Reflections on What Could Have Been
by Art Helms
I remember the first time I heard “litmus test” used in a sentence. The reason I remember it is that my all-time favorite school teacher, Mrs. Schwartzwalter, used it in our fifth grade history class on our American Constitution. First, she read the words of the preamble. Her reading was slow, and deliberate, as if to imply that this was her most treasured teaching.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
After a few minutes of interpreting, and explaining word meanings, she asked if we understood the basic purpose of those particular words, as related to the whole of the Constitution, and to our form of government.