Simple Ideas About Justice

I’m getting old, so every once in a while, I like to go back to my roots. These are simple sayings/ideas that I have gotten along the way, mostly from my mother and my grandfather. Jesus in the gospels seem to make simple statements. Educators and authors along the way, politicians, and yes, even Republicans in the past, have said things that we haven’t heard for a long time.

From my mother: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said”. Why do people in the news not get this?

Also: “If you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about”. Why does our justice system not share this value? Innocent people go to jail while awaiting trial and can’t afford bail, while heinously guilty and repeat offenders people never even have a trial because they have lawyers.

From Jesus: “Love your neighbor”. “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. Why are laws — any laws — written which prevent this from happening?

From Leonard Nimoy, as Spock: “Nothing unreal exists”. Either something is true or it isn’t. Climate change, the coronavirus, people’s experiences, and inner reality, gravity, all exist. They just do. Whether you believe they exist doesn’t make them any less true. Oceans still rise, objects still fall. People People die. People know when they are being hurt. People experience all kinds of things that you and I can’t imagine. If you don’t want those things to happen to you, you have to acknowledge that they exist, and plan accordingly. If those things never happen to you, it doesn’t mean they don’t happen to others. Which leads me to…

From an old client in recovery: “90% of your life is none of your business”. This is the thing that I find missing in our political world, and our social world, and have for years. Libertarians like the former Governor of Minnesota, (a former pro wrestler) believe this. When asked about denouncing gay rights he said, “What does this have to do with me?”. No, he did not come out and support gay rights as I would have preferred, be he didn’t make life worse for anybody either”. I’m not sure this belief will hold up in modern society, nor am I sure it always should. Perhaps a better way to say it is what my grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all“.

From Spiderman, words by Stan Lee: “With great power comes great responsibility” If every single member of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Supreme Court believed this, we would not have the corruption that we have in government today. It goes with Jesus’ “do unto others…”, but it specifically deals with the issue of power. In fact, if police forces used this rule, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

From Mavis Staples and the Staples Singers: “People walking around, talking ’bout air pollution. Put your hand over your mouth when you cough. That’ll help the solution”. Prescient? About the coronavirus? Nope. This is another example of old beliefs that we all know, that can simply make life easier for everybody. This is not rocket science, folks. Before COVID, this was just plain kindness. Now, people on videos are taking off their masks and coughing at people. What happened? When did kindness and civility become “politically correct” and to be mocked? They did when we went crazy. Can we be sane again? Please?

From Robert Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” For years and years and years, politicians have said, “Why do we need to fund arts programs? Why do we need to give people welfare or food stamps? Why do we have to guarantee women’s rights, or why should we fund voter rights efforts, or why should we protect the environment? These all seem like good ideas to most people, but we can’t seem to find the money for them because we have to save a few dollars in tax money or balance the budget… we just can’t, they say. They say, “be realistic”, so we try that. Then hope gives way to cynicism, when we suddenly have a war, and we can suddenly find all the money necessary to destroy things and people’s lives. The whole Medicaid for All aka Universal Healthcare is a prime example of people telling us what we can’t do as a society, right after 20 years of non-stop war and a $3 Trillion deficit! It is right for people like Alexandria Ocassio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders to say “let’s try!”. Faux- “realism” and cynicism have gotten us here. It’s time to think about what we can do, and try to make it happen, about things other than destruction.

Resisting in Peace,

John

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