This is not about government that is so often counterproductive, incompetent, or corrupt. It is not about anonymous bureaucrats making irresponsible or selfish decisions. It is about We the People taking care of each other, as we would want to be taken care of. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his second inaugural address (1937):
“Democratic government has the innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable… a strong government with powers of united action sufficient then and now to solve problems utterly beyond individual or local solution.”
Why Government is Mistrusted
Mistrust of government is now commonly accepted in this country. Not commonly known, however, is how and why that mistrust came about. It was orchestrated by the economic interests and turned into a powerful propaganda drumbeat by right-of-center think tanks, the media, and certain religious organizations.
The purpose of that effort was to take away hope from the people, that the one institution that can effectively control greed is sidelined. This is not just my own observation. Many writers and political scientists have so concluded.
In Edward S. Herman’s Triumph of the Market: Essays on Economics, Politics, and the Media, he explains how we have gotten to the “now almost universal acceptance of market exchanges and private ownership as the exclusive way of organizing economic life.” Other options, like use of government for public purposes have been muscled off the stage. In his words:
“In brief, markets, money, and the media now work in tandem to allow substantial change in institutional arrangements and policies only where this will serve the larger corporate interest (now called the ‘national interest’), but quickly quash threats to those interests posed by political leaders responsive to popular demands (i.e., the ‘special interests’).
“A massive propaganda campaign has successfully inculcated the idea that Big Government is the source of our problems, with spending for social reform a pernicious manifestation of out-of-control government an ideological/propaganda coup that discredits government actions that benefit ordinary citizens.
“Ordinary citizens will gradually lose interest in the election game, cynically write off politics and politicians, and withdraw from the political arena. They are disillusioned and angry, but they seem to have lost in a fair electoral fight (at least this is the impression conveyed by the mainstream media.)”
The idea that government cannot function is pure propaganda and quite at variance with the truth. How does one counter such propaganda? By reading and speaking out on the point. The weakness of a propaganda-supported position is that, in time, its woven message unravels, unable to cover up realities that loom ever larger behind a false facade.
In the context of the environment, the realities that loom ever larger behind the facade include increases in disease and disability, loss of educability, and a decline of consciousness itself. The idea that AT&T and General Motors are going to fix that is a tissue thin lie. Only government can do that.
Excerpts from FDR’s First Inaugural Address (1933)
This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. . . .
Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits.
Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live. . . .
Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations. . . .
I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis – broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe. . . .
Excerpts from FDR’s Second Inaugural Address (1937)
Instinctively we recognized a deeper need – the need to find through government the instrument of our united purpose to solve for the individual the ever-rising problems of a complex civilization. Repeated attempts at their solution without the aid of government had left us baffled and bewildered. For, without that aid, we had been unable to create those moral controls over the services of science which are necessary to make science a useful servant instead of a ruthless master of mankind. To do this we knew that we must find practical controls over blind economic forces and blindly selfish men.
We of the Republic sensed the truth that democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable. We would not admit that we could not find a way to master economic epidemics just as, after centuries of fatalistic suffering, we had found a way to master epidemics of disease. We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster. . . .
This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Constitutional Convention which made us a nation. At that Convention our forefathers found the way out of the chaos which followed the Revolutionary War; they created a strong government with powers of united action sufficient then and now to solve problems utterly beyond individual or local solution. A century and a half ago they established the Federal Government in order to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to the American people.
Today we invoke those same powers of government to achieve the same objectives.
Four years of new experience have not belied our historic instinct. They hold out the clear hope that government within communities, government within the separate States, and government of the United States can do the things the times require, without yielding its democracy. . . .
Nearly all of us recognize that as intricacies of human relationships increase, so power to govern them also must increase – power to stop evil; power to do good. The essential democracy of our Nation and the safety of our people depend not upon the absence of power, but upon lodging it with those whom the people can change or continue at stated intervals through an honest and free system of elections. . . .
In that purpose we have been helped by achievements of mind and spirit. Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. . . .
We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life. . . .
In this process, evil things formerly accepted will not be so easily condoned. Hardheadedness will not so easily excuse hardheartedness. . . .
I see a great nation, upon a great continent, blessed with a great wealth of natural resources. Its hundred and thirty million people are at peace among themselves; they are making their country a good neighbor among the nations. I see a United States which can demonstrate that, under democratic methods of government, national wealth can be translated into a spreading volume of human comforts hitherto unknown, and the lowest standard of living can be raised far above the level of mere subsistence. . . .
Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees for the whole people. It can make constant progress when it keeps abreast of all the facts. It can obtain justified support and legitimate criticism when the people receive true information of all that government does. . . .
Excerpts from FDR’s Third Inaugural Address (1941)
On each national day of inauguration since 1789, the people have renewed their sense of dedication to the United States. In Washington’s day the task of the people was to create and weld together a nation.
In Lincoln’s day the task of the people was to preserve that Nation from disruption from within.
In this day the task of the people is to save that Nation and its institutions from disruption from without. . . .
Lives of nations are determined not by the count of years, but by the lifetime of the human spirit. The life of a man is three-score years and ten: a little more, a little less. The life of a nation is the fullness of the measure of its will to live. . . .
A nation, like a person, has a body – a body that must be fed and clothed and housed, invigorated and rested, in a manner that measures up to the objectives of our time.
A nation, like a person, has a mind – a mind that must be kept informed and alert, that must know itself, that understands the hopes and the needs of its neighbors – all the other nations that live within the narrowing circle of the world.
And a nation, like a person, has something deeper, something more permanent, something larger than the sum of all its parts. It is that something which matters most to its future – which calls forth the most sacred guarding of its present.
It is a thing for which we find it difficult – even impossible – to hit upon
a single, simple word. And yet we all understand what it is – the spirit – the faith of America. It is the product of centuries. It was born in the multitudes of those who came from many lands – some of high degree, but mostly plain people, who sought here, early and late, to find freedom more freely.
The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history. It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the middle ages. It was written in Magna Carta.
In the Americas its impact has been irresistible. America has been the New World in all tongues, to all peoples, not because this continent was a new-found land, but because all those who came here believed they could create upon this continent a new life – a life that should be new in freedom.
Its vitality was written into our own Mayflower Compact, into the Declaration of Independence, into the Constitution of the United States, into the Gettysburg Address.
Those who first came here to carry out the longings of their spirit, and the millions who followed, and the stock that sprang from them – all have moved forward constantly and consistently toward an ideal which in itself has gained stature and clarity with each generation. . . .
It is not enough to clothe and feed the body of this Nation, and instruct and inform its mind. For there is also the spirit. And of the three, the greatest is the spirit.
Without the body and the mind, as all men know, the Nation could not live. But if the spirit of America were killed, even though the Nation’s body and mind, constricted in an alien world, lived on, the America we know would have perished.
That spirit – that faith – speaks to us in our daily lives in ways often unnoticed, because they seem so obvious. It speaks to us here in the Capital of the Nation. It speaks to us through the processes of governing in the sovereignties of 48 States. It speaks to us in our counties, in our cities, in our towns, and in our villages. It speaks to us from the other nations of the hemisphere, and from those across the seas – the enslaved, as well as the free. Sometimes we fail to hear or heed these voices of freedom because to us the privilege of our freedom is such an old, old story.
The destiny of America was proclaimed in words of prophecy spoken by our first President in his first inaugural in 1789 – words almost directed, it would seem, to this year of 1941: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered deeply, finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”
If we lose that sacred fire – if we let it be smothered with doubt and fear – then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the cause of national defense.
In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy.
For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America.
We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God.
Excerpts from FDR’s Fourth Inaugural Address (1945)
We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage, our resolve, our wisdom, and our essential democracy.
If we meet that test – successfully and honorably – we shall perform a service of historic importance which men and women and children will honor throughout all time. . . .
We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately – but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes – but they must never be mistakes which result from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principle. . . .
The great fact to remember is that the trend of civilization itself is forever upward; that a line drawn through the middle of the peaks and the valleys of the centuries always has an upward trend.
Our Constitution of 1787 was not a perfect instrument; it is not perfect yet. But it provided a firm base upon which all manner of men, of all races and colors and creeds, could build our solid structure of democracy.
And so today, in this year of war, 1945, we have learned lessons – at a fearful cost – and we shall profit by them.
We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.
We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.
We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” We can gain no lasting peace if we approach it with suspicion and mistrust or with fear. We can gain it only if we proceed with the understanding, the confidence, and the courage which flow from conviction.
The Almighty God has blessed our land in many ways. He has given our people stout hearts and strong arms with which to strike mighty blows for freedom and truth. He has given to our country a faith which has become the hope of all peoples in an anguished world.
So we pray to Him now for the vision to see our way clearly – to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men – to the achievement of His will to peace on earth.
I’m a lawyer by training but have always been a close observer of classrooms. Many of my friends have been in education for over thirty years. Their stories are much the same. These are some typical comments:
Student’s attention spans are much more limited now.
It’s a struggle getting 12th graders to comprehend what used to be taught to 8th graders.
Students are more violent than they used to be.
Sexuality comes too early now and interferes with a student’s school development.
Drugs seem to be everywhere.
Some research on my part disclosed that my teacher friends were quite accurate in their observations. The National Assessment of Educational Progress in 1986 reported that students at all levels are now more deficient than students used to be in higher order thinking skills, abstract reasoning, and problem solving.
Low achievement test scores of current students only tell part of the story. In fact, writes Jane M. Healy in Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think, the tests given to our students now have been made “drastically more simple.” The gap between student performance in the 1960s and the 1990s is even greater than we want to realize.
Everyone has a theory as to why education has gone so far wrong. But those theories have not been shown to give satisfactory explanations. According to a 1987 report by the Congressional Budget Office entitled “Educational Achievement: Explanations and Implications of Recent Trends,” changes in educational policy, quality of the schools, the number of minority students, television viewing, student use of alcohol and drugs, and the growing percentage of single parent households play at most “a modest” role in declines.
What then is causing education and behavioral declines in the classrooms? I believe there is overwhelming evidence that such declines are being fueled by environmental exposures to chemicals the body is not able to counteract. The demise of educational excellence actually began after WWII, when leftover chemicals of war, adapted to battle weeds and insects, were applied to food crops. This approach began the debasement our food supply as the use of chemical pesticides and food additives intensified each year. Furthermore, we laced our beef and poultry with growth hormones.
The result was an unprecedented change in the natural environment that eventually impacted all of life, especially children whose formative years make their bodily systems more vulnerable to hormones and neurotoxins. Microbiologist, Rene Dubos, in the 1970s tried to warn Americans that even beyond death and disease, behavioral declines would be the worst legacy of a world made toxic. By that time, student test scores were falling precipitously and the number of children born with mental and physical disabilities had doubled. The EPA took little notice of these behavioral deficits. It focused exclusively on whether or not a chemical appeared to cause cancer.
Time and experience has shown Rene Dubos to have been correct and the EPA myopic. Researchers have been able to predict antisocial behavior in youngsters based solely on levels of certain toxins within those children. Animal experiments have long proven that exposure to toxins causes a need for alcohol or drugs. The early onset of puberty from putting growth hormones in our animal stock has caused our children to miss important developmental stages, leaving them intellectually impaired.
Behavioral decline could not be happening at a worse time. Just when we must perform brilliantly in order to deal effectively with the urgent issues of surviving on a planet we are in the process of making uninhabitable, we are, instead, impaired. We are sliding toward barbarity a brute society caused by toxins within us in amounts that are wildly beyond our genetic history, wildly beyond our ability to cope and adapt.
The late historian, Barbara Tuchman, was a keen observer of our slide toward darkness, even down to the point at which it began. In 1987 (“A Nation in Decline”), she decried America’s “deteriorating ethic, poor performance, poor thinking, and lawlessness,” saying that “it does seem that the knowledge of a difference between right and wrong is absent from our society, as if it had floated away on a shadowy night after the last World War.” Bear in mind that “the knowledge of a difference between right and wrong” is the essence of a usable definition of insanity. Dubos was correct. We are a country that is losing its moorings and lapsing into an insanity where bizarre behavior and low cunning are becoming the norm.
The good news in all of this alarming information is that, knowing the real cause of our declines will allow us to focus on getting ourselves and our children well, healthy and functioning again. We are not evil and fallen. We are not stupid and lazy. We are ill and can get well, given an all out effort to bring us back to wellness.
I marvel at the ingenuity of the framers of the United States Constitution. They knew that we, in the end, would be our own worst enemies. Few delegates to the Convention in 1787 disagreed with Alexander Hamilton’s assessment that “men were ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious.” Domestic dangers were though to be “more alarming than the arms and arts of foreign nations.”
For this reason, the framers put into the Constitution an emergency clause, now found in Article IV, Section 4, which requires that the federal government protect us against “domestic violence.” What they meant by domestic violence was harm that we would bring upon ourselves of such a nature and such magnitude as to put survival into question.
In the 20th century, the form that our self-created condition of domestic violence has taken is bottomed on environmental harms that threaten us all. We are in the process of bringing about behavioral declines and an uninhabitable planet. The framers meant the domestic violence clause to be a rallying point for a people’s movement to change the direction of our federal government during times of domestic violence in order to meet the threat.
Educators will have to play a large role in that movement. First, the clause has to be understood and taught. Second, educators must speak for their students and make sure that a reordering of American priorities includes them.
Using that clause, a movement of Americans can take us out of the role of desiring military dominance in the world. We can no longer afford both guns and and the creation of an emergency health care system to get us back to full health and full functioning. Educators are desperately needed to assess the failures of American foreign policy since 1946. Was the Cold War unnecessary as is being said recently by so many scholars? If so, can we learn to create new international relationships without the need for weapons. New thinking is needed. As Abraham Lincoln put it, “our cause is new so we must think anew.”
The cost of cleaning up the country from past toxic spills and discharges will be staggering. Helping industry get to zero discharge of toxins is a daunting task. Making products and agriculture safe again can no longer be put off. The bill is now due, and the cost will by measured in the trillions of dollars.
I like to think that Americans are up for such a challenge. We pulled together in our own defense during a reordering of priorities for World War II. We ought to do no less to ensure survival in the last years of this century for our children during the environmental crisis we’ve brought upon ourselves.
On the spiritual level, the domestic violence clause brings together what theologian Paul Tillich envisioned a realm ruled by both power and love. In so-called normal times, government can be a passive operation, ensuring only that certain basic rules-of-the-road are observed. Criminals get punished. Laws in the market place get enforced. Now comes a crisis under the domestic violence clause of Article IV, Section 4 of the U. S. Constitution which requires the federal government to “protect” the people.
“Protect” is a deeply spiritual word. In order to protect, one must know about the people and their susceptibilities. One has to anticipate dangers and take their side in the face of doubt and competing interests. People, all of us, must be treated with the compassion and respect due to all of God’s creations. Protection really means caring for and loving.
Christ’s message, in its brevity, can easily stand for all spiritual teachings in all denominations and shadings of belief. Our job in this world is to revere the divine and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
That message has always been “optional” with humans. There were no worldwide catastrophic consequences when we lapsed from the obligation to love one another protect one another. Not so any more. In the words of the Worldwatch Institute, “…we are the first [generation] to be faced with decisions that will determine whether the earth our children inherit will be inhabitable.” (1987)
So, we are out of time and excuses. Our disregard of each other’s welfare has brought us to a place where we must either love one another and protect one another, or we perish in the creation of a hell on Earth.
Gathering people together to study about and organize under the aegis of the domestic violence clause is activity meant to bring us to a realm ruled by both power and love. The need is so great, the number of people so victimized by environmental domestic violence so large, and the opposition so ill concealed behind an unraveling facade of untruths, that I believe a movement under Article IV, Section 4 is not only doable, it is probable.
Activities under the domestic violence clause are local, national, and international. The clause brings together people of all backgrounds, and unites their efforts. We have had a full measure of thoughtless materialism and selfish individuality. I believe that people want to come together in love.
Chapter One of If You Can Keep It
by Michael Diamond
This is about the “domestic violence” clause in Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution and how is can be used to get us through the environmental crises that we have brought upon ourselves. The clause has been sitting idle and unknown to the public for over two hundred years. During that period, our primary focus has been on rights: the right to vote and speak freely, property and privacy rights, to bear arms and have religious freedom, to name just a few. While the emphasis on rights is laudable, rights are only one side of the coin, the other side of which is responsibilities. The long forgotten domestic violence clause in Article IV, Section 4 is about responsibilities. I have become convinced that attaining security from environmental threats is impossible without our use of that clause.
It is with pleasure, therefore, that I make this introduction of the domestic violence clause to its owners – you, the American people. This long overdue meeting is both necessary and urgent. We’ve gotten ourselves into a perilous environmental situation. If the men who wrote the Constitution were here now, they would characterize the clause as a roadmap that they left for us in a time capsule. They had the abiding knowledge that, in the end, we would turn out to be our own worst enemy. They were correct. That clause was designed to get us back to safety and security.
You will find it in your copy of the Constitution following Articles I through III, which create, respectively, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches of the U. S. government. The complete text of Article IV, Section 4 is as follows:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”
In brief, Article IV, Section 4 requires the United States to protect us against invasion and against domestic violence. The former is harm that other nations might do to us; the latter is the harm we’re likely to inflict upon ourselves. Our perilous environmental circumstances constitute a condition of domestic violence under the Constitution of the United States. The purpose of this book is to explore how your survival and the well-being of your children depends on that roadmap left in a time capsule by the framers.
A few introductory remarks about how I define environmental harm will be helpful to you. I view environmental harms as the man-made vectors or agents that bring about or contribute to death, disease, ill health, diminution of human potential, or damage to property. The vectors can be direct or indirect, but are always multiple and bring about harm in ways that are beyond our capacity to measure or easily comprehend.
The easiest environmental vector of harm to understand is one person causing a direct and known injury to another. For example, a farmer who sends a field worker out to use dangerous chemicals without instructions or protective gear commits direct environmental harm to that field worker. An indirect environmental harm occurs when the worker’s child is born with a neurological deficit owing to the parent’s exposure. The child’s impairment or diminution of human potential will be made worse by the effects of additional multiple exposures to toxic materials in his own environment. Impairment often helps to bring about criminal and antisocial behavior, the effects of which are quite real and harmful, although difficult to trace back to exposure of the field worker by the farmer. Well beyond the simple norms of proof upon which we base our reality, the child’s problems are judged to be his own because the causative connection is beyond our capacity to measure or acknowledge.
If we consider the above example to be one web of environmental harm, picture the world as containing an immense and uncountable number of such webs all at the same time. They interact with one another in dizzying complexity, as when an entire population is burdened by certain toxic materials as well as being subject to local conditions. In addition to troublesome exposures in air, water, food, and consumer products, unnecessarily dangerous medicines and unhealthy nutrition choices combine to bring about inexorable declines in human health and human potential. To all of this burden, never before experienced by man, add the effects of global changes which are now becoming apparent. They include increases in ultraviolet radiation and carbon dioxide, a concomitant decrease in oxygen, global climate changes, and destruction of ecosystems upon which an ever increasing population relies for sustenance. These are the webs of morbidity that we have woven for ourselves. Together, they are what I define as our present condition of environmental harm – our present condition of environmental domestic violence as envisioned by Article IV, Section 4 of the U. S. Constitution.
It is an effort for me to keep in mind the definition of environmental harms as being, at the same time, direct, indirect, multiple, beyond measure, and interacting vectors of damage. I urge you to undertake the same effort. Only when we stretch ourselves to understand the vast nature of the problem can we get anywhere near to the solution. Theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman, devoted his life to original thinking in order to arrive at solutions. He would have us stretch our imaginations “to the utmost, not as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there.”
Continuing with introductions, I have been researching and writing about environmental matters since 1982. In 1981, I was employed as an environmental enforcement official at a state government department devoted to environmental protection. Although I saw and worked with some of the most competent people I have ever known, I understood even at a glance that the legal system we set up to protect us was woefully inadequate. Since then, I have been doing independent research to find a better way to handle environmental protection. That search led to the domestic violence clause. It was itching to be found and appears ready to be both studied and harnessed for serious environmental work.
Now, something about the readers. The vast majority of you care deeply about the environment. Having little or no experience with environmental laws, you may tend to believe that additional enforcement of them will make you safe. You are likely to take comfort from the sound of statutes like The Superfund, The Clean Air Act, and The Safe Drinking Water Act. Those of you who have had direct experience with our environmental laws and the regulatory system are more likely to understand those laws are grossly inadequate. However, not seeing an alternative, you address yourselves to those laws somewhat fatalistically in environmental organizations, businesses, government, and in academic pursuits.
Many of you are educators, health care professionals, criminal justice professionals, and employers. You do not yet perceive the connection between your worst problems and the environmental crisis It is the purpose of this book to help you make the connection so that you can participate in solutions through the domestic violence clause.
I have spoken to many teachers who have been in the field for as long as thirty years. Without exception, they describe significant declines in student performances over that period of time. They are not surprised to learn the part that environmental harms have played. The institutions in which teachers are trained and in which they work, however, have difficulty accepting the fact that they must play a hands-on role in environmental protection. Environmental harms are a major driving factor in educational decline that won’t go away unless and until confronted by educators and educational institutions.
In the course of my legal career, I’ve had much opportunity to work with people in the criminal justice system, from the judiciary to the police and all through the penal system. The connection between environmental harms and criminality is so palpable that I recognized it easily on seeing recidivists over thirty years ago. Just as alcohol impairs the ability to postpone gratification and comport oneself in accordance with legal standards, so do toxins, and people are now burdened with toxins in amounts that are wildly beyond our genetic experience. If you are in the criminal justice system and want to stop the escalation of violence, you need to be involved in a hands-on way with environmental protection. You need to know more about the domestic violence clause.
Health care professionals – the doctors, hospital staff, dietitians, etc. – have been back-benchers, just watching an array of ineffective environmental laws allow the buildup of toxins within us beyond our genetic potential. In addition, those health care professionals have quietly watched the public’s loss of biological wisdom in food habits, without weighing in on the side of sanity. Worse, many modern medicines and procedures tend to be powerful and unnecessary vectors of ill health in-and-of themselves. I have met with a number of young physicians who decry how tenaciously their medical societies and professional boards hold them to the use of such wasteful and harmful medicines and procedures. The rate of chronic illness in this country is increasing, not decreasing, while more and more money is being put into the present health care system every year. An understanding of environmental harms and the domestic violence clause can help to put health care professionals in the forefront of those who will be curbing ills that should not have befallen society in the first place.
I have met with employers, as well. They, like teachers, talk about a decline in worker capability and motivation over the last thirty years. Impairment is the rule, rather than the exception, and that is true in the ranks of both line employees and managers. An understanding of both the concept of environmental harm and the remedy of the domestic violence clause has the potential to bring employers and employees together in ways never before dreamed possible. The common enemy is our own lack of good judgment about the environment. Our errors and our shortsightedness must be corrected rather quickly.
I have saved the most crucial introduction for last. The vast majority of Americans do not truly comprehend the type of country that we’ve become. Continual drumbeating of propaganda and plaudits of self congratulations tell us that we are the cradle of democracy and the hope of the world. In fact, we are not that at all. In a permanent state of war since 1946, we now lack the vision necessary to maintain democratic institutions and to be a force for world peace. As such, we will continue to squander our public monies and our available resources on preparations for war. Devoting resources to protecting ourselves against environmental harms is likely to be little emphasized. The domestic violence clause is the much needed Constitutional counterweight to this nation’s overindulgence in the ways of war.
James Madison warned that “a standing military force with an overgrown executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” The tyranny now being practiced in our country that threatens our liberty is the military use of the great bulk of our public money. Further, the blood of our children has been too often pledged and spilled to protect the rights of companies to dominate the world’s markets, resources, and labor pools. Appeals to patriotism and propaganda fool us into believing that we operate in defense of democracy around the world. We do not.
We will never have the resources needed to protect ourselves against environmental harms unless we see clearly what type of nation we’ve become and change our destructive pattern. To continue preparing for war is to keep open a useless second front that we ought no longer to invest with a false security. The damage we have done and are doing to ourselves is well beyond the capacity of any of our enemies, real or imagined.
No matter what your background may be, you are likely to delight in solutions to our environmental crisis through use of the domestic violence clause. To borrow a word from my scientific friends, you are likely to find that solutions through the use of Article IV, Section 4 are “exquisite.”
“More children are presenting with… difficulties spread across multiple cognitive, sensorimotor, social, and emotional domains. And the scale of this is enormous: 17% of children in the United States have some kind of attentional or learning problem.
“I think we are dealing with the impact of the disintegration of family and community bonds and a profound environmental insult on our very neurological wiring.
“It’s clearly ominous for any individual and for society as a whole to have our brain’s capacity to process experience first impaired by toxins and then overwhelmed by sensory and informational input.
“Is there a genetically conserved human ‘nature’ that retains genuine impulses – or are we witnessing a threshold disintegration of that human ‘nature’?”
– Dr. Martha Herbert
New Forms of Violence Threaten America
Much has changed since America was founded more than two centuries ago. The United States has since become the predominate national power on Earth, and today the American scene is full of many wonders. There is, however, something wrong with this picture.
Although today’s younger generations are among history’s most fortunate, nonetheless they are under attack, as we all are. A subtle yet deadly invasion is taking place at the cellular level: one that targets our neurological, hormone, and immune systems. One that has penetrated our last lines of defense: the blood-brain-barrier and the placenta.
“Another legacy of the chemical industry: the invasion of the inner environment of all animals on Earth, including humans.
“The endocrine system also controls reproduction and thus assured the integrity and survival of species since life first evolved on Earth – until humankind unwittingly produced synthetic chemicals that invade the security of the womb and create dissonance rather than harmony.
“Peace begins in the womb. The newborn reflects this truth. Order is transferred from cell to tissue, to organs, to organisms, to families, communities, and nations. Unfortunately, when development is violated in the womb by man-made chemicals, the newborn is compromised. For animals in the wild, their survival is threatened. They can disappear without our ever knowing why. For humans, such exposure can lead to reduced intelligence, discontent, failure, and the inability to socially integrate. Man-made chemicals deprive societies of responsible leaders and thinkers. The social and economic impacts are incalculable. Widespread loss of security in the womb can lead to loss of stability at the national and international level.”
– Theo Colborn
Ms. Colborn is coauthor of Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? – A Scientific Detective Story. Her book documents how endocrine-disrupting chemicals are the perpetrators of a devastating, multigenerational violence to human and animal life.
The United States is like a fleet of 50 ships. If one ship caught fire, the fleet would come to its rescue – throw its passengers a lifeline – no matter if the fire had started in that ship’s engine room or from a missile strike. The fleet would provide whatever was necessary to protect the passengers and crew.
Broadly interpreting “violence,” the framers of the Constitution included Article IV, Section 4 so that people in each state could rely on the full strength of their United States to protect them from harm that threatens their safety.
Today this includes modern forms of violence, because the framers allowed for future possibilities when they wrote the Constitution.
This is not about a current Administration’s policies. Nor about a federal government that is itself often the problem. It is about We the People – our right and responsibility to protect each other.
The most important reason why people form a government is for safety and protection. Even the word government originates from an ancient word meaning “to steer or pilot,” as with a ship or an airplane. First and foremost, our American ship of state must be guided safely toward its destination.
What is America’s Goal?
According to the Declaration of Independence, it is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Furthermore, it is the “Right of the People” to organize their government so its powers are “most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
According to the Constitution,. “We, the People of the United States” are to:
Form a more perfect union
Insure domestic tranquility
Provide for the common defense
Promote the general welfare
Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
All of these goals require one important thing: a government with the power to protect its citizens. The people who created the government of the United States understood this, and they spelled it out clearly in Article IV, Section 4, which essentially says: The United States shall protect us against violence.
What is Violence?
Violence is whatever violates a person. It is not limited to war or terrorism. It comes in many forms: a rifle butt or bullet to the head; neurotoxins or heavy metals that kill brain cells.
Violence is any harm done to someone or to a group of people. Today, it can be caused by biological weapons, nuclear contamination, or chemical pollution. Contaminated food, water, or air are all forms of violence that can threaten safety and life – some more slowly and subtly than others.
Foresight and Provision
The framers wrote the Constitution knowing that America would be a very different place in the future. They used language that would make sense in centuries to come. Because they understood human nature and knew we are our own worst enemy, they made sure that the Constitution provided a legal way for us to protect ourselves, even from self-inflicted harms.
They realized that danger could originate from inside our borders as well as from outside. Therefore, no matter the source of violence threatening the safety of Americans, they gave the federal government the power to protect – and the obligation to do so.
Heart of the Constitution
Article IV, Section 4 was not an afterthought. It is not an Amendment to the Constitution. It is the essential rationale for our federal government’s very existence. The intention and responsibility expressed in this clause is at the core the U.S. Constitution.
From his study of the Constitutional Convention, former environmental attorney Michael Diamond sees in the domestic violence clause even more than the lifeline that ensures our basic need for safety. It also embodies the fundamental responsibility we have toward one another.
The United States (We) Shall Protect Us
In a sense, Article IV, Section 4 is a “Bill of Responsibilities” – a counterpoint to the Bill of Rights that followed. Today, we demand our rights as Americans, but overlook our responsibilities.
This is not about a government that is so often counterproductive, incompetent, or corrupt. It is not about anonymous bureaucrats making irresponsible or selfish decisions.
A United People Protect Each Other
It is about a national team effort to protect each other. We the people have been given the mandate to determine the action needed to ensure our own safety. If we unite.
Diamond cautions that “representational government (as we have it) without citizen involvement insures failure. Every person and every organization must devote some portion of every day to assuring survival in this environmental crisis. There can be no passengers – only crew – on a sinking ship.”
This clause can “become the glue that allows people to come together as one to change the face of this country and world. . . It is the means by which we can change this greed-driven world to one of love and concern as we put into effect the obligation of us all, using Article IV, Section 4, to care for and protect each other.”
Never before has humanity faced the new forms of violence that assault us today, but there’s no doubt that the founders would point to the lifeline they left us and say, “Here is the power to protect yourselves. Use it!”
The Domestic Violence Clause
in Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”
The U.S. Supreme Court said it’s the people of the states who are guaranteed this protection (Texas v. White, 1868).
Constitutional Origin of the Domestic Violence Clause
Your domestic violence clause was not an afterthought tucked into one of the back sections of the Constitution for a small purpose. It was the very centerpiece of the Constitution.
On May 29, 1787, the very first day of business at the Constitutional Convention, the first speaker’s most vehement point was the need to have a central government strong enough to assure survival in the face of threats both domestic and foreign. (Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government was a toothless tiger.)
Other delegates agreed and decided to go beyond their instructions to simply amend the Articles of Confederation. They then began to construct a new central government – one that had as its main purpose the fulfillment of the obligations imposed by Article IV, Section 4: to protect us against both foreign invasion and domestic violence.
Alexander Hamilton considered domestic dangers “more alarming than the arms and arts of foreign nations,” and that the entire resources of the nation are to be made available to deal with a condition of domestic violence. Spending – for whatever danger was at hand – “ought to know no other bounds than the exigencies of the nation and the resources of the community.”
In James Madison’s Notes of Debates (Ohio Univ. Press, 1984), there is no indication that the framers intended Art. IV, Sec. 4 to be limited to temporary insurrections and massive criminal assaults.
At the convention on August 30, 1787, a motion was made to strike out “domestic violence” and insert in its place the term “insurrections.” That motion was defeated. They did not want to limit the federal obligation to any particular type of event. (Page 560 of the Notes.)
Violence was clearly intended to mean more than just rebellions or physical challenge to government.
We’re left with the generic phrase domestic violence. Isn’t it for us to determine what form the danger has taken? Whether that danger is characterized as slow or fast, or as criminal or legal, is beside the point. Those are distinctions without a difference.
If a bullet is speeding toward your heart, it doesn’t matter whether the trigger was pulled by criminal design or by accident. Action is necessary. Response has to be shaped by the nature of the peril.
“All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reaches us, it must spring up amongst us. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.” – Abraham Lincoln
The Domestic Violence Clause in the U. S. Constitution
The Worldwatch Institute Report of 1987 aptly noted that we are the first generation in the history of the world to be “faced with decisions that will determine whether the earth our children inherit will be inhabitable.” Thirty-five years of modern environmental laws have not made us appreciably safer. Stronger measures must be taken to overcome the barriers to survival.
The concept of stronger measures to meet a crisis is best understood by our World War II experience. The United States was invaded by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941. The federal government became obliged “to protect” us “against invasion,” in accordance with Article IV, Section 4 of the U. S. Constitution. The economy was commandeered by the federal government to produce war materiel. Individuals were drafted to serve in the military. We could not have carried out a sustained war effort if producing tanks and soldiering were optional.
The environmental threat we are facing today is many times more dangerous than that posed by the Japanese Empire in 1941. Nations have invaded one another for thousands of years. Never before has Earth itself been so burdened that it may be uninhabitable for our children.
The framers of the Constitution knew that danger might come from the harm we would bring upon ourselves. They ordered the federal government to “protect” the people from “domestic violence” as well as from “invasion.” It is the constitutional obligation of the people in the federal government to use whatever power is necessary to deal effectively with both threats.
At present, there are two major political parties in the United States. Neither of them can carry out an initiative under the domestic violence clause. The Republicans mistrust government, abhor interference with the business community, and view personal liberties as sacrosanct. Three-quarters of the elected Democrats are indistinguishable from Republicans. Most of the rest will take whatever positions they think necessary to win the next election. Both political parties are married to the corporate and propertied interests.
Survival requires the people to form a new party to carry out the constitutional mandate of protecting us from environmental domestic violence. Forming an effective party is not difficult if the issue upon which it is based is sound. The Republican Party was created in the mid-eighteen hundreds by a small group of northerners who felt it was immoral to allow slavery into the territories.
Only by massing support for the use of Article IV, Section 4 power can we curtail all impediments to survival – all barriers to making sure that the Earth our children inherit will be inhabitable.
Abraham Lincoln addressed Congress in 1862 and proposed the emancipation of slaves as a necessary step toward peace during the Civil War. It was a bold step at the time, made necessary because, he said, “The dogmas of the past are inadequate to the stormy present… As our case is new, so must we think anew.” He closed his remarks with the prophetic statement, “We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.”
People are one imaginative step away from understanding how easy it will be to take over the seats and the direction of government. People are one imaginative step away from seeing their efforts unified by a vision of civic responsibility around survival and the domestic violence clause.
If our elected representatives now occupying the seats of government will not protect us – as the Constitution directs – then we have no choice other than to replace them with new representatives who will.