The Constitution and the Bill of Rights
First of all, I want to thank Donald Trump and all of our elected officials in Washington for the honor and necessity of this exploration that I am finding I need to do to try to understand what is happening to my nation and why.
Not only do I have to participate every day by listening to various versions of the “news,” I have to listen and watch different “scenarios” as they play out personally, locally, nationally and internationally.
I have felt it necessary to research the various “parties” of politics and their histories and evolutions (at this point neither the Democrats or Republicans would be my first choice). I have studied the concept of Manifest Destiny, the Whig party, the Free Soil Party and on and on. I agree with some concepts the parties have espoused and disagree with others. Clearly, we are a work in progress as a nation, which I think is good. We don’t know where we are going, which I think is good and quite evident (beware of those who do think they know where we should be going and how, they are always the most dangerous).
If ever there was a time to take stock and learn from the mistakes of the past (and the present), that time is now.
Right now, I have the impression of a bunch of screaming addicts with their self-centered ideas and agendas “reacting” and over-reacting. And, there is nothing worse than an addict “reacting” without careful input and consultation with those who have some sobriety and perspective. Addicts always “know” what needs to be done (no one else has that kind of “certainty.”) Unfortunately, that “knowing” has always passed through a “drunken thinking process,” such as we see in Washington right now.
Where are the sober adults?
Perhaps as individuals and as a nation, we can “sober up.”
Studying the history of our nation and its beginning as a nation, accepting what the people of this land had/have to offer, relooking at our founding, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights hopefully will give us a “leg up” for some necessary soul-searching.
- If we can spin the right threads, we can weave a spectacular tapestry of a nation. We have a marvelous opportunity and necessity in front of us.
The Constitution of the United States
“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 for the United States of America.
Books could be written on this much alone and I do find it very interesting to “notice” that if we stop right here (or would have stopped here), we might have avoided one of the shortcomings of our founding “fathers.” They had known from the society(s) from which they came that these societies were not functioning well. That is why they left. In spite of this awareness, they never thought to involve the women or the native people of this land in the deliberations for finding a new way. That decision created a major problem which still haunts us.
What a difference these three acts of 1) not depending on what they had come from (which they did not like), 2) involving the other half of the human race (women) who, we know, had a different perspective, 3) and of seeking and allowing the input from those who were here who had a lot of knowledge about living with themselves and others and were open to share what they had found that worked, would have made. (From what I have been taught by Native Elders, the native people were naturally more humble and knew they did not have all the answers and had many new solutions for living with themselves and others).
This “attitude” of those who were here created a kind of openness for exploring because they “knew” that no human beings had all the pieces for the puzzle. The Native people knew that we humans “needed” one another to add all our pieces to the puzzle. This attitude was very different from the attitude that colonizers and invaders brought.
Even though this “approach” to working together to “form a more perfect union” did not happen then, there is nothing (except ourselves) to prevent us from doing that now. More about that later.
Looking at the Preamble
A. A More Perfect Union
Let us suffice it to say at this point that “in Order to form a more perfect Union, usually means exploring the deficiencies of what you have known, where you have been and what you have done and trying to do something different. Until we see where we have been wrong and accept that reality, it is difficult to move on.
For now, let’s stick to the words of the preamble.
B. Establish Justice –
Is this real justice? – For all citizens, male, female? All races, rich and poor? Are we all equal under the law, regardless of sex, race, sexual preference? If so, this could be an easy one if it also implied dealing with our built-in prejudices.
Equal under the law means just that.
Are we ready for it?
Our ancestors were not there yet.
C. Insure Domestic Tranquility
It is up to us to get along with one another. It is up to us not only to welcome differences, we need to learn from these differences and respect them. We are the ones who need to teach our children to honor and respect differences and see them as a possibility. In order to “Insure Domestic Tranquility” we have to honor and respect ourselves and others and approach ourselves and others with respect and openness.
There is no way we can respect others if we do not respect ourselves and act honorably.
D. Provide for the Common Defense
We, as a nation, will defend ourselves – together. This does not give us permission to be the aggressor and, we will stand together. In this age of having the ability to annihilate the entire planet, this one requires that we look at new options.
And, at the same time it means standing together. Sometimes, it seems that the only time men have this experience is in the military.
What can we do as a society to generate the feeling of “commonness” and “belongingness?
E. Promote the General Welfare
Good food, air, water, healthcare and a healthy planet and society – for all – not just the wealthy. The Constitution does not outline the necessity for wealth in this concept of General Welfare. What are our values?
This part of the Constitution is very important and reflects the influence of the Native People’s philosophy. In general, one way or another, all the people of this land believed that everything – absolutely everything – we do should be done with the consideration of the next seven generations. They protected the land and the resources so both would be here for generations to come. It seems that our current focus on money and wealth destroys this part of the Constitution. We think, feel, and act differently when we are not living in a self-centered way of destroying our land and are protecting it for those who come after us.
Unfortunately, our founders came from societies that were hierarchies. They were monarchies, oligarchies – one up-one down – slavery. Can we humans find another way?
Another way to interpret this part of the Preamble is not to focus on material wealth. It is possible to focus on humanitarian “wealth” and a richness of the spirit and the soul which results in a whole different approach to living.
We must always remember as we wrestle with some of these issues that the people trying to craft them were men with all the limitations and strengths that that reality implies. Yet, we have all bumbled and strived to grow and evolve into something better for ourselves and others.
After having just read through the entire Constitution of the United States, I have to say that I find it and the attention to legal detail mind-boggling, exhausting, probably necessary and probably in need of improvement.
I did notice that there is nothing prohibiting discrimination based on gender and/or sexual/gender identity. Also, I saw little or nothing redressing wrongs perpetrated by individuals, states, or the nation based on gender or race – – – Perhaps I just missed it.
Somewhere I would hope that there would be more said about a general focus on business/financial and its relationship to values. I have often said that no society based on money, finances, or economics can ever meet the needs of its citizens or its environment.
Money may be “the root of all evil” and it needs to be addressed somewhere in a document as important as the Constitution even if we clearly state that this is a society based on the welfare of all its parts, including nature and resources and does not condone exploitation in any form.
Whereas, the Constitution does concern itself with the law of the land, it has also set itself up initially, with a broad conception of being the moral compass of a land and a people.
And, we are, at this moment, looking very much like our nation and our elected officials are seriously in need of reconnecting with a larger internal moral compass which can help guide our deliberations.
Would you agree?