The National Covenant of Obligation

Our contemporary Western social contract is a product of centuries of, largely Anglo Celtic, agitation for political freedoms. Out of this agitation emerged various charters, manifestos and constitutions providing the basis for modern representative government.  These included the Constitution of the United States of America. [Monday 17 September 1787].

Like many written documents that endeavour or purport to include the constitutional realities of the age, or indeed of future ages, it was soon found deficient.   

Thus only four years later it was amended to include ten amendments. These became known as The Bill of Rights [15 December 1791]. There have been subsequent amendments to this constitution, the total now being twenty-seven and the last being in 1992.

Political freedoms imply rights. Such were missing from the Constitution, so they were added. Doubtless more will be added in time and doubtless there will be continued debate as to the desirability of some already included. Therein lies the political dynamic.

Following however Thomas Hobbes [1589-1679], the English philosopher and writer on kingship and limitations on political power, political freedoms also imply ‘obligations’.  These being, the obligations of the state to the individual, and the individual to the state.

The ideal behind this contract was plagiarised blithely by U.S. President John Kennedy from his old headmaster: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.[1]

Ironically, Kennedy’s inauguration speech marked the current age that has proved to be diametrically opposed to his rhetoric. Since the early 1960s, the Western World has been focussed on political and individual rights at the expense of individual obligations and responsibilities. This quasi-Aquarian Age has also clearly posited the individual as being at the centre of the universe.  

This has, in my view, skewed the social contract. Rights are no more important than obligations. One cannot exist without the other. Simply put: one individual’s right to walk abroad un-molested is meaningless unless his fellow citizen observes his obligation to observe his part of the social contract granting the other the freedom to do so.

It is therefore my contention that ‘we citizens’ [si cives [L] should re-visit the notion of duty, obligation and responsibilities to the state, to each other and perhaps even to God.

To this end, I have drawn up a draft “Bill of Obligations” using my own country, the Commonwealth of Australia, as a model. I call this The National Covenant of Obligation.

This is very much my first draft scratched out on Christmas night. It will be the first of many such drafts. I intend the final product to be written in plain English, free from the odium of legal jargon. This final manuscript I intend to feed into the political mix to leaven the impetus for a Bill of Rights.

At this point I invite you to contribute. I offer this draft to you for your thoughts, your discussion, criticism and above all, consideration within the broader context of the selfish mess that we call the politics of today. Please feel free to metaphorically tear it up and throw it at me; criticise it; add to it; subtract from it – whatever.   But please don’t ignore it – that would make me sad.

G-d Bless you.  

 

 

The National Covenant of Obligation

The Commonwealth of Australia

 

In accepting the indivisibility of the Commonwealth of Australia – its country, its people, its laws and governance and its sovereignty, I recognise my obligations to:

 

  1. Be a good citizen of the Commonwealth

  2. Accept this citizenship as a privilege inherited or granted

  3. Respect fellow citizens irrespective of gender, colour or creed and to accept that all citizens stand equal before the nation

  4. Accept that the Commonwealth is a democratic society and that the decisions of the people being the electorate are immutable

  5. Accept and abide by the principle ‘one country one law’

  6. Live within the constraints of all duly constituted laws and statutes

  7. Accept the decisions of the courts of law and duly constituted processes of arbitration

  8. Live as a peaceable citizen and not to engage in any provocative, violent or riotous behaviour

  9. Not to engage in treasonous or subversive behaviour designed to destabilise the Commonwealth though force of arms, political violence and the dissemination of violent creeds and ideologies

  10.  Not to engage in any behaviour of a criminal nature

  11.  Accept responsibility to serve in the defence of the Commonwealth as directed by lawful authority unless precluded from doing so because of physical disability or compelling religious or familial reason

  12.  Respect the integrity of the one and only National Flag as the symbol of the Commonwealth

  13.  Respect all religious observances and customs provided they accord with the paramount secular laws of the Commonwealth

  14.  Respect the opinions of all citizens and their right to express them in a peaceable manner

  15.  Accept English as the national language of the Commonwealth and the responsibility of all citizens to learn and communicate in such