City Slickers

Photo above: City Slickers III. Wind River area, Wyoming. Son Matt, Brother Dave, Son John Paul, Me J.P.

Small Talk

SMALL TALK: View the story of the air rifle that doubled the size of the United States. Fantastic bit of 2nd Amendment history re: Lewis and Clark.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

The Connecticut Compromise

Last night, my grand daughter and her good friend, Olivia, both high school seniors, came over for a study session and homemade pizza. They were preparing for an upcoming test on the U.S. Constitution, and had asked me to assist them in their studies. We had a lively kitchen table discussion as I attempted to fill in some of the blanks in their study guide. It became quickly apparent to me that although they had diligently mastered an impressive list of facts about the Constitution and the government that flowed from that document, they had no real grasp of the context in which it was written. For example, they knew the Connecticut Compromise, also known as the Great Compromise, created the upper house of two Senators from every state. The problem was, they had no idea as to why this was included in the Constitution. The original proposal of one house of representatives based upon a proportional number of seats according to a state’s population did not sit well with the smaller states. When the delegates from the small states balked at the original idea, the two delegates from Connecticut offered up the compromise, which was accepted, and the writing of the Constitution continued. The context of those times led me to thinking about the context of the present times, and what appears to be a political upheaval going on.

I believe the pervasive unease we see today, illuminated by the Tea Party movement, is is partly the result of a loss of context. In the past two years, the change delivered by the Obama presidency has shifted the political landscape dramatically, taking a large section of the population out of its comfort zone. It is as if we woke up one morning and found the good old U.S. of A. was starting to look like the good old U.S. of Europe. Too much change, too quickly. We see a government that looms ever more intrusively in our daily lives, running up debt like a drunken power shopper, and the sense of unease grows apace. The coming upheaval in the November elections will be the people’s way of attempting to put this country back into a context they understand. I sure hope we succeed.



Anonymous said...

Your second paragraph is all well and good but I'm more energized by your first paragraph wherein you discuss your explaining a small aspect of our Constitution, in context, to your granddaughter and her friend. Are you aware of how unusual such a scenario is in our country? I dare say most parents and grandparents have not the slightest idea of the meaning of the Constitution. Neither will their progeny.
Your granddaughter and her friend may someday write paeans to your memory in honor of the foundational truths to which you introduced them. Thus are small saplings trained to grow into mighty oaks.

Good on ya, my brother!


JP said...

Aram, to be honest I was taken by surprise by the knowledge they had already acquired. Seems to me they were genuinely interested in the subject and wanted to learn more. To me, a very, very satisfying evening. I look forward to working with them again. By the way, I over cooked the pizza but they were nice enough to say they still liked it.