Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Task Begun on June 21, 2014 in Baton Rouge rev

          The statement “the preamble offers just civic governance by justly governed citizens” evokes smiles and responses like, “That sounds good,” from everyone who has heard it so far. What follows is skepticism. One is constrained to ask, why do so many citizens doubt, perhaps oppose, the preamble? Perhaps 400 years of theism, racism, and force/coercion remain at the heart of 225 years of resistance to the justice Abraham Lincoln imagined.
          All my life I’ve heard, “Mother, God, and Country. This is America, boy: Love it or leave it.” By my own experience, I do not think theism belongs in civic discussions; period. Religion is a private matter that may motivate you against another citizen’s idea, but justification for your resistance must be expressed in civic terms to empower mutual accommodation. In my youth, it was common to hear, “Are you saved?” Merely challenging a citizen’s motivation and inspiration is a violent affront to their citizenship. That’s not to suggest citizens don’t appreciate resources for peace; it is to say that just citizens do not question each other's religion, shared or not.
          As a Southern Baptist trying to cope with moral contradictions, I hoped someone would ask, “Why are you so good?” No one asked, but I witnessed for Jesus anyway. Working with chemists, chemical engineers and other professionals from nearly forty ethnic backgrounds and having extended assignments overseas, I saw moral excellence everywhere and began to perceive Knoxville, Tennessee might not be the center of moral excellence.
          When I courted a Louisiana French Catholic school teacher, she was too witty for me--cut evangelizing upon stealth introduction and said, “My religion is settled and it will not change.” I had a tough decision, especially with resistance from Knoxville, but I asked her to be my bride, and she is. I don’t want to change her, because she civilizes me. Eventually, I discovered my faith had always been in the objective truth much of which is unknown: Attempting to persuade myself into religion created personal contradictions. Since each Baptist Church is its own entity and the church I joined no longer existed, I wrote a letter of resignation to the Baptist Message with a copy to my pastor. It took another ten years to realize I had withdrawn from religion itself. My pastor and I still meet and talk as friends.
          With faith in the objective truth, you don’t attempt to believe something:  you accept that you don’t know what you don’t know. But you don’t want anyone to follow you, because you don’t know: You might be wrong. Yet, you discuss and defend life according to your hard-earned, undeniable faith, even in a country that unjustly imposes theism:  “In God We Trust,” and “. . . under God.” Many Christians think nothing of labeling me an atheist, not realizing that faith in the objective truth implies faith in whatever controls the evolutions we observe: evolutions in physics, ethics, and imagination. I do not know what controls these happenings. But the Christians think they “know,” so America imposes the theism of Christianity on its citizens, thanks to Mr. Madison and the others; see the Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776 and the current Virginia Constitution, Article 16. But slavery was imposed before then.
          America’s four-hundred year experience with racism, imposed on the colonies by six European countries, is not nearly over. Just now, many African-Americans are led to brandish skin color rather than grow character. Instead of accepting that they may at last claim and contribute to “We the people of the United States” as defined in the preamble, they are willing to segregate from the declared goals. Many African-Americans perceive the “constitution for the USA” by “all men are created equal,” a phrase from the Declaration of Independence. The 1776 phrase may have declared that the King of England cannot lord it over colonists, but there is no chance it expressed that American elites were equal to their slaves. Preference for the Declaration of Independence may be a reflection of propaganda that may have seemed to Abraham Lincoln needed when it was necessary to overcome. But that task should be behind American citizens. It should be time to un-trump the constitution for the USA.
          Wrongful, white opinions were mostly defeated on the battle fields of the Civil War and moreover in the non-violent march on Washington. At least that's how I felt. Mitochondrial DNA tells us every living human came from one pre-historic woman. Yet some African-Americans exclude people of other races—whites, Asian-Americans and Native Americans--with assemblies such as “Congressional Black Caucus.” Perhaps such people do not want the moderating power of the preamble. Perhaps they prefer force. But I doubt that. I think most people just want to be free to live in peace according to their opinions and let others do the same. So why force?
          Force is built into the United States Constitution. The designers of the plan that was debated, primarily the Virginia delegation (Blair, Madison, Mason, McClurg, Randolph, Washington and Wythe), followed 1787 global political philosophy, which assumed that citizen’s behavior can only be influenced by coercion and force. We are dysfunctional. Perhaps citizens subject ourselves to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps if we assumed all citizens want to be good, most would be.
          By the 1787 design, the American weak class would be ruled by wise men rising from state governments who would uphold the preamble and the constitution for the USA; would not take advantage of elective power to abuse the people. Continuity would be provided in a republican form of government in each state with departments empowered vertically and horizontally such that elections could not cause drastic changes. The federal government is similarly republican.
          However, elected officials take liberties against the preamble, leaving it to unaware citizens to sue for relief: unconstitutional actions are taken daily. Presidents tout “our democracy,” when citizens are guaranteed a republican form of government. In democracy the vote at 50% plus one vote places the 50% less one vote in oppression for the term of elected office. Liberals are pitted versus conservatives in a cycle which seems perpetual. The 50% less one vote lives under tyranny until oppression is felt on the other side and the majority shifts. The cycles have become so divergent that corporate planning is difficult and family planning is threatened. "Democracy" means whatever your faction can impose on a civic people.
          Under the preamble as presented herein, citizens would design solutions to civic problems that accommodate each citizen. For example, no-harm theists and no-harm non-theists would appreciate each other on a civic basis as well as appreciate that their views on religion are honorable, individual pursuits of personal happiness. I’m not describing utopia; Christians would have to admit that their time for dominating civic decisions has passed; many citizens have "been there, done that" respecting Christianity, and find civic privations in Christianity. So called “black church” or "black theology" would admit they are citizens and contribute to living justice rather than debate on the past. Politicians bent on coercion would reform to show commitment to fulfill the preamble because just citizens demand it. The super rich would bring their money from the Cayman Islands under a just system of taxation that reflects how America facilitates wealth. The poor would be inspired to participate in cooperative autonomy. Nobody ever thought justice comes easy. Abraham Lincoln put it this way:  "Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?”Of course, Lincoln, in 1857, trumping the constitution for the USA (1791) with the Declaration of Independence (1776) did not abide his own words.
          Recent regimes have disenfranchised citizens by deciding that corporations and political action groups are persons. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg claim, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” is, so far, lame. It never existed, and as long as the distinction “citizen” remains compromised, it cannot happen. Submission to power happened because most citizens never committed to the preamble.
          Citizens can reverse their decline in power by seeking the means of accommodating each other, ending the cycle of subjugation to political parties by embracing the power of the preamble. Always a few citizens will not understand cooperative autonomy or shun it and will break laws, risking subjugation to the law. However, most citizens just want to live their lives in peace so that they can pursue happiness as they see it, not as forced by cycling majority rule.
          Yet majority opinion is what decides our governance: so how could majority opinion work to every citizen’s favor for the duration of their lives? The majority of citizens can become a transcendent faction that embraces the goals of the preamble. The goals of the preamble are often referred to as secular, an antonym for "spiritual." However, they are civic goals. They leave to each citizen self-governance regarding any spiritualism they may or may not wish to pursue. Likewise, the goals of the preamble do not discriminate against gender, race, ethnicity, no-harm sexual practices, or any other personal characteristic. Even the criminal is a candidate to pay the price, reform, then embrace the preamble. The preamble can be to civic collaboration what traffic signals are to safe driving.
          Straining against Protestantism and seeking evidence for deism (reading prejudicially), I once took James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance,” 1785, as pivotal support for separation of church and state. But I now admit (to myself) that Madison said, “[T]he Bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who enjoy this precious gift ought to be that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind.” Even worse, Madison said, "Before any man can be considerd as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe." This tyranny does not seem subtle (seems blatantly arrogant) to a person born in Knoxville, Tennessee, who is committed to and trusts in the objective truth of which much is undiscovered and some is understood.
          The signers of the constitution were in agreement on such views of Deist supported Christianity. The First Congress was in agreement for theism when they negotiated the First Amendment’s religion clauses and finalized the constitution for the USA on December 15, 1791. Alas, they needed a Buddhist among them to remind them that “we’re all in it together—every person” and a people must always collaborate for "the now," despite the past. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in “Divinity School Address,” 1838, shared Eastern thought, but more importantly the real notion that the duty of each human is to perfect the person living that life. Emerson was banned from Harvard for thirty years—until he became world famous.
          In 2015, most citizens need to think: Citizens must accommodate every citizen, and seven civic goals are sufficient to agree on:  let’s adopt the preamble to the United States Constitution.
Liberty from the English King was won 233 years ago. Liberty from theism, racism, and coercion of citizens won’t happen until most citizens commit to the preamble. It promises just civic governance by justly governed citizens. I propose to always observe Independence Day, but change our major national holiday to Ratification Day, June 21. Each year, celebrate “We the People of the United States” as defined in the preamble--the faction which we title "A Civic People of the United States." Keep collaboration with each other always on our minds and maintain it for the durations of each of our lives.
Copyright©2014 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised August 21, 2015