Reclaiming what is ours

John Jackson:  I have supported the CML in every way I could think of from the moment the idea was put to me. I sensed that it might – and I now believe it will – release a great flow of pent up, unexpressed energy flowing from a deep frustration on the part of most of us with the way in which we are governed.

From the moment, as a young student some sixty years ago, I was told not to bother my head with what our constitution is or whether it works, I have had the uncomfortable feeling that I did not live in my ‘own’ country and was barred from real participation in the creation of its fundamental values and how those were expressed in the life we all share together. I have had the feeling that I was continually squeezed into the role of a ’subject’ not a ‘citizen’ and that the fingers of an invisible, unaccountable elite were firmly ‘on the button’.

I have returned recently from the United States where I have a wide circle of friends of different origins and political allegiances. With all its problems, the US is still fiercely loyal to the values of its freedom fighter founders and of the vast tide of immigrants from authoritarian countries (including our own) who wanted to live in a society different from where they came from and in which the fundamental sovereignty of the citizen was respected.

That is why the call of (now) President Obama to remember and hold fast to  the ideals of their founders has resonated deeply with all Americans, even those who are terrified by the very mild socialism inherent in his proposed policies. Those ideals are reflected and set down in the constitution of the United States. That constitution is the glue that keeps the US, as a society, stuck together. If Americans are worried, as they frequently are, by the incursions of the executive into their privacy they do not ask if it is ‘lawful’ they ask if it is ‘constitutional’ and insist that something is done about it.

That glue is what I would like us to have in our country. Our country will only really be ‘ours’ when its values and ‘fundamentals’ are entrenched in a constitution to which we have all contributed. And that is what I would like the energy released by ‘our’ convention to result in.’

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