Everyone loves to point to the Constitution of the United States! No? Well, I do and do so frequently as it has a backing and understanding in it that gives great context to who the American People are and what we see as our Rights. But the number one thing that is overlooked is the actual, and quite revolutionary Preamble. Now, as the document itself is UNTITLED the Preamble, then tells you everything you need to know before you start reading the document itself.
By giving no titular assertion, this document is laying out something *different* than anything that has gone before and that needs explaining. So as to not give people the wrong idea, the document itself is untitled so that no preconceived notions of what is to follow will be held. I am sure that many others have made this observation before, but it bears repeating: if you are to understand what the document applies to, you MUST read and understand the Preamble. Do NOT make assumptions, the lack of title clearly tells you to read the entire document as a whole.
I will repeat the full text, and then examine it as it goes along:
" We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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. "All of this over a SINGLE SENTENCE? Think on this: the document is telling you everything you need to know about who it applies to , who they are and how they look to govern themselves in one single sentence. Everything that is within this sentence applies to YOU the American reading this or others here, as described later in the document, legally. This is what it TAKES to BE an AMERICAN, and can mean absolutely no other thing. You may add on to this over the years, but the basics and fundamentals are held right here.
Read it and weep.
We the People of the United States...
First we are no *longer* the People of These United States, but of The United States. After Shays' Rebellion we realize that a Confederation will not work and leaves the People without a means of commonality amongst Us. Further than that the famous "We the People" language is that of a single People speaking in One Voice. When one speaks to the Nation it is to "We the People", and not to a bunch of groups that somehow got stuck on this continent together by bad luck and we are making the best of a bad situation. When you undertake to be a Citizen you agree, by this compact, that on a National level YOU will look towards using your freedoms and rights towards the United States as a WHOLE. The Government that will be laid out in this document, when it speaks, must speak for the Nation as a WHOLE. As a Citizen you do have the right to vociferous dissent and condemnation and expressing of your feelings and attitudes. But when you speak of yourself as One of the People, you must change your outlook to exactly THAT. You are one of the People of the United States who has come together to speak with One voice. That voice may quaver and have some nasty undertones, but the one thing that you cannot do, and adhere to the rest of the People is to speak at a National level without taking everyone else around you into consideration. And when you speak on that level, you must assert things to the Nation as a whole and work, yes actually work and think, as to how anything put forth affects all of the People.
And you thought it was only 7 words that were descriptive! It is not only descriptive but PROSCRIPTIVE. You are enjoined by those words to think of yourself as one of the People of the United States. You will have individual concerns and rights and duties and obligations laid out later, but you are FIRST and FOREMOST required to be one of the People as a whole. If you try to think in other terms, by putting rights, liberties and freedoms laid out BEFORE this injunction in the Preamble, you are denying the very Constitution itself as a means of bringing We the People together. Notice that in this documents the injunction that you are one of the People is FIRST. Your rights come LATER. Your rights must be *used* to enforce the first part. Every part of the Constitution that puts in an Oath or other clause that is general and then gets specifics, demonstrates that the specifics MUST be used to uphold the more general concept. So for every individual out there who somehow believes that your rights are FIRST and your commitment to be one of the People is second, you must find in this document where that order is laid out or where that is clearly explained otherwise. The internal logic of the Constitution, how it was drafted and put together, and all later representational upholdings of duties with rights and responsibilities clearly defines that the Preamble is foremost in being one of the People.
...in Order to form a more perfect Union,...
As noted above, the Articles of Confederation didn't work and left a flawed Union. But as this is part of a sentence and the first part of it is clearly demonstrating that you as one of the People of the United States have a requirement which is being laid out for all to see. You, when you speak at that National level, as a Citizen become one of the People and you are specifically told right here that your goal MUST be to form a more perfect Union. This piece of your responsibilities is very interesting in that it does a couple of things.
First, and foremost, it recognizes that work to retain a Republic (as laid out later) is ongoing and can NEVER be finished. You, as a member of the People, must make it *better* or 'more perfect' so that We the People live more harmoniously with each other while disparaging none in so doing. And we haven't even GOTTEN to your Rights yet! And here you are already being told YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! Painful, isn't it? All those years you were told your rights came first... while, in actual fact, your responsibilities came first. Whenever you approach anything that enacts your rights, it must be done in full remembrance that you are to use them to make a more perfect Union.
Second, that we are a Union of People in what follows. So, not only are you *just* a member of the People, but you are brought together with them PURPOSEFULLY. So, yes, you are an individual, but you are first and foremost a member of the People and you must find yourself Unified with your fellow individuals who make up the rest of the People in things done for the good of all. And when you are doing so you must ensure that what you, as an individual, seeks is to enhance that Union. We the People speak with a Unified voice as one People and this document defines the People and what they see as necessary for governance. But the order of the document itself is unmistakable and the absolute necessity to become Unified with your fellow members of the People is absolute.
Why, yes, you now have yet ANOTHER responsibility placed upon you! Isn't this grand? This is a revolutionary document because it tells you what you have to be to retain who you are! And it doesn't even tell you what tools you get to do so yet. And we are not even half-way into the sentence!!
This one is simple, right? So sorry, but no.
To back up your responsibilities you are now being told that Justice by rule of law and due process is paramount to We the People. So, you must have lawful means to uphold your previous responsibilities. But beyond even that, you, that individual who is a member of the People working to become Unified with them, will also establish Justice in the things you do in your life. The reason that not doing so is important is that the People have just come out of a period of no Justice under a Crown and then a period of lawlessness in the aftermath of the Revolution and Confederation. As an individual you are now being told that one of the things laid out to make a more perfect Union is Justice. To properly enact your responsibilities you need something that is Just and workable for all of the People. This is what We the People are set forth to establish by what follows: to speak as one People, together, using Just means to bring us together in a more perfect Union.
So the things you may NOT do is practice unjust anarchy, tyranny, authoritarianism, divine right law, nor any other thing which does not give Justice to all of the People in order to bring our Union together. These things you are now being told are OFF THE BOARD to you as an individual in how you seek to bring yourself into accord with society. Any attempt to address only one portion of We the People without making the entire Union more perfect is NOT ALLOWED. Justice is across ALL of We the People and no one gets more nor less of it for any reason as laid out in this Preamble.
Yes, yet MORE responsibilities! And these responsibilities, since they are set out at a National level apply to MORE than just the Federal level, which will be laid out further in the document. The Preamble is all-encompassing for those that fall within it.
...insure domestic Tranquility,...
Uh-oh, this sounds bad. And many people will find this as a shock.
Not only are you to establish Justice, but you are to do so in a manner that does not give rise to unrest within the Nation as a whole. After Justice retaining the order of Justice and ensuring the domestic Tranquility is paramount. You, as an individual as laid out above within the People are told that you may not use means which disturb the peace or incite riot and mayhem or in any other way degrade or diminishes the Union itself. And that means, as We the People that you have the obligation and responsibility to act within Justice as set out for the Whole of the People and not fractionate or otherwise divide that Union in a manner made to upset the rest of the People. As People within cognizance of your States will set out what those Just means actually *are*. But as one People, the responsibility is that you adhere to those Just means and do NOT attempt to do anything to destabilize the Union.
Yes, you are responsible to uphold Justice and the common environment of the Nation and ensure that it is done so to make it more perfect in order to allow you to keep this Nation whole. Another whole responsibility placed upon YOU, one of the People.
Suddenly this simple sentence is getting quite complex, isn't it? And it is a lengthy sentence. And we still, STILL haven't even gotten to your RIGHTS yet! Painful, very painful, to those who believe that your rights actually come FIRST.
...provide for the common defense,...
This is simple, yes? Please?
You as a member of the People are to provide for the common defense of all the People. You, not just your money but YOU are to place yourself in a position of defending the Nation for the good of We the People. If no one else is there, no military, no police, no other form of established law enforcement, but just YOU the ordinary member of We the People, you MUST defend the Nation and the People as a whole. Some of this is regularized and codified by what follows, but above and beyond that you are responsible to defend the Nation by your actions and provide for the common defense of the entire Nation, so that it may be able to have the self-governance and tranquility necessary to keep Justice and the Union together. If all else is falling down around you and lawlessness and those seeking to disparage, disrupt or destroy the enforcement of that which is Just and generally degrade, erode or destroy the commonality of the People, YOU MUST STEP IN.
You, the individual member of We the People agree to defend the commonality of the People in order to ensure that which is Just to continue so that the Union can survive and prosper and be made more perfect by YOUR actions. That is your responsibility as a member of this society of We the People, and you may NOT just pass that off to someone else to do for you. When you are alone you ARE the People of the United States and when you see everything going to hell in a handbasket around you, you are to act in defense of that common peace and justice.
Even if this means your LIFE. For your life is worthless without the society that makes it possible. You do not get to pick and choose on this, as a member of We the People, this is something you MUST do. Provide for the common defense is more than just the military, law enforcement and justice system: it is members of We the People acting to uphold the Union personally and individually and continually.
...promote the general Welfare,...
Ouch! Very painful for it is yet another Responsibility laid upon you as a member of the People.
Does this sentence NEVER end?
You as a member of We the People, acting Justly, in accordance with peaceful means, but if necessary to lay your life on the line to protect the Nation, must also ensure that the entirety of the People are made *better* for these activities! Here again, you may not look to elevate one group above another or seek justice for only one part of the People and not another nor may you defend only those selective bits of the Nation that you like, but you ALSO must do so for the betterment of the general Welfare. The lives of everyone around you are to be ENHANCED by your actions and the overall society made better for these activities. Promoting the general Welfare is not putting a Welfare state in-place! It is enhancing the entire environment of We the People to act harmoniously as a Union and ensure that the entirety of the Union is made better. And the expense of this may NOT fall unjustly either. The general Welfare is to be promoted by your actions as an individual in defending the Nation, its Justice and its betterment.
That is yet another of those responsibilities laid upon you before you get to the goodies of the Constitution. So this is ALSO of higher importance. If your rights were meant to come FIRST the Preamble would SAY SO. It clearly, and unequivocally says just the opposite.
...and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,...
Yes! The goodies! Finally! But... there is an 'and' there... uh-oh....
So here you are a member of the People, enjoined to: be one of the People of the United States, work to make the Union more perfect by your activities and act with the other members of the People , establish Justice in your lives and ensure that it is upheld by your activities and that it is not withheld from any of the People, do these things in a manner that will not destroy or degrade society as a whole nor bring disquiet to the entirety of the Nation, put more than your money or words in defense of the Nation but yourself if you are to make your membership meaningful, ensure that the overall society is promoted and that the Welfare of We the People is advanced. And you will do so to secure the blessings of Liberty!
Yes, you still haven't gotten to the *goodies* yet. You are responsible for retaining the rights and liberties of the People as a whole and (that lovely and) make sure that these blessings are passed on WHOLE to those that follow in succeeding generations. Your activities are to also SECURE the Blessings of Liberty, they do NOT come free. We tell you that you will get them here, first, but then you will use them to ensure that they are not degraded or eroded by your activities and that you purposefully act to SECURE these blessings. And you may not do so in a way that only retains them for *just* yourself or *just* your generation or *just* your age cohort, but you must do so so as to give them whole, complete and undiminished to your posterity. You shall give the Blessings of Liberty to those that come after you and work to ensure that this is DONE.
...do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
And this Constitution is being established to ensure that those things get done, and will set out the more perfect way to do so. But, the Constitution does not absolve YOU of the responsibilities that are being leveraged in this Preamble. There is no manna from heaven nor is there perfect governance on earth and YOU are responsible to your Nation before you even get one single, solitary right as will be laid out later. And you get a TON of rights as the Government of We the People is just made to govern and help bring us into accord with this Preamble of the Constitution. That does not mean that the Government that will be laid out is the *best* way to do so and, indeed, you are still totally and entirely responsible as a member of the People for all of the things set out in this Preamble.
If you find that the Government can't do it for you and it needs be done, then figure out how to do it in accordance with this Preamble: be it on a personal, local, State or National level. You will abide by these strictures to remain a part of We the People. Your rights are yours, but are to be used in full cognizance of the responsibilities set out in the Preamble. You may not exercise your rights without first *thinking* about the responsibilities that fall upon you as a member of the People.
And we that made this document trust you to do so as we pass it along to you thusly.
Our gift to you.
The gift of responsibilities.