“Monday Musings” for Monday September 16, 2013
Volume III, No. 35/129
Constitution Day, Supremacy of the Rule of Law,
What Makes America Great?
By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*
226 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the founding fathers of our beloved Republic singed the sacred document we know and cherish as the US Constitution. Thereby they gave birth to America. They gave birth to our great nation. No, America is not great because of its prosperity. It is not great because of the proverbial “American dream” of a brick home with a two car garage. It is not great because it gives us security, opportunity, and order. And it is not great because of its advanced technology, and the number of Nobel Laureates it produces in science, medicine, literature and humanities. America is great because it is a nation of laws and its absolute commitment to the uphold and maintain the supremacy of the rule of law. Today, the Constitution Day, it is fitting to take a psychological scalpel and dissect what goes into the grandeur of America’s reverential devotion to upholding the rule of law. I am selecting two cases, one national and one local. They dramatically and eloquently tell us the story of America.
On the national scene, there is an ongoing trial of psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan who by his own admission in a rampage on November 5, 2009 killed 13 and wounded 32 of his fellow soldiers at his Texas military base. Recently, speaking on his own behalf in the court he said “The evidence will clearly show that I am the shooter.” Major Hasan is paralyzed below chest. He requires special medical attention at Brooke Army Medical Center. He is incontinent and in need of round the clock nursing care and rehabilitation. Also, there is a special security team assigned to protect his life- day and night. He was tried in a specially fortified court room. Sources familiar with his care report that Major Hasan’s security detail rivals that of the President. For example, when he is transported back and forth to court, a helicopter and bullet proof cars are used to ensure his safety. The cost is in the millions. Besides, since November 5, 2009, he has been paid a salary of $278.000 in addition to $78,000 for housing allowance. Yes, the majesty of the supremacy of the rule of law in the beloved land of America is dramatically demonstrated by how we are treating an admitted killer. American dream is not the proverbial brick house with two car garage, vacation homes, technology, and prosperity. It is the US laws, its sacred Constitution, the sacrifice of the founding fathers who gave us our Republic are the muscles, bones, and spirit of American Dream. The supremacy of the rule of law and not the whims of a dictator, a king, a Shah, or an Ayatollah is the basic foundation of the majesty of American democracy.
On the local scene, a couple of years ago, with astonishment and awe, I sat and watched the court proceedings of the former NC Governor Michael Easley on television- astonished, because a former Chief Executive Officer of a sovereign state was being sentenced, and in awe, because of the unshakable and uncompromising supremacy of the rule of law in America. America from time to time may go down financially, retrenched economically, and our state may have a three billion dollar budget deficit, but nowhere on earth the sanctity and supremacy of the rule of law are so cherished and enshrined in the nation’s psyche as they are in America.
God has blessed our beloved nation, the United States of America, and we are blessed to be Americans.
*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.