Inside Agitation

I am who I am. I’m a straight, white guy that grew up with many advantages. I won’t apologize for that, as I had nothing to do with it. We don’t get to pick such things. But I’m getting some grey up top, and I have more than a little experience on planet Earth, so I’ll share this. Take it or leave it.

I made the best argument of my legal career in a courtroom in New Albany, Mississippi, while standing a few feet in front of the Mississippi Attorney General, a few years after he had wrongfully convicted an innocent black man of murdering a white man, a few hours after the same A.G. had threatened to put my father in jail for standing up to him. I literally poured out my heart into that courtroom. Strangers hugged me on the courthouse steps afterwards.

We had to wait months for the decision.

We lost.

The Judge didn’t think my argument was worth a damn. I’ve thought about that day a lot, and I know that I couldn’t have done it any better. The law was on our side. The facts were on our side. But we lost. More importantly, our client lost. Such is the case for marginalized people on a daily basis in America.

It’s hard to hope after that.

What is it in us that seeks the truth? Is it our minds or is it our hearts?

I set out to prove a black man could receive a fair trial in the south, that we are all equal in the eyes of the law. That’s not the truth, because the eyes of the law are human eyes — yours and mine — and until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be evenhanded. It will remain nothing more than a reflection of our own prejudices, so until that day we have a duty under God to seek the truth, not with our eyes and not with our minds where fear and hate turn commonality into prejudice, but with our hearts — where we don’t know better.

A Time to Kill – Grisham

America is a government of the people and by the people and all of us people are flawed. We’re endowed by our creator with inalienable rights and deceived by evil forces, mainly fear, into thinking that others aren’t. If you’re a minority, you get the short end of this equation more often than not. And so change isn’t going to come from the top. Indeed, it’s less likely to. Those in charge rose to the top by mastering the current system.

So it is not surprising that the protesters want to burn down the system. Just break it, burn it down, and start over. This takes the form of a gas can on the Market House balcony or calls to de-fund police departments across the country. It’s not going to work unless you burn it all down.

If you love America as I do, even with its flaws, you might be more receptive to this closing argument:

Change will come, if at all, by changing the hearts of Americans, and the majority of Americans are decent and good people.

Remember that you are created in the image of God. Seek the truth, not with your eyes or your mind, but with your heart…

…where you don’t know better.

2 responses

  1. Excellent article.

    I saw the murder case you mentioned on DEATH ROW STORIES. A really compelling story. You should be proud.

    Like

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