“We the People…” Part 3 – Application of the Constitution
by Chris Bonham, Intern Writer with a teen’s perspective
You have probably never seen a real duel, but I am sure you can picture one. However, imagine this situation for a moment: two people have challenged one another in a fight to the death. On the day of the event, one of the combatants steps onto the field of battle dressed in full armor, and armed to the teeth. But the other person arrives wearing no armor and no sword. Who do you think would win in this fight? Most would say that the contest was over before it even got started. Having looked at this example, what if I told you that much of America is represented by this second duelist. It is not that many people are ignorant, but many Americans have forgotten their sword and shield – also known as the Constitution – on the battlefield of ideas. How can we hope to remain the great nation our Founders established, when we don’t utilize the tools we have been given to keep it that way?
In our three part series, we have examined an understanding and method of interpretation for the Constitution. The time has come to look at the application of this document to our lives. Admittedly, there is no way to apply the Constitution to our lives in a direct manner. Much of the Constitution talks about how elections should be conducted, the powers of government, and so forth. Perhaps it is best to put our analogy from above to good use yet again. America has always been a beacon of hope and freedom in the world. Yet, throughout our history, we have been attacked for our lofty principles. We are, in essence, engaged in a great war of ideals.
The Founders gave us the weapons we need for this fight in the form of documents that have spanned hundreds of years. So how is the Constitution really a sword and a shield? The answer is principles. The principles that the Founders fought for have made America what it is, and they are the only way America can continue this way. We could list all of these ideas, such as honesty and liberty, but they can all be summed up in two main principles: character and self-regulation.
Character is something we seem to have misplaced. All we have to do is look around to see this: corruption, scandals, and deception have saturated our culture. But it is with character that we can make a difference and change our nation. Our Founders were all men of great character, and the place their character brought them to has been forever recorded in history. The Founders also thought self-regulation to be very important.
We all know the Constitution begins with the words “We the People.” This is an expression of self-regulation. In order to maintain our character, we must practice regulating ourselves. This is the essence of the liberty the Constitution was trying to establish: that men have the power to change the world around them by choosing to either do the right thing or to do the convenient thing. One leads to individual freedom, and the other leads to tyranny. But the choice is still ours to make. These principles are what the Constitution was about, and what we should strive to apply in our lives.
While it is important for all Americans to realize these ideals, everything begins with just a few individuals deciding to restore them. History has often shown us that it only takes a single person to avert the course of entire nations. So what are we waiting for? Pick up your sword, it’s time to change the world.
Part 2 | Part 1