In a recent comment to a blog post, Claude Forthomme, a friend, writer, economist, and expert on the United Nations, said:
"As a Vietnam veteran, I'm also sure you are well-placed, indeed, better placed than most, to know how important the US Constitution is, how vital it is for your democracy, and, ipso facto, for all democracies around the world where freedom still has meaning and is still valued - we are indeed stepping into dangerous times in which populist talk of "the rule of the people" seems to displace respect and regard for those who hold different points of views and needs."
I started several responses, but nothing I wrote came close to saying what I wanted to say. I stared at the page for a while then emailed Claude directly and said I wanted to sleep on my response and would address her comment in a separate post. This is that post.
I believe I know what you're getting at, Claude, when you said, "As a Vietnam veteran, I'm also sure you are well-placed, indeed, better placed than most, to know how important the US Constitution is... however, my being a Vietnam vet erased my blind belief in the magic of the much-bandied political document that begins "We the people..." In fact, my experience not only erased my belief in the power of the US Constitution but in the power of the written word, period - that includes all constitutions, all contracts, all sacred writings, all words - period.
Documents, political, sacred or not so, profound or whimsical are no more or less than the person or persons implementing them.
Here's a better way to make my point. Michael Connelly is one of best selling writers in the country, probably the world, and I'm one of his biggest fans. I love his characters Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller, and I've read all the books about them. However, for years they were only characters in books - they were words: entertaining and often inspiring, but still, just words. In that regard, those books are no different, for me, than the US Constitution.
Something magical happened to the US Constitution and the same thing happened to the Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller books. Individuals came forward and brought the words to life. With the US Constitution it was the men who wrote it, signed it, and sold the people of the United States on it. It was John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and you know all the rest. With Harry Bosch, it was Titus Welliver and with Mickey Haller it was Matthew McConaughey.
When those people breathed life into the document in question and the books I mentioned, magic happened. Now, as far as the US Constitution is concerned, the magic is gone. Abused, manipulated, misrepresented, trampled. It might stage a comeback but only when honest, powerful, dedicated individuals breathe new life into it. I look forward to the day that happens.
On the other hand, I've lived seventy-four years looking forward to the day when I'd see a United States without racism and prejudice and frankly, I don't believe we're any closer to that day than we have ever been.