Striving for a More Perfect USA

The idea of forming “a more perfect Union” dates back to the formative years of the United States of America. The words can be found in the preamble to the US Constitution:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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 introduction to the US Constitution sets the bar high. Sometimes we get it right. More often than not, we fall short.

The tragic events of last week tempt us to throw up our hands and give up on working toward “a more perfect Union,” but that’s not who we are. I believe most Americans will continue to strive for a more perfect nation.

In light of the hate crimes and acts of terrorism and political violence last week in the United States of America, I offer the following quote from The Soul of America:  The Battle for our Better Angels, by Jon Meacham:

A More Perfect USA
Quote from The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels, by Jon Meacham

 

I also share the following famous words of Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade
Quote from Martin Niemoller

 

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading A Spark of Light, by Jodi Picoult.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

What is it going to take to stop the hate crimes and political violence in the United States of America? What can we do as individuals wherever we live to make the world a kinder place?

Perhaps we could start by living the 39th verse of the 22nd chapter of The Gospel of Matthew as it is translated in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible:

The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”

Many of the people who read my blog are not Christians — and that is one of the unexpected joys this blog has given me — but I hope we can all strive to adopt the above words of Jesus in our everyday lives and work for peace in our families, neighborhoods, cities, and nations.

And we can’t wait until they come for us, because by then there will be no one left to speak up.

Janet

Quote from Journalist Jonathan Stinson

Jonathan Stinson is the publisher of The Sand Mountain Reporter newspaper in Albertville, Alabama. I recently discovered him on Twitter and was immediately impressed with his level of professionalism.

I have no personal experience with the University of Alabama, but I’m beginning to think it must have a top-notch journalism school. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, one of the most-respected TV journalists in Charlotte was Bob Inman of WBTV. A native of Elba, Alabama, Robert Inman is a successful novelist today. He is a product of the University of Alabama.

Lee Perryman, one of my far-flung Morrison cousins is another graduate of the University of Alabama. Lee recently retired after a celebrated career with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. In retirement, Lee continues to champion the field of journalism in his hometown of Sylacauga, Alabama.

Many years later to happen upon another Alabama native and alumnus of that university’s Department of Journalism — Jonathan Stinson —  cannot be merely coincidental. I did not major in journalism in college but, if I were looking for a good journalism school to invest my time and money in as a student, I would certainly give the University of Alabama my serious consideration.

Here’s the quote from Jonathan Stinson that first grabbed my attention:

“Everything you write is about the reader. The sooner you accept this truth as a writer, the better off you’ll be because you’ll have a clear understanding of what it is you’re trying to do.” – quote from Jonathan Stinson’s blog, at http://JstinsonINK.com.

I typed the quote and keep it by my computer monitor so I can read it every day.

Jonathan Stinson can be followed on Twitter as @JstinsonINK and on his blog as referenced above.

In this day in America when reporters and journalists are being recklessly maligned almost daily by the US President and his staff and surrogates, it is reassuring to know that there are countless journalists in this country who are dedicated to reporting the facts. Not “alternative facts,” but facts.

Lest we forget

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads as follows:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. (I’m reading The Second Mrs. Hockaday, by Susan Rivers.) If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Janet

Thoughts on the US Constitution

As a political science major in college, I was required to take at least one Constitutional Law course. Intimidated by the prospect of taking a law class, I put off taking Constitutional Law until my last quarter before graduation. Much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the class (except for the copious amount of reading it required) and 41 years later I still remember some of the Supreme Court cases we studied. That class, more than any other, opened my eyes to the nuances of how the US Constitution governs everything from voting rights to the classification of tomatoes as a fruit or as a vegetable in light of the Tariff Act of 1883.The current US election season and, more specifically, the present civil unrest here in Charlotte have brought the Constitution and certain our constitutional rights to mind.

constitution_pg1of4_ac
First page of the US Constitution

2016 US Presidential Election

The US Presidential campaigns this year have made me uneasy about the interpretation of the US Constitution. One political party has taken fear mongering to a new level. We in “battleground states” are bombarded by endless TV ads telling us if the other major party’s candidate is elected, she will abolish the Second Amendment. In a nutshell, that amendment assures our right to “keep and bear arms.”

US Constitution,  First Amendment

The same political party dealing in the fear mongering over the Second Amendment holds the First Amendment in contempt. The First Amendment is near and dear to my heart. It guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably assemble, and freedom to  redress of grievances. The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1919, runs a very close second!)

US Constitution, Second Amendment

The Second Amendment gives the US Government the right to establish a military and confirms the right of a citizen to “bear arms.” I understand and appreciate the thinking behind the Second Amendment, but I believe one side of the 2016 Presidential campaign has championed it to the exclusion of the other amendments. The baseless fear mongering that, if elected, the other major party’s candidate will “take away all your guns” has reached a fever pitch. Personally, I’m more concerned that the candidate championing the Second Amendment does not see the value of the First Amendment. I believe it is the First Amendment that makes America, America. It is our rights guaranteed by the First Amendment for which citizens of many other countries envy Americans.

Protests this week in Charlotte

The riots that took place in Charlotte on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and the peaceful protests last night prompt me to reflect on the First Amendment. Rioting and destruction of property cannot be tolerated, but the right of citizens to peacefully assemble and protest must be protected. Peaceful protests can shine a spotlight on an issue and bring it to the forefront of public discussion. The prime example that comes to mind is the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s led by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

The protests this week in Charlotte were the result of the death of a man at the hands of the police. The protests in Charlotte have resulted in a national discussion of race relations, the inordinate number of African-American men who have been shot by police in our country, and the distrust of police held by people of color. If any good can come out of what has transpired in Charlotte this week, perhaps it will be a more open and honest conversation in America about the racial prejudices and biases most people in our country hold to varying degrees. It is through frank public discourse that we will better understand and respect one another. I pray that something good will come out of this violent, angry, and sad week. In the meantime, I anxiously await what the darkness of tonight will bring to the streets of Charlotte.

In conclusion

The US Constitution is a living, breathing document. It has been amended 27 times as our society continually reinvents itself. It is the bedrock of our government and is constantly up for debate by citizens and, ultimately, by the US Supreme Court.

The primary purpose of my blog is to shed light on my life as a writer, and I have avoided political content until today. Inasmuch as the 2016 federal and state elections just might be the most important elections of my life, I felt compelled today to post my thoughts about certain aspects of the US Constitution.

Until my next blog post in a few days, I hope you have a good book to read and productive writing time.

Janet