Since the waning years of the 19th Century, deep within the vaults of a French mansion turned into an bureaucratic building on the outskirts of Paris, there has sat a cylinder of platinum and iridium small enough to rest comfortably in an adult’s hands. In all of the years since 1889, it has been removed from storage all of three times and handled otherwise only to carefully wash it. What is so special about this hunk of metal, so peculiar that is is the subject of international treaties over a century old? “Big K“, as this singular piece of metal is known, is the standard by which “kilogram” is defined.
It’s hard to understand the significance of such an obscure artifact, especially in the United States, but even the slightest changes in weight have so alarmed the scientific community that it has set the world of science into motion seeking for a more perfect solution to the problem of an objective physical standard. One of the coolest solutions, at least to a layman outside of the scientific community, is that of a gleaming, near perfect sphere, made up of within a fraction of a billion of silicon-28 atoms. The alternative to this sphere is a scale that can measure a fundamental physical constant of the universe (the Planck Constant).
These efforts captivate the scientific community, because the kilogram is the standard of measure for science being performed around the world. It is only with an objective standard of what a kilogram is that scientists can be certain that their measurements are the same in Brazil as they are in Belgium. While the changes in the “Big K” are not large enough to put the certainty of scientific measure in any serious danger yet, the reality is, should a meteor fall onto the Pavillon de Breteuil tomorrow, scientists of various disciplines around the world would have serious and legitimate concerns about the viability of their observations.
“Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the
aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate
and encourage us to great and noble Actions…”
Objective standards are how we define and interpret our reality, without which the concepts of value and fair exchange break down and consistently comparing one thing to another becomes simply impossible. When we change our point of view from physical studies and turn them to the moral or philosophical, this is no less the case. Just like in the physical sciences, conservatives accept that there exist objective moral values and duties by which all human activity can be measured against. Those actions that conform with these necessary and time honored guideposts can be deemed good. Those that do not, cannot.
If a man gains wealth and influence over the course of his lifetime through just effort, so that he can provide a comfortable life for his family while he remains a man of honor and dignity in the community, then by any objective measure, he is a good and decent man. If a man gains wealth and influence through deceit and political connections, however, while depriving other men of their just compensation, slandering the good name of competitors, and creating an empire for nothing more than his own sake, devoid of honor and dignity, then can he be judged in any way a good and decent man?
If a man takes a lawfully wedded wife, sires children with her while treating her with respect and dignity for all of her days, then he is rightly regarded as a good husband, by any objective measure. If he takes a lawfully wedded wife, sires children with her, then takes a series of mistresses, then divorces his wife, then remarries one of his mistresses, sires a child with her, then takes another series of mistresses, divorces his second wife, marrying yet another of his mistresses with whom he sires a child with her, can he be said to be rightly regarded as a good husband, by any objective measure?
If a man can be taken to say what he means in all things, when he speaks to the public, while friends, allies, and supporters know that they can count on his word remaining the same from one day into the next, by any objective measure, he can be said to be a man of his word. If a man rarely answers a question directly, being evasive in all things, whenever he speaks to the public, while even friends, allies, and supporters have no idea whether his word will be same from one hour into the next, can he truly, by any objective measure, be said to be a man of his word?
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance
on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge
to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
-Declaration of Independence-
Our society depends on objective measures, whether physical or moral, and there exists one set of standards against which we can justly judge the words and deeds of men and women. If one man is justly deemed unworthy of praise and honor for his inability to honorably acquire wealth, remain faithful to his wife, or be honest in his speech, it follows that any other man must justly be deemed unworthy of praise and honor for their inability to honorably acquire their wealth, remain faithful to their wives, or be honest in their speech as well. We cannot play favorites with objective measures, because objective measures do not have favorites.
Political allegiance does not excuse behavior that is obviously unworthy of honorable men and women, especially when that political allegiance changes by the year, changing with the winds of political convenience. We cannot build our house of political philosophy on the shifting sands of expedience or personal preference. That is moral relativism. Instead, we must seek bedrocks of principle and virtue, and only there build our philosophical fortresses against tyranny and corruption. The necessity of holding ourselves and our allies to the same moral standards was and remains at the very heart of the American experiment.
Without sacred honor, absolutely nothing matters. In the years to come, either America relearns this hard lesson and is restored to her place of honor, or she does not and peddles herself to tyrants and thieves for cheap until she is finally no more. It is up to each of us to decide which.
Liberty is For The Win!