Jefferson's greatest failure may have been his inability to make education a natural right under God. Most do not realize how that failure could lead to the end of United States in this century. So here is an explanation.
I start with a little history, which you might wish to skip and return to later. For his 1778 address to the Assembly of Virginia, Jefferson wrote:
"Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes."
In 2012, the agnostic critic George Smith wrote, if anything, a ratification of the clinically sociopathic attitudes resulting from this cultural failure. Unable to acknowledge that those seeking to better their minds might actually be better in thought, due to his empirically indefensible actions in world politics, President Bush was renowned in dismissing academic criticisms of his unjustified wars as 'elitist'--a clever intellectual move dismissed as stupidity by the unwise. Could he have understood these words better than others know?
"In an oft-quoted letter to John Adams (1813), Jefferson expressed hope that public schools would become “the keystone in the arch of our government.” Such statements may appear to be nothing more than Enlightenment truisms, but it is important to understand how Jefferson’s views on public schooling differed from the standard Enlightenment call for a uniform system of state education that would produce “republican machines” (to use the disturbing phrase of Benjamin Rush)." - George Smith, "Jefferson and Public Education."
Yet an even greater problem persists. Jefferson's vision was for public education UNDER GOD. It appears the USA has made a serious error in some kind of bizarre compromise, by providing a public education after removing God from the political equation. This I hasten to say is not because such belief should be indoctrinated, as it should not; but rather, the absence of God from the classroom has inevitably led to destruction of the ideas which led to this nation's formation in the first place, and indeed, the destruction is not only continuing, but deepening, and that is happening with hardly a whisper of complaint from those whose interests should already have caused a serious backlash against an ongoing indoctrination of far worse prejudice.
It is the worst kind of arrogance to deny education on the basis that it leads to prejudice, amidst the all-too-apparent and far worse prejudice of the ignorant class such dismissals have founded, in somewhat disturbing and increasing abundance. It is such arrogance that led to removal of God from the classroom, and it is such arrogance which logically leads to the next step: removal of compassion from people's hearts--the very core goal of that which 'enlightenment truisms' strove to avoid. And so it has come to be. Seeing the blood curdled rose on a Botticelli masterpiece no longer inspires the onlooker to consider the complex and blurred division between desire and the divine, but rather to consider its inferiority compared to the special effects adorning a Star Wars light saber.
In recent discussions on my article on natural rights, quite a number of supposedly educated individuals were extremely motivated to dismiss the notion that the Lockean view of natural rights requires a belief in God. What struck me, besides the proclivity to personal insult as a method of proving a point by such people, was the extreme prejudice they exhibited against accepting the necessity of God's existence for the success of the social contract as Locke defined it. In the continual barrage of complaints, it appeared the existence of natural rights themselves was less important than to deny the existence of God. One is led to ask the question, how has it become true that disproving God exists is so crucial to the emotional well being of those who are meant to think, rather than feel, that they will deny Locke's personal desires for salvation with such passionate vehemence? Is it truly more necessary to kill God rather than to accept the conclusions of reason that led to the inclusion of God in the declaration of independence? Why do people feel it such an offense that the oath of allegiance places us under God in this nation?
After reviewing the comments, I submit a new notion: it is now offensive to so many because, in the worst arrogance of post-enlightenment thinking, individuals become unwilling to place their own ideas as secondary to any authority, regardless the history of those before us. Instead, wisdom is replaced by selfish and egocentric intellectual masturbation. Surely it should occur to any person of cultured upbringing that the existence or not of God is not something that should be reasoned by selfish purview alone. Across the world, many millions of people are unjustly suffering, and have no other appeal but to heaven for relief of their suffering. Yet compassion for their feelings is less important than to cynically prove one's own intellectual superiority by denying the only avenue they possess to find hope in hopelessness. No person of any moral fiber could commit a worst travesty and not recognize their egotistical self inflation. so they place their emotional needs to deny the existence of God over the needs or consider nothing of those who have no other hope of respite from pain and suffering, whatsoever.
This was the very situation that Jefferson attempted to avoid by making public education a natural right--under God.
So in the past year, while writing sardonically of Trump's plans to invade Mexico, I find myself repeatedly returning to the Nazi vision of yellow stars on the lapels of the despised Jewish subculture. I think how those stars may not be visible, but certainly, far more Americans are placing them on other's souls than ever before. This was the outcome against which Jefferson tried to work. And it appears, with greater and greater frequency, that his efforts are, in this century, not only unsuccessful but now, self destructing.
I try to pose the question, which is more important: to kill God, or to permit the grace of compassion and let those without any other hope exist without judgment? And the answer appears to be, it is more important to kill God. if God exists, we would otherwise have to be humble.
Perhaps it is time not to avoid the issue further, and to present it, as it should be: a moral outrage that has already gone too far in destroying the fabric of society's union. Would you think I overstate the gravity of the problem? Then look around at those invisible yellow stars, while a man ready to cast out immigrants from this country based on their religion has within reach the highest office the land.
tell me, what force of society really remains to reverse this already inevitable decline? There is none. We can only appeal to God, ourselves, but the state already decided to kill God. Those who support their personal supremacy over any divinity continue to press for greater control, and the situation, as their wealth and personal power continues to increase, has become irreversible without revolution. Thus it is comes to be. The great nation of Jefferson's vision is beginning to end, and there is nothing to reverse it.
As for Botticelli, one will not find his art of much interest to the younger generation. Once, I sat in a museum and watched Americans pass by that blood-curdled rose. For years, I struggled to understand their expressions, but now I know what their problem was. There was an invisible yellow star between them and the portrait. While writing on the topic I have learned, no matter what one says, they can neither see it, nor look past it, nor understand what I am saying when I point out it is there.