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A New Constitutional Convention?

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The Constitutional Convention that led to the creation of the United States of America took place in the late 1700's at a time when the population was below two million. Slavery formed the foundation of large parts of the economy, especially in the South. The right of women to vote was almost inconceivable. There were no cars, trains, or airplanes, much less mass communication systems or large corporations. Nor were there organized political lobbying forces for special interests. We had a ragtag military that had miraculously taken on the most powerful military force in the world. America was basically a startup operation, long on hope, short on experience.

The Constitutional Convention convened a group of white men, most of aristocratic heritage, with some bold dreams for what a new-and-improved political blueprint might look like, drawing from the best Enlightenment thinkers, the political model of the Iroquois, and experience with the Articles of the Confederation. It was not a particularly inclusive group, with no representation for women, African Americans, or Native Americans, among many major stakeholders in the future of the country. Plus, the framers were definitely products of the European culture they had inherited. Even given all these limitations, though, the group was able to accomplish something historic - a political blueprint that could shape what would become the world's most influential country.

For that accomplishment, Americans have shown a touching level of devotion. The Constitution has become, in many ways, a sacred document, revered with the honor normally reserved for the holy books of major religions. This stems from its eloquent presentation of sacred truths, its practical power, and its resiliency - the ability to change with the times when a sufficient mass of the government or people feel an amendment is required. It is both timeless and amendable by the times.

Given the extraordinary benefits that were unleashed in the act of the framers creating a visionary and practical framework for a new country, might we be able to do something parallel now, in the first decade of a new millennium? It need not necessarily be called a Constitutional Convention but the function would be the same - to harness the best thinking and practices to create a visionary and practical framework upon which a great collective future can be built.

Our times have emergent challenges that simply didn't exist in the late 1700's, ranging from global warming to shrinking oil supplies. As good as the framers of the Constitution of the United States were, they did not have the benefit of 200 years of experience with democracy. They did not have Darwin's theory of evolution, the technology of the Internet, Freud's forays into the unconscious, or the sciences of complexity, to name just a few key developments. They also lacked the global perspective that comes from seeing our planet from space and hadn't bridged the best wisdom of both Eastern and Western culture.

Our worldview has transformed in thousands of extraordinary ways in these last two hundred years. What would a practical framework drawn up now that includes the best wisdom, insights, and practices from those two hundred years look like? It might start with the principles that have been carefully honed in the Earth Charter, and then translate them into a practical social-political-scientific-spiritual framework that could guide our next stage of collective evolution. This would not necessarily be a replacement for the US Constitution but a parallel that has the benefit of including new insights from physics, biology, psychology, sociology, diplomacy, technology, spirituality, medicine, and many other domains. A state-of-the-art, visionary framework for building an emerging global culture.

As the number of democracies multiplies around the world, what can we learn about best practices from the many experiments? What can we glean from an intense study of the successes and failures of the American experiment? And how can we be more inclusive in a new spiritual-political vision by including the wisdom of marginalized voices?

If we were to answer these questions in a coherent new way, giving shape to an emerging consciousness, we could lay down the guiding tracks for a next American Evolution. Like the Founding Fathers, we do have the power to become the architects of our destiny and rise to meet the great challenges of our day.

Sacred America Series #17
If you'd like to read these weekly articles exploring a sacred vision for America, you can visit www.stephendinan.com or sign up on the distribution list by sending an email to stephendinan-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.
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Stephen Dinan is the author of Radical Spirit and the founder of the Radical Spirit community, as well as the Director of Membership and Marketing for the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in human (more...)

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