Written by Larry M. Jaynes:
It is true that if you have never read the Constitution that an initial reading of the document may appear a little awkward at first blush and the understanding may not blossom into a plethora of practical or applicable knowledge. However, if you read it through several times you will become so amazed with all its wonderful details and nuances that it releases in your mind; it can be life-changing as equally as it is uplifting to our patriotic conscience.
At first appearance, the Constitution almost reads as if it is only a shell of a document, seeming relatively meager in any specific details. Yet it is filled with so many amazing particulars that it almost leaves one awestruck to realize of all its finer, precise points.
The more you read through it for understanding, the larger it becomes and the more important it is seen by you as a gift to you from the framers; it is very much like planting a seed and watching it grow ― the more you read, the more you are watering and cultivating its growth, and the more you see of the document ― the more light you are giving to it and the more bounty it begins returning back to you. The Constitution is not a seasonal plant that withers but a great, ever-growing, evergreen tree of fruitful knowledge. Every time you read the Constitution it will take on greater meaning that will inspire you in more ways than I can begin to explain.
One thing that I have noticed when reading the document is that within it there is at least two ways or sides that the Constitution provides answers on almost every concern, and in many ways, it is like my computer. As an example, I can refresh the screen by pressing the refresh tab at the top of the screen, but also by pressing the F5 key. In computers, there are usually two or more ways to do almost anything, including printing, highlighting text or graphics, to bold, to italic, or to underline, copy, and on and on it goes.
The Constitution is very similar as it provides several sides to any argument up for debate, and answers questions from two or more different perspectives. The whole Constitution seems to reveal itself this same way, and this is just totally amazing to me.
Consider challenging yourself to read the Constitution and the first Ten Amendments every week for a while, and from time to time also read it through to include all Twenty-seven Amendments to enjoy its intrinsic blessings. I would imagine that when you look back a few months later that you will easily recognize two amazing things, well, much more than that, but two that I will bring up. First, you will notice how many people who talk as though they have an understanding of the Constitution that can be heard on the cable channels or elected officials or people you know; however, you will be able to see right through the facade if they do not really know what they are talking about regarding the Constitution. It is kind of exciting to see how much your own understanding grows in the Constitution in amazing ways and perspectives. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) wrote, “Dimidium facti, qui coepit habet: sapere aude!” (“He who has begun is half done: dare to know!”)
Secondly, you will come to know and realize much more of the power and liberty you have been given in the Constitution. Unfortunately, you will also recognize just how much power and liberty the powers that be are trying to extract from you, but at least you will know how to think, act, and believe for the best with legal information and Constitutional parameters that you really have on your side and in your heart to stand as a beacon of its light to yourself and others.
I will not be suggesting any other books to read that may help guide you further into understanding the Constitution because it is not my place to do so; all I will do is direct you to the document. You see, by starting at the source itself and then spreading out from there is the best and the most refreshing way to follow the flow from its fountainhead. If you start with books and study guides, you may end up entrapped in someone else’s concepts bent to a certain way or political angle, but the Constitution is the best and most principled teacher of itself. Utilizing its principled boundaries, you will become inspired and equipped to follow that inspiration for what you personally would enjoy, but please begin by having a basic understanding of the Constitution “in mind” first; this will help you discern and separate truth from error.
I have found that older books from the 1800s are so precise and agenda-free in their presentation on the Constitution, especially books that were made for schools and colleges because they contain lesson plans with simplicity. You might find these books at book fairs, libraries, used book stores, and in grandma’s attic!
The first time I read the Constitution was in my mid-twenties, but the first time I was taught about the Constitution was, well, never. I must have missed that day in school. They called our studies, American History, and I remember perusing all around the time of the Revolutionary War through studying all the relevant people of that era, and we studied the temperaments and concerns of the times; this and gym were my favorite subjects. However, we had no actual word by word study of the Constitution itself, unless we missed it because of an unscheduled snow-day; however, if that is true, then that must have happened every single year with perfect timing.
In the Constitution, we can read eight ways to Sunday regarding the concepts of separation between the Legislative, the Judicial, and the Executive branches.
The Constitution was a document for uniting the country, but built on the distrust of government itself, and thus it was laced with checks and balances so that the governmental machine could not overtake each other’s mechanisms in the three branches or the general freedoms and liberties of the population. Therein lies the crux and crucible of the Constitution of the United States, and its true bearers are all its citizens.
Today, we as a society have almost been completely hoodwinked into thinking that we cannot understand our Constitution and our rights, our privileges, and our responsibilities contained therein. Abraham Lincoln completely understood and comprehended the Constitution as well as the Declaration of Independence, and we can liken his education or schooling level to that of any average citizen of today. Indeed, Abraham Lincoln was a genius, but he understood the Constitution at an early age, and in truth, both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution greatly contributed to his renowned intelligence, as he once said, “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments in the Declaration of Independence.”
Sometimes to understand some of the conclusions that now come out of the Supreme Court’s decisions and legal redirect that accompanies them from the legal experts, you just may need eight or so Constitutional dictionaries and a few law degrees just to get a diminutive indication of the gibberish they often try to elucidate through elusive concepts that transmit abstract particles of disjointed intangibles laced with impracticalities of matters over mind. What? Well, yes, that’s what I’m saying, it leaves one almost dumbfounded to wade through all the mountains of wordy precedents, and what may be worse is that some people act as if they understand and also believe that all the people (to whom the Constitution was given) are just too far down to grasp its relief or benefits. This is why it is important for citizens to read and understand its inherent lessons and not allow the intellect of others to overtake and lessen the Constitution’s simple principles and boundaries.
Therefore, the greatest prize to be sought and benefit to be received is to read for comprehensive understanding of America’s greatest documents, especially our Constitution.
I wish you all the best in the journey ahead.
*A free copy of The Constitution of the United States with bonus chapters is available for you to download, it is located in our Free e-Bookstore under: Assorted Bible Studies.