Monday, August 17, 2009

blog 3:The limits of tyrants are prescribed only by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

For your consideration:

'As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness'. Justice William O Douglas

'Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and which will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress'. Frederick Douglass

Don’t write the tyrants in your life a 'bent back' blank check to do with you as they please: they don’t own you: you were bought with a revolutionary sovereigns life: there’s a difference between a stance of deference and the bent back attitude which gives the oppressors the chance to walk all over you: they will.

'That only a few, under any circumstances, protest against the injustice of long-established laws and customs, does not disprove the fact of the oppressions, while the satisfaction of the many, if real, only proves their apathy and deeper degradation'. Elizabeth Candy Satton

How's your apathy-o-meter doing these days?

'Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral'. Paulo Frieire

Did you hear that?

No neutrality.

Who are you siding with?

The oppressed?

Or the oppressors?

Who did Jesus side with?

Who did MLK side with?


‘If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin: Charles Darwin.

That’s the best thought process Darwin ever came up with.

There's more than enough there for a lifelong dialog; but while you're logged on - and thank you for doing so - let me add a few thoughts:

I have always had what i suppose one could refer to as a built in injustice chip: i would stand with and for the weak against the bullies in the school yard while asking myself 'why am i doing this?' especially after finding myself on the receiving end of a good kicking in defense of some other kid who needed a whole new mindset from his parents, his teachers and his peers: but alas, such insight was sadly lacking: parents out to lunch; teachers: beaten down by the system and there’s no such thing as useful peers as school: just other idiots who are still learning to walk and talk at the same time while dealing with outrageous hormonal imbalances; school is the last place we should send kids ‘en masse’; it dehumanizes them and teaches them nothing much in the way of life skills. Apart from: ‘do unto others first…..’

So then to injustice;

Injustice is the lack of, or opposition to justice, (no brainer there) in reference to a particular event or act: bullies in the school yard / tyrannical bosses etc, and in reference to a larger contextual mindset: that which makes up the current societal status quo.

Slavery used to be 'OK' - if you get my drift

But we ‘learnt’ that it wasn't.

Those that would still advocate on behalf of slavery need an education.

Misuse, abuse, neglect, misappropriation or malfeasance of a justice system would seem to follow us around in our everyday like a long drawn late in the afternoon shadow - where we spot - with nothing more than a casual glance the systemic failure to serve relentlessly the cause of justice.

To protect and to serve.   Where have I heard that before?

According to Plato: we may not know what justice is but we know what justice is not. Sometimes it's hard to articulate why something that affected us first, second or even third hand is wrong but deep down inside us our injustice chip just went off: Trouble is my injustice chip is wired different from yours, and yours mine: because we are all unique; it follows that our own tolerance for where injustice lies: or should lie will have some differences; subtle or grand canyon sized.

Someone once drew a line in the sand: It was a succinct visual aid to the fact that all hypocrites are 'justice challenged'.

Some things are plainly 'not of justice': Rosa Parks took a stand once - actually a seat - Rosa was a hero in real life - while as far as i am aware Marrion Morrison was only ever a hero on screen - yet he is revered in some folks mindsets more than Rosa Parks ever will be?

Why is that the case? Our celebrity obsessed culture kicked in many decades ago.

Injustice inflicts undeserved hurt. 

Injustice applies to any act that involves unfairness to another or violation of one's rights: and if you don't take a stand for your rights: you'll soon be saying; 'what rights?' 

Let's have a few more quotes to close:

I regard class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force’. Albert Einstein

‘The first principal of nonviolent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating’. Cesar Chavez

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. Edmund Burke (attributed)

‘Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ''Am I my brother's keeper?' Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death. Eugene v Debs: (1908 speech)

BTW: this is not a broadcast on behalf on any political party; to my mind they're all useless;

The following quote from Illiam Hellman helps illustrate the comprehensiveness of a justice mindset:

'Since when do you have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?' Illiam Hellman

So then - is your knee-jerking? When was the last time it jerked like there was no tomorrow?

When the other person in the conversation took an opposing view – so you wrote them off as insignificant immediately? (raca!)

Because some folks really do think like that don't they? He's different, they say. She doesn't look like me, they think. He thinks in a way contrary to mine: ergo he must be wrong; and having reached that conclusion i am now free to pass sentence  - if you will - and judge in an unjust manner all to suit my insecure fancy.

And to wrap up this food for thought on the nature of injustice I offer you this quote from the Holocaust Museum; Washington DC:

‘Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander’.

Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander; because eventually it will be your turn to be the one kicked in the teeth in the name of someone’s bastardized version of 'justice'.

As always; all posts will be published; this is supposed to be dialog and not monologue and a blog that censors is in my mind not worthy of the name; but please focus on the mindsets and the thought processes at work here: i want all to engage. Thru dialog we learn: thru passing judgment: we don’t. Thanks, peace and thoughts: mike




rabbsn said...

“'As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness'. Justice William O Douglas

Great quote, Mike!

In the movie, the Matrix, Morpheus gives Neo a choice: take the red pill and your reality becomes the “truth” where nothing is safe and you are forced to act on the truth. Take the blue pill and you can continue in the mind-numbing false reality of warm-fuzzy twilight where things are ill-defined but seemingly “safe”. As Neo reaches for the red pill, Morpheus warns Neo "Remember, all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."

The Matrix commentary continues: “Why is the choice between what you believe you know and an unknown 'real' truth so fascinating? How could a choice possibly be made? On the one hand (with the blue pill), everyone you love and everything that you have built your life upon. On the other (with the red pill), the promise only of truth.”

In search of truth…we don’t all search for it, do we? Some of us are blissfully happy and asleep to the reality surrounding us. But it doesn’t last, this blissful sleep. Reality does hit us all… eventually. We eventually max out our credit cards and run out of cash reserves. We eventually reap the the consequences of filling our bodies with drugs, alcohol and toxic chemicals. The relationships we thought were so solid and reciprocal eventually are tested and it is then that we come to know who are “true” friends are.

I hope I always choose to take the red pill. The truth may be painful but in knowing the truth, I have less regret and more opportunity to effect change and do the right thing.

balmertoo said...

"Since when do you have to agree with someone to defend them from injustice?"

Every year at the Art Fair we run across some young guy passionately preaching against allowing Nazis and KKKs to assemble or speak. And every year my husband lures him in and hooks him by introducing himself as a genuwine, conscientious objecting, war protesting, Washington-marching social justice activist. Then with a flip of the wrist he flips the poor kid gasping to the grass by saying that free speech for only some is free speech for none and if you don't defend the Nazi's right to speak freely you not only don't get the point but you end up giving somebody the power to gag you too.

It still amazes me that Americans don't seem to get that anymore. And we made such a big deal out of it when we started out...

However... it would be a pity to discount the power of self-sacrifice by not qualifying the statement "Thou shalt not be a victim." Overcoming evil with good often looks exactly like being a victim. But no protest or revolution is as powerful. I follow Jesus because of it. His example inspired Gandhi, and his spirit empowered Maximilian Kolbe, Sophie Scholl and countless others. No one could say any of them was 'victimized.'