‘To Form a More Perfect Union’

by Ann Robson


Each Fourth of July gives us an opportunity to dwell, however briefly, on the documents that transformed 13 British colonies into the United States of America. This year, the words from the Preamble to the Constitution “to form a more perfect union” seem particularly appropriate.

We don’t seem to be unified about much these days. The ‘sling and arrows of outrageous fortune’ are being flung about in all corners of our lives.

What has happened to us?

Our union seems anything but perfect. We are not united about many things. Groups are angry with each other. Individuals are angry with each other and seem to have forgotten how to have a civil disagreement. We no longer seem to be able to agree to disagree on some issues. Then we need to ask ourselves are our disagreements worth a friendship?

Our founding fathers spent countless hours trying to get the Preamble just right so that their constituents would understand why we were to become a separate, sovereign nation. Historians have pointed out that the term “to form a more perfect union” was a goal. They did not expect perfection overnight, but now that it’s been 241 years, one would hope that we would be closer to the goal of being united.

There’s plenty of blame to go around—inflammatory rhetoric, “gotcha” journalism, lack of civility, tunnel vision—all excuses for our disunity. This should not be a blame game. Rather, shouldn’t we be talking to our neighbors and trying to bring back politeness toward and respect for the other?

So what can we do?

Each of us has the power to bring unity to our part of life. We can replace anger with calm. We can take a long, hard look at what we are saying and doing in front of our children. They learn quickly from watching us.

We need not perpetuate the uneasiness many of us feel. We can help them build a more perfect union, breaking the cycle of a nation of me-first and getting to the togetherness we need.

There are hundreds of groups and individuals trying to make a positive difference in their lives and the lives of others. They show us our better sides and give us opportunities to let the goodness grow. This July Fourth, let’s pay tribute to our first responders, our military, and those who care for others, and pray for those who have the responsibility of governing at all levels so that a more perfect union will begin with them.


Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She can be reached at overmyshoulder@charter.net