The language and substance of our constitutions and declarations has a deep impact on our psyche.
To that end, much of Pakistan’s tendency toward extremism is traceable to 1974, when an odious constitutional amendment declared millions of Ahmadis (a sect of Islam) as non-Muslims. A decade later, the state passed Ordinance XX to make it punishable by law for an Ahmadi Muslim to discuss his faith in public, identify his place of worship as a mosque, or even convey the Islamic greeting of peace. This constitutional amendment has also inflicted significant injury on Pakistan’s Christian and Hindu minorities.
Pakistan’s constitutional inequality not only classified millions as second grade citizens but it also poisoned the masses. Today, a ten-minute inflammatory sermon can make many feel obligated to kill a neighbor belonging to a minority group.
So it’s natural for me to note how our US Constitution sweetens the American psyche towards the principles of equality, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness championed in the Declaration of Independence. Even though more than 80 percent of Americans attest to an incomplete understanding of our Constitution (according to a 2011 Time Magazine poll), this document and the principles it establishes instill tolerance for “the different” in our minds.