"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America."
Many people are familiar with the Preamble to the Constitution or at least the words "We the People...", but as we read the preamble we became curious as to the meaning of the words used. The first point that we noticed was that it begins "We the people...." The word People means "all the persons of a racial, national, religious, or linguistic group; nation, race, etc." Thus "WE the People of the United States," is exactly that, all the people of the United States or the CITIZENRY. Interestingly, it does not say "government" or "states" for the Constitution is a social compact among the citizens of the United States and no one in this great land is superior to us, but God almighty.
With the next clause we see the first of the seven reasons or purposes for which WE the people were joining together in this social compact. The first purpose was "in order to form a more perfect Union..." To form is to "shape, outline, or configur[e]..." while union is the state of being united, combined, joined or fused together. Thus we find that the first purpose that We the people had in joining together was to become more perfect, unflawed or complete as one people separate and apart from other peoples. Today it would appear that the opposite is our goal as Americans would only seem to refer to a narrow segment of the white community with everyone else being an African American, Italian American, Cuban American, etc... (We think you get the picture).
The second purpose that We the people had in adopting the Constitution was to "establish Justice." To establish is "to make stable, settle, to order, ordain, or appoint" while justice is the state of "being righteous or fair." In other words we joined together to make righteousness and fairness, in our relations, the rule rather than the exception. Looking around us today, it is clear that we are lacking in this area.
The third purpose identified is to "insure domestic Tranquility." To insure is "to make sure, guarantee, to make safe, [or] protect." Domestic refers to "the home or family; ones homeland" and Tranquility is the state of being "free from emotional disturbance or agitation; calm; serene." Thus, we joined together to make safe and secure our homes, families and nation from emotional disturbances and agitation. Considering the high crime rates, broken state of our families and racial, ethnic and religious strife that is commonplace in our nation it is obvious that we are failing miserably in this regard.
The fourth purpose is to "provide for the common defence." To provide is "to get ready beforehand, to make available, supply, to furnish (with), to prepare (for or against) a possible situation, event, etc." Common means "belonging equally to, or shared by, all." Defence is "a defending against attack." Thus our forefathers recognized the need, as an outgrowth of our individual right to defend ourselves against attack, to establish a mechanism to jointly defend our nation against attack. With ever increasing restrictions on law abiding citizens ability to own guns and our nation's unilateral disarmament over the past few years it would appear that we have lost sight of this purpose.
The fifth purpose is to "promote the general Welfare." To promote is "to further the growth or establishment of (something)." General is "of, for, or from the whole or all" and Welfare is a "condition of health, happiness, and prosperity: well being." Thus we are joined together, through the Constitution, to further the growth of health, happiness and prosperity for all people. In our highly stratified society where the gap between the rich and the poor seems to grow unabated and needy people are too often faced with the choice of sacrificing their birthright to liberty in exchange for a bowl of porridge , it is clear that we have run afoul of this goal.
The sixth purpose and seventh purposes are combined and they are to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves" (purpose #6) "and our Posterity" (purpose #7). To Secure is to make "free from fear, care, or doubt; not worried, troubled, etc. free from danger; safe." Blessings is "an invoking of divine favor, the gift of divine favor." Liberty is "freedom from slavery, captivity, or any other form of arbitrary control." Posterity is "all of a persons descendants, all future generations. Thus our forefathers established, not just for themselves but also for all future generations, a contract to which we are all parties with equal responsibilities to uphold it, by which we can live together free from the fear that our divine right to be free from arbitrary control would be violated. Unfortunately, during our lifetimes we have observed the rapid growth of government instituted controls on all individuals for the purpose of making "We the people" conform to our leaders definitions of what is politically correct. Moreover, we have also seen the increasingly arbitrary application of the government's power against disfavored persons of one kind or another (e.g. blacks, religious people, political activists).
Finally, the Preamble closes with "do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." To ordain is "to put in order; arrange; prepare." To establish is "to make stable; make firm; settle. Constitution is "the system of fundamental laws and principles of a government, state, society, corporation, etc." Thus our forefathers joined together in order to put in order and make stable the system of fundamental laws and principles of government by which "We the people" would live. Moreover, we must not forget that the Constitution is more than mere words for it sets forth the principles that our forefathers sacrificed all that they had - their time, money and even their lives - to win for us. May "We the People" of this generation not let the sacrifices our forefathers made for us be in vain.