MC observes Constitution Day 2019

MC observes Constitution Day 2019

Sept. 10, 2019

Members of the Maryville College and local community are invited to participate in “Constitution Day Constitutional” on Tues., Sept. 17, 2019.

The Fit. Green. Happy.®-themed event, which will include a lecture and yoga/meditation activity, is part of Maryville College’s observance of the 232nd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. The event will begin at 12:25 p.m. in Room 140 of Anderson Hall, with a brief, 15-minute lecture. Following the lecture, participants will take a short walk across campus to Crawford House for a yoga and meditation workshop, which will conclude by 1:15 p.m.

But what does Constitution Day have to do with Fit. Green. Happy.®? Or yoga and meditation?

“Actually, a lot,” said Dr. Doug Sofer, Maryville College associate professor of history. Sofer is organizing the event, along with Mountain Challenge’s Bruce Guillaume and Tyson Murphy.

Fit. Green. Happy.® is a program that describes the strong connections between the Mountain Challenge program, Maryville College’s academic departments and courses and its location. It focuses on improving the fitness of the Maryville College community, getting people outdoors, contributing to environmental sustainability and fostering happiness.

“The framers of the Constitution came out of an Enlightenment tradition that believed that having a good society was ultimately a question of balance and symmetry,” Sofer explained. “They saw societies as akin to human bodies for whom symmetry and balance are critically important.

“The Constitution famously embodies this kind of balance,” he continued. “The founders in Philadelphia in 1787 believed that the executive branch should be neither too strong nor too weak. They held that government should not abuse coercive power, but still be able to act quickly with force in order to defend the republic. They believed in different branches of government in equal balance with one another offsetting each other part’s power. Furthermore, this ideal was deeply embedded in their lives, far beyond the Constitution. They believed that any good government needed to balance lofty, noble ideals with ugly, practical necessities. Even the founders' houses were symmetrical, typical of the Georgian architectural style of their day. Most important, they were building from a long European tradition that saw society as a kind of body that had to be kept in balance in the same way that a body needed to be kept balanced.”

Connecting Maryville College’s Constitution Day observance to Fit. Green. Happy.® made sense, Sofer said, adding the following points:

  • Fitness too is about balance, about balancing diets, not only with kinds of foods but about finding balance between too much and too little. It’s about finding personal balances between work and play, abstinence and overindulgence, being sedentary and overtaxed; hot and cold.
  • Being green is also about finding an appropriate balance between human needs and the needs of the planet. We require natural resources to survive and thrive, but consuming too much or doing so without thinking of the consequences results in disaster.
  • Happiness is ultimately about finding harmony—a kind of balance. Enlightenment concepts of finding happiness may have been best expressed in the Declaration of Independence. In it, Jefferson deliberately altered John Locke’s argument that people have natural rights to “life, liberty and property” and replaced the final concept with “pursuit of happiness.” In the conception of the Founders, happiness seemed to be connected with living a moral life in which all parts of society are working together in harmony.

During the Sept. 17 event, all participants will receive a free copy of the Constitution, and red, white and blue fruit will be served.

The Constitution Day celebration became an annual event at Maryville College and colleges and universities across the country in 2005, when Congress passed legislation declaring that “each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.”

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2019 semester is 1,148.