On September 17, 1787 the US Constitution — without the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments — was adopted and signed by the Philadelphia Convention. By July 1788 eleven of the states had adopted the new constitution.
North Carolina adopted the Constitution in late 1789 and Rhode Island joined the system, by a narrow vote, in May 1790. Each had waited for adoption of the Bill of Rights.
Unlike many national constitutions, the US document is short, sets out a basic structure, a few simple rules, and is silent on most details. As such American constitutional principles have been an effective attractor of meaning for a complex adaptive system.
In another setting I have recommended a homeland security oath that gives primacy to the Constitution:
I resolve to fulfill according to my ability and judgment this public commitment:
I will preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America.
I will apply all that I know to preserve and protect the people of the United States; I will keep them from harm and injustice.
I will increase my knowledge of threat, vulnerability, and consequence; seeking to deal responsibly and realistically with risk.
I will increase my knowledge of collaboration, deliberation, decision, and action; seeking to prevent harm and strengthen resilience.
I will honor the relationships that emerge from shared learning and doing.
I will embrace change and variability as susceptible to understanding, imagination, and creativity.
I will avoid mistaking personal preference for considered judgment and will daily endeavor to strengthen the humility, knowledge, awareness, and discipline whereby I may contribute, along with others, to a true and reasoned capacity to act with regard to what is good or bad for humankind.
The homeland we seek to secure has emerged from the Constitution. The homeland’s physical aspects have changed dramatically over time. What has largely persisted is the set of principles, simple rules, and relationships set out in the Constitution. The founders put in place effective processes for a certain sort of coming-to-be.
The profession of homeland security should not impede the ability of the people to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Fundamental to being a homeland security professional in the United States should be to do no harm to the Constitution.