There those who believe that our admittedly deeply flawed nation is the best, most prosperous and freest and nation on earth. Capable, as it often has, of rescuing other nations–other continents–from war and financial ruin. Martin Luther King was one of those believers. As am I.
And there are those who believe that America has been flawed to the point of being evil ever since 1619, the beginning of slavery in the US. Not 1607 with the founding of the first settlement. Not 1775 with the beginning of the Rebellion. 1619. And they believe that America is irredeemable, and must be ripped down, and rebuilt from the ground up.
That’s the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
One of our responsibilities as citizens it to understand enough of American and world history to make sense of the many political statements and claims being that are tossed at us every day. To start, let’s go back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Wait, Will, didn’t the Revolution end with Lord Cornwallis’ defeat in 1781? Why wait six years before having a constitution? We did have an original constitution, The Articles of Confederation, enacted in 1781. These Articles provided only the loosest form of confederation, with little or no central power. It was often correctly called a “league of friendship. No central military, no central taxing authority. Simply the 13 states calling themselves friends.
It soon became apparent that this loose confederation would not work; a tighter bond was needed. Rocked by the resulting economic difficulties and radical political movements under the powerless Articles, a Constitutional Convention was held in 1787, with the new Constitution being signed in September of that year. This is the same constitution that governs us today, along with its 27 amendments. Yes, the very same constitution that allowed for the continuation of slavery and the disenfranchisment of women and uppropertied men. The purpose of the new Constitution is found in the preamble: “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.”
Today’s key point. There would have been no union if the abolitionists of the day and those supporting women’s suffrage had insisted on abolishing slavery and enfranchising women. Any number of the 11 slaveholding states, and likely all of them, would have simply blocked it on the slavery issue alone. And with no union, there would have been no centralized political, financial or military entity. What force, what political, financial and military force would have squared off against the slaveholding states? The 11 Southern states would not have needed to secede from the Union; there would have been no Union from which to secede in the first place. They could have just kept right on owning slaves. What entity would have opposed them? The ignorant irony of those who believe that America was–and is–evil because our Constituion origially allowed slavery, is that it was the creation of the Union in the Constitution they detest that was key to ending the horror of some humans owning others. The only way to end slavery was to have an opposing force so powerful that it could utterly destroy the financial and military might of the 11 states which were willing to fight to the death to preserve the terrible fiction that blacks were sub-human, and therefore subject to being bought and sold. Of the 620 thousand deaths in the Civil War, 360 thousand deaths were North soldiers. Only a very tight union would have been willing to suffer staggering loss of blood and treasure like that for any purpose. And that very union could not have been formed without initially allowing slavery.
In January of 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery.
In June of 1919, the 19th Amendment allowed for women to vote.
And today, due to continuing moral and legal progress, we are all equal under the law. All of us.
This analysis could have been done by anybody. No one can like the process the way that it had to unfold, but it did have to develop in that way. Question: Why are many parts of the media and some politicians working so hard to convince us, convince Americans, of the inherently evil nature of our country? Answer: They are angry and embarrassed at how free, prosperous and powerful America has become. As part of the reducing inequality campaign, which always seems to focus on tearing down those at the top instead of building up those at the bottom, they want America to repent, to reduce the inequality with other countries by tearing itself down. And falsely portraying America as racist and inherently evil gives that agenda a good start.
Imagine with me for a moment that we want better things for our family, friends and neighbors. Would tearing down what we have make their lives any better? Of course not, any more than tearing down America will make, say, Greece or Palestine any better. If we really want to help, we will help from a position of strength. We will, patiently, show them how them how to think and act to get what they want. Put differently, tearing up what we are wearing and what we have in our closet will not make anyone else’s clothing better. Feeling guilty and tearing down what we have, tearing down what America has accomplished, is a narcissistic act of supreme selfishness. Let’s get over any lazy, self-indulgent guilt we may have, and roll up our sleeves and get to the hard work of helping others, of helping the people around us and helping other nations.
What are your thoughts? Where do you stand?
Segueing from the specifics of today’s topic to overall principles, the core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
- Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
And do it all in love; without love, these are empty gestures, destined to go nowhere and mean nothing.
If we apply those two core principles, personal responsibility and brother’s keepers, simultaneously, never only one or the other, we will always be on the right path. Depending upon what we face, one principle or the other may appropriately be given more emphasis, but they are always acted upon together.
Revolution 1.0 in 1776 was built by people talking to other people, agreeing and disagreeing, but always finding ways to stay united and go forward. Revolution 2.0 will be built the same way.
Join me. Join the others. Think about what we are talking about and share these thoughts and principles with others. Subscribe, encourage others to subscribe. Act. Let’s grow this together.
And visit the store. Fun stuff, including hats, mugs and t-shirts. Recommend other items that you’d like to see.
Links and References
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Remember: Know your stuff, then act on it. Knowing your stuff without acting is empty; acting without knowing is dangerous.
Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.