But, Jefferson worried that the people - and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle - are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process. Without that, he said, the wolves will take over.
If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.
You squeeze the eyedropper, and a drop of pond water drips out onto the microscope stage. You look at the projected image. The drop is full of life - strange beings swimming, crawling, tumbling; high dramas of pursuit and escape, triumph and tragedy. This is a world populated by beings far more exotic than in any science fiction movie...
Nevertheless, (Jefferson) believed that the habit of skepticism is an essential prerequisite for responsible citizenship. He argued that the cost of education is trivial compared to the cost of ignorance, of leaving government to the wolves. He taught that the country is safe only when the people rule.