Rise up you onlookersPublished 9:40am Friday, February 1, 2013
Our Constitution starts with “we the people.”
President Obama made these three words the primary theme of his second inaugural address. That short three-word idiom is the most inclusive expression the founders penned from the start.
Whether or not it applied to the entire population during that age makes little difference now. We the people, all of us, are now included in the discussion.
The discussion, or better still, the disputes between ideologies has consumed this country — liberalism verses conservatism, capitalism verses socialism, private sector verses public sector. The arguments, disagreements, heated discussions over whose ideology is best for the country has fractured the body politic and divided the nation almost beyond repair.
Yet these three words convey enduring precepts of Christianity even in our so-called post Christian era. I say “so-called” because it is my strong belief that Christianity is not in decline, but is advancing onward in a slow steady pace.
In a broad sense “we the people” has become our national “motto” in that it replicates or models the golden rule — the ethics of reciprocity.
We are onlookers to the end of a paradigm shift that has taken the better part of 30-plus years. Conservatism, rooted in the concepts of personal responsibility, limited government, limited change, free markets and individual liberty had ruled the day for that period.
Nowadays we onlookers see the emergence of social liberalism as a result of the failed policies of the past administration coupled with our economic woes. Then, the conservative rhetoric we’ve become used to hearing was that… “the conservative order is ordained by God and that anyone and anything that opposes the conservative order is infinitely evil.”
Now the contrasting rhetoric we’ve been hearing of late sounds much like the words of President Kennedy, who defined a liberal as “someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions…someone who cares about the welfare of the people.”
Once again conservatives are resisting the shift. Radical far left liberal Democrats assert the overriding value of equality and radical far right Republicans complain that the Democrats’ devotion to freedom undermines traditional values and virtues, and the social order itself.
But we are not an aristocracy where the social order is permanent and timeless, where positions of privilege are passed on to the next generation. This is where the word “conservative” comes from — the supposed importance of conserving established institutions.
Nor are we so radical that we place more importance on freedom and equality than all other precepts of a democracy. We onlookers have allowed our two-party political system to morph into one ideology verses another thus nothing gets done — the business of politics and governance has virtually stopped.
We onlookers see that this ideology divide has become cancerous affecting all three branches of our government — Executive, Legislative and Judicial.
When we onlookers pledge allegiance to our flag, we speak words of wisdom and love to truth “with liberty and justice for all.”
In the recent past, these words were real to a chosen group of people. Now, when we speak these words and internalize them and actualize them in this new reality of inclusion we onlookers, we citizens of “we the people …. with liberty and justice for all” can no longer remain passive onlookers.
It would appear that our elected officials have unconsciously, maybe deliberately taken us for granted as mere spectators looking on. Rise up you onlookers!
WILLIAM A. SCOTT is retired from the National Security Agency of the Department of Defense. Since his retirement, he has served as a biblical instructor with the Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary and Executive Director and Academic Dean of Triangle Bible Institute. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.