Champion of Liberty: Edmund Burke

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Champion of Liberty, Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

keyThose who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion. ~Edmund Burke

From Wikipedia

Edmund Burke 12 January [NS] 1729[1] – 9 July 1797) was an Irish[2][3] statesman born in Dublin; author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher, who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party.

Mainly, he is remembered for his support of the cause of the American Revolutionaries, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. The latter led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig party, which he dubbed the “Old Whigs”, in opposition to the pro–French Revolution “New Whigs”, led by Charles James Fox.[4]

Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals in the nineteenth century.[5] Since the twentieth century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of conservatism.[6][7]

American War of Independence

EdmundBurke1771Burke expressed his support for the grievances of the American Colonies under the government of King George III and his appointed representatives. On 19 April 1774 Burke made the speech, On American Taxation (published in January 1775), on a motion to repeal the tea duty:

Again and again, revert to your old principles—seek peace and ensue it; leave America, if she has taxable matter in her, to tax herself. I am not here going into the distinctions of rights, nor attempting to mark their boundaries. I do not enter into these metaphysical distinctions; I hate the very sound of them. Leave the Americans as they anciently stood, and these distinctions, born of our unhappy contest, will die along with it. … Be content to bind America by laws of trade; you have always done it. … Do not burthen them with taxes. … But if intemperately, unwisely, fatally, you sophisticate and poison the very source of government by urging subtle deductions, and consequences odious to those you govern, from the unlimited and illimitable nature of supreme sovereignty, you will teach them by these means to call that sovereignty itself in question. … If that sovereignty and their freedom cannot be reconciled, which will they take? They will cast your sovereignty in your face. No body of men will be argued into slavery. Sir, let the gentlemen on the other side … tell me, what one character of liberty the Americans have, and what one brand of slavery they are free from, if they are bound in their property and industry by all the restraints you can imagine on commerce, and at the same time are made pack-horses of every tax you choose to impose, without the least share in granting them. When they bear the burthens of unlimited monopoly, will you bring them to bear the burthens of unlimited revenue too? The Englishman in America will feel that this is slavery; that it is legal slavery, will be no compensation either to his feelings or to his understandings.[48]

On 22 March 1775, in the House of Commons, Burke delivered a speech (published during May 1775) on reconciliation with America. Burke appealed for peace as preferable to civil war and reminded the House of America’s growing population, its industry, and its wealth. He warned against the notion that the Americans would back down in the face of force, since the Americans were descended largely from Englishmen:

… the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen. … They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles. The people are Protestants … a persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. … My hold of the colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with your government—they will cling and grapple to you, and no force under heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it be once understood that your government may be one thing and their privileges another, that these two things may exist without any mutual relation—the cement is gone, the cohesion is loosened, and everything hastens to decay and dissolution.

As long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience. Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil. They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But, until you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural dignity, freedom they can have from none but you.[49]

Burke prized peace with America above all else, pleading with the House of Commons to remember that the interest and money received off of the American colonies was far more attractive than any sense of putting the colonists in their place:

The proposition is peace. Not peace through the medium of war, not peace to be hunted through the labyrinth of intricate and endless negotiations, not peace to arise out of universal discord…it is simple peace, sought in its natural course and in its ordinary haunts. It is peace sought in the spirit of peace, and laid in principles purely pacific.[50]

Burke wasn’t simply promoting peace to Parliament; rather, he stepped forward with four reasons against using force, carefully reasoned. He laid out his objections in an orderly manner, focusing on one before moving to the next. His first concern was that the use of force would have to be temporary, and that the uprisings and objections to British governance in America would not be. Second, Burke worried about the uncertainty surrounding whether Britain would win a conflict in America. “An armament”, Burke wisely says, “is not a victory”.[51] Third, Burke brought up the issue of impairment; it would do the British Government no good to engage in a scorched earth war and have the object they desired (America) become damaged or even useless. The American colonists could always delve back into the mountains, but the land they left behind would most likely be unusual, whether by incident or design. The fourth and final reason to avoid the use of force was experience; the British had never attempted to reign back in an unruly colony by force, and they didn’t know if it could be done, let alone accomplished thousands of miles away from home.[51] Not only were all of these concerns reasonable, but some turned out to be prophetic—the American colonists did not surrender, even when things looked extremely bleak, and the British were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempts to win a war fought on American soil.

It wasn’t temporary force, uncertainty, impairment, or even experience that Burke cited as the number one reason for avoiding war with the American colonies, however; it was the character of the American people themselves:

In this character of Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole…this fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies, probably, than in any other people of the earth…[the] men [are] acute, inquisitive, dextrous, prompt in attack, ready in defense, full of resources…”.[51] Burke concludes with another plea for peace, and a prayer that Britain might avoid actions which, in Burke’s words, “may bring on the destruction of this Empire”.[51]

Burke proposed six resolutions to settle the American conflict peacefully:

  1. Allow the American colonists to elect their own representative, thus settling the dispute about taxation without representation;
  2. Acknowledge this wrong and apologize for grievances cause;
  3. Procure an efficient manner of choosing and sending these delegates;
  4. Set up a General Assembly in America itself, with powers to regulate taxes;
  5. Stop gathering taxes by imposition (or law), and start gathering them only when they are needed; and
  6. Grant needed aid to the colonies.[51]

The effect of these resolutions, had they been passed, can never be known. Unfortunately, this speech was given less than a month before the explosive conflict at Concord and Lexington,[52] and as these resolutions were not passed, little was done that would help to dissuade conflict.

One of the reasons this speech was greatly admired was the passage on Lord Bathurst (1684–1775). Burke imagines an angel in 1704 prophesying to Bathurst the future greatness of England and also of America: “Young man, There is America—which at this day serves little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, shew itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world”.[53] Samuel Johnson was so irritated at hearing it continually praised, that he made a parody of it, where the devil appears to a young Whig and predicts that in short time, Whiggism will poison even the paradise of America.[53]

The administration of Lord North (1770–1782) tried to defeat the colonist rebellion by military force. British and American forces clashed in 1775 and, in 1776, came the American Declaration of Independence. Burke was appalled by celebrations in Britain of the defeat of the Americans at New York and Pennsylvania. He claimed the English national character was being changed by this authoritarianism.[9] Burke wrote: “As to the good people of England, they seem to partake every day more and more of the Character of that administration which they have been induced to tolerate. I am satisfied, that within a few years there has been a great Change in the National Character. We seem no longer that eager, inquisitive, jealous, fiery people, which we have been formerly”.[54]

Regarding the French Revolution

In January 1790, Burke read Dr. Richard Price‘s sermon of 4 November 1789 entitled, A Discourse on the Love of our Country, to the Revolution Society.[75] That society had been founded to commemorate the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In this sermon Price espoused the philosophy of universal “Rights of Men”. Price argued that love of our country “does not imply any conviction of the superior value of it to other countries, or any particular preference of its laws and constitution of government”.[76] Instead, Price asserted that Englishmen should see themselves “more as citizens of the world than as members of any particular community”.

A debate between Price and Burke ensued that was “the classic moment at which two fundamentally different conceptions of national identity were presented to the English public”.[77] Price claimed that the principles of the Glorious Revolution included “the right to choose our own governors, to cashier them for misconduct, and to frame a government for ourselves”.

Immediately after reading Price’s sermon, Burke wrote a draft of what eventually became, Reflections on the Revolution in France.[78] On 13 February 1790, a notice in the press said that shortly, Burke would publish a pamphlet on the revolution and its British supporters, however he spent the year revising and expanding it. On 1 November he finally published the Reflections and it was an immediate best-seller.[79][80] Priced at five shillings, it was more expensive than most political pamphlets, but by the end of 1790, it had gone through ten printings and sold approximately 17,500 copies. A French translation appeared on 29 November and on 30 November the translator, Pierre-Gaëton Dupont, wrote to Burke saying 2,500 copies had already been sold. The French translation ran to ten printings by June 1791.[81]

Later life

In November 1795, there was a debate in Parliament on the high price of corn and Burke wrote a memorandum to Pitt on the subject. In December Samuel Whitbread MP introduced a bill giving magistrates the power to fix minimum wages and Fox said he would vote for it. This debate probably led Burke to editing his memorandum, as there appeared a notice that Burke would soon publish a letter on the subject to the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture (Arthur Young), but he failed to complete it. These fragments were inserted into the memorandum after his death and published posthumously in 1800 as, Thoughts and Details on Scarcity.[129] In it, Burke expounded “some of the doctrines of political economists bearing upon agriculture as a trade”.[130] Burke criticised policies such as maximum prices and state regulation of wages, and set out what the limits of government should be.

The economist Adam Smith remarked that Burke was “the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having passed between us”.[132]

Read more about Edmund Burke

 

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Parenting, Teaching, and Children’s Independence

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Raising Resilient Children

By Lyle J. Burrup

LDS Family Services

family4How well children respond to setbacks depends largely on how well their parents helped them develop the attitudes and the skills of resilience.

Life is full of trials. The Lord says that He has chosen us “in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10), that we will be “tried, even as Abraham” (D&C 101:4), and that adversity will “give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good” (D&C 122:7). This sounds quite daunting. We may wonder, can we be happy and at peace in the midst of trials? The scriptures teach us that we can (see 2 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 5:7–8; D&C 127:2).

While counseling missionaries at the missionary training center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, I noticed that the most common cause of emotional problems was a lack of resilience. When an intelligent, talented missionary with no history of emotional problems struggled, priesthood leaders and others often wondered why. In many cases, the missionary just hadn’t learned how to deal with challenges well. Parents can help their children avoid such problems by teaching principles that foster greater resilience.

Attitudes of Resilience

The original definition of the word resilience had to do with a material’s ability to resume its shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed. Today we commonly use the word to describe our ability to bounce back from adversity.

We know two things about adversity and resilience: First, there is “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Second, obtaining anything of great worth often requires great sacrifice.

As children become resilient, they understand and accept these two facts. They see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes. They view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn, and they accept that losing may precede winning.

As children develop resilience, they believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives through effort, imagination, knowledge, and skill. With this attitude, they focus on what they can do rather than on what is outside their control.

Another mark of resilience is to see great purpose and meaning in life and people. A sense of purpose will help our children avoid giving up, in spite of setbacks and pressure to do so. If our children are becoming more resilient, they will develop deep values that guide them: charity, virtue, integrity, honesty, work ethic, and faith in God. They will involve themselves in what is happening around them and opt for commitment to values rather than feel alienated and avoid struggle.

The gospel teaches and reinforces these values and perceptions.

Perfectionism Undermines Resilience

One thing that hinders the development of resilience is a misunderstanding of the commandment to be perfect (see Matthew 5:48). This misunderstanding is the most common factor I’ve seen undermining resilience in new missionaries. They want to be perfect in everything because they love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and do not want to disappoint Them. But they do not understand that the Lord works through weak, simple servants (see D&C 1:19–23) and that striving to be perfect does not mean we never make mistakes but rather that we become fully developed or complete through the Atonement of Christ as we strive to follow Him (see Matthew 5:48, footnote b).

This misunderstanding may also stem from what society teaches our youth: that their worth depends on talent and performance. In schools and communities, sometimes even at church or at home, youth see their peers get acceptance, admiration, approval, and praise for being talented at something. So they try to measure up. As they do so, they start to fear failure and mistakes. They choose what to do based on how successful they think they will be. They procrastinate when they do not feel confident. They worry about what others will think if they make mistakes. They fear loss of approval. They view their performance as the measure of their worth. Their perfectionism becomes a mean taskmaster, and it wears down their resilience.

For instance, because missionaries at the MTC cannot choose what they are going to do or not do as part of their training, they make mistakes as they learn how to speak a new language, teach gospel concepts, and perform other missionary tasks. They make these mistakes in front of strangers, and if they haven’t gained a sense of resilience, they feel distressed and overwhelmed.

Helping Children Develop Resilience

So how do we help our children develop resilience? Our Father in Heaven provides the model. He treats us with great love and respect, even when we make mistakes. He reminds us of our potential (see Moses 1:39) and our great worth (see D&C 18:10), which are based on our identity as His sons and daughters. He gives us laws so we know what He expects (see D&C 107:84), allows us to make choices (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16), and honors our choices (see D&C 130:20). He allows for learning and instruction to correct mistakes (see D&C 1:25–26) and for repentance and restitution to correct sin (see D&C 1:27–28).

Here are some recommendations for how we might apply these principles in our homes:

  • Pray to understand your children’s strengths and how to help them with their weaknesses.
  • Be patient and realize that children need time to develop resilience.
  • Strive to understand that mistakes and failures are opportunities to learn.
  • Allow natural, logical consequences to serve as the disciplinarian.
  • Respect children’s decisions, even if their poor choices lead to lost privileges.
  • Refrain from berating children for breaking the rules.
  • Do not discourage effort by criticizing harshly.
  • Rather than praising accomplishment, encourage and praise effort.
  • “Praise your children more than you correct them. Praise them for even their smallest achievement” (President Ezra Taft Benson [1899–1994], “The Honored Place of Woman,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 107).

As we prayerfully work on the challenging job of raising resilient children, the Lord will bless us with the guidance and inspiration we need to help them gain the emotional and spiritual strength to deal with life’s challenges.

Lessons of Resilience from Childhood

—Lyle J. Burrup

childwkgardenWhen I was a child, many adults in my life—parents, neighbors, teachers, and Church leaders—taught me and my brother and sisters the following lessons. These five principles may be helpful for your children:

  1. Paying the price for privileges. I knew that freedom to play with my friends in the coming days depended on whether or not I came home on time.
  2. The law of the harvest. If I wanted money, I had to deliver the newspapers for my route and collect the money each month.
  3. Personal accountability and responsibility. I had to complete my own homework, science fair projects, and merit badges.
  4. The law of restitution. I could make up for misbehavior by apologizing and repairing the wrong. My parents sometimes suggested that I complete extra chores, such as pulling weeds.
  5. Learning from mistakes. If I made my bed poorly, did not wash the dishes properly, or did not pull weeds properly, I had to redo these tasks correctly.

Recommendations for Raising Capable, Resilient Children

While parenting requires a personalized approach for each child, some principles seem to be nearly universal. The following principles have proved effective.

Instead of Doing This …

Do This …

And Get This Result …

Set random or arbitrary rules and consequences. Discuss rules and set logical consequences that are reasonable, related to the behavior, and respectful of both parent and child. Children know what to expect and learn that choices have consequences.
Allow children to avoid the consequences of their choices. Allow children to experience natural and logical consequences of their choices. Children learn accountability and responsibility for their choices.
Give mostly correction. Give mostly praise. Celebrate small steps in the right direction. Children learn what parents want. They feel encouraged, worthwhile, and appreciated.
Be arbitrary and inconsistent in requiring obedience. Consistently offer desirable rewards for the actions and behaviors you would like to reinforce. Children learn that they don’t have to want to do hard things; they just have to do them.
Praise only outcomes. Praise for effort regardless of outcome. Children feel encouraged, confident, and more willing to take on challenges.
Send the message to children that their self-worth depends on outcomes. Tell children they have inherent worth because they are sons or daughters of God and have divine potential. Self-worth will be attached to the child’s eternal potential instead of temporary success or failure.
Talk about failures or successes as being connected to luck or talent. Define failure as temporary and an opportunity to learn. Define success as a product of hard work and sacrifice. Children are less discouraged by or afraid of setbacks and are more willing to be persistent.
Try to solve children’s problems by giving them all the answers. Help children (1) identify what happened, (2) analyze what contributed to the outcome, and (3) identify what they can do to avoid this problem next time. Children develop perceptions of being capable, will address and solve their problems, and will see that they have control in their lives and can overcome challenges.
Make children feel dumb by criticizing them, their effort, and their accomplishments. Listen and be supportive and encouraging so your children will want to come to you again for help. Children feel more comfortable discussing their mistakes and problems with you.