"Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things."--Jefferson

7 MonthlyThemes

When I was first starting Vanguard, my focus was to create a leadership academy where my youth could not only have an individualized approach that incorporated leadership principles and diverse learning styles, but an academy that would deeply engrain in them the principles upon which our freedom exists here in the United States.  As I have studied it in more detail over the years, I believe that the founding fathers were striving for the most perfect and ideal society that they could within the limitations of this imperfect world.

I believe the Constitution is an inspired document from God and that the men who created it pulled upon eternal truths to create it.

I believe that it is only as we understand these same principles that we can enjoy the most fulfilling life and the most ideal society.  As I have used my studies to further understand these principles, I have found that they are true principles for home and self as well as society.

These principles ask and answer the questions that have challenged societies since the dawn of time:
-what is the meaning of life and what makes it meaningful?
-who is responsible for our happiness?
-what are the principles we must build upon to enjoy our greatest capacity of agency?
-what role does God or a supreme being have in life, family, and society?
-is man a creature of society, or is society a creature of man?  (In other words, who came first the government or man…the chicken or the egg :) ?);  subsequently, what are the foundational principles that create good government in self, family, and society?
-what kind of leaders are the ones we need to preserve that freedom?
-what is our responsibility, as a person, family member, member of mankind?
-what is property?  Who should own it? What is our responsibility once we have property?  
(see more under the heading on the home page: "Founding Principles")

In the material below, the first three lines (including the heading) were my organization. My friend Karen identified a similar outline in The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America Volume I: Christian Self-Government, by Verna M. Hall, and her outline is included in the rest of each section, drawing from that book. I have added my own principles for possible "themes within a theme" in italics, as well as a basic "why" before each section.  I personally prefer reviewing the chapters in the "5,OOO Year Leap" to understand better the concepts (they seem clearer to me in there than in the NOAH curriculum), but fully endorse the use of the Christian Heritage series if a group should choose to use those as their monthly outline.

The best way to understand these principles is to read the books suggested in that month, chapters in the 5,000 Year Leap, read the scriptures and poems that go along with it, and the follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost in the direction you feel you should go.

What is man?  on the most basic level, what are we entitled to? who are we? what do we have control over?

My own answer is that we are individuals who have been placed on this earth with a right to property, life, and liberty to use those things. (I like reviewing Aristotle's first five sections in Book 1 of "Ethics" to remind myself yearly what we started out with on the most basic level.) That's it.  Nothing else.

Happiness is something we seek after.  Quality of life is relative. Our youth are growing up in a society of entitlement and I like to start the year with a good look at what their responsibility is in enjoying life and determining their own happiness.  I like to take away that sense of entitlement as much as I am able, so they will realize that life will be hard at times, but that they were born to have joy.  They need to first want that true joy, and then they will hopefully want to learn how to use the tools we will give them the rest of the year to ensure that they will have lives where they can pursue that path to joy without the interference of government or others.  

Is that not the basis for everything else that we do? That we may have eternal joy?  True Joy?

This is a capital time to also talk about mission and meaningful passions and dreams...like I said, a great way to start off the year!

5,000 Year Leap Principles: #1,6-8,22-24,28

Questions: What does it take to make a meaningful life? What is “true happiness”, and are we entitled to it or just the pursuit of it?

Principle: America’s Heritage of Christian Character (3rd)
Teaching and Learning Key 210-224
Expanding principles: building character, faith, steadfastness, love, care, diligence, industry, momentary pleasure vs. true joy, sacrifice, perseverence, eternal perspective

Matt 7:24-29, 2 Tim 4:7, Phil 4:13, Acts 24:16
(My favorite book that captures this concept is "Charlie's Monument."  That book pretty much sums up this topic, with principles that take a lifetime to learn.

Basically, I want them to come out of this month so angry about injustice and lack of freedom that they are willing to fight for it. Books like "The Kidnapped Prince" and "Year of Impossible Goodbyes" and "Red Scarf Girl" are good ones.

As John Locke explained many years ago:
“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom. For liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others, which cannot be where there is no law; and is not, as we are told, ‘a liberty for every man to do what he lists.’ For who could be free, when every other man’s humour might domineer over him? But a liberty to dispose and order freely as he lists his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property within the allowance of those laws under which he is, and therein not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another, but freely follow his own.” (Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 57: P>P>N>S., p.101)

5,000 Year Leap Principles #2, 8-9, 22,26  What is true freedom? Who decides that?

Principle: The Christian Form of Our Government (5th)** (see "Proper Role of Government")
Teaching and Learning 240-249
Expanding: Choice and Accountability, Courage, Individuality, Representation, Separation of Powers*, Moral Government*, Education, Integrity

Deut 1:9-18, Isaiah 33:22, Matt 22:35-40
*I feel that this more closely joins with the monthly concept of "Proper Role of Government" but can be applied here.

I heard property defined as something that we work on out of nature that becomes our own.  For instance, once a man in the beginnings of the world started taking care of an apple tree that was previously unowned, it became his, growing moreso the more he worked on it.  

This concept has obvious applications on many subjects.  For instance:
-proper stewardship: we are accountable to care for those gifts/possessions that God gives us, from our talents to the resources we have around us (fun things to do this month are "Synergy of the Mind" projects that ask the students to use a given set of materials and create something with it)
-creation: we are creative beings, born to create....and there are so many fun ways to explore the joy and satisfaction that comes with creating!
Remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.
But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. 4 Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things. (Uchtdorf, General Conference Oct. 2008)
 -joy of WORK: if the youth can gain appreciation of how they benefit from the "art" of work, that will bless their lives.  If they can spread that message to others, that will bless society. Only a society that works can be free. The Georgic (or agricultural) heritage of our Founding Fathers, men who worked the land they felt connected to and yearned to preserve for their own use, is getting lost in modern culture and projects that involve working and benefiting from the harvest of any labor are boundless.

5,000 Year Leap Principles #7,14,15,27--What is the value of work and ownership?

Principle: Conscience is the Most Sacred of all Property (4th)
Teaching and Learning Key: 225-239
Expanding: Stewardship/Ownership, We belong to God, taxation w/out representation, Work, integrity, honesty, value of creation, respect, consecration

Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 2:10; Revelations 4:11

ROLE OF GOD (I have used the phrase "Role of the Creator" in other sections of the blog to prevent over-use of His holy name.)
This month is used to explore the critical role of virtue of the people and their allegiance to God.  James Madison stated:
 To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them.
-The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962--77 (vols. 1--10); Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977--(vols. 11--).)
Cicero referred to it as "natural law" (see 5,000 Year Leap), a basic level of decency that must be accepted in society in order for it to function.  Virtues like honesty, decency, charity are critically connected to the success in our "experiment with liberty."  

You can use this month to discuss: the importance of these virtues (or what society is like without it, like in "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas"); the 10 Commandments, following inspiration, seeking God's will (which is closely tied with the previous concept); the necessity of allegiance to God; the many faiths in the world and their various pursuits to worship God in their own way (diversity!); the importance of finding God and trusting Him ("I am David"); the right to religion; why have prayer in schools...or even, why we are "one nation, under God" to begin with and the religious views of the founding fathers.

If the youth don't have a basic dependence upon God and trust in Him, nothing else matters.

5,000 Year Leap Principles #4,5--What is the role of "natural law" and God in society?

Principle: God’s Principle of Individuality (1st)
Teaching and Learning Key:141-183
Expanding: Oneness, Indivisibility, Independence, Uniqueness, Godhead, Inspiration, Faith, Virtue, Respect, Diversity, Integrity

Genesis 1, John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Now that we have an understanding of the basic rights and needs in society, we start looking at who we want to lead it.  (This and the next concept could easily be interchanged in order.)  To understand this concept, it is best to look at the life of George Washington, read the 5,000 Year Leap principles below.

These youth will lead in some capacity, whether it is in the home, community, nation...or even self.  It is critical that they develop this "core" trait of leadership, this quality of service and thinking above others over self.

This is a great month for them to study real people and those in fiction to expose them to great souls like Ghandi, Mother Theresa, George Washington, Jean Valjean, Loristan ("The Lost Prince"), and others and see the pain and joy that comes from serving others before self.  Not only must they see the need for that quality in themselves as successful parents and leaders, but they must seek to recognize it in those they desire to put into office.  They also will hopefully apply it in the current leadership positions they have in Vanguard, in their communities, and in church.

5,000 Year Leap Principles #3,20--Compare/contrast Ego-centric versus service-oriented leadership

Principle: How the Seed of Local Self-Government is Planted (6th)
Teaching and Learning Key 250-261
Expanding: Liberty under law, Charity, Change of Heart, Service

Deut 10:12-14, Isaiah 9:6, Luke 9:6; Moroni 7:48

Now that we have determined what kind of people, leaders and principles a society must have to be productive, good, and free, we need to look at what kind of government helps to maintain this kind of society.  A good look at the origins of society can be found in the first book of Aristotle's Politics...particularly the first few sections. From there, the dedicated student of this topic should read Benson's Proper Role of Government article or watch/listen to the recording. This is one of the more challenging subjects we study, as it is the application of true principles in an imperfect model: government.  I will take a little longer to flesh out this idea and its background.

In Skousen's book, "Making of America" he recounts that at the time of the Founders, governments had only ever arisen that were structured to exploit the people, reduce them to poverty, or marshall their youth into war. "No existing governnment was designed to provide its people wiht freedom, prosperity, and peace.  Therefore, the Founders sat down to invent one...more like a restoration of what Jefferson called 'the ancient principles.'"
The Founders' goal was to revive the ancient principles which would allow the sunsine side of human nature to enjoy virtually unlimited freedom, whil setting up appropriate safeguards to preven the doleful shadow of human passion, greed, and lust for power from spreading across the globe. (Skousen?)
This is a great month for simulations for the youth to put into practice what they have learned, simulations where they create government, groups or organizations based upon the principles they have learned thus far.  Games like Nomics, movies like "A More Perfect Union," and even youth elections for the next year could be incorporated at this time.

I feel the only way to understand this subject is to study it.  What is it that makes good government: an abundance of rules and regulations? (see "Animal Farm") Virtue of the people? People who want to ensure security? (see "The Giver")...
Others that may help lend insight to this important question about "what and how much is good government?" are:
 Dream Giver

The Chosen
The Hunger Games
Seven Miracles
Seven Tipping Points 
The Witch of Blackbird Pond 
The Alliance, by Gerald Lund (excellent and clean!)
St. Joan by Twain

Antigone (Les Mis complement the questions brought up in Antigone)
Unfortunately, most of the books are about governments gone bad and what not to do. Basically, when the youth come out of Vanguard, I want them to recognize signs of bad government and have some ideas of what government should be. :)  Government is a necessary evil, ideally set-up to secure the basic rights of man. As one of the founding fathers said, if men were angels, we would need no government :). 

And, it is not until the youth feel passionate about their rights and defending them that they will even care about what their government looks like, which is why I put this later in the year for my own groups.

Other principles you can explore are included below, all of which are excellent virtues/principles for a government to have. I included "Self-discipline" due to the following quote from "Proper Role of Government":
“That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.” (Art. 1, Sec. 35)
Actually, having written all this and researched to find sources and quotes, I think the best way to understand this topic is to read the article "Proper Role of Government" referenced above :).  It is the shortest, most effective means to show why this topic is so important, as well as to give many examples and ideas of how to teach it, what to focus on, and how to apply it or relate to it as a mentor.

5,000 Year Leap Principles #12,13,16-18,19,21--Security versus freedom: where to draw the line in society?  When is "less" actually "more"?

Principle: The Christian Principle of American Political Union (7th)**
Teaching and Learning 262-268
Expanding: Unity, Fellowship, Zion, Self-discipline, Representation, Separation of Powers, Moral Government

1 Corinthians 1:10, Psalms 133:1, Eph 4:1-3

**These could be switched.
Antigone and Les Miserables: these are a remarkable combination when looking at the role of justice vs. mercy in government...basing it around Antigone.  In fact, in the 3rd book of the Eragon series is an example of this issue: when a leader of part of the army led his troops against orders and ended up saving many people.  However, technically, he had disobeyed direct orders, and was publicly flogged for his disobedience. You may also tie in "Gifted Hands" with the scene of Ben Carson operating on the patient who came into the ER, near death and with no person present authorized to operate or to give him authority to operate...and him doing it anyway.  Good, hard questions!! (Like Nephi slaying Laban, the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's laying down weapons of war and being slaughters, Moroni/Joshua leading troops into God-sanctioned battle.)

I feel like this is the "so what do we do now?" month :).  We have taught them all these great things; now it is their turn to try and apply them in their lives.  Books and people that they can really relate to are particularly powerful this month, as they are at the end and ready to go and do something with their new knowledge.

Let me know if you need more on this. :)  It's a great way to end the year! 

5,000 Year Leap Principles #10,11--Who is responsible to determine what is right, and how can they do what needs to be done?

Principle: The Christian Principle of Self Government (2nd)
Teaching and Learning Key: 184-209
Expanding: Delegating, Thrift, Industry, Self-Reliance, Responsibility

Proverbs 16:32, 1 Timothy 3:5

I think the monthly theme categories are comprehensive enough in nature that any leadership principle that I have come across can fit into one of those categories.  I believe if mentors look at a principle they are interested in focusing on for one of the months in the year, I think they could find one of the seven general principles that it would fit under.

For instance, in the leadership theme of property, we have covered the concept of the value of work (Little Britches), the healing nature of being in the outdoors and working outdoors (The Miracle of Maple Hill), and joy and lessons learned in the act of creation (Becoming Isaac and The Single Shard).  In the month about "worshiping God" we have studied the diversity of religions--with the underlying need for all to find God (and what life is like in a godless society--"Boy in the Striped Pajamas"), God's voice in our lives as we seek to find personal mission ("The Alchemist"), and the strength that God can be in the lives of individuals to make good decisions that benefit society ("I am David" and "The Hiding Place").

It has been amazing to me how all the articles, books, and etc. that I come across that touch and inspire me with leadership, agency, stewardship, etc. principles have been easily placed in one or more of the seven categories.

While others may feel this is too narrow a sphere to study, I feel that this is the time to resurrect an education of these principles, of this dialogue, in order to preserve our freedom to study other things.  As John Adams wrote to his wife:
The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain. --Letter to Abigail Adams (12 May 1780)

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