While the main arc of civilization goes on as it has for millenia (i.e. the powerful White men may do what they like with complete impugnity, but God help anyone else if they dare engage in similar conduct… or hell, if they do anything at all), one must still look back on 2008 and acknowledge just what an amazing year it has been.
Obviously, the fact is, in 220 years of our Constitutional system, no man who was (1) a graduate of Columbia College or (2) not born in the lower 48 or (3) not White had ever been elected President before, and no sitting senator had been elected since JFK. Barack Hussein Obama has shattered all of those barriers at the same time, running a near-perfect campaign to overcome heavy favorite Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and to overcome a late charge by Sen. John McCain in the general election (albeit aided by some rather dismal economic news… the other remarkable part of 2008).
I’m well aware that Hillary kept saying “hope is not a policy” and all that… but regardless of the job Barack does as President (as both a college classmate and someone who worked as a poll-watcher on Election Day, I feel I can call him Barack… in just twenty days (can you believe it?), the conceit of this blog will have him magically transformed into “The President”… but until then, at least, he’s still Barack)… just getting this far represents a historic, monumental achievement, both for him and for the nation, and regardless of the challenges he, and we, will face in coming years, somehow, we have all overcome something just to get to this point.
I’ll leave you this year with a few quotes about what I see as “the word”… the one word for which pinning down was so elusive in the cornerstone text of the cornerstone course of my college education (and that of our next President). While I have devoted my career to the law, I would like to think that I primarily serve the interests of justice… and, among all the other things that our government under our next President can do, to elevate that interest…justice… in every sense of the word… the right thing, an overall sense of fairness, an adherence to the law not because it is convenient but because it is essential… then, the particulars of the price of gasoline or how effective he has been at providing health care or other social benefits… or whether we are bogged down in foreign wars… will actually take care of themselves.
A few others had a bit to say on the subject of justice, so I’ll just give you their words:
Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong, but in finding out the right and upholding it, wherever found, against the wrong.
–Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time; but if you are here because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.
–Che Guevara (1928 – 1967)
It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and well and justly.
–Epicurus (c. 341 – c. 270 BC)
Retarded and infantile societies fear loss of possessions, status and cling to material advantage; whereas cultivated and advanced peoples fear loss of freedom, justice and peace.
I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.
–Malcolm X (1925 – 1965)
God has a plan to help bring justice to the world — and his plan is us.
“I am leaving this legacy to all of you … to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die– the dream of freedom and peace.
Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those offended.
–Plato (c.427 – 347 BC)
When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.
–Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968)
If you want peace, work for justice
–Pope Paul VI
One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.
–Martin Luther King Jr (1929 – 1968)
On this special New Year’s Eve, let me ask, once and for all, that musical question… What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding? A most happy and healthy new year, best wishes for all… God bless you, and God willing, see you all next year.