Updated: May 18
Our nation's Founding Fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jay, Franklin, Adams, and Miranda, I mean, Hamilton, are revered almost daily by our government's current leaders as flag posts, pillars of idealism and citing reasons to take actions cemented in antiquity.
Take for instance the 2nd amendment.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (Amendment II, The U.S. Bill of Rights.)
Ratified by the Framers on December 15, 1791, the Founding Fathers set forth this protection to ensure its' people's ability to protect their new-found sovereignty and freedoms, given the information and context that was available in 1791.
Fact: "...in 1791 the most common firearms were handguns or long guns that had to be reloaded after every shot." (David Kopel, The Washington Post)
Fact: in 2019 "Nine people died and 27 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in an attack that lasted 32 seconds. The killer used an AR-15 style assault rifle." (Chris Canipe, Lazaro Gamio, Axios)
Clearly times and technology have changed drastically, so why are we so often hanging onto to words of the Founding Fathers from nearly 228 years ago as if they were dictated by the gods?
It is hard, and perhaps all too convenient, to look past the reality that the Founding Fathers are often cited in arguments in favor of laws and practices that suppress historically marginalized groups while benefiting those with the same/similar identities to the very Founding Fathers.
As the National Archives' website points out, "The Constitution might never have been ratified if the framers hadn't promised to add a Bill of Rights." Slave-owning Framers (including Washington and Jefferson, among others) were pressured by the forces of the slave-owning and trading industry to adopt laws into the Bill of Rights that favored and protected their industry. For example, the second amendment protected slave owner's ability to maintain power/force over their slaves. Today it is still used and manipulated as a means for special interest gun groups to profit off the sale of highly advanced lethal machinery without any legal repercussions. One of the sad results of this manipulation leads to the gun violence epidemic disproportionately affecting people of color, the CDC reported in 2017 that the homicide rate for Black Americans is 8 times higher than the rate for White Americans, on average, and is a continuation of the legacy that the Founding Fathers were indeed protecting.
The words of the Founding Fathers are used today as a leash on which some of the privileged elite use to shackle those without power or a voice, ingraining our past into our future with layers of toxic sediment.
When will we allow ourselves to evolve, and shake off these restraints?
We shouldn't be beholden to what human beings decided was best for themselves over two centuries ago, and we most definitely should not allow people to use those ancient decisions and words as ammunition to repress necessary evolutionary change. The "all-mighty" Founding Fathers perhaps knew this best of all. They chose to create pathways of amending their very decisions, after all.
Four For Further Fun:
(At the end of each blog post, I will include four things that have had a strong impact for me in the area of the post's discussion)
A Play- What The Constitution Means to Me | Heidi Schrek wrote a thought-provoking, gripping play on her interpretation and personal significance of the document that is at the bedrock of America's identity. At the end of the play, the audience gets to decide whether to keep or abolish the Constitution.
A Book- A Colony In A Nation | Chris Hayes penned an insightful look into communities of color's experience and history of being at the end of oppressive policies. He is a journalist and reporter, among many hats, and provides data alongside first hand accounting.
A Video Clip- Full Frontal with Samatha Bee | A bit of comedic relief weaved into a heavy topic, Samantha Bee editorializes the very topic that this blog post is about.
A Document- The U.S. Constitution | Why not go back to basics, and (re)read the all-powerful document itself!
*I have not been compensated to promote any of these resources. They are all things that I recommend based on their impact in my own experience, and hope that you may find use in them as well. Enjoy!*