Smithfield High School student wins VFW essay contest
Brandon Zakaras, a senior at Smithfield High School, recently won the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Voice of Democracy Essay Contest at the local level. His essay will now compete in the district-level contest. The Smithfield VFW Post 8545 sponsored the Voice of Democracy essay contest for local students.
The fate of America
By Brandon Zakaras
Many people in today’s world wonder about what America’s founding fathers would think about where America is today, and the answer is not as simple as one would think. While America has become widely known and respected throughout the world for not only its military prowess but its dedication to maintaining freedom and equality for all people, it is also now a laughing stock in others’ eyes. A country should stand together as a united people, but currently America is failing at this aspect of her personality. Politics is a driving factor in whether someone is worthy of being called “honorable” and “worthy” in today’s society, rather than the actions that they take and people that they help. This would cause many people to believe that this is not the country that our founding fathers envisioned, but I would beg to differ and say that this is close to, if not exactly, what our founding fathers envisioned when they created this country. My basis for this argument is from the philosophers that our founding fathers based many of their ideas off of, including but not limited to, Thomas Paine, Baron de Montesquieu, and John Locke.
Thomas Paine was a very cynical yet, ironically, correct man. He said that society is created by the positivity in human nature, and government by the negativity in human nature. He also said that government is deemed necessary because of ‘the inability of moral virtue to govern the world.’ I believe that the founding fathers wanted the best for this country, but also knew that Thomas Paine was correct in his statement about people being unable to have a sufficient government with just the talk of virtue. This is why they added so many checks and balances for the government when writing the Constitution, and also gave a few loopholes in limitations, in case something went horribly wrong and they needed a quick way to recover. They wanted a fair government that was made of the people, that would work for the people, and was supported by the people, but also knew that the government needed to have a strong hand in order to work. This is one of the reasons why I believe that the founding fathers would not be surprised by what is happening in this country right now.
Montesquieu was a man that believed that a person’s dedication should be to their country, and not their own self interest. He believed that two of the main ways that a country could fall would be “the spirit of inequality” and “the spirit of extreme equality.” “The spirit of inequality,” according to Montesquieu, is when a person decides that their welfare becomes more important than the rest of the people that they share their country with, and decide to have political power over them. “The spirit of extreme equality,” however, is when the people decide that the delegates that they chose to represent them are no longer worthy, and rather than elect a new representative, the people decide as a whole to act as judge, jury, and executioner without anyone to answer to. These both have the capacity to completely annihilate any semblance of a democracy a country has, and both of these are currently happening in America. I believe that the founding fathers agreed that America had the potential to have this happen from the onset of her creation, and thus agreed about another of Montesquieu’s philosophies. His philosophy about liberty was not the freedom to do whatever a person wants, but rather to have laws that allow people to have as much freedom as possible while retaining their feeling of safety when around others. This is why the founding fathers allowed bills to be drawn up and have the capability to become new laws. They hoped that this would curb any attempt by the people to feel justified to start overthrowing their government, but they could foresee it happening. This is another great example of why our founding fathers would have no surprise if they saw what the state of America is right now.
John Locke was a philosopher that believed in the idea of natural rights. He believed that when people give their rights over to their government, they enter a social contract with their government where they give their rights over in order to receive protection from others that would abuse their freedom (Stanford). I believe that the founding fathers agreed with this and one of John Locke’s other philosophies. Locke’s other philosophy was his own take on the Golden Rule, which was that no one has the right to take another’s life, as God is the ultimate ruler and He gave us life so He would not want us to take away that blessing from our brothers and sisters. Because of the founding fathers using some of John Locke’s ideas while writing the Constitution, I believe that they would be disappointed with the amount of death and destruction that has been wrought on the United States in recent years.
Even though I believe that the founding fathers’ visions of what America could become negatively have become true at least partially, I also believe that America has become more than the founding fathers could have ever dreamed of. America has become a symbol of hope for people in other countries that dream of a place that can respect them and give them a voice. Though some people claim. that America is not a great country, immigrants both legal and not race across the border to have a chance at a better life in a society that is quite literally a melting pot of different cultures and peoples. It has become a military power that comes to the defense of other countries when they do not have the power to defend themselves, such as South Korea versus North Korea. I believe that even though America is what the founders envisioned negatively, it is so much more than they could have ever imagined as a place of hope and freedom, and this would have made them proud.