November 1, 2018

What we all should’ve Learned by 5th Grade, but Apparently Didn’t.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” ~ First Amendment to the Constitution


We all know that there are huge problems in this country.

And everyone has a theory about the root cause.

But what if the root cause is a fundamental lack of understanding regarding the foundations of this country? I’m talking a lack of basic, elementary level social studies.

This is not about politics. This is about ignorance.

The First Amendment, written in 1791, acknowledged that people had different beliefs and they were entitled to those beliefs. It also acknowledged that people could speak openly about their beliefs and that they could gather together to share their beliefs. There is nothing in the First Amendment that promotes hate. The language of the First Amendment promotes tolerance of differences.

This country was built on hope, not on hate.

The vision for a country that would “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” was, and is, a powerful vision; one that inspires oppressed peoples around the world to face countless dangers in order to come here.

And instead of welcoming those people, we twist the words of the Constitution to validate hate, separation, divisiveness, and self-preservation.

When we analyze the words of the Constitution, which should first happen in elementary school and then in more detail in both middle and high school, we see the phrase “domestic tranquility.” What does that mean to you? What does it mean for an entire country?

Domestic tranquility, or peace at home, starts with understanding that there are differences among people, and differences are a good thing. Domestic tranquility is not about keeping difference out in order to keep yourself safe. That is self-preservation, not domestic tranquility. The Constitution was written with vision, with language that allowed for both guardrails and unlimited growth. The words of the Constitution are not to be twisted to fit an alternative agenda with hate at the core.

Children are not born with hate. It is something that is taught through actions and explanations and adult discussions that they overhear.

As long as we have leaders who will speak hate and promote divisiveness, we will be unable to directly face the ignorance and lack of understanding that leads to the fear and the hate.

And so it falls to individuals to be informed, to understand, and to educate others.

It would be pretty powerful to have a series of PSAs made by fifth graders across the country who can explain the language of the Constitution to those who simply do not understand the historical context of this country.

In the meantime, here is a video that puts the Constitution in plain language.


“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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