Without a doubt, the least read topic on my blog is my book reviews. I do my best to shake it off though, despite its low readership it still remains one of my favorite topics. Why? I love trying to get a 10,000 foot level of a book, the overarching themes, and the ultimate meaning which I can apply to my own life. My hope, as always, is not to provide a book report. Rather, my desire is to discuss some concepts and start a dialogue. While I continue to wait for the conversation to begin, I will trudge forward discussing one of my favorite subjects in the world; books.
If you have sat through an American history or government class, then you know the “Federalist Papers.” They are a foundational document, not just for our democracy, but our way of life. They helped shape our fledgling nation and I can only assume they have provided inspiration to countless other citizens and nations around the world. Beyond the Bible, Quran, and Torah, I could argue that this collection of essays is one of the most important things to ever be written.
From the outset, the idea of America was meant to be an experiment. The birth of a nation and a new way of doing things would not come easily. It would take a Revolutionary War, countless debates, and dedication from men like Hamilton, Madison, & Jay. Sure, the Greeks and Romans attempted forms of democracy. Books such as “Utopia,” “Don Quixote,” and “Wealth of Nations” would provide inspiration, but never before had the idea of self-government been practiced so boldly and beyond the idea of theory.
Everything we take for granted now, had a genesis. The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, State Constitutions, and our Bill of Rights all began with an idea. It took leaders to realize that the way things were was not how things had to be. These documents took visionaries capable of keen intellect, profound hope, and bravery beyond measure. In my opinion, none of these documents are delivered in their earth-shattering form without our three authors beginning the conversation around federalism. Their ideas were the boldest of all and we have everything we love, because of them.
The essays were not perfect though. They didn’t put an end to slavery. They didn’t allow suffrage for women and minorities for that matter. Too much power was placed in the hands of wealthy land owners. I am still baffled why anyone this smart would think the Electoral College was a good idea. Yet, this collection was the beginning of a conversation. We’ve continued that conversation to this day. Along the way, we ended slavery, ended segregation, provided universal suffrage, and more evenly disbursed power among all citizens. Each one these issues still possess systemic challenges in our lives, but the conversation continues, because books like this allowed it to happen.
This is important. America is more than a country. I am shy to call us a shining city on a hill. I don’t believe we are infallible. America and our government makes mistakes on a daily basis. We are far from perfect, but our ideals are solid. Our open debate, freedom of speech, press, religion, our right to assemble, and our right to petition are more than things scrolled in a book we were forced to read in school. These things are symbols to the whole world. It is what America means. Despite our faults, our values are known far and wide. Our values beckon to people all across the globe that self-representation is possible. No more divine rights of kings. No more tyranny. No more rigidness. Freedom above all else. The freedom to change, disagree, and challenge without fear. We arrived here, because of our founders. We are who we are, because of a desire to define life on our own terms. Nothing is more American than that.
Be good to each other,