Sunday, February 27, 2011

Intents And Purposes: The Constitution

It has been said and written many times that people should not engage in discussions about religion and politics, especially at work. Even with this knowledge so well ingrained in our minds, there is usually someone who occasionally will make a light (or not so light) comment that will easily reveal their ideological and philosophical beliefs.

I try to refrain from responding. As a father (and grandfather) who has raised teens, I am well-conditioned at ignoring things.

One day at work, I was talking with a nice lady (who has made such subtle self-revealing comments in the past) made a statement that left just enough of an opening where I thought it to be profitable, in shutting down future invitations of such discussions.

I was able to communicate something similar to what I have said here many times.

I am a person who is guided by deeply held principles. I respect all people's rights to believe anyway they wish as long as they do not try to force what they believe onto to me (and this is especially true, when they use their belief system as an excuse to want to kill me....only because I disagree with them). I then said something to the effect of, I am not one to praise or extol the virtues of government because they have not not looked out after any of my interests....but only their own.

I could tell she disagreed with me, but remember I said she was nice. And she is. So she remained courteous in her response, by saying something that has led me to this post. She said that she believes the government is us, the people. She added that it is a dynamic force that changes because we are the ones who can change it. It must change, as we change.

It was at that point where I chose to change, the subject, because I knew that where she was coming from wasn't quite where I sat. But she wasn't entirely wrong.

It is our responsibility to vote personnel in or out, based on what we the people think needs to be done, at any given point in time. But I certainly did not want to tell her that the Constitution is not what I believe to be a dynamic, living document that changes with the whims and impulses of people. Somehow, I knew how she would feel about this, so there was no need to extend the discussion any further.

I did, however, think about this quote--which has widely been attributed to a person who was once considered a radical in some circles, in his day:

“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."~Patrick Henry

Today's debate about whether or not the Constitution is a living document will often rest on what people think the founding fathers thought, or what they meant when they wrote it. The words contained within are words that are parsed over and  often distorted to justify government taking more control over people's lives.

With this in mind, it is not surprising to learn that there are even debates over whether Henry actually said this. Many people dispute this being attributed to him, because he was at first a staunch opponent of the Constitution in it's initial phases. The reason was, he feared the Federalists would take it down a path that would leave susceptible  to becoming another monarchy. That's where they just came from and it's all they knew. He was afraid that we would eventually replace one form of tyranny with another.

Like all good statesmen who find themselves on the losing end of an argument, he acquiesced and accepted the outcome.

When he learned of the brutal outcome the nation of France was made to endure, after its bloody revolution, he did come to an understanding that there needed to be some kind of a reasonable blueprint for a union to prevent an out of control mob, from taking control of this new experiment he had worked so hard to initiate. It had to be one that provided for the rights of the states and protected the rights of the citizens of the new nation.

He knew that by working through the system, he could make the Constitution better by adding protections to the states and citizens, who could someday become victims of an out of control federal government. He was an instrumental force for the adoption of the amendments known as the Bill Of Rights.

Once these safeguards were in place, he became a staunch supporter and defender of the Constitution. So with this knowledge, it is not so unreasonable to think that he could have made this statement in some forum or another. But in the big picture, it is not important whether he said it or not (for it does not negate the fact that it is a true statement).

If we fast forward to today, we see that Henry and many other skeptics of his day were wrong about, as far as, the federal government becoming a monarchy that would become an imposing force upon the people. It didn't. But it did become an oligarchy, which has become an imposing force that is strongly influenced (and in many cases controlled) by out of control special interests.

These are interests that do not care about the rights of the citizens, but only what is best for them.

As free thinking intelligent people, we know this did not come to be overnight. It had to evolve over time.

The metamorphosis was slow, gradual, and insidious in nature. The sad part is that it was tolerated by the people along the way. Based on handouts to states, corporations, and individuals who failed develop a strong functional understanding of the Constitution and it's original purpose, the people let their guards down.

In short, they traded safety, security, and comfort for the present time, for loss of rights in the future.They became addicts to big government.

When states, corporations, and/or individuals ran into trouble along the way, the federal government would give them handouts to help them recover. They did it with the full knowledge there were strings attached to that help. Rather than help them with no stipulations, the federal government would use it as bribery, to get the entity being helped to do things that the federal government thought was best.

These things were not in the best interests of the entities accepting the help. however as you can imagine, they were certainly in the best interests of the federal government. These were things wrested from the entities in question and were absorbed into the national responsibility, coming further under the grip of an ever-increasing beast that we see today.

We are now many generations removed from the one that carved out the blueprint for our beloved republic. We now find ourselves in a state of dependency, which is about as far from the original vision as we can get. We can see the federal oligarchy dictating to states, what they must do with money they receive. We see the same with corporations and individuals too. It's especially disheartening, when we realize that we are the ones paying for this.

So now, we see a movement within the nation that desperately wants to reverse the current course of certain destruction. It is comprised of an informed and enlightened citizenry who are not fooled by what has been transpiring over the many decades of foolish actions. But the individuals of this movement are not well-received by the beast we have created, or those who are dependent on its handouts.

In fact, they are often demonized by those who have become accustomed to the free flow of taxpayer money and cannot learn to live without it. They are corporations, both private and public. They are individuals who would rather sit idly by and be parasites of host organisms--who are out in the world making things happen. They know that by cutting off the gravy train, many of them will have to produce something of value to survive, and they know they are not capable of doing so.

So, what do they do? They make those of us who are tired of this massive injustice out to be the villains. They carry signs, they shut down governments. They do it a variety of ways. They are refusing to acquiesce and resign themselves. While clearly being in the minority, they try to bully, threaten, and manipulate events to get their way--because they are too afraid to accept they are losing the argument.

They are not going to win.

Not as long as there is a real working class made up of strong individuals who have made their names and reputations by by hard work and dedication to their duties they committed themselves to perform. Not as long as they realize they want their children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities they did, when given the chance. Certainly not as long as there is breath in my aging body, will I resign myself to accepting the fact that this is a nation of weak and pathetic leeches who want to destroy what we have worked so hard to build and preserve.

Do I speak for you? Or against you?

You must make that decision. But if we are to survive this onslaught from the beast we have created, we must make a stand now. So....for all intents and purposes, I must once again quote the man that I spoke of earlier in this essay:

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

He used it in a literal context, but I use it metaphorically. Because there is no war acceptable in this struggle, except at the ballot box. I condone no shedding of blood for this, only working hard from within the system as Henry once did in his later life.

I have made my choice.

Have you?

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