Will” of the speaker, to what “Is” and what “Is Not” said, suppress the inner voice to speak, listen with empathy, reflect on conversation.

Be Inclusive for Greater Good: Civility Knows No – ethnicity, level of leadership, forum, religion, enemies, generation, bounds, and exclusiveness.

Don’t Gossip: Gossiping – hurts, accomplishes nothing, is childish, bad-manners, negative, divisive, destructive, racist, and lowers esteem.

Show Respect: Observe Golden Rule, everyone deserves respect, being uncivil lowers respect, honorable behavior.

Seek Common Ground: Collaborate, compromise, work for good of all, be a Builder, promote success – yours, others, and the organization.

Repair Damaged Relationships: swallow your PRIDE, seek to apologize, forgiveness heals, affirm success of others.

Use Constructive Language: no foul language, stick to the issues, don’t attack personally, no “yea-buts” or “we’ve always done it that ways.”

Take Responsibility: hold yourself accountable, don’t blame others, accept faults, clean up language, speak positively, respect everyone – Be the Example.

            Civility helps build strong and lasting relationships. Civility leaves memories of positive interactions and experiences. Civility binds people to each other and new ideas. Civility is an innate behavior based on the Golden Rule and 34 other biblical scriptures. Civility, by nature, is an innate behavior of respect for others.

            A movement needs to take place to instill the positive, relationship building, e Pluribus Enum ideal back into the respectful, compassionate and American civil society of which we were known throughout the world; which is quite the opposite of what we see and hear from our current governmental leadership. A good way to start is with a “Letter Writing Project” based on the ideals of the Speak Your Peace Project noted herein. Citizens need to choose to be Uncommon, which means do not follow the uncivil, ego-based behaviors espoused by Academia, the Media including Hollywood propagations, and social media. Lastly, peaceably, and compassionately confront uncivil behavior, with teachable and reasonable language.

Be “The Example of Civility.”

References

1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/highlights/010705_civil.shtml

2. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_american_context_of_civil_society#

3. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/

4. https://nccs.net/blogs/articles/natural-law

5. https://legaldictionary.net/natural-law/

6. https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/natural+law

7. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/preamble

8. http://www.nlnrac.org/critics/oliver-wendell-holmes

9. https://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/natural-law.htm

10. https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/bible-verses-about-respect/

11.https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535293.001.0001/acprof-9780199535293

12. https://www.http://walterewilliams.com/us-in-moral-decline/

13. https://www.thetrumpet.com/15831-why-moral-decline-matters

14. Weeks, Marcus editor, 2019. How Philosophy Works, The Concepts Visually Explained. DK Publishing, New York, p. 204.

15. Honderich, Ted editor, 2005. The Oxford Guide Philosophy. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 142-143.

16. Strong, Dr. James & Vine, W.E., 1999. Strong’s concise and Concordance & Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible: Two Bible Reference Classics in One Handy Volume. Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville.

17. Morris, Benjamin F, 2007. The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States. American Visions, Inc., Powder Springs, Georgia.

18. Maxwell, John C., The Maxwell Leadership Bible: Lessons in Leadership from the Word of God. New King James Version (NKJV), Thomas Nelson, Nashville.

19. Nine Tools of Civility – Speak the Peace Civility Project. http://www.dsaspeakyourpeace.org/about.html.

Circle of Success – Core Values

Success if a process. Success doesn’t happen only once in a lifetime. Success is like a circle that goes around and around continuously because one must keep it going. In the circle of success, it may stop or even end on an event, project or period of time. However, it begins again, sometimes on a new event or project, and other times it picks up again from a past time. None the less, when it begins, the steps to success must contain the above six steps to be a success. Before you disagree, let me explain.

Values – Who am I?

In leading and leadership, “Knowing Thyself” sets the foundation of one’s core values, i.e. honesty, integrity, work ethic, courage, commitment, trustworthiness, fairness, respect of self and others and several of the other twenty-plus character traits and core values. Furthermore, one’s spiritual intellect and values contributes significantly to the personal value system of people. Other concepts such as strengths, weaknesses, emotional intelligence levels, physical fitness practices and ability to communicate – oral and written – adds to a leaders ability to understand oneself.

Wisdom is a process as well, also a crucial part of growing as a leader. The premier leadership trainer in the world, John Maxwell says, “To grow yourself, you must know yourself.” Therefore, the Delphic Oracle of “Knowing Thyself” is critical to leadership and leading others, and enables one to read and understand others with whom they interact and lead. Core Values are foundational to knowing oneself and growing as a leader.

Core Values

To be properly and intrinsically motivated requires that leaders and those being led have deep-seeded core values. Core Values are not just simple beliefs. They are time-tested and accepted beliefs that are based on philosophical thought and practice that have been proven to apply to a more than just a few individuals. They are valued and accepted as truth, they are known to make a difference in the life and behavior of individuals, and they are used by an individual as foundational beliefs and guidelines for righteous and principled living.

Core Values are not subjective! Core values are objective values that are morally and ethically proven to be in the best interest of all people, that are based on intrinsic behaviors that treat people respectfully, and that result in a caring nature equal to all mankind.

The derivative ideal (philosophy) of morals and ethics is the Natural Law, which as Aristotle points out in his Nicomachean Ethics, centers on the ideal of “doing good.” Doing good is also related to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The philosophy of human affairs centers around the idea of happiness. The virtue of happiness goes well beyond the feelings and pleasure of the moment. Ultimately the intrinsic reward of happiness is found in the excellence of human moral principles and ethical behaviors. In other words, the very base of who we are and of what is our make-up.

Natural Law according to St. Thomas Aquinas is an ordinance of reason towards the common good. Ordinance of reason signifies rules or virtues based on the innate reasoning of the ideals of God; in other words, the Laws of Nature. Therefore, all laws today are supposed to be ideas stemming from the Natural Law.

St. Thomas Aquinas in his writings identified seven basic goods in the quest of happiness:

  1. Life – Self-preservation. Drive to sustain life;
  2. Reproduction – Make more life with another, including sex drive;
  3. Educate one’s offspring – importance of schools, lessons in morality and survivability;
  4. Seek God – instinctive desire to know God;
  5. Live in Society – Man by nature is a social animal who has a desire for love and acceptance.
  6. Avoid offense – basic good is not becoming offensive, and we feel shame when we don’t do good (shame has been removed from our society today);
  7. Shun Ignorance – Nature of man is to become smarter about things and life.

Aquinas also proclaimed that we don’t need the Bible, or religion or church to understand the Natural Law. He says that we violate our innate human nature due to ignorance and emotion. Ignorance by seeking what we “think” we should without reason as to what we know we should be doing. Emotion by letting our feelings and desires overcome what we know we need to be doing, causing us to fail to do what we know is right and good. As such, the following Cardinal Virtues are based on the ideas associated with the Natural Law of Man.

Cardinal Virtues

The four Cardinal Virtues – Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice – were first identified by Plato as essential requirements of living a happy and morally good life. Aquinas defines virtue as a “Habit that disposes an agent to perform its proper operation or movement.” He believes that the Cardinal Virtues provide a foundation of all moral activity.

The word Cardinal means “serving as a hinge” of other words. In other words, in the case of Cardinal Virtues, all other virtues, i.e. values, are hinged upon or related to them. Here are some brief statements from various sources on each.

Temperance.

  • Restrained desire for physical gratification. Moderation of physical pleasures such as eating, drinking, and sex.
  • Restrain what Aquinas calls “concupiscible passions” – the appetite of desiring pleasure and avoiding what is harmful.
  • Due restraint upon the affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable.
  • Frees the mind from the allurements of vice.
  • Avoid excess and peer pressure to behaviors of pleasure counter to the divine principles of Deity.
  • Exercise self-control and keep worldly passions within limits of the good and honorable.

Fortitude. (Courage)

  • Ability to undergo pain, peril and danger.
  • Rational reasoning to avoid cowardness and irrational behavior.
  • Courage to demonstrate the mental, physical and moral courage to do good toward all mankind.
  • The Grit, Perseverance, and resilience to overcome evil with good and keep going when the going gets tough.
  • Endure the pain and discomfort of achieving the human good.
  • Restrain the fears that prevents reason for enduring dangerous circumstances.

Prudence.

  • Ability to make good judgments on proper behaviors.
  • Regulate our lives and actions with proper and good reasoning.
  • Regulate the present and the future that leads to happiness.
  • Decision-making that discerns between right and almost right behaviors.
  • Discernment between the irrational and the rational end goal – happiness.

Justice.

  • Governs our relationship with others – Golden Rule for example.
  • No consideration of personal gain but about community and organizational gains.
  • Render to others their just due – caring about their progress and betterment.
  • Render assistance and aid to depressed individuals regardless of other thoughts.
  • Includes all other virtues that are directed to another person for their good.

As noted above, to be a leader, you must be a person of character, character that is based on the Cardinal and other hinged virtues (values). This means that you are ethical and principle-centered. This is an important quality in an individual, especially a Christian. It will prove beneficial to the development of the leadership team and organizations Vision, Mission, and Goals to have a deeper, fuller understanding of this concept.

Character

Character is defined as the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. Human rectitude is defined by Natural Law moral and ethical principles, which is also encompassed with several other core values defined by St. Thomas Aquinas and other. Character Counts outlines Six Pillars of Character as the core ethical values. The Virtue Project lists 52 other virtues that are related, hinged, to the Cardinal Virtues. These traits are behavioral expectations of all people. A short review of these concepts is at times necessary to remind us of our base behavior toward mankind. Included are pertinent scripture reference. Character is driven by “a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Morals

The base of Core Values – Morals – is defined as the most important code of conduct put forward by a society and accepted by the member of that society. Morals are the principles and guidelines that we follow to restrain our Ethical behaviors. Morals refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons. (Bartlett, Robert and Collins, Susan. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Ethics

Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; the principles of conduct governing an individual or group. Ethics are the practices we exhibit in our daily conduct of doing good, doing what is right, and the rectitude described in our moral standards. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/.

Several organizations and writers have described several attributes or practices under the title of core values evolving from Aristotle’s moral virtues.

Natural Law Morals + Leadership Ethics + Uncompromising Core Values = Authenticity – Trustworthiness – Relationship Building Expertise. Elements of true Servant Leadership.

 

The Ineffable Power of Resilience*

Why is it that some people are always upbeat and positive, with an optimism as clear as a cloudless sky? What gives them the power to override stress, recover from failures as if they never happened, and continue to perform at top-notch levels?

Research indicates that there seems to be an ineffable – indescribable – nature of humans that allows peoples to be set-back, knocked-down or pushed-back and rebound – bounce back – just as strong as before the incident that caused stressful or negative feelings or behaviors. Psychology Today says, “Research shows that, on average, human beings are hardwired to be more optimistic than not. It’s an admirable quality, one that can positively affect a person’s mental and physical health.”

Resilience is the individual capacity to withstand, recover, grow and function competently in the face of stress, adversity and changing demands. It is a capacity that studies show can be cultivated by people that gives them this leadership quality enabling superior performances. Leadership factors that are affected, that make people resilient are optimism, cognitive problem-solving skills and goal achievement.

In other words, resilience can be cultivated – built, sustained, supported and reinforced within each one of us to effectively control our behaviors – our optimistic attitude – regardless of the daily situations we encounter.

The benefits of being a highly resilience leader include:

  • Increased confidence;
  • Improved judgment and problem-solving abilities;
  • Focus and performance under pressure;
  • Improved coping skills
  • Decrease in depression; and
  • Enhanced relationship building and reduced anxiety.

Following a five-year study, the U. S. Navy teaches the following four area, or domain, of human beings that can improve optimism, attitude and overall performance.

 

Four Domains of Resilience 

Domain #1 – Mind

The mind – controller of all our thoughts and behaviors – is the foundation of the combination of the four domains of resilience. With the mind, we can use resources and foster emotional, cognitive and active coping strategies.

Using our mind in an enthusiastic and positive manner, we can reinforce resilience with these thought processes.

  • Build and sustain an optimistic attitude regardless of behaviors around us
  • Laugh, especially at ourselves, maintain a sense of humor in leading
  • Engender flexible and positive thinking
  • Ensure awareness of negative thoughts – change how you think about them
  • Manage your emotions with mindfulness, relaxation techniques
  • Build and maintain self-esteem and self-confidence

Domain #2 – Body

There has always been a mind-body connection in relation to our emotional intelligences and behaviors. Both can be affected in a positive manner, physical manner.

Embrace the ability to adopt and sustain the healthy behaviors needed to enhance health and well-being. Study after study reinforces the fact that a physically fit body enhance greatly performance and studies support these reinforcing resiliencies.

  • Maintain a physical fitness and exercise program – three times a week for 1 hour minimum
  • Become involved in physical and recreational activities
  • Power nutrition, healthy eating habits, with a disciplined limited intake
  • Restful sleep – 7 to 8 hours a night support feeling energetic and vibrant

Domain #3 – Spirit

Spiritual Intelligence has become a positive leadership ideal that supports the proven techniques of emotional intelligence, physical intelligence and academic intelligence. Leaders need a sound awareness of their own spiritual nature and the spiritual nature of those they lead. Cindy Wigglesworth’s SQ21: The Twenty-one Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, and Blackaby Brother’s Spiritual Leadership provide some great insights into building and sustaining the spiritual nature of our body and mind.

The Spirit Domain encompasses the following attributes:

  • Value clarification, and Core Value Convictions;
  • Spirituality: faith and prayer; and
  • Religion and altruisms

Domain #4 – Social

The social nature of mankind enables us to initiate, maintain and use social resources and connections in order to build strong, esprit de corps and relations with those with whom we work and lead. Enhancing our social domain enables Maslow’s belonging hierarchy of needs.

Building the social domain means going way beyond the popular social media avenue that promote self-photographs and other forms of entertainment. It is more about making connections, such as the business term of Networking, as well as leaders building positive relationships with those in their organization.

Reinforcement of the social domain entails:

  • Time management and family involvement;
  • Cultivating friendships;
  • Participation in community activities and events;
  • Building leadership relationships – building esprit de corps; and
  • Positive reinforcement and mentoring

The National Center for PTSD created a Response to Stressful Experience Scale (RSES) to determine factors that people can follow to cultivate resilience in their daily lives. The following are just six of those factors.

Resilience – how to get it and keep it

  • Positive outlook – Optimism; always poised; keeping emotional control of oneself
  • Spirituality – Faith; prayer/meditation; value system; purpose and meaning of life
  • Active Coping – Find creative ways of problem-solving – don’t give up; face your fears; expect to handle problems and bounce back
  • Self-Confidence – expect to handle problems and work through challenges
  • Learning and Making Meaning – find strength in meaning, vision and mission of life
  • Accept limitations and circumstances – know what can’t change

PTSD is not just about recovering from combat. It is also about overcoming traumatic events that happen in our daily lives. These events can be anything that disrupts our daily routine, minor or major. Understanding the Mind-Body-Spirit aspect of ourselves combined with a social network of support is crucial to building and preserving individual resilience.

Keep the Resilience Quest Alive!

* The information contained in this article is taken from the U. S. Navy Task Force on Resilience that is the result of a five-year study on ways to improve resilience in Navy personnel. It is designed to improve readiness, resilience, and reduce suicide in the Navy. The information is invaluable for anyone suffering from a traumatic event in their lives.

Elements of the Foundation – Four Pillars

In my previous article on the Foundations of Happiness, I mentioned the Natural Law and the Cardinal virtues as foundational to the happiness of man.

     The following is from the book The Real George Washington – The True Story of America’s Most Indispensable Man by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. Brother Mason Washington’s leadership at the Constitutional Convention was significant, whereby when speaking under the rules of order, all remarks were spoken directly to Washington. He felt his purpose was to listen and only speak when necessary.

His unspoken, non-verbal communication was a superior influence on the members of the Convention. Washington’s character was impeccable with a strong belief in God and the relationships of man under the Natural Law. There is a distinct connection of unspoken assumptions between the Foundations of Happiness, a virtuous society of man, and the Pillars of the United States Constitution.

     Pillar #1. The Constitution recognizes the existence of natural law. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson referred to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Natural law recognizes the distinct and direct connection between God and the natural order of the earth and of the people on earth. The concept of unalienable rights is based on the natural law and man’s natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

     Pillar #2. The Constitution is based on the principle that all citizens of a republic nation must be virtuous and moral. Only people of virtue and a high moral standard are capable of freedom. This natural law ideal is the basis for the Golden Rule described in the biblical book of Matthew. Ben Franklin in one of his writings proclaimed, “As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need for masters.”

Washington, as stated above, was a virtuous man who had deep feelings about the need for morality and virtues among Americans. In a communication to Lafayette he wrote that the Constitution would protect America’s constitutional government as long as ther was virtue in the body of the people. In his Farewell Address he emphasized, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

     Pillar #3. The Constitution acknowledges that the people are the true sovereigns in a republican government. Under natural law, no man has a right to rule over another, unless the subject gives his consent. Washington, Hamilton and Madison all wrote about the importance of the people as to the success of the Constitution. Furthermore, all three believed in the foundation of this belief was that the people would remain moral and just throughout.

     Pillar #4. The Constitution was created on the assumption that America would function under a free-market economy, recognizing and protecting property rights. Freedom and property right are all natural law concepts. As John Adams wrote, “All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; ……..that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

The United States is a government based on principles of natural law, assuming a populace that is moral and virtuous. We citizens need to pledge ourselves to a daily behavior in countenance – moral support – with the ideals of the natural law, upon which the laws of our nation are based. A strong moral sense creates a personal leadership transparency that clearly identifies our integrity and honor.

The Foundation of Happiness

What is the secret of happiness? This question has been asked, surmised, argued, and guessed at for hundreds of years. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers wrote of the inalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Freemasonry – a system of morality – teaches the answers to and the pursuit of happiness in several of our rituals and lectures.

The Great Philosophers, Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and many other philosophers discussed, debated and wrote about it for years. Jesus, in his time on earth, taught and modeled the perfect ideal of happiness. Leadership pundits for years have opined about, talked about and wrote about the ideal principles and practices of motivating people to happiness in teams and organizations. The greatest rulers in history sought to obtain it through war and power over people to no avail of achieving personal happiness.

Beyond the philosophy and psychology of personal behavior and the quest of happiness, people of great wealth, from King Solomon down to the richest today, have sought to gain forms of happiness through material possessions. However, none can be quoted as the happiest among us. So, what is the answer?

I think we need to approach it from a different prospective, which is my intent here. While I certainly will not make the claim of having the answer. I can proclaim that in my personal life pursuing happiness in several material possessions, to the proclaimed happiness of Eros, and in similar behaviors, I know my own quest for and obsession of finding happiness has been somewhat futile. Having said that, please allow me to attempt to motivate you to ponder happiness beyond the present-day views and ideals.

Philosophies, beliefs, and behaviors begins with the Natural Law. Wait! What? Nobody talks about Natural Law today. Herein lies the real problem. Natural Law, i.e. the Laws of Nature, innately drives good and correct behaviors – love, respect for others, the Golden Rule, caring for others, etc. Natural Law is about rationality of reason toward behaviors, morals and ethics, differences between good and evil, and the ideal of happiness of human beings.

Natural Law according to St. Thomas Aquinas is an ordinance of reason towards the common good. Ordinance of reason signifies rules or virtues based on the innate reasoning of the ideals of God; in other words, the Laws of Nature. Therefore, all laws today are supposed to be ideas stemming from the Natural Law.

Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics describes this good as another word for happiness. Happiness includes the excellence specific to human beings as human beings, which he calls “virtue.” Virtue relates to the activity or the way we are to live as human beings. From this he derived his Eleven Moral Virtues – Courage; Moderation; Liberality; Magnificence; Greatness of Soul; Ambition; Gentleness; Friendliness; Truthfulness; Wittiness; and Justice.  Other philosophers down through history have opined on several other virtues, i.e. core values by which we can and should govern our lives and behaviors.

St. Thomas Aquinas in his writings identified seven basic goods in the quest of happiness:

  1. Life – Self-preservation. Drive to sustain life;
  2. Reproduction – Make more life with another, including sex drive;
  3. Educate one’s offspring – importance of schools, lessons in morality and survivability;
  4. Seek God – instinctive desire to know God;
  5. Live in Society – Man by nature is a social animal who has a desire for love and acceptance.
  6. Avoid offense – basic good is not becoming offensive, and we feel shame when we don’t do good (shame has been removed from our society today);
  7. Shun Ignorance – Nature of man is to become smarter about things and life.

Aquinas also proclaimed that we don’t need the Bible, or religion or church to understand the Natural Law. He says that we violate our innate human nature due to ignorance and emotion. Ignorance by seeking what we “think” we should without reason as to what we know we should be doing. Emotion by letting our feelings and desires overcome what we know we need to be doing, causing us to fail to do what we know is right and good.

Cardinal Virtues

The four Cardinal Virtues – Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice – were first identified by Plato as essential requirements of living a happy and morally good life. Aquinas defines virtue as a “Habit that disposes an agent to perform its proper operation or movement.” He thinks that the Cardinal Virtues provide a foundation of all moral activity.

The word Cardinal is defined as meaning of “serving as a hinge” of other words. In other words, in the case of Cardinal Virtues, all other virtues are hinged upon or related to them. The Initiate of Freemasonry is provided with a brief description of these virtues. Here are some brief statements from various sources on each.

Temperance.

  • Restrained desire for physical gratification. Moderation of physical pleasures such as eating, drinking, and sex.
  • Restrain what Aquinas calls “concupiscible passions” – the appetite of desiring pleasure and avoiding what is harmful.
  • Due restraint upon the affections and passions which renders the body tame and governable.
  • Frees the mind from the allurements of vice.
  • Avoid excess and peer pressure to behaviors of pleasure counter to the divine principles of Deity.
  • Exercise self-control and keep worldly passions within limits of the good and honorable.

Fortitude. (Courage)

  • Ability to undergo pain, peril and danger.
  • Rational reasoning to avoid cowardness and irrational behavior.
  • Courage to demonstrate the mental, physical and moral courage to do good toward all mankind.
  • The Grit, Perseverance, and resilience to overcome evil with good and keep going when the going gets tough.
  • Endure the pain and discomfort of achieving the human good.
  • Restrain the fears that prevents reason for enduring dangerous circumstances.

Prudence.

  • Ability to make good judgments on proper behaviors.
  • Regulate our lives and actions with proper and good reasoning.
  • Regulate the present and the future that leads to happiness.
  • Decision-making that discerns between right and almost right behaviors.
  • Discernment between the irrational and the rational end goal – happiness.

Justice.

  • Governs our relationship with others – Golden Rule for example.
  • No consideration of personal gain but about community and organizational gains.
  • Render to others their just due – caring about their progress and betterment.
  • Render assistance and aid to depressed individuals regardless of other thoughts.
  • Includes all other virtues that are directed to another person for their good.

Hinged upon these foundational virtues are various aspects of installing officers into the various position in organizations. Happiness of employees is identified as a major goal of the governance of the organizations. In addition, individuals are charged with the pursuit of happiness and high moral standards in their lives and that of the organization.

Imagine the level of happiness if everyone governed themselves accordingly through the divine precepts of the Golden Rule in all aspects of their behaviors. Imagine the level of happiness if everyone governed themselves through the Cardinal Virtues in all instances of building good relationships with others. Imagine the level of happiness if  everyone removed all bias and jealousness in our daily dealings with leadership. Imagine the level of happiness if everyone pursued the standard of life-long learning in the various secrets of happiness.

We all need to “Keep the Happiness Quest Alive!” in our daily lives.

References:

  1. Russel, Bertrand, 1945. A History of Western Philosophy. New York, Simon & Schuster.
  2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2002. Https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-ethics/
  3. Natural Law Theory: Crash Course Philosophy #34 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_UfYY7aWK0
  4. Bartlett, Robert & Collins, Susan, 2011. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Chicago, University Press
  5. St. Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law Ethics, Academia at https://www.academia.edu/download
  6. Seek First the Kingdom, Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s Blog, Archdiocese of Washington at Https://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2014/07/16/cardinal-virtues-pursuit-happiness/
  7. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy; A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource. Thomas Aquinas: Moral Philosophy at https://iep.utm.edu/aq-moral/#H3