20 Month Season: Part 2
Preamble of the Constitution
"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."
Preamble to the 20-month season
“Having principles can suck. Living up to them even more so.”
Well, 2021 has gotten off to a hellofa start. Just in case any of you thought that we were on the cusp of being able to take a national breath and slowly move into a less chaotic year….HELLO!!!
In my last newsletter, I said that I was going to start the new year going on a 20-month sojourn to try to better articulate what I believe is essential to this American experiment. I want to do this because I believe that there are many people like me who believe there is something missing in our current expression of the American character that is making us worse. Like a calcium starved child. Our national bones are getting more brittle. The world we created is playing rougher with us.
I have always believed that biggest problem we have in living up to the potential this country has for us all is about literacy. A broad kind of literacy that once defined our greatness for a brief but important period.
National literacy (Our mandate). Historic Literacy (Our behavior). Intellectual literacy (Dealing with the gap between the two). Emotional literacy (Being moved to fill the gap with…). Interpersonal literacy (… your country men and women).
This American experiment has ALWAYS been WHOLY dependent on our ability to consistently engage these literacies for the sake of our own evolution. The better we do, the more we understand that we are a critical part of something much bigger than any one of us. From there, the hope that purpose and humility would guide our individual and collective actions. I can not change the collective. I can change myself. That said, I choose to build change through compassion. Radical compassion.
Compassion comes from stepping out of myself and into others. Scary. Unsure. Rife with failure, but all too necessary. Now that I am looking down the pipe of my task, it definitely feels much more daunting in the doing than it did in the thinking. Maybe it is just me. Maybe far more people already live having dived into it and live their beliefs every day that I have given credit to. It this is more true that I realize, than we all can say that this country would be far worse off than it is right now. The fact that things are not worse is a blessing, but here’s the thing. In this blessed land there seems to be far too much unnecessary pain and misery. So, for as off the base as I may be about how bad or good things are, I guess I’m shooting for “more perfect”.
I believe that it is this way because we have rarely, if ever, put the pieces of our preamble into an interconnected living breathing process.
- “Domestic Tranquility”
Hard to be tranquil if you are enslaved, oppressed or just plain overlooked. It is impossible to achieve unless we can address and reconcile (as best we can) the way we have and continue to assault our own national brothers and sisters in distress.
- “Provide for the Common Defense”
Far too many of our own have had to live under the double standard of who fights our wars and who gets protected at home. The only thing that seems common about it is how the poor and people of color disproportionately do the heavy lifting here.
- “Promote the General Welfare”
In general, the inequality is only getting worse. Too many people have said it for the last 40 years that the middle class is shrinking. Where do you think they are going? Well, generally, towards welfare.
- “Secure the Blessings of Liberty”
Now we have come full circle. So many of us are blessed beyond anything that the history of the entire planet has seen. We throw away what others would kill for. We can choose all manner of distraction and put our energies toward the trivial and petty. While at the same time have the second highest rate of poverty in the industrialized world. I guarantee, that because of our laughable response to Covid-19, we will take the number one spot before the year is out.
I may be as naive as they come. That naivety comes from the belief that I am blessed among most just cause I landed here. That had nothing to do with me. I read our essential documents and the thoughts of vital men and women who gave their perspective on the same. A few things seem inescapably clear to me. Diversity, literacy and compassion are the foundations of faith that this republic is built on. No one person or group will get it right. Definitely not alone. Supremacy of any kind is the enemy of humanity. This experiment requires a consistent faith in your fellow humans. So, we must learn how to better speak, listen, and learn from one another. If we do not do this, we will fail.
That said, I will try to highlight groups, teams, people, organizations, and moments that have nourished my principles.
I hope they will do something for you as well.
• Interpersonal literacy: Otto Scharmer “Theory U”
Being able to deeply listen and understand the process of communication is foundational.
Take his courses (they are FREE) Read his book
• Emotional literacy: Johnathan Haidt
It is impossible to move toward filling the gaps in humanity if you do not understand what you are trying to fill and why. We are creatures of habit. VERY OLD CREATURES. VERY OLD HABITS.
I believe there is enough here to work with for the time being. I also have a life beyond this document. I believe that the first two go hand in hand. They are about who we are inside our heads.
The last three is about how we express our national selves.
• Intellectual literacy (Coming in Feb edition)
• National literacy: (Coming in Feb edition)
• Historic Literacy: (Coming in Feb edition)
Looking forward to ….the future.