Respecting and following the law doesn’t make you a conformist

“When each citizen submits himself to the authority of law he does not thereby decrease his independence or freedom, but rather increases it. By recognizing that he part of a larger body which is banded together for a common purpose, he becomes more than an individual, he rises to a new dignity of citizenship. Instead of finding himself restricted and confined by rendering obedience to public law he finds himself protected and defended and in the exercise of increased and increasing rights.” – Calvin Coolidge – Foundations of The Republic, 1926.

For many elections it has been lamented that voter turnout has decreased, that voters are not engaged in politics. Yet we have the occupy protests. People clearly unhappy with the way things are and haven’t the initiative to actually do anything about it. Why should we, those who do work, vote, participate in the process, listen to those who choose to squat and do nothing but ask for everything?

“Your country has a right to your services in sustaining the glories of her position. These are a common source of pride to you all, and you cannon decline the burdens of empire and still expect to share in its honours…” – Pericles

I interpret the above as saying that if you don’t participate in society, contribute in society, you cannot share in it’s bounty. To contribute you have to work. To contribute within society you have to be a part of it. Being a part of society means working, following the laws which are, in the traditional sense, set by your peers.

Where has this breakdown occurred where people no longer feel a part of society and therefore must protest against it. I blame schools. As someone with school-aged children, I have a first-hand reference between what I was taught 20 years ago and what is being taught now. My oldest is 12, and the only reason she knows the names of all 10 provinces, three territories and the capitals of all of them is because I taught her at home those items. She has learned about science, how to use a computer and a word processor, and how to do math. Yet history, and to a lessor extent geography, are diminished. My nine year old knows about pioneer life in how settlers worked and lived, but doesn’t know anything about Confederation. Nothing about why Canadians in that time period decided working together as part of a common unit made sense.

Now flash forward to these kids in the parks at “Occupy”. If they had been taught history, taught about their common heritage, what it means to be Canadian, would they have occupied a park? Would they whine about how society owes them something and they don’t have to do anything for it? I’d like to think they would be involved in society, not occupying a piece of grass.