Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper closed The Keating Dedication Chapel with the following speech championing Constitutional liberty.
The Preamble to the United States Constitution reads as follows:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution…” George Washington said of this Constitution: “[it] is the guide which I never will abandon.” Abraham Lincoln later affirmed, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. [It] must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Master Sargent Matthew Keating, as well as all soldiers of every military branch of the U.S., has taken an oath indicating, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution … [and] that I will bear true faith and a allegiance to the same…”
Why such care and commitment to a simple document? Why do we emphasize it and honor it as being critical to capitalism, free enterprise and to the mission and purpose of the Keating Center?
As Richard Weaver said in his seminal work of 1948, Ideas Have Consequences and the ideas we outline in our cultural covenants, in our community contracts, in our handbooks, our bylaws, our Church Disciplines, our catechisms, and our oaths to office are perhaps the ideas that define us and our character – our being and behaviors – the best.
The ideas laid out in the Constitution are quite simple and clear:
- A more perfect Union – We the people coming together in common cause, common direction, with common values and common virtues celebrating unity more than diversity and singularity more than separation.
- Establishing Justice – Seeking what is right and true and good as we follow the prophet Micah’s admonition to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our Lord.
- Insuring Tranquility – Having confidence that peace – even peace that passes all understanding – can be secured, preserved and protected.
- Providing Defense – Protecting the unalienable rights of all who are under our charge, from the strong and vibrant to the infirm, the feeble and even the “least of these…”
- Promoting General Welfare – Honoring private property, personal responsibility, individual integrity and industriousness, and letting the free market and capitalism flourish.
- Securing Liberty – Understanding the paradox of discipline of freedom that there is no character without constraint, no virtue without Veritas, no liberty without law, and, as Chesterton taught, no freedom without fences
Indeed ideas do have consequences and we at OKWU celebrate the power and the principles endemic in the ideas of our Constitution. But we also understand, well, the concerns of John Adams: that “Ou
r constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. [and that] It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” We argue, along with our second president, that capitalism, free enterprise, and liberty – Constitutional Liberty – can only be enjoyed, preserved, protected if such ideals are grounded in something more enduring and permanent than even the our Country’s most sacred founding document.
Freedom is a gift of God it is not endowed to us by man. Only a moral people – a religious people – people who understand and believe in the primacy of Christ, the priority of Scripture, the pursuit of Truth and the obligation to practice of wisdom will truly be free – free from the consequences of bad ideas and bad behavior – free from the personal and political, corporate and cultural turpitude that robs men and women, boys and girls of their dignity and of their liberty.
Governor Keating – Thank you for supporting Oklahoma Wesleyan, our mission and our students. Thank you for making it possible to construct the Keating Center. The building is wonderful and we are grateful. But, I argue there is something much more important than its bricks and mortar, stucco and tile – The Keating Center is much bigger than such temporal things. The Keating Center is about ideas – It is not really about a building. And the Ideas taught in this Center and at OKWU indeed will bear fruit, and will have consequences – good fruit and good consequences today, tomorrow, for ourselves and for our posterity.