Constitution Week: To love it, we must live it

Eleven score and six years ago, this nation’s founders adopted a Constitution that was intended to guide it into the future, with a framework for amending when necessary, and a Supreme Court whose job is to ensure that legislative acts are consistent with it.

Despite attempts to politicize it, stretch it, cripple and maim it, the Constitution remains a shining beacon of light to the world of how free a people can truly make themselves.

Unfortunately not everyone sees the Constitution in as pure a light as the founders might have wished. Just recently we saw local lawmakers speak of how they would limit the display of flags on public property, not using the constitutional norm in this nation of inclusion, but setting their own lines of exclusion.

We have people who would applaud efforts to have us live the First Amendment while squelching the ideals of the Second Amendment. Others would see the Fourth Amendment protections afforded to all of us narrowed as far as possible in the name of national security.

Perhaps at no time in our nation’s history since the Civil War has the Constitution and its principles been under greater attack than in the post-9/11 era, when concerns of security resulted in laws that take away the freedoms so many have bled and died to protect. Only now, as revelations in the international press show how far the nation has gone in spying on its citizens, do we get a clear glimpse of the dangerous ground we have trod.

Freedom isn’t free, and not just because of the great sacrifices so many have made on the battlefield but because of those we all make, by conquering our fears in favor of freedom, by realizing that those who wish to destroy our way of life can do so just by scaring us enough to eliminate our freedoms by ourselves, at a time of our own choosing.

The Constitution we celebrate this week is a precious and fragile thing. Each freedom contained within it can be shed, one by one, if we allow that to happen out of fear or out of pique. To see what happens when that occurs, we need look no further back in history than at the terror Nazi Germany became.

It is the responsibility of each of us to know our Constitution, to give it a read, to discuss its importance, with ideas from our own great minds rather than those expressed for us by blathering pundits. To truly honor our Constitution we must not just love it, but live it.