New Fiction Book by Contributor FJ Rocca!

MasterofWedNight

Many of you have read FJ Rocca‘s work on our website. FJ’s new fiction book debuts August 14. You can purchase the book over at Wiseblood Books

Two conductors vie for mastery over the symphony orchestra in a small American city.

In the tradition of Henry James, Master of Wednesday Night is the story of Eduard Vitolt-Bartholdy, an intransigent old-school European musician, devoted to his art, and Jeffreys Barthel, a brash, young, American pragmatist with a talent for self-promotion. Will youth triumph over wisdom, profession over art, money over music, so-called realpolitik over authentic genius? In probing this question, Master of Wednesday Night moves from the immediate conflict between innocence and experience back through the tragic history of Europe during the first half of the 20th Century. The young Barthel is forced to interrogate his own “success” in light of this moving meditation on the Maestro’s long life, narrated by Viktor Kaminsky, the valet who has known it all.

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GOOD CITIZENSHIP SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN THE CLASSROOM

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The standards set up by the founding fathers in the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, represent the core tenets of Judeo-Christian culture, but distilled in secular fashion so that everyone, believers or non-believers, have the same standard of ethics and morality. Common sense dictates decency, because without decency a society unravels. The last seven commandments and the Golden Rule are actually philosophic concepts that have been codified by religious doctrine after they existed for thousands of years, before any of the religions that exist today were even conceived.

Good standards are always based in free will, because without willing participation in the precepts of civilization, there can be no society. Examining, studying, and understanding those principles strengthens citizenship. Consequently, all children should be taught these standards, encouraging good citizenship in the classroom, so that when they grow up they will carry those standards into the world with them, ensuring and maintaining an ethical and peaceful society, generation after generation, securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Religions teach rational standards for society by teaching the commandments. But they are not the only way to teach the standards incorporated in those commandments. The principles embodied in the commandments make sense outside the context of a religion. Thou shalt not steal, and Thou shalt not kill, are standards for rational and effective society and should be taught to children because they are good standards to follow. But they ought to be taught as philosophic standards, very simply, by explaining why it is wrong to steal or kill. Honoring thy father and thy mother is a good principle that reaches far beyond the dictates of any religion. It encourages observance of good tradition that lends cohesiveness to generations. The Chinese, whose culture is much older than ours, treats the family as a profoundly important unit in society, and elders are revered, as they should be, for their long years of experience. They know much more than children do, and children ought to be told to listen and respect them. Not even Communism was able to destroy the unit of the family in China. It is too strong to destroy once it is deeply rooted in a society.

Children ought to be held to standards of good behavior in the classroom because it is a good model for society. Being polite, peaceable and charitable to one’s classmates is good practice for being polite, peaceable and charitable to one’s neighbors and fellow citizens. Discipline is necessary to maintain order in a classroom, just as it is necessary to maintain order in society. But rules for classroom behavior and laws for civil behavior are not demands for blind obedience to authority. They, too, are a distillation of principles of sane, moral and ethical conduct, consequently the building blocks of good society and good citizenship.

Permissiveness in the classroom does not lead to greater freedom, because without a level of good conduct, no one could focus on learning, which is the purpose of the classroom. Instead, we should return to the traditional classroom, where good conduct and good citizenship are inherent in every class being taught, from arithmetic, to geography, to history.

These principles are not difficult to comprehend, although they may be more difficult to maintain where groups of children, with their natural tendencies toward less controlled conduct is a kind of norm. But they must be maintained, because without them, education is ineffective and the traditions of good citizenship which were once the backbone of American society will disappear.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse. You can find out more about FJ over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

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CIVICS LESSON #11: PATRIOTISM: WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of emptyglass / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In Massachusetts where I was born and brought up, we celebrated Patriot’s Day on April 19. In school we discussed stories of the patriots who fought for American independence. Among these, in addition to Washington and others who were major figures, were such other men as Paul Revere, Nathan Hale, and Patrick Henry. We often read parts of the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Paul Revere’s Ride” commemorating that historic event. When we arrived at the line about shouting the alarm, we all shouted together, “The British are coming! The British are coming!”

I suppose having been brought up in so to speak the backyard of the American Revolution imbued us of that place and time with a certain keen sense of patriotism and to this day, I cannot hear or think of the word without thinking of those brave men of Lexington and Concord, of the lamps in the Old North Church, or of the Minute Men, an impromptu and sometimes ragtag voluntary militia, whose mission was to wait for the call to form ranks and drive out the British. It was a sense that remained with many of my contemporaries and well into our adulthood and is with me still.

But today, many scoff at notions of patriotism, as though it somehow equated not with pride, but with hatred of anything not American. Nothing could be more wrong than equating love for one’s country with hatred for someone else’s. The freedictionary.com site defines patriotism as “devotion to one’s country and concern for its defense” while it defines nationalism as “a sentiment based on common cultural characteristics” and “exaggerated, passionate, or fanatical devotion to a national community.”

“American” is not an ethnic or racial identity, but a description of the principles that bind us together as a nation. Thus, when one is a patriotic American, he expresses devotion to that set of ideas and concern for its defense. For true American patriots, devotion to America is neither “exaggerated” nor “fanatical” but measured and deeply rational. And because the roots of true American patriotism are just, they are also deeply felt.

What are the roots of this devotion known as American patriotism?

The US was founded by a group of men who understood the fundamental flaw in monarchy in which everyone is subject to the rule of a king, prince or other monarch, or, in the case of a theocracy, to the high priest or Caliph. They understood that if a nation is to be just and fair, it must also be free. The way they established this concept was to state the source of all rights and freedom as a “creator.” But they did not identify who or what that creator was. Thus, the fact of creation and not who or what did the creating is fundamental. In this way, freedom and rights so derived cannot legitimately be questioned or abrogated. The purpose of the founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is to enshrine the fact that those rights, because they are conferred not by government but by the fact of human existence, are unalienable and that government exists exclusively to protect and guarantee those rights.

A true American patriot swears his allegiance to that enshrined principle. Thus, anyone who scoffs at America and its founding principles either does not understand the fundamentals of human freedom or has an agenda to deny them. Germans swearing allegiance to Hitler did not swear allegiance to principles. Neither did the Romans who swore an oath to Caesar. Those who swear oaths to kings or despots or swear their commitment to a religion or an ethnic group, a tribe or a collective are not patriotic in the way Americans are, because Americans, in pledging their patriotism, pledge that patriotism to their own sovereignty as citizens of the freest, most benevolent nation in the history of man.

Jefferson is famously credited with saying that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. A vigilant American who makes an effort to reaffirm the principles of the freedom and rights of every individual citizen is practicing a kind of patriotism. Those who scoff at our nation and who undermine the freedom and rights of individual citizens through leftist advocacy and the passage of laws that gradually abrogate them, are not patriots. In fact, they are practicing a level of treachery that could ultimately destroy our freedom, thus destroy our nation by kicking its foundation out from under it. Then, only true American patriots will be able to save it. Let us hope they are there when we need them, so that we can join them and save ourselves.

FJ Rocca is an independent, conservative writer/blogger of fiction and non-fiction, most interested in the philosophy of American conservatism. Clarity is more important than eloquence, but truth is vital to human discourse. You can find out more about FJ over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.

 

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