The source of the Constitution of Pax

OrangeTreeAs I was writing the novel Semiosis, I realized that the colony would need a Constitution (read it here), and it would have an influence on the plot. I also knew that writing a constitution from scratch would be tedious, but perhaps I could copy one. The United States has its Constitution, which I’d studied in school; it has some interesting, specific peculiarities. Roberts Rules of Order offers a model constitution/bylaws, brief and generic. I was searching for one that could suggest some of the aspirations that the Pax settlers could share — and I had an idea.

My religious faith is Unitarian Universalist. The Unitarian Universalist Association, our national organization, has a set of bylaws. I took a look (available here as a pdf). At 28 pages of mind-numbing detail, it was way too long and specific for my little colony, but it expressed the right high aspirations.

My UU friends who have read the excerpts that head the chapters in Semiosis know that I shamelessly plagiarized parts of the UUA Article II as the Pax Article II.

Here’s the Pax version:

ARTICLE II Principles and Purposes
We, the citizens of Pax, covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all sentient beings and of the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part; justice, equity and compassion in our relations with one another; the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our Commonwealth; the goal of community with hope, peace, and freedom for all. Grateful for this opportunity to create a new society in full harmony with nature, we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.

The UUA:

ARTICLE II Principles and Purposes
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: The inherent worth and dignity of every person; Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; A free and responsible search for truth and meaning; The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all; Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.

I also used other parts of the bylaws as a general template for Pax’s mind-numbing details of committees, meetings, quorums, and rules. One obvious bit of plagiarism: the title of “moderator” as the presiding officer of the General Assembly. It sounds so gentle — moderate, even. For the record, no UUA moderator has ever been a mass murderer. On Pax, things didn’t always go so well. High aspirations will only get you so far on a distant planet during a terrifying fight for survival.

 

 

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