You could say that one day I simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed, because seemingly all at once, I was just fed up! My swelling discontent with society was unmistakable and unavoidable. So many examples of common actions I didn’t want to tolerate any longer flooded through my thoughts.
- How many times have you heard, “If it’s not illegal, then it’s OK”? As if the only guide to our behavior is the law. There are lots of perfectly legal actions that hurt other people and are just plain wrong. Right is still right and wrong is still wrong, even if you don’t get thrown in jail for it.
- When referring to any government entity, how often have you thought, “They don’t represent me”, “They don’t care about us”, “There’s nothing we can do”? How did our public institutions become so separate from our individual citizens? Common sense is plain and clear – and we aren’t using any common sense.
I had studied national cultures years ago and jumped back into it with the desire to understand what had happened to my great nation. Taking a closer look at our national culture revealed a match of macro American behavior with my own behavior on a very micro level. In other words, I could see how I was part of the problem! And I didn’t even know it. Who would have ever thought that deliberate efforts to strengthen my community were required to maintain my individual opportunities? I didn’t know that by ignoring the community, I was contributing to the disappearance of my own opportunities. Ironically, to champion individualism, we have to strengthen and advance the community.
I wondered if anyone else felt discontent with society. I wondered if after looking at society through this lens, if others would see lack of community as a culprit? Thus, I set out to open up a dialogue on the topic – and Street Justice came to life. This name resonates with me because I do not believe it is the duty of others – police, courts, politicians, religious leaders – to monitor us – the masses. Justice is the absolute obligation of each and every one of us through personal responsibility to our community. We must take individual action – or we will lose our individualism entirely.
I have observed that when people feel like the societal structure is unjust, unfair or “rigged”, they lose respect for it, withdraw from participating in it and simply don’t care about their communities or others. Commonly we hear that citizens don’t vote because they don’t believe they can make a difference. On the flipside, politicians say that citizens are lazy, stupid and don’t care or else they would vote out someone if they didn’t like what they were doing – so they must not be too bothered by what the politician is doing.
Democracy doesn’t work without participation. A lack of involvement by the citizens results in a de-facto tyranny of the unaccountable privileged class. The necessary habits of freedom include participation in the democracy, the responsibility to communities, and the dedication to improving society. We have individual rights and with those come responsibilities.
Rigged or not, we the people are the torchbearers of the most fair society yet in human history. Just recently (last few hundred years) has humanity challenged corrupt authority and introduced the concept of respect for the individual. During the last 40 years, we have witnessed a sharp trend towards concentrating power in our society in the few hands of a corrupt authority. Inequality in most aspects of our lives is inevitable and even desirable: -some rich, some poor-some endowed with unique and extraordinary talents, some ordinary-some powerful, some powerless. This is not the problem as I see it. The problem is that our government is by and for the privileged elite and there is no fairness in the application of the rules of our society – the judicial system is not just. Why do we still have a campaign system for elections that requires those running for any public office to make promises in exchange for money? Why do we still have these elaborate networks formed between policymakers, lobbyists and associations and their donors to “buy” rules for the game? Why is it that the criminal justice system is now almost exclusively reserved for ordinary Americans because the wealthy and the influential can “opt out” with superior legal representation? There is no need to placate us with grandiose gestures of “taking from the rich” to make our lives better. I absolutely do not support any “improvements” to our society that effectively only shuffle wealth between the dwindling middle class to pander to the lower class. We all know that the underlying system is still built by and for the ultra rich and powerful. We do not have a government by the people. We do not have a judicial system that treats all equally under the eyes of the law. The only cure for this is to build justice into the legislative and judicial systems brick by brick. It is our duty, our obligation, our right, to change the trend and save our human experiment by adjusting the structure that motivates behavior. We will bring justice to the main streets of America.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein. Let’s stop doing the same thing over and over again! We can make a difference together!
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