Yesterday was Bill of Rights Day.
Named as such in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill of Rights Day is a call for all American citizens to reflect, review and celebrate the historical significance of this anniversary and to ponder how the amendments affect our daily lives and ensure our most sacred basic rights and civil liberties – rights and civil liberties that in the past we have taken for granted.
It is somewhat coincidental that this year this day follows a massive shooting at a Connecticut elementary school and a renewed call to action among elected political leaders to take care of the firearms problem in the United States. There is no other way to say it: it is time that we the citizens wake up to our Bill of Rights.
What is the Bill of Rights?
On December 15, 1791, the first 10 amendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights were ratified. Let me list them for you in plain English.
1. The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.”
2. The Second Amendment says the people have the right “to keep and bear arms.”
3. The Third Amendment says soldiers may not be quartered in our homes without the consent of the owners.
4. The Fourth Amendment says the people have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures.
5. The Fifth Amendment says that private property shall not be taken “for public use without just compensation.”
6. The Sixth Amendment says that in criminal prosecutions, the person accused is guaranteed a right to trial by jury.
7. The Seventh Amendment guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases where the controversy “shall exceed twenty dollars.”
8. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
9. The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights should not be construed to deny or disparage others “retained by the people.”
10. The Tenth Amendment says that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, or to the people.
To summarize, the Bill of Rights serves to define and limit the powers of the government and to furthermore remind government officials that they serve the citizens and not the other way around.
The State of Our Union
A little over a year ago I wrote about Liberty, Democracy and the State of Confusion. Nothing has changed since then and if anything, things have become worse.
Violations to the first ten amendments to our Constitution run rampant and are likely to escalate. Don’t get me wrong. This is not partisan or political. It is simply a fact that for the last twelve years, officials of our government have abused their power and our rights without recourse, punishment or remedial action. Some might say that they have broken the law and are criminals.
Citizens no longer know who to trust or who to believe. And many, who prefer to know nothing or not care, go blindly about their daily life abiding by the new-found rules, not realizing that inch by inch, day by day, their rights are being set aside it favor of – dare I say a socialist dictatorship?
Our Constitutional rights include the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, the right to trial by jury, protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the right to bear arms among other things. Looking at this list and the state of our union, it appears to me that our republic is in a state of crisis.
The delegates that gathered in 1787 to form a new government agreed that this new government would be a republic. That said, a republic is a type of government in which the people elect representatives to run the country.
The Preamble of the Constitution states:
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.”
The Bill of Rights, as the first ten amendments to the Constitution, lists our country’s most important rights and freedoms. Let us not forget about these rights and freedoms and begin to oppose and issue a loud NO to those that try to take them away.
Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.