Imperfect

I live in the Untied States, so the things I will be speaking to will be coming from my point of view as a citizen of the United States.  I imagine some of it is universal in any society that allows their citizens to have any voice in government whatsoever (how large that voice actually is anywhere is not a topic I wish to get into right now), but as a citizen of the US, I can only speak in terms of my own nation’s history and attitudes.

There are factions of people, through media, and the education system, national monuments, and elementary school holidays that have practically deified this nation’s founding fathers.  I would like to point out that we as a nation had founding fathers.  Not founding mothers and fathers.  Founding fathers.  We have been taught and many of us have been practically brainwashed into believing that they could do no wrong.  We are told untrue or at least unsubstantiated claims of George Washington’s honesty as a child regarding chopping down his father’s cherry tree, and Thomas Jefferson’s devotion to liberty and equality for all.  We are led to believe that the Constitution of the United States was perfect and settled things for a new nation in turmoil.  That after ratification peace and prosperity reigned over a new day in this new world.

The fact that when our independence was won and our Constitution was ratified are many years apart is dismissed as a historical footnote.  The fact that there were things the framers wanted to be put in, but didn’t have enough votes is completely obfuscated.  The fact that the men who were only men who participated in the creation of our Constitution were arguing the morality of certain portions of it, even as they lived certain portions they argued against (and failed to achieve) is completely glossed over.

There is nothing perfect about the Constitution.  Well, there is one thing.

The men who set up the Constitution knew neither they, nor the document itself was perfect.  They knew of its flaws.  They knew that the Congress they had to create it was not divine, or even in agreement of all major issues for which they knew needed to be included in the law of the land.  So they came up with the one perfect option.

You can amend this document, to try to make it more perfect.

In the years after the revolution, citizens of the United States were not walking around lighting off fireworks and playing Yankee Doodle Dandy as they waved all their flags everyday.  There were very real problems afterward.  All throughout our history.  Just as the framers of the Constitution envisioned there would be.  They knew it wasn’t perfect and likely would not be perfect, but thought they could get it closer to there.  They understood society moves and they wanted it to move forward.  So in the actual document, they set about a process to change this very document.

So why do we hold this document as being infallible when the people who created it understood it wasn’t to the point that they thought to include a provision to change it?

The Constitution can be changed.  In fact, it was designed to be.  It is not a radical idea.  It is the intended idea.  It can be amended, and those amendments can be amended.  It was amended to allow voting to all citizens over the age of 18 as opposed to white, male landowners as it was at the time it was created.  It was amended to abolish slavery.  It was amended to provide that protection of the law should be applied equally.  It was amended to prohibit alcohol and then amended again to repeal that prohibition.  It has never been perfect, and that is where its perfection lies.

The Constitution was ratified in 1788.  The Bill of Rights wasn’t ratified until 1791.  So for over 3 years, there was no first amendment.  There was no second amendment.  The very fact the Bill of Rights are amendments speak to the knowledge that even the founding fathers recognized that the document should not be revered as perfect and beyond any calls to alter it.

Society is meant to progress, and no nation is perfect.  Even the people you think are so perfect recognized that.  Nothing is set in stone, and if those things no longer serve or never did serve our society, it was the intention of the founding fathers that we should change them.

By falsely revering the perfection of what was and is a very imperfect document, we make it almost impossible to enact the necessary changes in order to move it more in that direction for our time.

You can love your country.  You can be proud of the sacrifices people have made to allow you to have the life and opportunities you enjoy.  That is great.  But the minute you think it ever was perfect you are doing it a disservice.

 

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5 thoughts on “Imperfect

  1. I love this post!! I read once that the US is the only country that hasn’t amended its constitution (supposedly, every other country has). I couldn’t believe it! I was like, why not make amendments? It’s obviously outdated. If “great men” wrote it, I’m sure “great men” – and maybe great women – can improve on it.

    Liked by 1 person

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