MC observes Constitution Day 2020 with Fit.Green.Happy.-themed event

MC observes Constitution Day 2020 with Fit.Green.Happy.®-themed event

Sept. 8, 2020

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

The Fit.Green.Happy.®-themed event, which will include a lecture and yoga/meditation activity, is part of Maryville College’s observance of the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution. The event will begin at 12:25 p.m. in the Anderson Hall Outdoor Classroom, with a brief, 15-minute educational program about the U.S. Constitution. Following the presentation, participants will take a short walk across campus to Crawford House for a yoga and meditation workshop led by certified instructor Wendy Guillaume ’81. The event 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 ’76 and Tyson Murphy ’03.

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.

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 a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”