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Vernon Burns: Guidance and inspiration from Jefferson

As with most Americans, I realize the times we are living in are the most dangerous our republic has ever faced. This creeping socialistic revolution after one hundred plus years of steady destruction is coming to a climax. We are out of money and we are out of time.
In an effort to inform and educate myself I look to the history of our nation and the history of civilization itself. I’ve been asked to share part of this guidance and inspiration in this series based on the last two paragraphs of President Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address of March 4, 1801. Taken line by line or subject by subject as written by the President. The next line reads “Peace, Commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
This advice from President Jefferson was given to us at a time when the United States stood alone in a mostly hostile world. Being the world’s only democratic republic the rulers of the rest of the world looked upon our new experiment in self government with less than best wishes. Our new republic at that time was very small and weak in comparison to the great powers of the old world. Yet Jefferson had the foresight to tell us our path to survival and prosperity lay in “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations.” But, he also warned that entangling relationships must be avoided. This warning leaves us with the question, what is honest friendship compared to an entangling alliance?
For help understanding Thomas Jefferson we can look back to his friend, fellow founder, and our first President George Washington in his farewell address of September 19, 1796. He wrote:
“Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all … nothing is more essential than permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded… The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far we have already formed engagements let them be ful-filled, with perfect good faith. Here let us stop… This our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world… Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a responsible defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies…”
It would appear to both presidents, Washington and Jefferson are telling us our interest are best served by standing alone. While these wise men didn’t know the dangerous world of the 21st century, they very well knew the nature of man. They knew we must be true friends with those nations who are true friends to us. But, they also knew those nations would be few. They realized fully true friendship between nation, as between men, must be based on common values, common interest, and mutual respect. That relationships not based on these principals is one of only short term convenience and is subject to change.
These great men expected that in all foreign relationships we place the interest of our nation and our people first. I do not see our founders, men who were students of the history and nature of man, subordinating our democratic republic to any nation or united nations. They would not be directed by or fund such an intrusion on the sovereignty of the United States.
Washington, Jefferson  and all our great leaders knew, from their heart, respect and friendship can’t be purchased with our treasure or even our blood. It is not the product of force and domination or aid and kindness. It comes only from those who respect and share our values and desire to live in a world of peace with opportunity for mutually beneficial commerce.

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