A Palisadian Perspective
By MARYAM ZAR | Contributing Writer
Last year I was asked to help judge the Area Oratorical Contest of high school-aged kids arguing the Constitution at the American Legion Post in Pacific Palisades.
It was my first time being involved in this 70-plus-year tradition, and I was tense about my own skill to judge something so lofty as researched arguments on some aspect of our Constitution.
As an immigrant, the U.S. Constitution is something I admire. It is a document I’ve studied—perhaps more intently than most—and have toiled to understand in order to comprehend its timeless application to an ever-evolving world.
Those of us who come to this country from lands without fair founding documents that have been infinitely thought out to stand the test of time and withstand the corruption that comes with it appreciate the blueprint of America in an authentic way. We know what it looks like when no such document exists, or where there are no checks and balances to make sure it’s followed.
But I did OK that year, and met a few other local judges I came to learn from and admire.
This year, I was asked to judge again and relished the chance, now with new-found confidence that I was up to the task—an old pro perhaps.
This year, the main point of presentation was focused on the inherent spirit of compromise built into the Constitution. Who knew that in this moment of our American history, when compromise seems so hard to attain by our leaders, we’d learn that our Constitution was written not only to encourage it, but to thrive on it in order to persist?
The ultimate winner of the oratorical contest on the day I was sitting in the role of judge argued that in fact, the constitution was begotten through the spirit of compromise at the Constitutional Convention, where men vehemently disagreed, but came together for the common good as Founding Fathers and drafted a compromise agreement that has guided Americans since.
That document has rendered us the beacon of hope around the globe. It has bestowed us with the lofty accolade of being a free people and has presented us on a moral high ground for centuries.
As we stand at the precipice of modern living in ways our founders could never have foretold, we still look to the constitution for guidance, and we count on it to enable the compromises that keep us morning forward, yet ground us to the tenets we were founded upon.
I found myself dabbing my eyes as the young presenters spoke so knowledgeably about the founding principles upon which they can build their future. I could not have been more thankful to have been among the people sitting in that hall, contemplating the virtues of our way of life, codified in laws and guaranteed by a 100s-year-old document that we all can agree holds the promise to guide us for centuries to come.
Daniella Wilson, who won the regional level American Legion Oratorical Contest contest held in Pacific Palisades, has won the Area 6 competition on Sunday, February 23, at the Hollywood Post. She moves on to the Department of California State level finals in Clovis.