“Song for Justice” is a stand-alone version of a movement from the large-scale work “Tuvayhun – Beatitudes for a Wounded World.” That is what my faith teaches, to come along side a wounded world with beatitudes.
These lyrics follows Matt 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I think I may have discovered the first regretitation mentioned in the history of Western Civilization.
As you may remember, in the Illiad, Alexandros (Paris) and his brother Hektor visit Sparta and are treated hospitably. When they leave, Alexandros takes Helen (Menelaus’s wife) back to Troy. Menelaus and his brother Agamemnon raise a 1,000-ship fleet and descend on Troy to take Helen back.
Agamemnon makes a proposal to save thousands of lives by letting Alexandro fight for Troy and Menelaus fight for Sparta. If Alexandros wins, he keeps Helen and all her possessions. If, however, Menelaus wins, Helen is returned
then let the Trojans give back Helen and all her possessions, and pay also a price to give the Argives (all those who traveled to Troy to fight) which will be fitting, which among people yet to come shall be as a standard.1
This regretitation is instructive because it recognizes an injustice beyond the mere taking of Helen. It seeks to restore not just Menelaus whose wife was taken. Not just the country of Sparta who was humiliated by her taking. But all of the soldiers who left their families and endured the sea-voyage (the Argives) to retrieve Helen.
To qualify as a regretitation, however, the intention informing the restitution must be restorative. Restitution is merely disgorging something from someone which was improperly taken or compensation for an injury done. Restorative intentions are multifaceted and, in part, seek to restore justice, properly ordered stakeholders and communities, global healing, and so forth. Unfortunately, it does not seem that that Agamemnon intended this offer to be restorative. I think he intended not just to restore the Argives. I think he intended to punish Troy with a regretitation so large it would be “fitting” for a nation, like Troy, who would give safe harbor to someone that took another person’s wife. It seems that Agamemnon intended the restitution to be large enough to humiliate Troy and therefore a “standard” to warn all future nations. The intentions informing restorative action may have a humiliating or punitive impact (even with the best intentions, we cannot control how they are received), but the intentions are overwhelmingly restorative.
This post is used as source material for Prof. Blankenship’s courses.
Officer Jay Shields wasn’t the first officer on the scene, but everyone yielded to him because it was obvious that he was going to find Angela Aguilar (known to her friends as “Gela”). Gela had been missing for 36 hours and surveillance video had just arrived that suggested that Kasheef Raheem was involved with her disappearance.
By all accounts, Raheem had been arrested numerous times, mostly for violent acts. He, however, had never been to prison. The video placed Raheem at the scene where it was believed that 12-year-old Gela was last seen getting out of a car. The car Gela had gotten out of had been processed and several DNA samples had been sent to the lab.
Stefani Germanotta was the lab tech that processed the samples. Before the final report was released, she called Officer Shields and told him that several samples placed Raheem in Gela’s car. Officer Shields was Gela’s juvenile probation officer.
As Officer Shields was preparing an arrest warrant for Raheem, he received a call on this cell phone.
“Hello,” Officer Shields answered. “Yes, is this the officer handling the Angela Aguilar disappearance?” The anonymous voice asked. “I am, who may I ask, is calling?” Officer Sheilds responded. “I am calling to tell you that Lab Tech Germanotta is lying. She used to be with Raheem and he ghosted her. When the report comes out — it will not put Raheem in the car.”
The call ended.
Officer Shields thought to himself, “Germanotta is obligated to follow the ethical rules of her department. It would not be in her best interest to lie to me. I’ve got to arrest and question this guy while Gela might still be alive.”
It is necessary “to rise above the advocacy role when faced with conflicting dualities and ‘stand apart from our narrow perspectives … to see the larger picture more clearly.’”
There is the strong tendency when encountering conflicts to immediately take sides, join battle, and “resolve” the conflict, rather than take the time to perceive and analyze the important values on both sides of the conflict.1
Spader, Dean J., “Rule of Law vs Rule of Man: The Search for The Golden ZigZag Between Conflicting Fundamental Values,” Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 12. Pp. 379-394 (1984) (Internal citations omitted.) ↩
I have the power to believe whatever I want to believe. It is, perhaps, the only unalienable right. Neither life nor liberty is an unalienable right. There are powers, both legitimate and illegitimate, that can alienate me from life or liberty. No power, however, can take away my pursuit of happiness because it is a belief.
And at the end of every process based on evidence, empirically proven, and grounded in authority, a leap of faith is required to reach reality. That leap of faith is based on belief. Belief that I have absolute power over. I have the power to choose the belief and change it.
Why be disgusted or disrespected by someone voicing a different belief?
Why be threatened by someone voicing a different belief? Emotionally triggered?
The person voicing a different belief also has the power to choose their own belief.
Or change it.
Is the inability to listen to an opposing belief simply a lack of confidence in my personal power to accept or reject it – or accept or reject a part or parts of it? Maybe in those areas where I don’t listen to opposing beliefs, I am uncertain about my personal power.
Maybe in those areas where I don’t listen to opposing beliefs, I am unsure about my own belief. Perhaps rather than do the work of owning the belief I just leased it from someone else. In that case, I can’t listen to an opposing belief because I don’t know what parts of the opposing idea to accept or reject. I don’t know because I leased my belief from someone else – I really don’t know why I believe it. I just believe it because someone else – someone I trust – believes it.
Either way, why not choose to have the confidence to listen to opposing beliefs? I can listen to an hour-long lecture, seriously consider every point that was made, and wholly accept it or wholly reject it. Alternatively, I can accept some parts and reject others.
This post is used as source material for Prof. Blankenship’s courses.
Naomy’s cousin, Theadore “Ted” Echols learned about corrections officers from an early age. His father was released from prison when Ted was five years old. Ted listened to his father’s stories about “corruption” officers, what they did day-after-day to inmates and how the officers themselves ended up in prison. Ted doesn’t remember the day he made the committment, but for as long as he can remember he has been committed to being a corrections officer, an honorable one.
Hector had a hard life. By the time he was 24-years-old, he had been arrested over 30 times and spent over half of his life in the County Jail. Hector was known on the street and in the criminal justice system as an honest criminal. His crime of choice was drugs. In Hector’s mind, there’s nothing wrong with selling something to people who wanted to buy it at a fair price. In spite of the fact that Hector was a successful drug dealer, he had never been arrested for a drug crime. All of his arrests came from violence.
Right after his 25th birthday, Hector got into an argument with another drug dealer who was trying to recruit Hector’s “salespeople” away from him. When the argument didn’t go Hector’s way, he pulled a gun and killed the competitor. The shooting was mid-day on a city street and captured on several video cameras.
After a jury trial, Hector was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
For the first few years in prison, Hector’s life in prison and his life outside of prison looked pretty similar. He was violent and sold drugs on the outside of prison, he was violent and sold drugs on the inside of prison. Strangely, Hector was respected by both other inmates and corrections officers. Even though it was known that he was a drug dealer, it was also known that if he told you something he was good to his word.
One day, Hector was talking with a corrections officer, Ted Echols. Officer Echols told Hector about some new classes that were going to be offered by the prison in Vipassana Meditation. Officer Echols had watched a few YouTube videos about it and was telling Hector what he had learned. As Hector turned away to line up for his work duty, Officer Echols laughed and said, “You should try it Hector – you might find some inner peace.”
That night, Hector couldn’t sleep. He didn’t like that fact that not only did he not have “inner peace,” he wasn’t really sure what it even was. Plus, this Vip – ass – a – naa would be a distraction from his work detail. He decided to try it.
Months later, Hector was a different person. He talked through most problems that came up rather than using his fists. Every time he had a chance to take more classes, he did. Eventually, he earned his Graduation Education Diploma, or “GED.” He was the first person in his family to graduate, well, anything.
Hector wrote his mother and told her that there would be a small graduation service and he sure would like it if she would come. She wrote back,
I am so proud of you. I know your Granny wud be to if she was livin.
I checked on the bus ticket and it is $68 for me to com.
I love you, but I just ain’t got it. I will be thinkin bout you on that day.
Hector was dissapointed but he understood. He talked with Officer Echols about how just a few years earlier it would have made him so angry he would have hurt somebody. Now, he was different.
Several weeks went by and the graduation came. When Hector walked in the training room for graduation, his eyes filled with tears and he had to catch his breath to stop from openly sobbing and embarrassing himself. His mother was sitting on the front row. Officer Echols, who had paid for her bus ticket, was standing at the back of the room.