It’s good for us to revisit the issue of balancing between preserving our cherished civil liberties and the need for security measures in order to safeguard peace for Americans. If we don’t revisit the issue now and again, it will mean we’re complacent and take the civil liberties for granted. We shouldn’t take anything for granted.
But this diary isn’t about Edward Snowden or NSA surveillance programs, my primary concern is with rearing up a whole new generation of Americans completely ignorant of their constitutional rights. Think about it, NSA surveillance programs involve a lot of people at all levels, from the courts to the White House. Possibly thousands of people with top security clearances are probably aware to some extent of NSA surveillance programs tracking our movements on the internet and phone calls.
This is particularly troubling as we rely upon all branches of our government and people protecting us from both terrorists and foreign enemies to revere the Constitution with highest regard. For such people, the Constitution is supposed to be sacrosanct, and must be aware of legitimate concerns surrounding some constitutionally questionable methods and programs, like collecting metadata on our phone calls and the surveillance on the Internet. If such people involved with this type of activity no longer have highest regard for the Constitution, then what does that tell about us as a society?
A prudent question should be asked of these people entrusted with protecting our safety, do they read the Constitution regularly? Can they recite the Bill of Rights? Somehow I doubt even the FISA court judges could recite everything in the Constitution. Neither do I expect the President to be able do this. My point here isn’t about their ability to recite the Constitution, but rather they have chosen willfully to twist and search for some sort of justification for enacting constitutionally questionable measures all in the name of security. They aren’t doing this in the name of Constitution, and that is an important distinction. Did they grow up with highest regard for the Constitution, and are taught not to trust the government on anything and scrutinize every piece of legislation to make sure it passes the constitutional muster? If you cannot answer this honestly and sincerely, then you know we’ve got a serious problem.
I consider all various scandals and controversies including the NSA’s PRISM program to be the symptoms of a much larger problem. It’s Big Government, stupid. Now, let us take a step back and meditate on this for a moment or two. How many ordinary Americans are aware of their constitutional rights or actually have read the Constitution? I remember growing up in school, so I want to say this honestly as possible, at no time ever I was asked to read every Amendment or to memorize the important parts of the Constitution. Oh sure, I was taught many things pertaining to and about the Constitution, but never the Constitution itself. I knew what the First Amendment is, but I was not asked to read and memorize the First Amendment. Do you know when I finally found time to read the entire Constitution from the beginning to the end? In college…on my spare time. I’m sure that’s a common experience for many ordinary Americans.
Of course, I don’t expect the first graders to memorize every part in the Constitution, I’m not suggesting otherwise, but the salient point here is as we guide our children through every grade, have we really taken time to teach the Constitution’s value in our daily lives and in the relationship between the State and the People? Come on, I dare you to think about it for a minute, or take longer time to understand fully what I am implying here. As we give birth to a whole new generation of Americans who one day will be our future leaders and representatives, how can we be sure they will have the same kind of reverence for the Constitution as we do now? Or about putting this another way, imagine if we were to resurrect an old generation of Americans from 19th century, before the Civil War, would they think we as modern Americans share the same kind of reverence for the Constitution as they did? Let me be blunt, I cannot speak for older and dead generations of Americans, but somehow I doubt their answer would be pleasant to hear.
I think some of us missed out on arguably the most important point, how can we be expected to fight the good fight if we rear up a future generation of Americans who will one day hold the Constitution with less reverence than we do? Guys, I am reminded of God’s commandment to Jews in the book of Deuteronomy that when they have finally settled in their Promised Land, they are to teach their children God’s commandments, statutes, precepts, and judgments that they will not forget God’s Word and revere God when they grow up to be adults. God knew that even as Jews formed their nation that places God at the center of their daily lives, no matter how pious or religious Israel may be, if their children don’t grow up to worship God with highest and sincere regard, they will slip and lead Israel astray from the path God laid out for them. What was the result? God abandoned them to the heathen enemies.
Guys, people involved with NSA surveillance programs, and leaders like Obama are the product of our school system. No, belay that, they are the product of our society — how we have perceived the Constitution in our daily lives and what we want out of our own society as we seek the fruits of prosperity and long peace. If they are taught that we must reduce or remove some constitutional rights all in the name of security and might even believe that it’s the right answer. This is more than about liberals vs conservatives. I would argue that if conservatives and liberals alike think the government is looked upon as the final defense against the foreign enemies and terrorists alike, then we’re looking at the wrong picture. We shouldn’t look upon the government as our final defense, we ought look up the Constitution as our final guarantor of civil liberties and rights to be enjoyed by all Americans. Indeed, the Constitution is supposed to be our final defense against all kinds of abuse, from the corruption inside the government and external events like terrorism or foreign enemies. We trust the government to act as the enforcer of the Constitution, but by the same token, we place the limitations on what the government can do to us.
If you think Obama is bad, what about children alive today? Remember that Obama was once an innocent child, full of childish excitement and enjoying the fruits of his constitutional rights, not fully aware of many Americans were sent half way around the world to fight and perish in the name of preserving our freedom from Communist menace. But Obama grew up learning that we are a bad country and our Constitution is nothing but a piece of paper that can be thrown away or written upon to suit his socialist agenda. Imagine if his parents taught him to revere the Constitution and viewed government as a necessary evil with limitations placed upon it in order that all we may enjoy the blessings of liberty that were truly bestowed upon us by God and through the labors of Americans who sacrificed their lives upon the altar of our country? Then it would be a different story for us. Sadly, Obama is a lost cause, but not children born today. Think about that for a while.