Discouraged by the bitter divisions among us that make up our news every day? Don’t be. Be discouraged that we are led today by politicians (of both parties) more concerned about their personal gain than about their responsibilities as guardians of our inalienable rights.
Our differences aren’t as great as they seem...but our media with a narrative ever in search of spectacular headlines...and our politicians ever in search of more power cannot afford to seek solutions that will allow the wounds to heal.
But, getting past the pettiness and personal ambitions which drive our elected officials and the deep state today, it should be noted our actual differences are not as significant as those faced by the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Chances for their success were so slim, the challenges so great, the bickering and backbiting constant, the animosities between some of the leading figures so deep and lasting that great despair abounded.
George Washington said of the convention, “It will take a miracle that delegates from so many different states...should unite in forming a system of national government.”
Thomas Jefferson declared from the floor of the convention, “This (Constitutional Convention) is really an assembly of demigods.”
Benjamin Franklin, the elder statesman at 81, declared, “We are so divided by our little local interests our project will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach...to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may...from this unfortunate instance despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.”
Benjamin Franklin, often labelled a non-believer by modern secular historians, made the following motion at the height of the heated rhetoric that was passing for debate at the convention,
“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessing on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning”
Franklin’s move was adopted and history records this was the turning point in the deliberations of the Convention.
Franklin, previously in addressing the dysfunction of the deliberations said, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, ‘Except the Lord build, they labor in vain to build it.’
“I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”
What were these bitter divisions that threatened to derail the Constitutional Convention? In every case these differences revolved around deeply held and conflicting state interests. Perhaps the most intractable were:
1) The interests of the agricultural states in conflict with those of the industrial states.
2) The interests of the smaller states in conflict with the interests of the larger states.
3) The concerns of the free states in conflict with the interests of the slave states.
4) The concerns about the sovereignty of the various states to be balanced against the authorities to be vested in a central government.
All of these deeply dividing issues were resolved because men of good faith were more committed to the principles of liberty and human freedom than personal gain. Then the miracle happened...when the shouting subsided, they listened.
Our issues today are not nearly so intractable. Perhaps the wisdom of Washington and Franklin is valid here...it may take a miracle...the divine intervention of our Creator to raise up politicians who will place our founding principles of liberty and freedom above their own personal ambitions.