Vol. I No. 07 11/1/2020
Respect, Civility and the Social Contract
by Roxanne McCaffrey
In these troubling times we need to remember the underpinnings of our democratic republic and renew our social contract.
A number of documents influenced our Constitution; the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact and Common Sense by Thomas Payne, to name a few, along with John Locke's philosophy of a social contract.
The Mayflower carried 102 passengers all of whom were NOT Pilgrims. When their impending landfall was north of their intended destination, dissention broke out between the Pilgrims and the "Strangers" regarding their legal position. The result was the Mayflower Compact, the heart of which follows:
"…Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."
The promise of "All due submission and obedience" emphasizes the right of the majority rule for the general good and subsequent respect for the majority decision.
The Mayflower Compact was a successful foray into democratic rule for those early colonists in New England.
Respect for dissenting opinions appears to have evaporated recently; fear, loathing and distrust being the replacements.
Had the passengers on the Mayflower allowed fear and distrust to rule, would the United States be in existence today?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a direct Mayflower descendant, said it best: the "Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself"
Readers, please do not succumb to eruptions of chaos, distrust, disrespect and fear.
Renew our social contract.
Form your OWN opinions, RESPECT THOSE OF OTHERS; exercise your right and perform your civic responsibility — VOTE.
Editor's Note: Roxanne is a member of the Stockbridge Select Board