When the Constitution was signed in 1787 the founders left one of the most important questions of the day completely out of it, the question of slavery. Slavery was to costly an issue and the Constitution would never have came into being if the question on it was addressed the way it should have been. For the founders of this country where not demi-gods, but men, and men who would leave the biggest test of a young nation to their children and grandchildren.
But the founders did not leave us without insight to the future that they all dreamed of. They gave us such important documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Here is where they left their ideals to future generations, the ideals that all men are created equal, the ideals of our First Amendment; freedom of speech, press, religion, petition, and assembly. These cherished ideals have been tested over and over; sometimes Americans have failed, other times not. But these high ideals, while a blessing, are also a burden. Why? Because they ask more of a person than any other government has, they ask us to live up to the ideals that even our founders could not have, they ask us to attain a perfection that has never been achieved before.
The Civil War was one of the greatest tests our nation went through and one that took the lives of over 600,000 men. And although historians will debate the true causes of the war, one cause that cannot be over looked or simplified is that the war helped in having the US live up to the ideal that all men are created equal and are guaranteed the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The question that the founders could not solve finally were on the battlefield. And that war was a burden for those Americans, but one that they took.
There are countless other instances where the ideals of our country have been discussed and sometimes not lived up to. Civil rights, women’s rights, the dealings with the Native Americans, and the internment of the Japanese. These issues are important to learn because it shows the United States accepting the burden that has been placed on them, and in most cases it shows Americans finally living up to the ideals we cherish so much.
Now if one looks in any newspaper or television program one sees that once again the US is faced with a situation that we need to overcome, one being the issue of the mosque being build near the sacred ground of the World Trade Center. The essence is can Americans once again take the burden, the sadness that comes with that day and the conflict over an issue, and rise above it to take another step at truly reaching the ideals that were set before us more than 225 years ago.
The issue over the mosque in NY strikes right at the heart of the First Amendment. And one must look at the reactions of those involved. Some believe that it is wrong to place a mosque so close to sacred ground, while others believe that anyone who is against it is just a bigot against those who practice Islam. It is not that simple and should not be presented as such. There are valid emotions on both sides but one has to put them aside and remember what it is to be American. It means accepting what we do not agree with, it means putting our belief in the 1st Amendment above all.
While politicians are arguing about the issue they are forgetting the oath they took, “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States”. The Constitution and the American ideals know no party, no religion, no race or creed. It is part of the burden that every American has, the one that makes us strive to be better than we are, as a person, as a county. We must continue to live up to those ideals that the founders could not, we must continue to place the ideals of America above ourselves. It is a burden that only Americans know, and it is the one that makes us who we are.