Marlton, NJ, july 31 st 2013
Staying for a few rest days with our wonderful friends Jerry and Lorraine Lydon from the Lafayette riders, we visited the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, its craddle. Independance Hall, the small building where the delegates of the 13 original states drafted the Declaration of Independance in 1776 and the Constitution in 1787, is the ground zero of the entire democratic world, the place where it all started. The bubbles that popped up recently in the arab world are no more than the repetition of what happened some 230 years ago in this exact epicentre of Democracy: people realizing that they want to master their affairs , and not be ruled by some tyran.
The 55 framers of the American Constitution, designed within a few months in the middle of a hot and muggy summer a text that would govern not only what was to become the most powerful country in the world, but dozens and dozens of other democraties throughout the free world.
The symbolic and practical importance of this place is therefore unfathomable, and deserves the elegant and impressive architecture of the mall around the original Independance Hall on one side and the Constitution Center on the other. Its visit provides clear, detailed explanations of every pillar of the Constitution: the principle of checks and balances, implemented by the legislative, the executive and the judiciary, the Bill of Rights , and how the Supreme Court progressively interpreted and adapted these principles along the years and the issues she had to tackle.
The whole thing is awfully complicated and it is a challenge to simplify it in order to make it accessible to a vast public.
Do people in the free world realize the long, painful and bloody trail a free democracy represents? Not always. We are like spoilt children who take everything for granted. Only the knowledge of History reminds us that we owe what we have to the work and sacrifice of dozens of previous generations.
To end this serious post with humor, one can only regret that the Founding Fathers omitted a basic freedom: to ride our bicycles freely without being annoyed by the traffic. It is getting much better, but we still need ” a more perfect union” in that respect, doń’t we?