In the beginning there was nothing. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. (From The Message, Genesis 1: 1) For cosmologists, in this nothingness before the moment of creation through the Big Bang, there was nothing but chaos. There was disorder and from the chaos and disorder came order.
And in the days following the American Revolution there was chaos and disorder, there was no order in the land. Yes, there was the Continental Congress and this organization that had attempted to provide civilian control throughout the Revolution was attempting to discern the proper way to govern this new country, or rather this collection of thirteen states each seeing itself as an independent body in a confederation of like-minded states. But it became clear that the Articles of Confederation would not provide the organization that was necessary to govern this new country. And so the founding fathers gathered again in Philadelphia, ostensibly to make corrections to the Articles of Confederation. But it was clear to this select group of individuals that simply correcting the Articles would not work; it was necessary to create a new document and a new government. And from their deliberations through the spring and summer of 1787 we gained the Constitution.
Now, this is not a discussion about rewriting the Constitution nor is it about what the writers of the Constitution and those involved in its creation meant. This is also not a call for a new Constitutional Convention. First, the Constitution has proven to be a remarkably stable instrument for the design of the government; it has withstood the test of time. To fiddle with it or markedly change it in any way would be to destroy the one thing that has marked this country and its government.
But, perhaps we need to remember why it was written and for what purpose it was written. Consider the following words, the words of the Preamble to the Constitution:
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.
Much has been said about how later Congressmen, Senators, Presidents, and Justices of the Supreme Court would read these words and I don’t doubt that the members of the Constitutional Convention were equally in agreement about what those words meant. As Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said when he signed this document,
“There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. … I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. … It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies…”
Now, in 2009, we find ourselves in chaos and disorder. The answer does not lie, as I stated earlier, in a new Constitutional Convention because there are too many issues that people want to stick in the Constitution that have no business being there. But, when we look at the world around us, when we see people losing their jobs and their houses, when we see people sick and unable to get medical attention because they have no health insurance, when we see wars around the globe and threat of more wars, we must wonder if the system is broken and cannot be fixed with simple band-aids and old solutions.
Let me make this clear: I do not think that many of the solutions being offered at this time are going to work nor do I think that any of the solutions offered during the past eight years worked. For all the talk of change, nothing has changed and if a new set of ideas is not offered real soon, we are going to find ourselves on the edge of anarchy and chaos, the likes of which this country has never seen but have appeared throughout the ages of history.
And those distinguished colleagues of mine on the right side of the spectrum who argue that their way is the better way have got to explain how it was that we got into this mess in the first place. All I have heard from the right side is that the left doesn’t know what it is doing and is simply increasing government spending.
What exactly was the government doing over the past eight years? And don’t tell me that it was protecting my family and this country. Because I do not feel safe, I do not feel secure and the threat that I will lose my house is greater now than it was at any time in the past eight years. I don’t care what you call the economics, be they supply side, Keynesian, or voodoo; the system is broken and we need new fundamentals.
We need to remember what drove the men of the Constitutional Convention to meet and throw out the old rules and write a new set of rules. If we are going to argue that the individual should come first, then let’s make sure that it is all individuals, not just a select few, who come first. If we are going to say that the government should downsize and get out of the business of the people, then let’s make sure that government gets out of all the business of all the people.
No matter what belief system one may adhere to, there is an ethical component to it (if there are no ethics in your belief system, then I suggest that you get a new belief system). And that ethical component says that people cannot go hungry, people need to have shelter and healthcare, and there needs to be peace in the world and the world must have drinkable water and breathable air.
When one person suffers, we all suffer; when one person is oppressed, we are all oppressed. The fundamentals of life are that we are all one race and we all live on this one planet. As long as our discussions are going to be us versus them, we cannot to solve the problems that plague mankind.
It is time to bring order to chaos; it cannot be done by holding on to the old ways but rather looking for new ways. If we do not find new ways to solve the problems that we face, we will simply bring chaos to what little order we have in our lives.
Cross-posted to RedBlueChristian