Lately I have been wallowing in the misfortune of family of friends. I feel that my friends' premature deaths are unfair and sad. I have been dwelling on the serious illnesses of close friends and relatives, and it weights me down. Yesterday, after going to a memorial service, I decided that I needed to see death, illness, bad judgments for what they are, human events on this sea called life. Sometimes we reach shore safely, sometimes we do not. There are the potential for pirates, sea monsters, fatal illness and mutiny along the way. But, I hope, that no matter what my future may hold that the lessons I learn from my bumps and waves aid in my better understanding of life.
Although sometimes its hard, I am basically I am an optimist. Not all of the people around me are, and I need to fight to not succumb to dark and paralyzing moods. Gandhi said, "The arc of history is long, but bends toward justice." I take that to mean that some people are going to get screwed, run over by trucks, killed by spouses, have premature illnesses, but we have to look at the whole of us as a collective when considering justice. It is not about any one of us, justice, to prevail is about all of us.
In the past and now, there have been both individual injustices, such as poverty, lack of education, prejudice, and there have been humankind injustices, such as genocide, slavery, cruelty, tyranny. To consider society's improvement, we must look at the latter and not at the former. We are all going to die. Our friends and relatives are going to die. Get over it. (I say, this because I am having such trouble myself in getting over it.) Let's look at what has been happening in the "arc of history," even recent American History to really evaluate what goes on.
When this nation was formed, only white male property owners could vote, we enslaved Africans in the South, women could not vote (Africans were certainly not eligible to vote), many Americans hated Blacks, Jews, Irish, Italian, and we won't even talk about Gays. A small group in this country had power and many of them intended to keep it. Children worked in sweat shops and both children and women were paid little at all. If you were a rich Protestant White man you might do okay. Most other groups were screwed.
Here are some major changes in America, some of the more recent ones that are the most encouraging::
1. African-American slaves were freed by passage of the 13th Amendment in the 1860s.
2. The bill of rights and the fourteen amendment banning discrimination were passed.
3. African Americans were given the right to vote under the 15th Amendment in the 1870s.
4. After a post Civil War setback, civil rights continued to be extended. Women got the right to vote in the 1920s.
5. Because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employment discrimination based on race and sex were prohibited. Later, discrimination based on disability was prohibited. Age discrimination and other discrimination followed suit.
6. IN 1963 WE ELECTED A CATHOLIC PRESIDENT.
7. The racist talk of the 1950s and 1960s became taboo.
8. IN 2008, WE ELECTED AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT.
9. HE WAS RELECTED IN 2012.
10. In some states, GAYS CAN MARRY. (Within the next 20 years, all states will allow gay marriage and employment discrimination against gays will be illegal - I predict.) WE ELIMINATED DON'TASK, DON'T TELL IN THE MILITARY.
11. Women and minorities are beginning to obtain positions of real power in politics. I am seeing more women trial lawyers than ever before.
We have come so far as a society. When I was a kid, job ads in the newspaper were divided by gender. Homosexuality was demonized. In high school, students made fun of other students for wearing pink and green, the "queer colors."
Overall, humans can be trusted to do the right thing. Juries usually get it right, even on the trials where I lost. There are a few lapses, like the Nazis,and Stalin, and Rwanda, Kosovo, etc., but hopefully we can nip those in the bud. People generally have a sense of right and justice. Left to their own devices, they want to do the right thing. We don't get it right all of the time, but we continue to learn and grow.
Looking at the big picture, I have hope and faith in the human race. In the short run, we are not always so lucky. I am heartened by the big picture, even though I know work on the big picture will be going on long after I leave this Earth. Here's to the youth and our future!!!!
P.S. (Just one little request - can we have a new rock and roll revolution? Some of the modern music is getting old.)