Have you ever made a decision then later thought that I could have done that differently? However, at the time, you were pleased with your choice. The aftermath of some decisions require new and improved ones to be made. So how did we get it wrong the first time? We didn’t. The choice we made, was the best one based on the information we had available at the time. When you gain more information, knowledge, and experience, you can make better or different decisions. 

As we celebrate the 4th of July, what better example to use to illustrate our point than the formation of the Constitution. It did not start out as the Constitution that we know today. Let’s do a quick history review.

British America comprised the American territories of the British Empire beginning in 1607. The United States went to war with Britain to gain its freedom (The War of Independence 1776). No longer under Britain’s rule, the country needed its own governance. The 13 original colonies created the Articles of Confederation. 

The purpose of the Articles of Confederation was to plan the structure of the new government. Determined not to be so tightly governed, like a pendulum, the states swung too far in the opposite direction. A natural response to being over-controlled was to become under-controlled. The Articles of Confederation had several flaws:

  • Congress could not regulate trade
  • No uniform system of currency
  • No power of taxation

In light of the mistakes made by the Articles of Confederation, the colonies returned to the drawing board to create a new and improved system of governance. The Constitution written in 1787, was an attempt to correct the shortcomings of the Articles. Since its inception, it has been amended 27 times. The first 10 Amendments are called the Bill of Rights. The purpose of these 10 Amendments was to protect the individuals of the United States–protect their rights to property, their natural rights as individuals, and to limit the Government’s power over the citizens.

As we celebrate the 4th of July for, let it also serve as an illustration that the more you know, the better the choices you can make. The Articles of Confederation was an effort to improve governance after Britain’s tight reign. Realizing its flaws, the Constitution was written. After implementing its laws, improvements were still needed, so the Bill of Rights was attached.

We make decisions with the information we have at hand. If those judgments have unforeseen ramifications, we can change or modify them as often as needed to arrive at preferred outcomes. 

This formula works in a plethora of situations, some as complex as community planning, or as simple as buying new clothes. Adjustments may be needed in both situations. Pick your situation, plug in the theory, and as you gain new knowledge and information… modify as needed!

Frances Goddard, LCSW, BCD
Diane Harvey, LCSW