Orienteering

by Oletta Branstiter

There’s a lot of talk about orientation nowadays.

I discovered my orientation in high school, as my Civics teacher encouraged my interpretations of the Constitution, and as I discovered Objectivism in Ayn Rand’s, Atlas Shrugged. I identified as a Patriot.

As I looked back, I realized that my ideology was being defined even before then. The elementary school I attended in the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s, provided a five-day camping field trip for all 5th graders in nearby La Honda. The experience offered a realistic environment for immersive science lessons.

Orienteering was one of the required courses, teaching students how to read a compass and work together as a team to find their way out of the wilderness. Clues were given at each location, leading us to our next goal.

My orienteering group included a polite quiet young man. Danny had superb distance vision, so we nicknamed him “Eyes” and relied on him to spot the next marked target. This skill allowed us to evade time-consuming use of the compass and sprint toward our destination in the hopes of winning the race.

Danny was celebrated as our leader, our hero, and team mascot. Our team enjoyed a comfortable lead until I made the enormous and unfortunate blunder of failing to hold a juniper branch with enough competence to prevent it from violently slapping Danny across the face, causing a crisis of temporary blindness.

This humiliating fail necessitated our reliance upon the compass for clues to the next two targets, while Danny recovered from his blurred vision. This required us, as a team, to stop and review the orienteering skills we had been successfully avoiding.

Sadly, although I and my 5th-grade teammates learned this lesson the hard way years ago as 10-year-olds, our nation continues to depend on “visionaries” and cult personalities. Americans have enthusiastically embraced the laziness embedded in a democracy fostered by the popularity of reality TV shows and social media polls, instead of the consistent hard work needed to keep a Republic.

It wasn’t Obama, it won’t be Trump, and I dare say, it won’t even be Ted Cruz if we ever get that lucky, who will show us the way. Our fragile liberty is founded on ideology, not personality.

Our nation’s founders didn’t design a government to empower one person to lead us to success.

They envisioned that it would be a dangerous folly wrought with humiliating failures, blinding us to the truest direction. George Washington said, “The Constitution is our guide, which I will never abandon.” According to the Bill of Rights Institute, “we don’t have one single thing that binds us all together except our Constitution. We are not a single ethnic group, we are not a single religious group, and we don’t have a very extensive history as a people.” Our strength comes from our unity under the rule of law.

The Constitution is still our North Star, providing reliable direction for restoring and keeping our Republic. We the People must return to our reliance upon our National Compass.

Our understanding of the Constitution and our reliance upon it provides the surest way out of the wilderness.  

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