Phillip Beaver

Citizen, Humankind


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Could We the People become America’s greatest asset?

I would like to renew Andrea Grazzini Walstrom’s conversation and promote the Preamble to the US Constitution.
We the People seems defined in the Preamble to the US Constitution. The Preamble may be paraphrased: “We the People [in our respective] States, in order to [accomplish unity, justice, tranquility, defense, prosperity, liberty, and continuity], do [govern] the [nation].” Thus, We the People is the voters who are committed to and trust the seven secular goals stated in Preamble to the US Constitution.
We the People respects harmless private practices, such as theism or atheism, yet would maintain the seven goals. We the People includes religious people who respect the opinions of non-religious people and vice versa.
For America to fulfill its promises, the majority of voters must consider, practice, promote, and celebrate the Preamble. This profound change could begin on September 16, 2011, celebration of Constitution Day.
Does this idea motivate TED readers to reconsider, practice, and promote the Preamble? What arguments support opposition?

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    Sep 1 2011: Joe,
    Thank you again for your interest (and Thomas's).
    I am glad you are willing to celebrate—promote—the Preamble. Constitution Day seems the appropriate time, because the Preamble states the objective. The Articles merely prescribe how governance is to be established and maintained. Because the Preamble is neglected, America actually operates under an unwritten set of laws too complicated for most people to challenge and protected by the judicial excuse, “You do not have standing to be heard in this case.”
    To me, the 4th of July is a stirring experience every year, and more than on any other occasion, I read the Declaration of Independence. Independence Day is part of my heritage. Constitution Day is unheralded; I am not annually reminded to read even the Preamble.
    The Preamble has always been in my vague consciousness but not memory until I thought its goals hold our diverse citizens together. For example, its ideas inspire the majority to oppose the few who would harm fellow citizens over differing, lawful opinion. I lament that we do not annually celebrate its goals and consequences more enthusiastically than we celebrate our independence from Great Britain 228 years ago. It seems that due to our neglect of We the People, America has not earned a celebration, yet we must begin to practice and promote it.
    I imagine fellow citizens who are satisfied with their status quo being motivated to work for national improvement by contributing to and participating in community celebration of seven goals: unity, justice, tranquility, defense, prosperity, liberty, and continuity. And, I imagine that after only a few years of such notoriety, measures of accomplishment would begin to indicate national improvements.
    Once We the People became apparent, the world’s majority would demand republican forms of government with term limits for elected offices and in other ways spread Abraham Lincoln’s vision: government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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    Aug 31 2011: Insofar as we identify as members of a nation, a nation's people ARE its greatest asset ... regardless of their character or calibre.

    What could compete with "the people" as an alternative?

    Aspiring to greatness will, of course, raise the value of the asset.

    I would to God there were more ambition in the country. Ambition of that laudable kind, to excel. - John Adams (as spoken to a young Ralph Waldo Emerson.)

    Conduct yourself in a way that lives up to your own high standards. - David McCullough (who also cites the above quote by Adams/Emerson)
  • Sep 2 2011: I agree and think we are Americas greatist asset now, our government just refuses to recocnize us.

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      Sep 2 2011: James,
      I agree with you and partially blame past government regimes and majority voters for not celebrating We the People.
      Why do we not have a national holiday on September 17, Constitution Day, and on that day focus on the Preamble; list the Amendments that seem to satisfy the Preamble’s goals; propose needed Amendments; grade elected officials on supporting/not the Preamble’s goals. Please add to the list.
      If necessary, re-dedicate an existing national holiday. They are:
      Friday, December 31, 2010* New Year’s Day
      Monday, January 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
      Monday, February 21** Washington’s Birthday
      Monday, May 30 Memorial Day
      Monday, July 4 Independence Day
      Monday, September 5 Labor Day
      Monday, October 10 Columbus Day
      Friday, November 11 Veterans Day
      Thursday, November 24 Thanksgiving Day
      Monday, December 26*** Christmas Day

      I marvel that Constitution Day is not listed. My first candidate for replacement is Columbus Day.
      Constitution Day 2011 is fourteen days away, as it will be observed on the 16th. How can this idea become noticed in time for inclusion this year?
      My letters to newspapers have been ignored, as usual.
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    Sep 2 2011: Christophe,

    Thank you for your comments and questions.
    Americans who perpetrate crime and terrorism tend to offset their contributions, even be debits, whether they be politician, CEO, or of any other subgroup. The red light runner who never has an accident survives the risk and some would say simply accomplishes more in his life; however, statistics show he is a menace to society and society pays his statistical cost. Like other societies, Americans are divided by behavior; yet those who behave must share with misbehavers the cost of governance.
    The Preamble I write about is the Preamble to the United States Constitution. It states,
    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.
    I would be delighted to learn of a goal worthy for addition to the seven therein (and believe the TED community is capable of such lofty ideas). Incidentally, the body of the US Constitution was imperfect yet written to fulfill the Preamble.

    It is true that some people cannot or do not choose to contribute, but celebrations like America’s 4th of July can inspire people to improve. Yet, for Americans who have a world perspective, the 4th of July can feel regressive.

    Celebration of the Preamble might have universal appeal and therefore inspire people in ways we cannot imagine; we have never tried. I especially appreciate your encouragement in that regard.
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    Sep 1 2011: Aren't Americans America's greatest asset?
    Or are the politicians not Americans? Or the CEO's of your companies? Or the great inventors and scientists?
    Or all of you who do what you do in your lives?

    As of the Preamble you describe: It is up to each individual to fill it in if he/she wants and is able to.

    I do think your promotion of it is probably a good idea.
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    Sep 1 2011: Kyle,
    Thank you for recognizing my quest and seeking clarification.
    And thanks to Joe and Thomas for their help.
    I want America to qualify to celebrate the Preamble.
    Yes: the people differ from We the People. For example, Americans divide themselves at traffic signals. Some cautiously stop when green changes; others on yellow; others when it seems red is eminent; others alertly on red; others before the road ahead is filled. The first two groups happily brook traffic control, wanting low risk to health, property, and liability. The others subject themselves to risk--punishment by law—from red light fines to vehicular homicide--or death. Americans who obey laws and do not risk punishment are among We the People.
    More importantly, they are committed to and trust the Preamble. The Preamble states “We the People . . . do ordain and establish this Constitution,” preceding the specifics that govern “the people,” cited 7 times.
    Americans can assure they are among We the People by understanding, memorizing, practicing, promoting, and celebrating the Preamble. With widespread practice, it will become clear that the majority in America are united, yet are free to preserve their cultural differences. Members of We the People respect not only others, but others’ opinions, even as they respect their own opinions.
    The response to opposing opinion, “This is America: love it or leave it,” and other familiar clichés become obsolete. When an institution seems to oppose a person’s thoughts, the person is true to himself and either works to improve the institution or leaves it. The typical American citizen then enjoys freedom because of his justice and other contributions to the goals in the Preamble. The harm of democracy, sometimes called "mob rule," is cured by We the People, who have chosen the rule of law. It is a revolution that can happen faster than we can imagine.
    Then, the world may yet celebrate the Preamble to the US Constitution, as the Framers hoped.
  • Sep 1 2011: What do you want to see happen? You seem to create a distinction between the American people and We The People, but what is the real difference? What would I do to be a part of We The People? You seem to want a revolution among the mindset of Americans but what exactly this entails is unclear. Could you explain this? Thanks
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    Aug 31 2011: Dear Thomas Jones,
    Thank you for your question: What could compete with “the people” as an alternative? In a nutshell, We the People, as defined in the Preamble, governs “the people.”
    Societies are composed of people, and there would be no need for governance if the people always behaved with moral excellence. However, out of ignorance, incapability, or malice, some of the people misbehave. Thus, the need for governance; a preferred method is the rule of written law the society commits to. In justice, only misbehavers suffer the force of law, yet the society suffers the expense of establishing and maintaining the law.
    This principle divides citizens in America: “We the People” govern “the people.” There are many subgroups. For example, among We the People are citizens who know nothing about US governance, yet by choice know the law and behave accordingly. Among “the people” are citizens who honestly impose a prayer on fellow citizens, yet lack the integrity to recognize the prayer offends some who hear it. Hence, honest people suffer laws restricting prayer in school.
    The division is not imaginary: consider the US Constitution. During ratification, Patrick Henry asked of the 1787 Founders, “what right had they to found its authority on ‘We, the People’ instead of ‘We, the States’?” The Founders of 1776 could have answered, “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (It seems the original US Constitution did not have a comma in the key phrase, so people who add it may be revisionists.) At any rate, after the Preamble, “We the People,” is not repeated, because thereafter, the Articles address how “the people” are to be governed; there are eight of the subjective phrases. Thus, We the People govern the people.
    Oversimplifying the Preamble: We the People in order to accomplish seven secular goals do govern the people. With a wonderful form of government, why no annual celebration?
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    Aug 30 2011: Joe,
    Thank you for commenting.
    Your opinion "we the people has always been America's greatest asset," seems valid yet applicable to a minority, and thus potential more than fulfillment.
    Consider, for example, the importance of Constitution Day, September 17. If you consult the list of federal holidays, September 17 is excluded. If Americans were as proud as they should be of We the People, September 17 would already be a holiday that surpasses the 4th of July.
    I think this omission exists because Christian Americans have suppressed the secular Preamble to the US Constitution, which defines We the People. I think the world needs Americans to establish We the People.
    The American majority takes pride in respecting people, but balks when it comes to respecting people's opinions in order to uphold the rule of law as stated in the Preamble.
    Phil Beaver
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      Sep 1 2011: Phillip, I think that all of America's greatness emanates from the people in their many roles as pioneers, leaders and followers. We, the people have bestowed political and economic power to our government and businesses and it is our challenge today to direct those great power to take care of every single American and every single Earth citizen that America touches today.

      As Thomas noted, aspiring to greatness maintains and raises our value as true Americans and true citizens of Earth. I define it as the power of our hearts and minds to care and to understand in a system that is constantly made strong by the principles of freedom, justice and truth.

      If September 17 Constitution celebration can help us raise our greatness, then by all means let's celebrate. (:>)
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    Aug 30 2011: Philip, we, the people has always been America's greatest asset. Perhaps the challenge today for Americans and for the citizens of the world that America has touched in many small ways and great ways is this:

    Is the banner of freedom, justice and truth continue to wave strongly, over the land of the free and the home of the brave?