Will We Find the Balance Between Justice and Mercy?
Here follows some random thoughts about the current state of affairs, this Juneteenth. I have just recently had an implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) discharge that seized my undivided attention. Thirty-five joules of joy! I am undergoing a treatment plan for myocarditis (heart inflamation) that has made me reflective. Please indulge me.
From antiquity we learn that, in terms of social justice, thriving communities find the right balance between enforcing a strict justice and fostering a forgiving mercy. The art of good government enforces an order that instills a proper respect for the government, lest we devour each other, complemented by a lenient, gracious empathy that binds a community together in compassionate interdependence. It is the balance between the classical assertive masculine and the receptive feminine. We remember that those who show mercy to the cruel will live to see the cruel devour the merciful. We are questioning this balance today; the empathetic are crying for mercy and less police assertion, while the just demand the enforcement of law and order to protect the merciful. Every generation must sort this out. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are the perfect framework to do so.
I weep for my country. The media-instigated social frenzy and gas lighting about a systemic racism is appalling. It simply does not exist in America at large. It appears to be thriving in urban one-party Democrat urban centers and academia, fueled by click-bait obsessed fake news propagandists. The reality is most Americans live in an integrated enough harmony. That is my lived experience for decades. I agree that black lives matter within the greater and more empathetic virtue that all lives matter. If you study the data on violence, black lives matter except between poor young single urban men, usually black.
My more fundamental problem with “Black Lives Matter” is the meaningless word matter. It supposes the value of human life is intrinsically negotiable. Nonsense. Human life is sacred. Which means something about us is holy and untouchable. We are commanded to not murder or steal from each other, not like each other. I don’t care if you like or don’t like me based on some unavoidable unconscious bias. Just don’t kill or steal from me. It is not a racism problem, it’s an immorality problem. If we focus on returning to our ancient moral commandments, racism is moot.
If you believe you are surrounded by systemic racism, leave. Move someplace else. At least half of America is living Dr. Rev. M. L. King’s dream where only character matters. Join us.
Regarding our national past racism, our ancestors — that minority who are guilty of it are not alive to ask forgiveness. And only they can ask for such. And those who would forgive them are long dead. It will always be unfinished business between them. There is nothing for us to forgive; their sins are not ours. My own ancestors fought for the Union-side of the Civil War (1861-1865), risking their lives to end antebellum slavery. That Republican virtue is my inheritance and I reject all assertions that diminish it. I cherish the moral privilege I inherited. If we apply this transference of past guilt fairly, then I am owed a measure of equally transferred gratitude for supporting slavery’s end. I’m not holding my breath about it.
The idea of equality of outcome is preposterous in a community where individuals are rewarded by industrious work, innovative creativity, and protected private property in which to gather and invest hard work’s fruit. The solution to such inevitable wealth disparity is a moral problem first and an economic one afterwards. The strong must not prey upon the weak; the smart not take advantage of the ignorant, and private property in all its forms must be respected and protected. Those are moral matters. For without such protection, capital will not accumulate and investing will not thrive, and jobs will not be created. Wealth disparity places a burden on the wealthy to put their wealth to moral use; to attempt the highest level of righteousness and virtue: to create jobs and livelihoods for others, above and including benevolent charity. Concomitantly, one should not covet. It is okay to want that beautiful — whatever, as long as it is not a specific thing belonging to a specific person. In this regard, our pillars of virtue are those to create jobs — the entrepreneurs.
Immorality begets poverty. The immorality of stealing destroys wealth and collapses marketplaces. Burning down and looting a grocery store as a form of protest against hyper-rare police brutality is beyond foolish. The protesters on these occasions were entirely capable of stopping the looting by force of numbers. They could have stopped it and gone back to exercising their right to assemble freely and peaceably. Shame on them.
In America, police interact with citizens hundreds of thousands of times a day, generally providing help and assistance. A minority of interactions involve arrests. Of those, the vast majority are non-violent. An astonishingly small percentage of arrests are resisted, and therefor likely to involve violence. In fact, it is practically impossible to experience police violence without resisting arrest. The probability of being shot by the police is higher for whites than blacks, however, seven percent of the population is most likely to resist arrest and encounter violence — urban young poor black men. There are anecdotal and statistical outliers of police misconduct that should be addressed, of course. Burning down the entire edifice of public safety because of occasional police misconduct is just stupid.
The world of young poor urban men, often black, is a tragedy. The reasons for their violence are complicated, but fundamentally, it is a cultural and moral failure. I am glad our attention is focused on it. We can solve it. We have to vector these young males toward productive lives.
One’s poverty is no excuse for avoiding the predictors of social failure: not graduating from high school, single parenthood, absent fathers in the home, and affordable good food and accessible health care. In other words; conventional successful White, Hispanic, and Asian American cultural values — the values that earn a privilege of generational social success. Blacks who have lived this are generally and equally successful, for virtue is color blind.
The sages of old observed the strict justice that served one generation may suffocate a subsequent generation that lacked their moral virtue and self-restraint. I grew up in a world of unlocked doors and keys left in the car’s ignition. Of varmint rifles on pick-up gun racks. Of “Yes, ma’am”, and “No, sir.” When a teacher’s note home brought a sound trashing if appropriate. A less virtuous generation will cast off the laws they cannot keep and descended into lawlessness. Eventually, a excessively merciful generation will cry out for justice until leaders rise to enforce that necessary justice. Often, those leaders will become dictators. We are grappling with this question now, especially in excessively empathetic urban centers.
Thomas Jefferson captured the greatest vision statement in the history of human civilization in “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is the nature of vision statements to reach for the stars; to aspire to ideals that are not yet lived. Certainly Jefferson and many of our founder’s generation did not live it, in respect to slave ownership specifically. The Civil War settled that constitutionally. 130 years after Jefferson planted this flag, women were given the right to vote. The civil rights act of 1965 sought to improve on it. And so this week’s Title IX decision broadening the definition of sex to beyond biology to personal belief follows this aspiration. So to tear down Jefferson’s monument is a sacrilege. We ride on his shoulders.
This coming generation has experienced so little violence compared to the previous century that now, mere words and silence are thought violent. They would trample on the right of free speech that many generations of Americans have given their full measure to preserve. This ANTIFA generation has learned nothing from the genocides of Stalin and Mao that enshrined a rabid political correctness, other than to emulate it.
The recipe for civilization is over 4,000 years old. The oldest, continuous and most resilient civilization on the earth are the Jews. They are kept by the Torah more than they keep it. It teaches we need only seven essential laws — the Laws of Noah. Know and respect our Creator who gives us purpose. Do not murder or kidnap. Do not steal. Treasure and preserve the family (no illicit sexual relations). Be compassionate in our stewardship of the earth (do not eat the limb of an animal while it is alive). Establish just courts to enforce these six. Two traditional practices are encouraged; to give charity and honor one’s elders (parents and teachers). That’s it. Every social failure can be traced to a violation of one of these laws. We are surely without excuse.
I hope we find that new balance.
I pray my heart does not fail me, as I have unfinished business and hope to be a part of this solution.
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