Tuesday, June 16, 2015

You Say You Want a Revolution

One of the provisions of the American constitution allows for a new constitutional convention. Sometimes you'll hear people say that's just what we need. You should distrust such people. They either haven't thought things through, or else they have. In both cases, they're to be avoided.

Maybe they haven't thought things through. In their minds, the new constitutional convention gets together, passes only the "good" provisions, stops all the "bad" ones, and goes back home. But what assurances exist to guarantee this is what happens? What will prohibit a bizarro convention, where only the "bad" provisions get passed? One of the truths of life is this: opportunists gonna opportune.

Maybe they have thought things through. In which case, they are the opportunists of whom we are supposed to be wary.

My point is, when you open the door for renegotiating non-negotiable principles, you might be unpleasantly surprised with where things end up. And this generalizes beyond politics. Part of the reason my wife and I got married (aside from her award-winning ass*) was our agreement on the fundamental basic principles of life and marriage. Many of these principles are embodied in our common religion. If I were to undermine that religion and declare it no longer has value, in my mind every reasonable person would respond the same way I would. But in reality, some people will respond quite differently. Maybe I think the only effect will be some weekend drinking or a new habit of attending Sunday brunch. But what might actually happen could be very different, and not at all what I intended. It might be becoming an ISIS comfort woman, murdering in the name of environmental protection, or developing a drug addiction. Once you open Pandora's box, you can't expect to have a say regarding what comes out.

One of the reasons to celebrate the American Revolution is that it turned out the way it did. The revolution itself was fairly liberal and came with no reprisals, and the inevitable counterrevolution (another truth of life: there's always a counterrevolution) was even more liberal and bloodless than the first (replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution involved no fighting at all). But this is the exception. Nearly all revolutions don't go as smoothly. The tagline on the movie poster advertising the French Revolution read: "Zair will be blud."

Think twice before you revolutionize your life. And then, think one more time.

* = An honest-to-goodness, actual award-winning ass. (Nicest Ass, Somis School 8th grade, 1992.)

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