Tuesday, June 3, 2014

7: Liberty to posterity (children)

           The 1787 preamble’s goal “and secure the Blessings of Liberty” incorporates all the other goals with the word “and.” It goes on to say, "to ourselves and our Posterity."
           It seems impossible to separate ourselves from our posterity (children, grandchildren and beyond), yet America has become that dysfunctional. That is, America does not mind that many of its children become neglected, abused, and uneducated adolescents, on way or another never to achieve adulthood. Starting with the big picture, humankind is one; Americans are a nation; people who are committed to the preamble are voluntarily civic within the people. "Civic" means working for both personal liberty and human justice more than goodwill. Individually, both within and without, there are humans in all stages of life—from infancy to deathbed. So what distinguishes “ourselves” from “our posterity” in those tandem civic goals, and should the goals be stated separately for use in 2018?
           I think so. I think the preamble should be turned upside down so as to focus on children rather than adults. For example, I think the civil marriage license should be replaced with a civil monogamy license that separates the issues of 1) spousal obligations and benefits from 2) protection, obligations, and benefits to children, grandchildren, and beyond. The self-appointed lord of dignity and equality, Justice Kennedy, overlooked the person-hood of a newborn human. Also, single adults should not have a tax burden due to monogamy without progeny. That is, singles should not subsidize couples who do not and will not have children. But far more importantly, a people should focus on providing a way of living that is inviting to children and children to be born. Such leadership in America would help the world. Just like people, nations may lead by example more than exhortation.
         Within the preamble, “ourselves” refers directly to “We the People of the United States.” Perhaps, to the signers, “posterity” meant the collective, succeeding generations of “We the People of the United States.” Nevertheless, “posterity” also means successive descendants of one person, "successive" referring to no interference through technology. The preamble literally states that volunteers who are committed to its goals, a civic people, constitutionally discipline the people in their states. However, not all people agree to the goals: Among “the people” are persons who are not committed to the goals, and thus, they are not of "We the People of the United States." They are citizens but dissidents to the civic agreement.
           Some dissidents separate themselves by criminal action that becomes overt. For example, a barn burner is of the people and when observed in the practice has separated from “A Civic People of the United States,” who maintain statutory law and its enforcement. Yet, according to the ”blessings” goal, the immediate descendant is still of “We the People of the United States,” because he or she did not harm. William Faulkner illustrates this point in his short story, “Barn Burning.”[1] Colonel Sartoris, ten years old, receives the full protection of the grocery-store court. Once he experienced justice, the boy wanted freedom-from his abusive family and walked away, I assume to acquire the liberty-to pursue justice. Thus, the descendants of criminals may choose to be of "We the People of the United States" as defined by the preamble. To delineate a civic people from criminals and others who do not commit the founding principles in the preamble, I use the title, “A Civic People of the United States,” and sometimes clarify this point by modifying the subject of the preamble's statement to "We the Civic People of the United States."
         In this context, some citizens take the narrow view that their family god protects them. What happens to neighbors is not their concern as the family god is in control. They are neglecting the broader view of the preamble. They are denying that whatever controls actual reality, if anything, controls everything. Reliance on a family god prevents civic governance or collaboration with a civic people. Beyond religious governance there is moral governance. Consider natural disasters: Chaos seems to be in control, and chaos knows no favorites—hurricanes here, tornadoes there; flooding here, drought there; volcanoes here, earthquakes there. But all persons present may be hurt by the disaster. Similarly, child abuse knows no favorites: ruined lives come from affluence here, poverty there; theism here, philosophy there; immigrants here, born natives there. Unfortunately, hundreds of the extremely wealthy died young or committed extreme crime. Yet some children, like Colonel Sartoris, rise above abuse. However, conceiving children into abusive lives is the predominant influence whereby long-standing family abuse continues into posterity. Breaking this continuity of abuse is a civic responsibility, simply because the cycle of abuse is known. There is need for ethical governance---civic morality. Separation of church from state.
            “We the People of the United States” expect and want children but are not protecting them. Children’s lives are being sacrificed at an alarming rate. I can't tell what is worse: the death of a child or the survival of a child into adulthood never to experience appreciation above love. The data are hard to access, but here is a glance at the tip of an iceberg (many cases are unreported or unattended):
According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), in 2005, an
estimated 3.3 million reports of alleged abuse and/or neglect involving approximately 
million children were made to local child protective services (CPS) agencies across the
country. An estimated 899,000 of these children were determined to be victims of abuse
and/or neglect (USDHHS, 2007). Of these, 16.6 percent were determined to be victims of 
physical abuse. Further, an estimated 1,460 children died in 2005 as a result of child abuse 
and neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007).[2]
Perpetrators of child abuse or perpetrators of neglect are most often the child’s own parents. According to NCANDS, in 2005, 79.4 percent of perpetrators were parents and 6.8 percent were other relatives.[3] Marci Hamilton, who works to defeat child abuse, writes:

 It is sad that children’s interests have been such a low priority on both the right and the left. The right has championed “parents’ rights,” which would keep the government out of what they consider family business. On the left, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) rarely if ever takes the side of a child (unless it is the right of the child to speak in a public school) and has increasingly taken up the cause of religious organizations.[4]

A civic people needs to learn about their own practices and focus protections on the abused instead of the abusers—the children instead of the parents. But instead the discussion is suppressed and misguided.
           We heard from President Obama, “Together, we determined that a modern economy requires . . . schools and colleges to train our workers.”[5] I prefer schooling that empowers the child to seek the fulfillment expressed by Professor Orlando Patterson: “[T]he ultimate human condition is to be liberated from all internal and external constraints in one's desire to realize one's self.”[6]  One of the external constraints is erroneous living passed on by parents and other caretakers as memes--packets of information. Industriousness is required for each person to reach Professor Patterson’s level of happiness, but fulfilling the nation’s needs---eligible workers---is a by-product, not the goal. It is not a case of people for the government's use, but rather discipline by a civic people through collaboratively informed voting. Moreover, Patterson’s vision does not make a person an object of employment and a subject of the nation--a worker.
          Additionally, “We the People of the United States” are allowing the people to saddle posterity with huge debt. On June 3, 2014 the national debt was 17,520 billion dollars and the population was 318.16 billion people.[7] Today, July 2, 2018, those numbers are 21,184 and 328, for growth rates of 5.1% and 0.8%, respectively. Children under age 14 account for twenty percent[8] of the people. Thus, the debt on our posterity is 460,000 dollars per child and growing. Because the debt is growing rather than shrinking, each newborn faces $5.3 million debt.  Some people are concerned and blame the government, while many take indolent pride in “government of the people, by the people, for the people”[9] and keep on satisfying their adult appetites. The responsibility for reform rests with “We the People of the United States” as defined by the preamble.
            So far, the people have counted on the government under legislative gods, or divine legislators, or legislative prayer, to fulfill the promises to humankind presented in the preamble to the US Constitution. The Constitution did not cite a god, so federal regimes imposed gods, beginning with the First Congress hiring ministers for Congress' pious image.[10] The people are not generally aware of what Nicolo Machiavelli had to say about the combination of a prince that uses a god and a citizenship that believes in a god, the exact governance the US Supreme Court seems to support. Quoting Machiavelli,

It only remains now to speak of ecclesiastical principalities, touching which all difficulties are prior to getting possession, because they are acquired either by capacity or good fortune, and they can be held without either; for they are sustained by the ordinances of religion, which are so all-powerful, and of such a character that the principalities may be held no matter how their princes behave and live. These princes alone have states and do not defend them, they have subjects and do not rule them; and the states, although unguarded, are not taken from them, and the subjects, although not ruled, do not care, and they have neither the desire nor the ability to alienate themselves. Such principalities only are secure and happy. But being upheld by powers, to which the human mind cannot reach, I shall speak no more of them, because, being exalted and maintained by God, it would be the act of a presumptuous and rash man to discuss them.[11]

In a paraphrase I would write god instead of God, since I would not wish to name or pretend to know or rebuke what, if anything, controls actual reality. I call this Chapter XI Machiavellianism and paraphrase it: state partners with church to abuse believers and non-believers get crushed as well. Politicians and lawyers are well aware of Machiavelli’s brilliant irony and speak of Machiavelli's arrogance. In fact, Machiavelli, by writing in irony offered the people warning without inviting his own execution. What the people may do, in order to defend their duty to discipline each self, state, and Union, is to regard governance as a civic issue, rather than a religious one. Thus, when a politician starts touting his/her religion or their god, consider rebuking them plainly: Require them to report what they have done lately to advance the cause of our posterity or the preamble. Publicly shame them for trying to impose religion on the people. Let them practice their religion or none in private like everyone else. Let legislative prayer be obsolete.
 I hope this essay is sufficient to justify separate consideration of each object of the “blessings” goal of the preamble, without disrespect toward its authors, signers, or the ratifying voters in 1788.

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 July 2, 2018

[1] Online at:  www.tarleton.edu/Faculty/sword/Barn%20Burning.pdf .
[2] Online at:  www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-physical-abuse.html .
[3] Online at:  www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-abuse-and-neglect-statistics.html .
[4] Marci A. Hamilton. Justice Denied: What American Must Do to Protect its Children. Cambridge University Press. 2008. Page 111-2.
[5] Online at:  www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/21/inaugural-address-president-barack-obama .
[6] James Q. Wilson. The Moral Sense. Free Press Paperbacks. 1993. 1997 ed. Page 195.
[7] Online at:  www.usdebtclock.org/ .
[8] Online at:  www.indexmundi.com/united_states/demographics_profile.html .
[9] Abraham Lincoln. Gettysburg Address. 1863.
[10] Online at:  www.openbible.info/topics/praying_in_public .
[11] Online at:  www.gutenberg.org/files/1232/1232-h/1232-h.htm#link2HCH0011 .