Disclaimer: I wrote this many moons ago… back when it still mattered to me. I give up now. Actually, I gave up some time ago.
The Last Supper of the Constitution
by Senator Brett
They’ve been crossing my mind a lot lately, fluttering about as I make my way through the ordinariness of my daily existence: these wandering shapes and crooked lines, these loops and circles, these small words that amount to very little until you place them together row on row. And then they become as large as Life itself.
“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.”
And you pretty much know where it goes from there… actually… maybe not. Most people don’t. The largess of our smallness is absolutely grand. We settle for so many tiny things.
America has come a long way since those words were written some one hundred and eighteen years ago. Other than the Bible, no other set of words have been more tested, tried, retried, debated, mocked, judged or scrutinized. In the history of mankind few words have had to stand on their own merit as much as these words. And yet, there they are, still standing.
I only bring this up because I found myself wondering whatever happened to America. You can’t turn on the television set these days, or read a magazine, or go take a stroll on a college campus without hearing someone talking about how critical is the state of our union, of our country. From newscasters, to comedians, to musicians, to the coffee shop employees on the corners… everyone seems to be talking about how far America has stumbled, how we’ve lost our way.
It’s as if our country is imploding into itself. Everyone thinks they know what’s wrong with our government, and everyone thinks they know how to fix it, but very few can agree on anything. So we clamor for more Voice… and then we use that Voice to just shout out louder about how wrong everyone is that disagrees with our position. Our Reason has become a slave to our rhetoric. It’s true, on all sides.
There once was a time in our country when it was separated by the North and the South. If you were a citizen you were defined by that simple fact. And it split our country apart to a point where we literally killed each other. And, even after the war it took years to drop the labels of Yankees and Rebs… and you can still find pieces of that society still lurking around to this day.
For years now our country has been basically split into two groups: Republicans and Democrats. You are on one side or the other, leaving little room for those in between. You were an Elephant or you were a Donkey, and that was that.
Today we label ourselves as being “from a red state” or “from a blue state.” You either voted for Bush, or you voted for Kerry. And people decide your political awareness based on this issue.
I find it odd that we have so small respect for the opinion of others. Don’t let the mini-malls, churches, and football stadiums confuse you. We are truly a divided nation. Just look at our last election and you can see that, for the most part, about half of our country believes that the other half is completely wrong. For a nation whose governing documents provide us all the freedom to believe almost anything we deem right and just… well, we leave so little room for compromise and thoughtfulness.
Somehow we have to get back to being what our forefathers wanted in the first place. They were intelligent enough to let us decide how to govern ourselves. They wanted us to have the freedom to dictate our own laws, but they wanted us to do so as a union, as a people… together… together.
I find it interesting that history is repeating itself again. Oh sure, it looks a little different because the names, dates and places are different. But it’s really all the same. We are at war, both abroad and here. We fight a war against the threat of terror, and we fight a war amongst ourselves on the proper way to fight that war.
It reminds me of another group of words that were as honest about our country then as they are about our country now.
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
It goes on to say that it is our responsibility that we “highly resolve” that this nation, our nation, not perish from the face of the earth. It says nothing of “us” versus “them.” It says nothing of political gain or process. It simply says that we owe it to all those that came before us, those who lived and died for freedom, that we owe it to them to unite and govern ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have the answers. And I honestly don’t believe that any one person does. But here’s what I do know. It’s not going to be found while we argue and scream at each other. It’s not going to be found on any one side. It is, maybe, just maybe… going to be found somewhere in the middle, under the rumbled mess that we make as we claw at each other.
But, trust me… it started at, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” and it goes on. Or, for the love of God… it better start there.
Finding You All,