As an American Citizen, it is wise to contemplate what you see on the back of a dollar bill. What does the Great Seal mean? Why was it enshrined in our early US Government? Does it still hold the same meaning in popular society today? How did it get hijacked by conspiracy nuts? What the hell are those cryptic Latin words?
A quick search on Wikipedia finds how wrong we have our general notions. “Novus Ordo Seclorum” was proposed by Charles Thomson. It literally translates to “A New Order of the Ages”. This is far more benign than “A New World Order” or “A New Secular Order” that people generally misconstrue this to be. With the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, the Founding Fathers sought to create a system of checks & balances. It was hard fought through works such as the Federalist Papers. The dream was almost lost with the Articles of Confederation. It won out as our US Constitution; A pragmatic document giving flexibility for future amendments.
So what does “A New Order of the Ages” mean to me. Fundamentally it is the concept that Democracy, with proper checks & balances on Powers, leads to greater stability & equity. We can all debate how fair, stable, & equitable the US has been in the past. This is not up for debate. I’m simply making the point that in the 18th century, the world was dominated by Constitutional Monarchies. Empires ruled the roost through a system of Mercantilism that had been unraveling through centuries of conflict. Understanding that Natural Law allowed for the separation of Church & State, the First Amendment added protections within the newly created Constitution. Protestant vs Catholic religious civil war was still fresh in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Colonies were specifically set up to avoid religious persecution; only to persecute others with differing beliefs. The United States of America was not to be mistaken for a Confederation of former Colonies.
Awakened to the Age of Enlightenment, the Founding Fathers drew on the momentum of science & philosophy to create a flexible, stable government. Moreover, the systems created were meant to promote the ideologies of illuminated knowledge. The likes of John Locke, Voltaire, Hobbes, & the Founding Fathers were truly revolutionary. They did not usurp power for power’s sake. They, in one of the only times in known history, actually tried to create a new & responsive governance model. The Great Seal & “Novus Ordo Seclorum” rightfully embodies these concepts.