I know my Constitutional rights. Do you?

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“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.”

This statement, the preamble to United States’ Constitution, is well-known to most Americans. This is the beginning for the most treasured document of our country. And this document is the glue that binds us as a nation. Say what you will about politics, or politicians, the Constitution (and its Amendments) is our highest ideal, our very best. Abolition of slavery is in there, the women’s right to vote is in there, separation of church and state is in there, and so is the right to a speedy and public trial. Guaranteed freedom of the press is in there — although, as my husband, the lawyer, has pointed out to me, the reporter — there are no “right to know” for the people — it’s not in there. He’s correct. I’ve scoured this document and could find no such references. Of course, people have a need to know what the government is doing, in order to make informed decisions, but it’s not quite the same thing.

It bothers me (and my husband, who happens to be a Constitutional scholar) when anyone clutches the American flag and demands complete loyalty to it. The ol’ Stars and Stripes are indeed one symbol for our country, and so is the Statue of Liberty, but they are not the essence of it, not its soul. They are just symbols, like the bald eagle (which could very well have been a turkey if Ben Franklin had his way). The ultimate object, the item and essence of who we are as a people is the Constitution. So if you want to grab anything to show your love and allegiance to the United States, grab one of those.

Read it. Please. It’s easy to do — just put US Constitution into a search engine of your choice and it’ll pop up. The more people read and understand the history and context of this tremendous document, the more people will be knowledgeable about how our government works and WHY it works — it’s all laid out.

Let’s be honest. This revered document seems like a mysterious enigma to some. Don’t let its age and wisdom intimidate you. The Constitution of the United States belongs to all citizens of the United states, either the ones born to it or naturalized. Honestly, it is not a complicated read, either. Just start reading it and you’ll see for yourself. This is a living document, reflecting our history, a thing amendable to change, as we all are. Or at least should be.

The idea for this blog came about because I’ve written nothing related to the Fourth of July, and Jeff seemed a bit disappointed in my choice of talking about haiku poetry for that day’s blog. Especially because I had just mentioned how special Independence Day is to me. As an immigrant, I hold Independence Day very dear to my heart, and so do my parents, and so do any and all immigrants I have ever encountered. Our nearby neighbors, a family from Mexico, bought a small arsenal of fireworks (like, at least $300 worth of fireworks) to celebrate the day. We joined them with the comparatively pathetic few we bought this year, but our contributions added to the joy. Because this has been an unusually wet spring and summer, the ban that is normally in effect this time of year on fireworks had not been as restrictive as it could be. And our Muslim neighbors in the house to our left also came out and enjoyed the little impromptu fireworks show.

What I’m trying to say is there are things that divide us, and there are things that connect us. We should focus on what connects us, and not what divides. And the Constitution, the set of principles we all must live by, is definitely a connecting thing — a tremendous thing.

Written by

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.

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