“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.” – the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution
On June 22, our nation marked the anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Constitution, one of humankind’s most important texts, is a source of great pride to the state of New Hampshire. Of the 13 original colonies, it was determined that nine would be required for ratification. After a lengthy debate, and an extremely close vote, New Hampshire was that necessary ninth state. Looking at the current situation of our national affairs, I wonder if such an endeavor could even be attempted today, let alone succeed.
The journey that led us to the creation of the U.S. Constitution did not begin with the Constitutional Convention, nor did this journey end with the Constitution’s ratification. The Constitution is the direct descendant of other essential proclamations such as the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Each of these documents helped create the foundation upon which the U.S. Constitution would be built. In fact, when our Founding Fathers first convened in what would become known as the Constitutional Convention, they were originally coming together to revise the Articles of Confederation, although some attendees had other intentions (which is a story for another article).
If you take away all the deep analysis, move past the many interpretations of certain words and phrases, and get down to the simplicity of each of these documents, you will find a common theme: unity. Although the intent and promises of each of these documents have fallen short from time to time from their original intent, each serves as separate edicts building to one cause: harmony. The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution is telling each of us, regardless of our station in life, what we should strive for, “domestic Tranquility.” Some historians believe the preamble was trying to serve as a bridge to the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, to establish an understanding of the phrase a “Perpetual Union,” which was a phrase used in the Articles of Confederation.
A Perpetual Union, endless. Simply stated, we are in this together, this thing we call the United States of America. This is a bold statement, that regardless of our differences, we either embrace the understanding we are stuck with each other, or we accept the fact that we are incapable of doing what every American generation before us managed to achieve, constantly striving for a more “perfect union.” Perfection does not mean we don’t have differences; it means in our opposition we are still bound by an “ordained” unity. Perpetual union is not a concept originated by our nation, but through all our struggles, we stand here today as a nation because we did not give up on ourselves.
I have for some time dreaded writing my weekly column. It is not a matter of being burnt out, but more a matter of impact. What difference are we making? Are we helping to promote civil dialogue, or are we doing nothing more than adding to our current state of civil discord? Is it true we are all nothing more than a country of “hateful, inhumane, stupid, insane, liars?” Are we on the verge of the “next Civil War?”
The problems we are dealing with today in this country in many ways pale in comparison to issues we faced during the times when these documents were created. I am also aware every American generation must find a way to “promote the general Welfare,” even in our differences.
I do know shooting people, physically attacking people, calling for the assassination of our representatives, and using language that only serves to cast those with opposing views as less than human will never solve anything and will only divide us further. I have been taking a long look in the mirror these past few months, and I know I would prefer not to engage in the demise of civil disagreement.
With that in mind, my articles over the next few weeks will help me refocus on what I like about this country. Hopefully, they will remind most of you that even in our opposition, I believe that until proven otherwise, we are all good people who care deeply about our country. We care deeply about “justice,” shared “tranquility,” the “blessings of liberty’ to every citizen, and desire “prosperity” for all. Even if we from time to time forget that we are united, let us never forget we are a perpetual union.