A civic duty and a historic parallel

Macon Telegraph journalist Charles Richardson, former Mercer University President, Dr. Kirby Godsey, and Mercer Law Professor David Oedel have all brought interesting points to the discussion of the problem of education and ethics. I believe this is a problem — not just affecting Georgia and Bibb County — but also the nation. And, in contemporary society, it goes deeper than educational methodology and throwing money at the problem. If history is any guide, it goes, unfortunately, to the core of our development as a society, citizenship, and declivity as part of (Western) civilization.

Consider the civic duty of a citizen in the Roman republic up to the time of the conquest of Alexander’s Hellenistic world, the sense of duty of the citizen to serve the republic; the thirst for learning of Greek aesthetics, architecture, law, history, rhetoric, mathematics, oratory, absorption of the various schools of philosophy (e.g. Stoicism, empiricism, humanism), etc.

In short, there was great value and pride to be a well-rounded, learned, Roman citizen, incarnated in the highest officers of the state, from the consuls Scipio Africanus Major (236-183 BC), Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Minor (185-129 BC), Gaius Titus Flaminius (c. 210-187 B.C.), Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (the father of the more popular Gracchi brothers), etc., was enhanced by the friendship of the Romans to the various people they conquered, such as the Greek historian Polybius (200-118 BC).

This sense of citizenship of duty and of learning, trickled down to the citizen, who was more than willing to be informed about civic affairs, serve the nation, the army (i.e., citizen-soldiers), in the magistracies, in the remote provinces and outposts. Roman citizenship was a symbol of pride and a valued asset in the Republic and in the early empire. The civic sense or responsibility of the Roman nobility ended with the death knell of the Republic, although a semblance of it persisted with the Principate during the Pax Romana and the Silver Age of the Adoptive emperors. Loss of self governance and freedom, and the confidence that went with them resulted in decline in the sense of civic duty and responsibility in the late Empire.

Consider the attitudes of the Romans by the time of brutish Emperor Caracalla, who extended citizenship to people in the provinces who no longer cared or wanted it be citizens, so they would not have to pay further taxes and serve in the civic offices of the empire.

Taxation became rampant with corruption. Decadence surpassed duty. Citizens were no longer were willing to serve as soldiers to defend the borders of the empire against the barbarian hordes piling up at the frontiers.

Citizens were then unwilling to serve the public as magistrates, judges, etc., not to mention serving in the army in remote outposts. And for those who served in the professional army, shields and armaments had to be made lighter. Professional soldiers no longer wanted to carry the heavy items. The frontiers had to be guarded against barbarians entering, pillaging and plundering the empire, and because of the lack of recruits, this became an insurmountable task. Because of the shortages of citizens serving in the army, both enlisted men and officers, Germanic and Hun barbarians were permitted to enter Western empire provinces and then were recruited to serve in the dwindling Roman army.

Towards the end, the tables were turned and the masters now served at the will of the slaves, and the Germanic generals Stilicho and Ricimer made and deposed emperors at will, and the Western Empire formally collapsed in A.D. 476.

Educational decline and lack of ethics in government are symptoms of a civilization in decline. I hope I am wrong, and the problem with education is a temporary setback phenomenon in our society. If that is the case, then we can reform the system by the promotion of true academic excellence and dedication to basic core curricula (e.g., more time in math, science, reading and writing) and less time in self-esteem and “feel good” promotion and political correctness.

Civics and ethics should be taught in schools so our youth learn moral values and the cardinal virtues, and later, as productive citizens, have functioning moral values with an understanding of civic duty and moral responsibilities.

We should empower parents by increasing school choice and parental involvement in education, including the institution of vouchers and tax deductions for paying tuition in the schools of choice. Teachers should be freed from the stranglehold of the centralized, educational bureaucracy as to be able to raise educational standards and prepare children as individuals for the real technologic and competitive world they will be confronting in the 21st century.

The good news about Roman history and modern parallels is that Rome, as the city on the hill, lasted more than a 1,000 years, and despite periods of crisis and resurgence, such as under Constantine the Great, its period of decline lasted nearly 300 years, from approximately A.D. 180 until its fall in A.D. 476.

Will we last that long, even in decline?

Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D., is a resident of Macon, GA.

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5 thoughts on “A civic duty and a historic parallel”

  1. Dr. Miguel A. Faria

    Besides charter schools like ACE in Georgia, there is another charter school option for families in Georgia. I refer to cyber academies, such as Georgia Virtual School, Georgia Cyber Academy, and Georgia Connection Academy. We have personally found Georgia Cyber Academy to be an excellent school that helped propel our last child to do successful academic work in college. Parents who are very much interested in the education of their children and are willing to go the extra mile should look into these cyber academies. They are considered part of the public school system as a tuition-free, online alternative to homeschooling. They are more than deserving of the amount of their share of public education funds. They are open to all Georgia children who apply. The student works at home during the day, attending classes online, completing assignments, and studying. All books and supplies, including a computer if the child does not own one or cannot afford one, are provided for them. School materials, textbooks, and computers are mailed to the student’s home address via UPS, and return packaging and a postage paid return receipt is enclosed for use at the end of the school year. The only item a parent must provide is reliable internet connection. Since so many people are streaming movies online, they already have a reliable internet connection and can afford this minimal expense. Let’s be constructive, not needlessly disruptive and divisive; our children are too important to be used in personal or political agendas.”— from: https://haciendapublishing.com/good-education-requires-parental-responsibility-by-miguel-a-faria-md/

  2. Dr. Miguel A. Faria

    A patriotic American is a vigilant and informed citizen, who knows that people band together to form governments only with their consent; that the function of government is to protect the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the sanctity of contracts, not entered by fraud or by force, and the right to self-defense and family protection. — Dr. Miguel Faria, America, Guns, and Freedom (2019) 😎

  3. Children should be taught not only the basic academic subjects but also instructed in civics, the constitutional principles of government, and the meaning of liberty. Simply restated, education is important and should also serve the purpose of supporting constitutional governance that teaches the price of freedom and the benefits of attaining and preserving individual liberty.

    Instruct not only your own children but your neighbors’ and those of your extended family. Supplement your children’s education at home ( we did), after school and every summer. Not only supplement their education but also neutralize the PC indoctrination they get in school. My books can help! My last books especially, Cuba in Revolution Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002) and America, Guns, and Freedom (2919). Have you bought and read your copies yet? If you are a long time FB friend, active at my timeline, and can not afford my book, let me know and I’ll send you of one of copies at my expense! But Get a copy, read it, learn, teach your children, history and civics — and combat the disinformation and indoctrination they are getting from the popular culture and the government schools! Home school as I did with my last child. They completed college and all got scholarships — and were immunized against indoctrination!— Dr. Miguel Faria.

  4. I advise my friends to read, as you all know, but it is even more important to assist our children in their education, teaching and encouraging them to read and appreciate learning! A few years ago I had a conversation with a friend about this that may be of interest to my fb friends as well:

    Homeschooling is the best alternative in education options, even better than private schools. And if you cannot do that, then supplement your children’s education at home (I did) and neutralize the PC indoctrination they get in school. Additionally, our children underwent summer school with me and my wife — physics, Western culture, creative writing, math, geography, history, and reading. Years later they all attended college with scholarships.

    We were fortunate because a program in Georgia helped tremendously with homeschooling. Our children initially went to public or private schools. At one school, the teachers were so politically correct, we met with the principal about it as well as because of their requirement for mandatory community service. They had many PC and liberal concepts and that school was not affiliated with any religion. We eventually took our children out of that school.

    At a second private school, our youngest child became distracted and the teachers inattentive. Our daughter was miserable and insisted we remove her from that school as well. Since we live in the country, we didn’t have a lot of choices, and we didn’t want to send her to a public school.

    While doing research on homeschooling, we found a well hidden and superb alternative, K12, cyber academy. It is almost a closely guarded secret because the various state departments of education want to keep it under wraps. Few people know about this, and the public school system has been extremely opposed to this Charter School alternative in Georgia. In addition, the K12 program was developed by Bill Bennett, who you will recall was Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education. In fact, it is a win-win situation because it is accredited by the public school systems in the states, while it is the most conservative and best academic program we could find. So with K-12 cyber academy you get the best of both worlds — and it is homeschooling approved by the Georgia education system.

    The public education system hates this program because each student that enrolls means that an amount of money is subtracted from their coffer and placed in cyber academy funds instead. A few years ago, we had a great battle which we won in the state legislature, and the cyber academy K12 charter school survived with renewed impetus.

    Our youngest daughter did extremely well. She finished high school still part of the cyber academy via homeschooling. She also participated in dual enrollment at Georgia College and State University (GCSU), taking all courses on campus. She received full academic credit both in high school cyber academy K-12 as well as college credit! She went on to graduate cum laude from college and today is doing well working in NYC! I hope Georgia cyber academy K-12 is still available.

    The bottom line is that if parents do not home-school their children, then they must follow their curriculum and education closely and supplement the child’s education at home, as we did, to neutralize the PC indoctrination and correct the bias and/or incorrect information they receive in school. Children should learn how to think, not what to think, in order to prevent their enslavement and becoming automatons.

  5. I was very careful of what my kids (and now grandkids) watch on TV and what video games they play (thank God my kids are doing the same). Until kids reach the age of reason and have internalized a moral code, they can’t properly process `entertainment’ that blurs the lines between good and evil. Parents need to step up and be parents, they are the moral compass for their children. It is not up to the school system, social groups (i.e. Scouts, FFA, etc.) or even the Church to raise your kids, IT IS YOUR JOB! While surrounding them with like minded individuals does help, you need to be `eternal(ly) vigilant’ (John Philpot Curran, 1790).—BB (F; Feb 27, 2023)

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