Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pondering the Constitution

In 1960 I enlisted in the Air Force and like every other military enlistee, I took an oath that I would support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Again, some years later like every appointed officer of the United States military, I took that oath again.  "I do solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God."  I took that oath seriously and I will continue to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic.  At this time in our history the threat may be more domestic than foreign.

This morning I'm pondering the question:  "Why has the Constitution of the United States been able to stand for nearly 230 years?"  It is a great document to be sure.  It is well-written.  It brought thirteen independent colonies together into a single entity--a nation.  Since its adoption, thirty-seven additional states have subscribed to it.  It has  survived a Civil War.  It has been amended (27 times); the first ten are known collectively as the Bill of Rights.  It has been interpreted.  It has been argued.  It has been contested.    Amendments, interpretations, arguments, and contentions will continue as we attempt to live under a document written in a time quite different from our own. The Constitution was meant to be and it is a "living document” growing and developing along with the people it governs.

Fifty-five men framed the Constitution of the United States.  It was a compromise document.  It was debated vigorously.  There were many differences of opinion.  When finalized, the document seemed so unsatisfactory that sixteen of the fifty-five framers refused to sign it.  Thirty-nine signed it but not a one of them found it satisfactory.

So how has this Constitution of ours endured?  It has endured because there was in 1789, and there is now, in the minds and hearts of most of the American people, enough ethical and spiritual principles, enough intelligence, enough conscience and loyalty, enough regard for the dignity of every human personality to sustain it.  This is the foundation that has enabled the Constitution to stand.  Take away the ethical and spiritual principles, the intelligence, the conscience, and the belief that every human being has worth from the minds and hearts of the people and the Constitution will not stand.

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