And Justice For All

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It’s not FAIR. It’s not FAIR. I hate fairness. I was about 8 years old when I used those words to tell my parents off. Of course, I meant I hate unfairness.  But it became a family joke about how I SAID I hated fairness.

At 8 years old, I had no idea how unfair things have been for some people. I didn’t yet know anything much about history. There had only been my experience in my own family and I knew how it felt when things were not fair.

I had no idea of the expression of violence and hatred that has run through the human story. I didn’t know about the Crusades, when whole cultures were crushed in the name of God.  Nor the witch trials, with confessions made under the most horrible torture imaginable. Knowledge of the Holocaust had not yet touched my life and I would not have believed it if you had told me that some people had owned other people as slaves.

I know there is racism in this country and I welcome the opportunity for the dirty laundry to be aired, because the more we explore it the more we learn of the nature of what is holding us in this destructive pattern. When we speak of our racism, it’s at least out in front of us and not in our bodies working like a cancer to eat away at our hearts.

Thanks to Shirley Sherrod for not rolling over, but standing up to and speaking truth to power.

In 2007 the Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter asking the FBI to investigate the 1958 death of James Brazier of Dawson, Georgia along with another 74 unsolved deaths of that era.

Brazier was beaten to death in front of his wife and children by two police officers. County Sheriff Z.T. Matthews was later quoted in the Washington Post saying, “There’s nothing like fear to keep niggers in line.”

After reading this, two different stories converged for me in way that highlighted the hideous way we treat one another.

One was the story of Mrs. Sherrod’s father being murdered, along with the information from the SPLC letter. The other point was when I read a morning email from Congressman Alan Grayson. He related how one day, not long ago, a Republican operative offered $100 to anyone who would punch him, Grayson,  in the face. The very next thing that happened…  the very next day, death threats were phoned in to his office.

Grayson’s response to the first was to say that he punches back. The second sends a pall of fear through us all. This is horrendous. If just one person allows themselves to be caught up in a violent action, the reverberations move through us all.

The owners of this country, those who have stolen our power and attempted to make us into less than,  do not want us standing on our feet talking back. They want us on our knees.  Fear is a prime motivator for acquiescence to the will of another.  It’s not about race, but that’s what is being used to divide us.

Only a thin layer of civility covers over a huge history of violence. We are angry people. It’s just under the surface, but it’s palpable. With very little provocation it will surface and strike.

In order to address the issue we need to make some changes. Some in our environment and the more important within ourselves. It’s important for the survival of humanity that we all take responsibility for our part of this mess.

We must be willing to hold ALL criminals accountable, no matter how influential or how rich they are. Position and wealth do not excuse criminal behavior. There must be justice for all, including at least finding out what happened in those 74 deaths.

Hate speech, which is defined as intending to incite violence,  must no longer be given a free ride on the public airwaves. It only fuels the drama of our inhumanity to one another.  It’s important that we stand up and not bow before the yoke of fear.

The other thing that must happen is for each of us to learn to take our own power back from the patterns we’ve helped create. We must each take responsibility for our thoughts and actions.

At some point, we’ve all let ourselves pretend we’re better than someone else.  Even if we only thought about it in a deep, secret place inside. None of us are innocent. We have all murdered, raped, and visited death and destruction on another person. We justified it by telling ourselves that the other person deserved it, that they were less than human.  If not in this lifetime, then we’ve done it in previous lifetimes. And then we lied to ourselves that this was justice.

I’m no longer willing to add any more pain and suffering to this existence. That’s why I’m so committed to working on myself.

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