Wednesday, January 6, 2016


           The Bill of Rights is one of those mysterious and magical aspects of being an American citizen. It works as intended even when we are oblivious to its existence. I suppose that most of us have little reason to give it any thought. The truth is, we take our basic human rights for granted, and in much the same way as we expect the sun to come up each morning or the seasons to change each year. It's a given, a no-brainer.

          Many of our citizens have lived their entire existence without being consciously aware of our Bill of Rights. If you are a law-abiding individual, pay your taxes, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, have high moral standards and live by some common principles relative to life, why should you be concerned about any Bill of Rights? You live a contented life, you are satisfied with the way the federal and state governments are being run, and your life is good. It's amazing to myself just how insulated one individual's existence can be in this country.

          Yes! I actually believe it is possible for a person to live their whole life, untouched by any violation of the laws of this land. It is possible, but not very likely. Some will have had a parking ticket placed under the windshield wiper of their car, or perhaps they received a speeding ticket that required them to pay a set fine but most infractions of the law don't require them to stand before a judge. You may even have been involved in a minor traffic accident, one in which no one was injured and that turned out not to be a big deal. The police came, filled out a report and your insurance company took care of the details, arranging to have the car's damages repaired. Those kinds of things are just small bumps in the road of life and life goes on.

          If it were not for getting divorced, filing bankruptcy or some other very common legal matter, most people wouldn't even know what the inside of a courtroom looks like. A lawyer is someone you go to when you want to have your last will and Testament made out.

          What if, by some set of unusual circumstances, you find yourself charged with a felony and you are totally innocent? Our Bill of Rights would become very important to you then. Would you know what your rights are? The Police Officer who places you under arrest and puts on the handcuffs will explain some rudimentary, basic rights to you at that time. If they don't, your rights have already been violated. Anyone who watches a lot of TV could possibly recite those words verbatim. 

          I can only thank God that neither I, nor any member of my immediate family have been victims of the violent crimes which, judging by all the statistics, are running rampant throughout our country. Burglary, robbery, assault, car theft and murder; those are all things that happen to others, not me or mine. Some of those things have happened to people I know, but so far, I remain unscathed. Once again, I can only say, Thank you God.

          So, I set myself a task, a goal. I would dedicate myself to learning as much as I could about my country, its history, its government, and its laws. I became politically active and involved. Voting was not just my right, it was my duty as a citizen, and if I was to become a good citizen, I would and should become an informed voter. As I look around myself, the more I learn, the more I am convinced that I am a very fortunate individual. A white, middle-classed, American male, father of four children, blessed beyond measure. Yes! Life is good.

          Only now have I taken the time to consider what events of the past have made all of this possible. Whenever I read the words of our founding fathers, I try as best I can to put myself into their shoes, into their situation, and imagine what it must have been like for them. I am overwhelmed by the immensity of all they accomplished. There is no way they could have known what the future held for themselves or for the millions who would follow. All they had was determination and hope; a desire for freedom and liberty and yes, they must have had a vision of something glorious and worth all the sacrifices they must make if it was ever to be.

          It is evident to myself, when I ponder the Bill of Rights, that the Constitution of The United States of America was not the all-inclusive document everyone with any influence thought it should be. If it was they would not have insisted that it be amended in the way it was before they would ratify it. I've asked myself, what motivated those involved to address the specific matters they addressed in those amendments? In my own mind I concluded that the framers were motivated by some past injustice they had witnessed or had perpetrated against themselves personally. Their intent was to have in writing, some assurance that no one else would suffer the same injustices. Is it only coincidence that the first matters addressed by the amendments should be religion, followed by freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right of the people to peaceably assemble and bring to the attention of the government some supposed grievance? I think not. I would propose that they were addressed first because they were foremost in the minds of the people. They were the areas that caused them the most frustration and suffering. They were matters of the greatest concern for all involved. We can also understand how right they were to do so, judging by the way these same matters are still preeminent in our society today.

          The same can be said for the matter of the right to bear arms. Now, I must admit, it has been some time since a dispute has arisen over the matter of providing quarters for any soldier in this country, but that's not to say it will never come up. If it does, we already know how to handle it.

          Also, I would like to point out the fact that there were ten original amendments added to the constitution before it was considered complete enough to ratify. That fact causes me to think of the Ten Commandments in my Bible. Could it be said that what we are looking at here is the Ten Commandments of the Constitution? If only those ten amendments had been as clearly written and as easily understood as the Biblical Commandments. We wouldn't have all the controversy over the Supreme Court rendering opinions as to what the original intent of the framers really was. I'm a little surprised that the Supreme Court hasn't attempted to tweak those Biblical Commandments somewhat while they were at it. Actually, I suppose they have done even more than tweak them. They have, for all intents and purpose, physically removed them from the sight of the public, deeming them offensive to some and out of place where they were traditionally being displayed for countless years.

          As a nation, we have lived long and prospered with the original Bill of Rights our forefathers granted us. As an individual citizen, I know full well that I have. I see nothing wrong with adding other amendments to our constitution as our society and nation continues to evolve, but I would resist most energetically, any attempts to take away, nullify or cancel out any of our original rights. Millions of happy, productive lives have been built upon that very foundation. Our constitution along with the accompanying amendments may not be perfect, but they are by far the best this world has to offer any person.

          There are times in my solitude, when I will get out my little blue book entitled "We the People," turn to page 17 and read aloud to myself these words. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." To myself, the Bill of Rights is nothing less than an attempt by our forefathers to give lasting expression to the rights which God, The Creator, has given us.

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