Way back in the real life Downton Abby days, the English had a curious expression used to describe something especially perfect or complete. They would say that such and such a thing was “to the nines.”
This seems to be a reference to a classical category known as “the Nine Worthies” who were a collection of various historical and mythological figures deemed to be especially honorable and heroic. This list includes men like Alexander the Great, Moses, and King Arthur (for a list of the Nine Worthies click here).
Yet in many respects, two of the most famous “Things Named Nine” exist because people are, generally speaking, dishonorable and unworthy of carrying King Arthur’s jock.
Here I am thinking primarily of both the 9th Commandment recorded in Exodus 20:16 and the 9th Amendment recorded in the United States Constitution.
These two nines (I’m driving numerology people nuts right now) are basically rooted in the problem of injustice. The 9th amendment exists because the nation’s founders feared that by enumerating exceptions to the federal government’s powers in via the Bill of Rights, some future generations might infer that the government held power over anything the Bill of Rights did not explicitly name. In other words, the 9th amendment exists because governments tend to consolidate power and invariably veer toward tyrannical control over people’s lives. Therefore James Madison introduced the 9th amendment to the constitution which reads:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The 9th commandment exists because people are tempted toward dishonesty. Commonly converted in children’s bibles as the “Thou Shall Not Lie” commandment, the real 9th commandment reads as follows:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Add 9+9 and you get 18. Since there are 2 of these statements, we add 2 to 18 and wind up with 20. Which explains in perfect numerological gibberish why in the year 2020 the 9th amendment and 9th commandment have become so relevant! Of course this whole paragraph is a total farce but one I could not resist.
In all seriousness, the 9th commandment and the 9th amendment are, for whatever reason, extraordinarily relevant to the experience we all now simply refer to as “the 2020.”
The 9th amendment is relevant to our “2020 experience” because this truly has been the year of jump the shark government overreach. It would have been quite interesting to try to tell James Madison what to put on his face before he could walk into Walmart and even more interesting to tell Alexander Hamilton whether or not he was an essential worker. Whether you like or dislike the shutdowns, mask requirements, and so forth, there is very little doubt that thanks to this year, the 9th amendment has officially been both spayed and neutered.
The 9th commandment is relevant to our “2020 experience” because people are now officially emboldened to make potentially false assertions about others and fear zero consequences for doing so.
In some respects, both the 9th commandment and 9th amendment are anti-Karen in nature. One is created for the Karen next door and the other is written for the Karen in public office (I feel bad using the Karen nomenclature because all the Karens I know are great ladies and I imagine they are fed up with the whole thing. I only use it here reluctantly to save the reader a great deal of words to read. We all know what is meant by the term Karen).
Can We Just Let The Nines Be “The Nines?”
If it were up to me, I’d like to leave my future grandchildren (Lord willing) a world where both of these “nines” remained as beautifully intact as they were when I found them. I can do my best to preserve the 9th amendment for those future tykes by bearing my civic duty to be joyfully obstinate towards its violators.
I can do my best to preserve reverence for the 9th commandment by encouraging others to guard their tongue and by refusing personally to talk out of my ass.
Some Christians on social media are correctly reminding the Trumpians to be careful when alleging “voter fraud” without serious evidence. This is a perfectly reasonable application of the 9th commandment. People should resist the temptation to ascribe to malice that which can be attributed to incompetency. The average citizen may never know if there was serious voter fraud at work in the 2020 national elections. We certainly are not in a position, from our view in the electoral cheap seats, to make that call right now. If I am wrong about that, then by all means say what you will and provide the evidence.
For my part, to make the charge of systemic fraud with the evidence I have (and understand), would be a clear violation of the 9th commandment and I ain’t gonna do it. God hates that sort of thing and, it should be noted, he hates that sort of thing for many good reasons, including the way those sorts of hair-trigger judgments tend to make the world seem even worse than it really is. A constant violation of the 9th commandment toward the government causes individuals to lose trust in their government and the rule of law and will invariably lead to more pain and suffering in unforeseen ways.
This rule also applies to videos of violent encounters between police and men like George Floyd and Jacob Blake. And it also applies to alleging systemic police brutality or calling the president a racist.
Our view on those matters are just as limited and constrained in perspective as the redstate bro who is right now yelling “fraud!” at the television and the damage inflicted upon society is just as serious and perhaps more so.
It is not difficult to imagine how a large number of uninformed people claiming systemic voter fraud might incite riots. Do you know why that isn’t difficult to imagine? Because we have already seen a large number of uninformed claims of systemic police brutality cause riots. So let’s swing our discernment sword in both directions. In fact, while I’m dreaming of a better world, it’d be really swell if we spoke to both forms of 9th commandment violation whenever we saw them and did so with equal vigor!
In regards to the 9th amendment, there is a way to guard that precious law in a manner that winds up violating the 9th commandment and there is a way to guard the amendment that honors and keeps the commandment.
When I allege government violation of the 9th amendment, I do so because it has occurred and is occurring. I am speaking of something provable. The law is pretty dang clear.
Yet, if I were to ascribe motive as to why the government is violating the amendment, I would be breaking the commandment in defense of the amendment. No good.
On the other hand, my assertion that the amendment is being violated ought not need be rejoined with assertions that I am somehow unloving toward old people or my neighbor or am indifferent to my witness to the lost. Those who value the 9th commandment would never do such a thing.