It's not my fault. I was just looking at a sheet of advertisements for various legal publications, and one of them was a book about the Constitution. So I said to myself, "Self," I said, "wouldn't that make a great Talk Thursday topic?" and somehow my laptop managed to email Cele without my knowledge and tell her about it and the next thing you know, it's a Talk Thursday topic. What a way to run into trouble. Almost 250 years we've been arguing about the Constitution and about all we've decided is that it's the worst form of government ever invented until you look at all the other ones.
What I really don't like is discussing the Constitution with people who've never read it, or who might have read it once in high school but don't really remember it and haven't a clue what it means. Come on, people. It's not even ten pages long. If the Supreme Court can talk about it for nine months a year, the least you can do is read the thing. That way you won't pop off with something like, "Let's ban handguns because it says in the Second Amendment only the militia can have guns!" only to be told that, in fact, that's not what it says at all and you might want to read it again. But remember, I'm not a lawyer or a Constitutional scholar, so you shouldn't take my advice. I just read English pretty well and string words together okay.
Lots of stuff that people think is in the Constitution isn't really there. Take, for example, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Sorry, that's the Declaration of Independence. And if you really wanna have some fun on a Saturday night, take that document out to the public square and read it out loud, changing the words "parliament" to "Congress" and "King" to "President." On second thought, don't. You might "disappear" into Guantanamo, never to be seen again. You know, kind of like what might happen to Julian Assange if he ever leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London. (Hang in there, Julian. I have it on excellent authority that an airdrop of Asti Spumante and all nine seasons of the "X-Files" is on its way right now.)
What else isn't in the Constitution; "Last of all, to thine own self be true." That's from Shakespeare, Hamlet. "Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin. Yeah, he did sign the thing, but that's splitting hairs. "Four score and seven years ago, our forebears--" Lincoln, kids. At Gettysburg. "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." Sorry, that's Mark Twain. Well, surely "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel." is in there somewhere. Nope, that's Homer Simpson. And it doesn't say anything about a Constitutional right to act stupid in public, either. We've just sort of unofficially adopted that one.
I like "constitution" for its other meaning; guts. Well, rather, the quality of guts. If you have a strong constitution, it doesn't mean your copy of the book about the Constitution has particularly tough covers (though for what books like that go through, it probably should). It means you're strong, healthy, robust, well-suited to go traipsing through the Highlands after rogue sheep and, I dunno, cows or something. If you're sick, it really helps to have a strong constitution, because that'll mean you'll get better sooner. Lately my constitution has gone flying out the window, which is bad because how will I know what the Second Amendment says about an upset stomach?
In all seriousness, I'm finding This Thing Called Life a little bit overwhelming at the moment. Maybe that's why my cube at work is totally stacked with files and large piles of paper. Or maybe it's the piles of paper that are causing me to feel a little bit overwhelmed. I'd clean them up, but I don't have time. Or rather, I would have time if I wasn't trying to do five other things at the same time. Which is a little overwhelming. The other day a client showed up for an appointment and I ended up having to sit with her for about fifteen minutes and go over her medical records. I actually asked the manager if she'd come in there with me, not because I needed protection from the Big Bad Client (she was a little abrupt, but not rude or anything) but because I needed to be sure I'd be on my best behavior and I wasn't sure I could be, with the head space I occupied at that time. She said no, I went in there anyway, behaved myself and survived, but it was a close thing.
I'm starting to think I might perhaps need a tiny vacation. Maybe I'll fly over to D.C. for the weekend and check out the Smithsonian, with its original copy of the original Constitution.
If my stomach's up for it, that is.