Again and again I hear people quote the Constitution. Yes, in the intensity of these times we seek out guidance; we flail for familiarity and buoyancy. And yes, the document does, allegedly, hold us to some form of democracy and law. Even the more anarchic among us might look to it, now, at the blustering in of untamed and imperious tyranny.

But we need to wield it in the right ways.

Again, at an event this week, I heard another well-intentioned liberal assert that the Constitution is the backbone of our beautiful country, an inspiration to millions. More or less what makes America great.

Its promises — the formation of a more perfect union, or the establishment of justice, that all men are created equal or a defense or welfare that is a common provision to all — are so blatantly disregarded in our society, and always have been, that it doesn’t need to be the torch that those looking for change ignite in dark times.

For hundreds of years, others have been saying the words that need to be studied and referenced. And everyday beautiful new speeches are made. We need to hear and quote one another, specifically people of color, LGBT folks, immigrants and refugees and any other marginalized people upon whose deaf ears these worn promises weakly fall.

If we do not recognize, publicly and repeatedly, the contradictions present at this country’s violent birth, the shameful privileges and limitations, we resign ourselves to ignore false justifications for today’s dangerous political declarations. If we do not recognize the ancient contradictions ever present around us, we are ignoring those in our communities who have never imagined the words coming true.

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