Monday, July 2, 2012

A Love Supreme

I have a colleague at work who is left of left.  If she could have called up the Supreme Court to order rulings that would have pleased her best, she'd have pretty much ordered what the Supreme Court delivered last week.

So, how long was she happy?  About 10 minutes.  I clocked it.  And then she went back to being pessimistic about the future and sour about the Supreme Court.

I love the Supreme Court.  If President Obama offered me a spot on the Supreme Court but said I'd have to take a pay cut to do it, I'd still say yes.  Supreme Court Justice as dream job--what can I say?  I'm an unusual woman.

I also love the Constitution, and I love that Supreme Court Justices love the Constitution too.  They may interpret it differently than I do, but the love is there, and the love is supreme.

Last week, I listened to a brief interview with a lawyer who won the case before the Supreme Court when they ruled that states cannot sentence minors (who haven't killed anyone) to life without parole.  He's been working to get rid of this sentence for years, if not decades.  His faith in the justice system never dimmed, even when he was defending clients suffering egregious abuses at the hands of the criminal justice system.

I felt inspired listening to him, even though I rarely feel the same sense of boundless optimism about human institutions.  But neither am I as bleak and dyspeptic as my leftist colleague.

What accounts for these differences in disposition?  I tend not to take Supreme Court decisions or legislation or decisions at work quite as personally as some people.  I've now spent much of my life serving on committees or leading groups, and I realize that most people truly are doing the best that they can.  It may not be as good a job as I wish they could do, or circumstances may intervene, but I do believe that most humans are trying to improve the world, not break it down.  And I extend that belief to institutions and corporations too.

And if that makes me sound like Anne Frank, well, there are worse ways to be.  I want to believe that people are good at heart.  I want to be like that lawyer who knew that eventually, justice would be won and hope restored to his clients.  Despite my inner apocalypse gal, I want to commit to resurrection, not despair.

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