Chapter Thirty-Four

WE THE PEOPLE
(What a Concept!)


 "We shall overcome
  We shall overcome
  We Shall overcome someday...


        Although President James Madison is often given credit for being the 'brains' behind The Constitution Of The United States, he is perhaps more accurately viewed as the one who organized the general ideas of many minds into a workable and cohesive whole.  It seems we largely have Madison to thank for the inclusion of three distinct branches of power, something that, in spite of our vast national shortcomings, has boded well over time to help insure "a more perfect Union". *   If one persists in calling Madison the "father" of the Constitution, then to be fair, Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania must be credited along with him, as being the "fine-tuner" of the document into its final polished form and Benjamin Franklin appears to have had considerable influence over the general content.  Some historians have suggested that many of the underlying concepts of our constitution are a result of Franklin's interaction with "The People Of The Long House", the Iroquois Nations of upper New York, whose Great Law Of Peace became much of the basis for future rule throughout the extended region, greatly influencing the nascent evolving political theory of the savage Europeans. **

        Even more interesting, the origin and original meaning and purpose of the opening phrase "we the people" is apparently lost to the historical sands of time, as no one seems to be able to accurately trace where the phrase originated from, or for what true purpose it was placed so prominently into the document's final form.  Some even suggest that the concept may first have developed in the mother country during or even prior to the 17th Century, as a result of the influence of the 13th Century Magna Carta.  Others have proposed that the now famous "we the people" was placed in the Constitution as a sort of afterthought compromise between the strong centralized government sought by Alexander Hamilton and others and the loose confederation of states favored by Thomas Jefferson and his allies.

        Still another theory suggests that "we the people" may have been stated as a means of distinguishing the newly forming United States government "by the many", from the old European practice of sovereigns referring to themselves when grandly proclaiming a new edict as, "I the king" (asserting the all-powerful claim to speak for all of the people and thus, the people had no voice). *** Some historians credit the wealthy Gouverneur Morris with coining the phrase "we the people", although others contend this remains largely unproven. ¹   It is perhaps more likely that through accident of historical record, Morris is first known to have used the phrase, though the origin of the idea may trace back to a much earlier time.  The phrase may have been somewhat 'common knowledge' among the belligerents of the revolution and thus, may have European or roots elsewhere as noted.

        It is extremely historically naive to embrace the commonly held assumption emphasized in modern American classrooms, that our so-called "founding fathers" were men of astute wisdom and visionary ethics who, when framing the Constitution and other documents of the revolutionary era, had in mind the overall best interest of We The People of America as a future whole.  It is far more likely that these wealthy individuals, by historical accident, developed concepts that to them were in their own immediate best economic and power interests and to the modern world, have been reinterpreted to mean much more than was ever intended to be the case.  Certainly to most if not all of the signers of the original document, "we the people" most definitely excluded women, all those of dark and mixed skin color, Indians and bond-servants of light skin, which together, included about three-quarters of "we the people" of 1776.  The now famous first ten amendments, collectively known as the Bill Of Rights, were grudgingly included later, apparently mainly as inducement for certain southern states to agree to ratify the national document.  It would perhaps have been far more honest if instead of the now famous 'all-inclusive' phrase, "we the people" the pre-amble to the Constitution began, "Us the wealthy and White Anglo-Saxon Protestant aristocratic male elite. . ." ²

        Whatever it's origin and original intent, today the phrase "we the people" represents by historical default, perhaps the greatest political ideal in the history of the civilization of our species.  Unlike most theories of governmental charter, such as master/servant, ruler/subject, wealthy/poor, elite/many, lineage/non-lineage and similar, which tend to divide and fragment, "we the people" has gradually come to be accepted (in theory, if not practice) by much of the modern 'free' world as the ultimate cohesive thread that unites various implied and actual divisions of society toward the more desirable, 'politically correct' whole. The brilliance in the modern mature concept of "We the people" is that it covers all of the bases; male, female, conservative, liberal, wealthy, poor, middle-class, all walks of life, all sexual, cultural, religious, ethnic, intellectual, and moral identities and all generational age groupings.  And thus, the expanded interpretation of "we the people" implies all people from every walk of life working together toward a common goal of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", not only in The United States, but in the greater vision of We The People Of Planet Earth. ³

        "We the people" becomes politically narrow only when the situation implies that fundamental rights of the minority are in danger of being trampled on by the majority, for "we the people" when applied from correct perspective, seeks to protect the rights of the minority against the sometimes overpowering bias of the many.  Rather than being non-partisan or bi-partisan, "we the people" is all partisan, as it implies responsibilities and rights unilaterally and equally across the multi-diverse checkerboard of our political, cultural and social fabric.  The more that we the people of the United States of America think in terms of what is overall best for all of we the people, that is, all of we the people of Planet Earth, the better and stronger our nation of theory by rule of "we the people" will become.  Likewise, the more we turn a deaf ear and blind eye to what is best for the future of the children of we the people and the future survival and stability of our planet, the worse off not only we will become, but also, the worse off We The People of Planet Earth as a whole will be.

        Our concept of "we the people" should not be limited to a myopic isolationist perspective of the greedy few, but rather, our vision of "we the people" should extend to include all people who inhabit our fragile planet, for if civilized order by mutual consent of "we the people" is truly the correct and desirable ideal, then it is by rational default, correct and desirable for all peoples who inhabit the earth.  Today, because of world-wide internet and other forms of global communication and other modern technological advances, more than ever before in the history of human civilization, we need to strive to work together toward the common good of all nations and cultures. Those who would promote the foolishness of national isolationism do so at the extreme peril of their own offspring, as well as severely threaten the future peace and stability within our own borders.  More than ever before, we cannot fail to realize that we are keepers of our brothers and sisters of the planet as well as our own nation and more than ever before, we cannot hope to survive without striving to live in mutual cooperation with those nations that we may not entirely agree with politically, culturally and/or morally.

        Therefore, when we the people go to the polls to vote (and, we all most definitely should take advantage of our not very common in history privilege of casting an individual ballot), our choice should not be based on what is good for the 'immediate me', nor should it be based on what is good for the party. When we cast our votes, our selections should reflect what we believe in our hearts to be best for we the people as a whole, both now and in the future of our children's, children.  We should choose based on what we individually perceive to be best for our nation's health, education, defense and national welfare and what is in the overall best interest of our economic success and stability and by extension, our choice should also be based on what appears best for "we the people" of the entire world.  Most importantly, in the fear of our Creator and Father in heaven, we should cast our ballots favorably toward alleviating the suffering of the sick and poor.  We should judge those who profess to represent us, not by the shallow persuasiveness of meaningless political rhetoric but rather, by what they actually plan to do (and more importantly, have done in the past) to help the lot of our nation's sick and poor and to further the overall cause of national and international Human and Civil Rights.  At the dawn of the 21st Century, at least in the United States of America, we the people can still say, "Yes" and likewise, we the people can just say "No!"

 ...Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
    We shall overcome someday" ****


Comic Relief      Los Angeles Mission

Great Law Of Peace      Magna Carta

The Constitution Of The United States


DEDICATED TO:  The late multi-talented Steve Allen, friend of America's homeless, perhaps Hollywood's most educated individual and in a great many ways, representative of everything that is fine and decent about We The People of the United States Of America.  Also dedicated to Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, friends of America's homeless and by extension, friends of We The People of Planet Earth.


Credits:

1. Gouverneur Morris is thought by some historians to have written the preamble almost entirely on his own and thus, invention of the phrase "we the people" has sometimes been attributed to him.  However, even though Morris himself may have determined that this phrase should be prominently displayed in the opening sentence (which is debatable), this does not prove that he was the originator of the concept.

2. It would seem that the human species historically needs heroes of unnatural superior moral, ethical and other qualities to embrace and otherwise idolize.  The “founding fathers” of America were very much, like the rest of us, individuals of varied and profuse shortcomings. Attempting to deify mere mortals tends to leave the often unsuspecting deified weighed in the balances and found considerably wanting.  (See also Hero: A Theory of Just Measurement.)

3. The phrase “We The People of Planet Earth” found here and throughout this book is not intended to imply that capitalism, free enterprise and/or the so-called “American way” is the correct or preferred theory and way of life.  Rather, the phrase is used to emphasize the absolute necessity of people on our planet to begin moving away from national, cultural, religious, ethnic and other artificial divisions toward a singular planetary vision of one equal race of beings called “Human”, working together for the common good of us all.  If we fail to learn to work together as a species toward what is best for our commonly shared habitat and the diverse flora and fauna therein, our fragile home we call “Planet Earth” is more than likely to soon become an uninhabitable wasteland, lost in the cosmic sands of the vast universal beyond.


*FootNote I:  See also The Freedom of Amendment for more details regarding the all-important concept of individual compromise toward the positive advantage of the whole.

**FootNote II:  It continues to be a source of amazement how utterly twisted and distorted the commonly perceived history of the early European-Americans truly is.  Some of human civilization's greatest and most honorable individuals, such as Chief Sitting Bull, Chief Red Cloud, Chief Black Kettle and Chief Joseph, continue to be labeled and viewed as "savage", while some of the most utterly debased, bloodthirsty and depraved individuals known to humanity, such as Napoleon and the early explorers of the Americas, continue to be lauded as "great" conquering heroes.  As further example, Christopher Columbus, a distant and sometime cruel and callous individual, stands out as being possessed with some form of rudimentary culture only because of the total lack of conscience among his wickedly evil and degenerate fellow gold and glory-seeking adventurers.  According to historian Howard Zinn, author of A People's History Of The United States (which should be required reading for every American aspiring toward a collegiate degree):  "To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators and explorers and to de-emphasize their genocide, is not a [historical] technical necessity but an ideological choice.  It serves---unwittingly---to justify what was done."

***FootNote III:  For centuries, European Kings and popes conspired together to yoke the common masses under the historical misassumption that the idea of kingship bears a God-given stamp of Biblical authority and as such, those holding such (generally hereditary) office should be honored and respected as possessing the "divine right" of kings.  As is habitually the case regarding much Christian and sometimes Jewish tradition, there is no such Biblical basis to be found.  The early Hebrews after fleeing Egypt lived in a loose confederation of tribal entities which often as not, warred among themselves and only sometimes, joined together to ward of common enemies.  God is quoted in the book of Judges as speaking disdainfully of the Hebrews when they insisted on establishing a king over themselves such as Hittite, Assyrian, Philistine, Egyptian and other surrounding cultures endured, clearly insinuating that God, at least according to the Bible, views the idea of self-rule as much preferable to rule by king or similar type central authority.  The "founding fathers" succeeded in getting this half-right, as they instigated a (howbeit, limited) form of democracy while retaining freedom-less vestiges of higher and centralized office such as congressman and president.  We of the modern United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration Of Human Rights era assume that ideas of self-rule are of advanced modern invention.  Accordingly to the Bible, the Israelites retained more freedom when "in those days there was no King in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes", a much less restrictive reality than people experience in Twenty-First Century Europe and the Americas.  Modern intellectuals and others, who are quick to condemn bondage and servitude allowed in the Old Testament without comprehending either the culture or the context, are also quick to assume the reliability of baseless Christian and Jewish tradition when dismissing the Bible without bothering to read what it actually says.

****FootNote IV:  Some may reason, due to the fact that slaves were not included in the minds of probably most if not all of those who originally drafted the Constitution, that it is insensitive here to incorporate the modern Civil Rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome" (derived from the earlier "I Will Overcome").  In spite of the shortsighted hardness of the constitutional framers hearts, it is intended here as pertaining to the larger vision of what "we the people" has come to represent in the modern post Civil War and Martin Luther King, Jr. era.   Although people of the United States and other 'free' nations are still far from being truly free and women, African Americans and other so-called 'minorities' in The United States are still far from being treated equal, it remains buried deep in the heart of the author, that We The People of Planet Earth shall indeed, overcome someday.  It is most wise to remember that as long as we have brothers and sisters somewhere on our planet who are not accorded basic fundamental Human and Civil Rights, we the people in the United States and we the people elsewhere throughout the earth, fundamentally and to the individual core, remain in bondage. For to enslave another is to bind our own souls in chains of fear and prejudice and to not fight for the emancipation of those enslaved is to ensure that we ourselves will remain in servitude to our own debased and savage nature.



           


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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