I used to work with a great organization called the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Beyond their four tenents of social justice, simple living, spirituality and community, they also had some interesting bumper-stickers. I’m a sucker for a good bumper-sticker.
One from Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace. work for justice.”
I was thinking about that today after listening to Kevin Gosztola talk about his coverage of the Bradly Manning trial on the Sam Seder show. (You can listen to the show here, or watch it here, tell Sammy Spocko sent ya.)
Kevin talked about the Manning case, the legal definition of a whistle blower and how the government was all hopped up to get justice, but he was struck by how this cry for justice (and punishment) wasn’t being applied to people who had committed war crimes. Kevin is there every day, he knows how Manning was treated. He knows how he has suffered and what it has been costing Manning for trying to help expose bad actors.
And I thought. “How is the failure to bring war criminals to justice impacting me personally?”
I think we have to make these failures of justice personal, otherwise it doesn’t matter, it’s just stuff happening to names out there. (As we know, for the right wing making it personal means they or immediate family members have to be impacted, for those of us with a functioning empathic brain, it can be your family plus other humans and even animals.)
Then, after listening to Sam’s show, I was reading DSWright’s FDL piece about how the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has exposed offshore tax havens. The records detail the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories.
The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.
Most of the companies exposed are based in Europe, there aren’t as many US companies on the list. But maybe that is a good thing, because after the Wall Street Banking Scandal I don’t have a lot of hope that simply exposing wrong doings in the US will lead to prosecution or justice.
My lack of hope in prosecution really sucks. I don’t wanna be one of those cynics saying, “Whatta ya goin’ to do? Them with the gold make the rules.” In the past, especially during the Bush years, here was my trajectory when I read or heard a story about a failure of justice. “That’s wrong! That’s not just illegal, it’s unjust, it’s morally repugnant!” Then I would think, analyze the situation and ask myself, “What can I do about it?” Finally I’d act. Those were my three stages: Anger, analysis and then action.
So today, after hearing about natural and corporate people dodging taxes around the globe. I wondered “When these corporations and people are exposed for their thieving ways, will there be any justice? If not, how does that affect me?”
Both war criminals not brought to justice and companies that get away with defrauding and robbing people affect me. And it’s not just knowing that tax dodging costs individual taxpayers $1,026 a year. There are other ways that it hurts me, some small and some life transforming.
How about you? Can you see how justice failures impact your life?
One way I see it is in my economic situation, while the billionaires like Pete Peterson and the media go on about cutting deficits as if it Mr. Deficit is going to come into your house and take the food out of your mouth, the actual economy does lead to keeping food out of mouths.
Another way that I’m impacted are my attitudes. I’m a real person (although only half human) my attitude toward the future have changed. There is a reason we see lot of dystopian SF these days. The optimism of Star Trek was a selling point, “We will survive, grow and explore.” A negative attitude toward the future is shared by millions, and though you can’t always see it directly, it changes lives. It also moves markets. I wish politicians and prosecutors would understand this.
Prosecution of war and corporate criminals leads to hope. Hope leads to job growth.
Of course markets themselves don’t have emotions but that doesn’t stop smarmy shows like “Marketplace” from attributing emotion to “the market” as if it were a person or, more usually, a deity we need to sacrifice human lives to make it happy.
I’m often amused how Marketplace often gives an arbitrary collection of stocks reasons for going up or down. “The Austeritians said the Dow looked pretty this morning so stocks were up 12 points. The tech-heavy NASDAQ took a dive after the cute barista at Starbucks didn’t smile at him this morning. “Bonds were constipated as usual and are taking Kaopectate. “
I look at my usual anger, analysis and then action pattern and I now see how justice failures are affecting me. So what’s the action I can take? Help push for prosecution of war and corporate criminals could be one. I don’t think we can count on prosecutors to take on exposed war and corporate criminals when they see something exposed. If we don’t push them, they will go after the little guys and whistle blowers because they have less resources.
Prosecutors need encouragement. So the next time you see a story that makes you angry that you fear is going to be a justice failure, consider how to push for prosecution or other justice.
Bringing justice to certain cases can have a much bigger impact on others than you realize.
“If you want hope, work for justice.” -Spocko
Photo by Ryan Heaney released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.
Cross posted to Spocko’s Brain