As Americans in the year 2014, we should support the 1787 Constitution. The document set about a course of events, that I argue, will ultimately benefit humanity. The signing of said document embodied the principles of a rejection of the cross and crown, broadened the group of actors who were able to participate politically, and contributed to the introduction of the concept of self-determination without coercion or oppression by a higher authority.
Critics of such a position will often point to the morally repugnant practices of the past, such as slavery and the lack of equality for women, as sufficient reasoning to discard the US constitution of that time. Their argument boils down to something like this:
Premise 1: Slavery is wrong.
Premise 2: The Constitution in 1787 permitted slavery.
Premise 3: One should not support things that are wrong.
Conclusion: Since the Constitution is wrong because slavery is wrong, and one should not support things that are wrong, one should not support the Constitution.
This seemingly strait forward argument fails to take history into consideration. A document that embodied the values that we hold in the twenty-first century would not be plausible in the eighteenth century because of the colossal differences between these periods. Furthermore, who are we to say that modern American dogmatic values are the apex in human development. One could continue from the aforementioned line of reasoning to articulate that any sort of progress that humanity has achieved is wrong simply because it did not solve all our problems and meet modern or potential future values. This, to me, seems ridiculous. I do not believe that there will ever time where we are free from challenges that the future’s future generations will have to solve. I guess what I am trying to say is that we will always have to work toward improving things no matter how much we work at it, but that is not a reasoning to accept the way things are at present.
So how to move forward from here in the face of such a seemingly hopeless situation of chaos and conflict? Well I think the first step is in recognizing the good that has progressed throughout human history. A part of that is being willing to sign the Constitution in 1789 for 1789. But one should not stop there and be content just as one should not be content with present positive political change that occurs. Instead, we must reflect upon the change that has occurred in the past to get the meanings and values that can improve our world for the future. Through this meditative process, we should come to find that although we will not succeed in our endeavor if it is perfection, we can succeed nonetheless if we strive to make our actions universally applicable. This means to live one’s life only for ends, never means to ends. Furthermore, at every opportunity you can, live your life so that it may encourage others to do the same. This is where our hope lies.