WORTH MENTIONING

Some things are worth mentioning: the freedom to marry the person you love, food, clean air, water in streams, the compassion of people you know and also of the people you do not know. Children, uncles and aunts or third and fourth cousins, the devotion of grandparents, the expectation that if I fall someone will help me rise to my feet. If I am bleeding someone will bandage my wound. I might travel north to another state to visit old friends. I may worship, read, visit a theater, and laugh out loud.

None of these things are mentioned in the Constitution.

Family is not mentioned in the Constitution. Color does not exist. [There is scant mention of colors in the Bible and the Odyssey, but we know colors existed even then and people could see those colors. There is no mention in the Odyssey of childbirth, yet children were born. The sunsets must have been beautiful two thousand years ago in the desert. I do not find mention of that either.]

There is no mention of semi-automatic weapons of war, handguns, bombs, cannons, or any sort of ammunition in our Constitution. Not even switchblades. There is no mention of divorce or child abuse or spitting in the street. No mention of children. Prisons are not mentioned nor bars, nor the need for sanitation. God is not mentioned, not even once. Churches are not mentioned, nor is their exemption from taxation.

Our Constitution does not verify that gravity exists, that the world spins around once almost precisely every twenty-four hours, that night arrives and day, that no one is immortal. It does not remind us of the need to breathe nor the need for love and honor. Clocks, dinnertime, pets. Those words do not exist in that document.

Written at a time when ownership of people was legal and widely practiced, it does not mention what we take for granted: the right of all persons to control our own bodies. It did not, at that time, confirm that women are people. Or that children are more than property. The document was written by, for, and about European, adult, property-owning male citizens.

The Constitution contains 4,543 words, the length of a shortish short story. It does not always speak to what then was assumed to be true or what we today regard as obvious.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the high court should revisit all cases built on similar legal footing—including cases that guarantee the right to contraception, same-sex consensual sexual relations, and same-sex marriage.

Rape by a marriage partner? Interracial marriage? The right to bear children? Travel between states without passports? Moving from one city to another in pursuit of work? A free public education?

Eagles are majestic, I chose to raise my own children, the sky is blue. Green means go. My right to swing my fist ends before it threatens your nose.

Many things worthy of mention are not written in our constitution. We take for granted that the sun rises in the morning and the right of all persons to make nearly all decisions about their own lives.

“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.”

Capitalization, punctuation, spelling, common decency.

12 thoughts on “WORTH MENTIONING

    • Thank you, Karen.

      I used to require my high school juniors to write out the Preamble exactly, punctuation and capitalizations and spelling just as originally written. We would sing along to the song and remind ourselves of the “mistake” in the song. Discuss the choices involved in capitalizing “Posterity” but not “defence.” Students were allowed as many chances as they needed to get it. Once in a while they might give up. We should not give up. It underestimates our ability.

      Liked by 3 people

    • It is . . . disheartening. I can recall how I understood the idealistic promise of my country when I was a child, and my growing sense that it was approaching that promise.

      I can think of a constitutional amendment I would interpret literally (arms were muzzle loaders, and bows—not the fancy graphite compound ones of today—and arrows, swords) or simply repeal altogether. I can think of an amendment I would support. The ERA we fought through for so long . . .

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Either Perry or Pogo said it best and it still or again applies:
    “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
    Ergo only us can save us from us.
    I just hope it’s not too late—
    what a bring down!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Water, air, the ground beneath our feet, sunlight . . . yes, even spitting in the street–fun to think of what’s not there–
    I propose we all send a list to the government, maybe it could be an embroidered sampler; they could hang it in the halls of the court. It could be something like Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’s book, The Lost Words, which sparked a whole movement. I’m going to forward this post to my poetry group, we might want to write some poems about what’s missing . . . 🙂

    Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great post Jan. I read it and was listening to the Governor of Arkansas, bragging that they were going to save all these lives by banning abortions. I googled their maternal mortality rates – in 2018 there were 81.3 per 100,000. I think they could do some work on that—Canadian rates in 2018 were 8.3 per 100,000. I will point out that we have a number of problems to resolve—I haven’t investigated, but I suspect the numbers are much higher in marginalized communities. My belief that this is control, otherwise there would be care for the lives of those that are already here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maternal death rates are generally higher in the US than most industrialized nations (averaging 23.8 in 2020 overall), but over 80 deaths/100k is insane! According to WHO, average maternal death rates was 11/100k live births in high income countries.

      Yes, it is all insane.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Perambulating With Our Ponies, Week 12, Virtual Tevis 2022 – Virtual Brush Box

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