For anyone keen on connection, Philadelphia is the place to be this morning . . .
You see, here – at the Pennsylvania Historical Society’s downtown HQ, to be precise – the vaults are about to be opened and some astonishing artifacts removed.
These precious documents are, under normal circumstances, kept under lock and key, guarded around the clock and never removed from the impenetrable safe on the building’s second floor.
Today, however, the regular rules don’t apply. Today, we the people (quite an apt turn of phrase, you’ll be sure to agree) have the chance to peruse the papers that set the tone for our society, and established the fundamental principles that govern our lives.
The documents in question are six original drafts of the Constitution – some printed, others hand-written – that the Founding Fathers themselves worked so hard to perfect 225 years ago this week.
To think that these papers – that Madison, Adams, Paine, Jefferson et al drafted in such painstaking fashion – have stood the test of time and still, to this day, provide the foundations that underpin our most important qualities and beliefs is something that inspires us all here at OM HQ. That the things so significant in 1787 remain relevant today, in 2012, proves that we are all connected . . .
We the people, for nothing underlines our shared humanity, connected through the ages and across the land, more than those three simple words.
Nothing is as important as our history, for it is this that shapes our societies and our lives, this that influences our attitudes and defines our futures. Our histories are shared and our histories connect. The things that happened in the past are the building blocks upon which everything else is constructed. The things that make us as people.
The Constitution was the first document of its kind to have freedom as its central theme. It is about democracy, equality, rights and protection. It is about people. Such things are often taken for granted. Such things shouldn’t be.
It was fitting that, among the visitors to the National Constitution Center at the weekend, were 24 Government ministers from Afghanistan. In their homeland, such rights and freedoms aren’t quite so entrenched. The Afghan Constitution was passed in 2004, but already, forces inside a troubled land are striving hard to destabilize it.
‘This is inspiring,’ said one Afghan official, who chose to withhold his name in order to protect his personal well-being, something that underlines the differences in the rights and freedoms afforded to people at home and abroad. ‘To see the document that has given the freedom and the justice to the people, it’s exciting [and] we will take these experiences home and try to practice them.’
That our Constitution – written and practiced here in the United States – is offering hope to people the Earth over is something that excites and inspires us too. That it is another connection, one that pays no heed to borders, race or religious beliefs, is something that gives us hope that better times are ahead for our planet and its people.
Just as the Founding Fathers laid the groundwork that, 225 years on, still serves us so well, so are we, in the things we do today, molding the future and shaping countless lives to come.
This is our chance to make history, in the way we live our lives. Let’s all make the most of it . . .
We the people . . .
In order to form a more perfect union . . . .