humanity

A Family in Trouble

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If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.

Abdul Kalam

Malachi 4:4-6

New International Version (NIV)

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

Matthew 1:1-2

New International Version (NIV)The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

1 This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Luke 1:16

New International Version (NIV)
16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.

Many of America’s thirty million white-tailed deer find themselves endangered not by guns, but by the cars of our expanding suburbs. I was reminded of their plight when a mature doe dashed through traffic just ahead of me. As I watched, I wondered what had driven her to take such a chance, and why she then stopped on the other side and gazed and saw two small fawns looking helplessly at their mother across the busy street. Instead of following, they turned and walked back into the woods.

This family is not alone. We too can find ourselves in circumstances of separation and danger we did not anticipate. Reading Malachi and Matthew reminds us that we are troubled children of troubled parents who desperately need the help of our Father in heaven. Sometimes we need His help to see and avoid repeating the sins of our fathers( Nehemiah 9:2-3). Sometimes we need His help to turn back to the example and care of loving parents (Luke15:18).

Only from our heavenly Father can we find the perfect forgiveness, example, and inner grace we need. He knows we are fallen children of fallen parents, and even now He offers us the help of His Spirit and the rescue of His Son.

Each day we learn from yesterday
of God’s great love and care;
And every burden we must face
He’ll surely help us bear.

It’s never too soon to turn back to God.

Evil has Its Purpose

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Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

When tragedy strikes, when chaos reins, when calamity turns lives upside down, people ask questions. In their anger and their grief some of the most common questions are about God, even from people who otherwise ignore or even claim to disbelieve in Him.

“Why does God let bad things happen?” “If God is loving and fair, why does He allow hateful and unfair things happen to good people?” In some cases they’re even blaming God for the tragedy.

Now as a Christian it is easy to become upset with people who ask these kinds of questions and call God’s character into doubt with their insinuations and their faithlessness.

But then we have to remind ourselves that they are asking in ignorance, and it is we, as believers in Christ, who are supposed to have some sort of answer for them. Not that we always have the answers ourselves, but the fact is, if they are asking they deserve some kind of response.

With that in mind we must be careful that we give them a proper and helpful response, and in order to be in position to do that we must think things through for ourselves first.

But in the wake of the events of the past week in our own country, and with the memories of the collapsed bridge in Baghdad, the multiple suicides by out teens, and the terror being advocated by North Korea, and the tsunami in Indonesia being so fresh in all of our minds, I felt that I should address this issue to some degree at least.

I know there will be a lot of good sermons out there in these upcoming weeks about grief and tragedy and how to deal with horrible times and I know many of them will give comfort.

Here, I want to come in a slightly different door and hopefully give the reader some food for thought, and perhaps a word or two to share with inquiring minds.

When Adam sinned in the garden, and by saying Adam I mean both he and Eve, they died spiritually, they began to die physically, and if they rejected God’s promise of a Redeemer they died eternally. I personally believe there is ample evidence that they did believe in that promise, but that’s another discussion.

The point is, since all of mankind was in Adam’s loins when he sinned, therefore all of mankind inherited a sin nature (or a ‘fallen nature’) from Adam. (Romans 5:12-15)

That fallen nature in us is diametrically opposed to anything Godly, since it is the nature of the flesh and contrary to God.

This is not meant to be a sermon on basic Bible doctrine, but this point must be understood so that the reader will know what I mean when I say that our natural thinking is backwards in relation to God and everything about Him.

It is only when we are given spiritual life by the Holy Spirit and He begins to lead us into truth that we begin to think rightly at all about spiritual truth; it is only then that we begin to any degree to think like God.

Therefore, when people, sometimes even Christians, ask questions like what purpose does evil serve? The first thing we need to realize is that the question itself is backwards.

Instead of rambling all over the intellectual countryside trying to formulate an acceptable response to these questions, we could save ourselves a great deal of stress and discomfort and more than a little looking foolish, if we recognize that the whole ‘who’s to blame’ approach is backwards, as it comes from the fallen nature which is fundamentally ignorant of the truth of God.

I believe the only proper response to faithless questions, whether they be from someone else or floating around in our own mind, is to go to the Bible, see what the Bible says about God, and evaluate the circumstances in light of what the Bible says He is like, rather than evaluating God in light of the visible and temporal circumstances.

The next thing we must do then, is to determine what our own response and reaction is going to be to the circumstances in light of what we have learned about God.

So I want to take a brief look at two people in the Bible and their reactions to adversity, and the outcome of their reactions. Then I want us to go to just a couple of places that talk about the nature of God and what our response should be to that information, and then I’ll be done.

Here is Daniel 1:1-8
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. 3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles, 4 youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding and discerning knowledge, and who had ability for serving in the king’s court; and he ordered him to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. 5 The king appointed for them a daily ration from the king’s choice food and from the wine which he drank, and appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. 6 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego. 8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.

Judea, the southern Kingdom, had finally filled up her cup of iniquity with her idolatry and ungodly living, so God gave her into the hands of her enemy for a time of discipline and cleansing. Even then He promised His nation would once more be restored.

In the meantime however, here was Daniel, a young man at the time, forcibly taken into captivity and removed from his homeland. In all of it though, Daniel was faithful to his God, and obedient and prayerful.
Why? Because Daniel was prepared for adversity by his faithfulness and obedience to God in times of relative peace and comfort.

Daniel was blessed and protected by God and to make a long story short, the Bible does not record one fault of Daniel. It does not record one instance in which Daniel wavered in his faith and God used him greatly.
Next let’s go to Genesis 19:1, 2
1 Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.”

Peter, in his second letter, called Lot ‘righteous’. In a seeming contrast we see Lot here, sitting in the gates of Sodom. Now that means he was doing business with the inhabitants of the city, perhaps exchanging philosophies with them, maybe politicking a little. The city gate was where these things took place.
So Lot might have been righteous in that he was religious and did all the right religious stuff, but he was living in tandem with an evil society and being affected by its evil thinking and its evil world view.

Verse 29 of Genesis 19 tells us that it was because God remembered Abraham’s request that He saved Lot and his family out of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But what we see of Lot is that he had become so embedded in the lifestyle of Sodom that the angels preferred to sleep in the city square than to come into his house.
In addition, His thinking was so tainted that when the men of the city came banging at the door wanting to have sexual relations with Lot’s visitors, he thought that giving them his two virgin daughters would be the solution to the problem.

As if that is not bad enough, when he escapes to the mountains with his daughters he gets drunk and commits incest with them, generating the Moabites and the Ammonites.
Why? Because Lot wasn’t prepared to face adversity and handle it properly and in a Godly way, because instead of staying near to God and pursuing holiness he pitched his tents toward Sodom, (first step) and eventually found himself in the city gates (second step) and even living amongst them in the city (third step).

What about God destroying the cities with fire? Well, He was willing, at Abraham’s request, to spare them all if He could only find 5 righteous men there. That I think is where our focus should be.

Instead of blaming God for the evil that men do, and then blaming Him when He acts against evil, we need to take note that He is patient and loving and not willing that any should perish.
Read Matthew 5:43-48 and remember this is Jesus speaking:
Matthew 5:43-48 (NASB95)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Two things to note from this portion. One, God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. He shows no favoritism; He is fair and just in all He does.
Second, and backing up a step in the passage, note that Jesus said, “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven” The point being, that is what God is like. Loving, interceding, even for His enemies. We are to be like Him in that respect.

One final passage:
1 John 4:15-19
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us.

God is love, says John, and then he says that as God is so are we in this world. Read this passage several times. Let it sink in.
Then, having the truth about God freshly in mind, go back and look at the circumstances of Katrina, or the Baghdad bridge, or the Indonesian tsunami, or 9/11 or the Columbine shooting and all the other ‘Columbines’, or just the adverse circumstances of your own life, and assess them in the light of what the Bible says about who God is.
If you can do this honestly, if the people you talk to who have these questions can do this honestly, perhaps you can begin to see the times of trouble with a different perspective, knowing that everything about God’s plan for the ages has as its result the end of evil, and the conforming of men to the image of His Son Jesus if only they will come to His cross for forgiveness and to His empty tomb for life eternal.

Instead of trying to second-guess God and instead of trying to answer questions that come from a faithless heart, we should all be more concerned with whether we are close enough to Him, and desiring holiness and justice and righteousness so that when adversity comes we will respond with Godliness and Christ-likeness instead of faithlessness and failure.

The Winds of Fate

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self-same winds that blow;
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That tells them the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the winds of fate
As we voyage along through life;
’Tis the set of the soul
That decides its goal
And not the calm or the strife.

— Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Truth about Being Black in America

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Effects of Slavery

African Americans or Black decedents of Slaves are one of two groups of unique minorities in the United States of America–the other being the American Aborigine or Native American.

The peculiarity of African Americans has nothing to do with the origin of this minority constituting about 13 to 15 percent of the US population–even though the origins of this group in general is myopic–or the physical characteristics that identify Blacks.

What distinguishes the Blacks of America from other groups who immigrated to the United States of America? Blacks did not enter the US by choice. Every other group of America can reverence the memory of pioneer ancestors who traveled bravely across the ocean or the plains willing to forge a new life and build something unique–putting aside old culture and adapting to new. Other heritages that made the US great gave up their language to become Americans.

Irish immigrants spread across Pennsylvania and Italians dominated New York creating new American versions of the old country. What of the African?

The fact that African Americans are called African at all is an indication of the limited explanation of this group’s history. The nationalities of Black American ancestors are a mystery for the great majority of the group. Slavery stripped this group of the choice to decide to merge with American culture. Slaves were cattle to the slavers, and treated as such.

There would be no Walimi Americans or Bangelima Americans, just African because the tribes and nations were intermixed preventing camaraderie through language. There would be no melting pot of exotic names because the tribes people were renamed and branded as nonhuman and soulless.

There would be no unique motherland identity. There would be no mingling of heritages other than the rape of tribes-women and breeding of tribes-people to make them bigger and stronger.

What is Black Heritage in America? Slavery. No identity other than a vast continent and no heritage other than what the slavers provided their ancestors and what little enslaved forebears etched out of the residue of similarities they could put together following the emancipation up until the Civil Rights Movement.

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Second Class Heritage

Following slavery, there existed about 20 years of prosperity for the newly free people of color before the new form of slavery became social law–racism. The social idea that any person of mixed slave ancestry constituted a Colored person created a singular class of people regardless of differing ethnic identity, Black–no matter the color of skin.

This concept survived from slavery where it was used to prevent mixed race people from claiming freedom based on European heritage or gaining a foothold after slavery as a more preferred class–though that occurred anyway.

After many generations of slavery and second-class citizenship, the sociological impact on this group created a people with no past to glorify as other Americans and little reason to love a country that did not guarantee constitutional rights. Generation X may be the first group of Blacks that actually experienced a more level social experience since slavery.

The psychosocial impact on African American cultural developed into what I call Collective Social Regard or CSR. No matter where a Black person originates in the country and above all political and social ties race is the definition of this group. CSR is based in the humanistic approach of Carl Rogers, specifically unconditional positive regard in reference to the client-center approach to therapy. Black Americans in general may not accept the action of those claiming Black heritage; however, this group tends to regard others within the group, owning the fellow members racial sameness without accepting necessarily the individuality. This provides a default group of identity for all Black Americans.

CSR is the perspective of African American social interaction derived from a shared ethnic experience based on heritage and race. Black people accept other Black people regarding them as brothers or sisters–due to the cattle like breeding during slavery–no matter the percentage of tribal ancestry. All an individual needs is to claim African heritage to be included as Black.

During slavery the slaver could trade away slave offspring at-will creating the need among these mixed tribes-people to form non-genetic connections of familial relationships that continue in Black tradition presently where many Blacks consider relatives removed by many degrees of separation or family friends close kin. .

Generally Blacks have not integrated into the main stream culture because most stand out due to physical differences and subjective distrust of Whites due to past dealings as a group–viewing attacks on any Black person irrespective of circumstance as evidence that there exists some institutionalized conspiracy that targets minorities secretly while publicly assuring equal protection and felicity under the law.

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Implications

As a community of Blacks without a specific African cultural heritage beyond slavery and having to depend on MOSTLY each other socially for many years until recently, it must purge the idea of Black against White.

It must not disregard the shared heritage as the descendants of slaves and second class citizens with attempts to convert to the majority culture and pretend color does not matter.

White America is a choice purposely forged with the benefit of continuity of culture from homelands. Blacks have no choice but to accept the ambiguity of connections to Africa and the reality of livestock-like breeding in America.

The breeding of American slaves allows for the exploration of promiscuity among present-day Blacks and a possible connection between high percentages of single mothers with large families due to father absenteeism The suggestion that there may be a link is only that, a suggestion based on little evidence and no facts–more a philosophical reasoning than a sociologically assumption.

Many descendants of American slaves are attributed stereotypical physical characteristics of tall, large muscular men and thick wide-hipped women. At one point in history, the description could describe the humans slavers used to breed the other slaves. There may be some connection to the assumption that Blacks excel at sports at a higher rate than not.

This would also justify the stereotype that American slaves’ descendants are inherently intellectually inferior–a premise that most would not accept in modern psychology. No scientific justification for such a view is forthcoming, but culturally the idea was considered and is slowly diminishing along with the physical stereotypes.

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Racial Disparity: Why can’t Blacks Just Get Over it?

Because of the cultural effects of slavery and persecution for many generations in any given situation, a Black individual must cycle through introspection that few other groups tend to consider.

For instance, a White man may experience a bad day at work and speak rudely to a Black store clerk who may think, “Did that person behave curtly because I am Black?” Because of the implication of his or her culture handed down from generations of oppressed Black people, those thoughts flash through the minds of many Blacks and are filed away by rationalization.

The same applies to women–especially minority women who must add to the mental reflection the question of their gender.

This introspection is applicable to anyone that does not identify with the majority culture completely including homosexuals, obscure religious groups, etc, but mostly for Blacks because Black culture is uniquely tied to America since that group is alone being forced to the states and forced to give up culture.

This all translates that as a group, Blacks think that the prisons are full of Black men and women because Blacks have no choice but to fight through the American system even if they have a more level playing field in today’s society.

it means, Obama is the president because “THEY”(WHITE PEOPLE) want Blacks to stop using the excuse that Blacks cannot get ahead in society because of racism–the hidden kind, conspiracy.

Blacks who think differently may deny heritage, or are denying heritage unawares–hurting themselves by disassociating with the social aspects of most African American culture. Whites do not need a race to identify with, but Blacks seem to need race collectively and not individually–to account for those of whose cultural experience has allowed them to adjust to mainstream American society, which is growing number.

Not enough time has passed since the Civil Rights Movement. Possibly, in three to five generations Blacks will think about race as do most Caucasians –meaning race does not define their heritage. Yet, it is also intriguing that a entire ethnic group of Americans exist whose only identity stems from American origins, a uniquely American creation.

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Moving Beyond The Past

It is not the purpose of this article to persuade Americans of African heritage to forget the struggles of the American slave. Contrarily, Black Americans must remember and embrace the shared American heritage of struggle. All Americans have struggled to some degree for the right to be in America. The United States of America is culturally diverse with groups that successfully etched a place in the American landscape. Whether the struggle began with a fight for equality or a fight for independence, all Americans share the same single trait to persevere until the work has completed and the situation controlled.

American descendants of the African slave are distinguished as captives and slaves in the nation, but share the glory of overcoming with other groups. Granted, the descendants of slaves may have a greater deal to overcome because of the oppressive past; however, such a past does not constitute a handicap. The determination of the change-makers of the past has diffused in the genetic core of all Americans. As diverse as America is, it is the common heritage that makes it great, and not the diversity alone.

Unforgiveness in American Society

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The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mahatma Gandhi


Today I am perplexed beyond measure about the unforgiveness of America’s society. A felon has paid his dues and expects to return to society with full pledge opportunity to reintegrate into the community. My wife and I have found this to be not so true as countless others are experiencing in our culture. We have been given grace to not harbor ill feelings to these unjust practices, we have strength to forgive those who are not forgiven knowing our fate is in “The Almighty God.”

World hunger and save the whales and all other advocacy for inhumane treatment are taking on real momentum while the plight of the “felon” is not related to being just as valuable. To not be allowed to get employment is a slow death designed to keep the individual oppressed.

People who commit a crime and are brought before a court to be sentenced expect to face a prison term or at least probation, and perhaps a fine. If this is their first brush with the justice system, they have a general sense that they will experience a degree of social opprobrium, the so-called stigma of conviction. But it is an article of faith for most Americans that people who violate the law will in time pay their debt to society and be welcomed back to its good graces.

President George W. Bush called us the “land of second chance,” and President Barack Obama famously congratulated the Philadelphia Eagles for letting Michael Vick walk from prison back into the team’s starting line-up. But the reality for people of ordinary abilities is very different. The following story (drawn from an article in the spring 2011 Howard Law Journal) illustrates the new normal in American punishment, in which the so-called collateral consequences of conviction are numerous, severe, and very hard to avoid or mitigate.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/an-UDsAbuutuhbbnY/despicable_me_2010_background_ch

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A Second-Chance Story
At the time Darrell Langdon came to public attention in the summer of 2010, he had just been turned down for a job as a boiler-room engineer with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) under a state law barring anyone with a drug conviction from working in the public school system. Langdon’s conviction for drug possession was minor and dated, and he had gotten a court order relieving the legal impediment. Still, CPS refused to give him a chance. It was Langdon’s good fortune that a reporter from the Chicago Tribune took an interest in his story: “Darrell Langdon made a mistake more than two decades ago. A Cook County judge believes Langdon deserves a second chance. Until Monday, Chicago Public Schools officials didn’t—but, in response to my questions, they’re taking a second look.” Dawn Turner Trice, CPS: Good Conduct Certificate Not Good Enough, Chi. Trib., July 29, 2010, at 10.

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What made Darrell Langdon’s case unusual was that he had worked successfully for CPS years before. In fact, he had been employed by CPS in 1985 when he was caught with a half gram of cocaine and sentenced to six months’ probation. He had kept his job then but struggled with his addiction. Finally, in 1988, CPS sent him to its employee assistance program for drug treatment. It was a turning point. Langdon later reported, “I did so well that I was eventually called on to tell my story and help others with their addictions.”

Langdon’s recovery was remarkable, and he became a responsible family man and well-respected member of his community. In 1995, he left CPS to work in real estate, but thirteen years later the market downturn led him to reapply for his old job with the school system. By that time he had been sober for two decades, raised two sons as a single parent, and mentored many others through Alcoholics Anonymous. CPS interviewed him three times over a sixteen-month period, gave him various tests to determine his engineering aptitude and skills, and finally offered him the job. Then came the background check. There would be no possibility of hiring him with his record.

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Determined to get his old job back, Langdon sought help from Cabrini Green Legal Aid, where he found an advocate who was familiar with various relief provisions in Illinois law. Beth Johnson advised him against trying for a governor’s pardon because it would take too long to get his request considered. While he was eligible to have his record sealed, that would not benefit him in applying for school employment. But the Illinois courts had recently been authorized to issue a Certificate of Good Conduct that lifted statutory barriers to employment, including those applicable to employment at CPS, for someone determined by a court to be “a law-abiding citizen and . . . fully rehabilitated.” With only one conviction so long ago and a strong record of rehabilitation, Langdon was an excellent candidate for this relief.

Johnson filed a petition in Cook County Circuit Court, attaching letters attesting to Langdon’s two decades of sobriety and dedicated service to others in recovery, his steadfast commitment as a parent despite many difficulties, the respect and affection of his neighbors and business associates, and even his talents as a cook. At a hearing before Judge Paul Biebel, Langdon spoke movingly about his journey to sobriety in the 1980s, and how he had maintained his sobriety over the years. Judge Biebel, satisfied that he met the statutory standard, issued him the certificate.

This should have been the end of Langdon’s story because CPS was no longer legally barred from hiring him. But he ran into that bureaucratic aversion to risk that people with a criminal record frequently encounter. A CPS official explained to the Chicago Tribune: “We have to ensure we’re hiring people who won’t put our children in jeopardy.” A policy of blanket rejection was safe and easy to administer. But the media attention provided the necessary encouragement for CPS to consider Langdon’s application more seriously, and eventually he was offered his old job back under a new hiring policy developed with his case in mind.

In many ways, Darrell Langdon’s story is fairly typical in terms of the difficulties faced by people with a criminal record seeking employment: Even where there are no disqualifying legal barriers, and even with convincing evidence of ability and good character, they may be excluded without rational explanation. In other ways, Langdon’s story is happily atypical: He had a skilled advocate for his cause, a legal system that was well-suited to his particular need, and a sympathetic and determined reporter to tell his story and to shame a risk-averse employer into doing the right thing. Most people are not so lucky.

Langdon’s fight to regain his old job with CPS shows how hard it is these days to overcome a criminal record, even one that is dated and minor. And if the law poses no obstacle to advancement, there remains the fear and loathing that a criminal record inspires. But Langdon’s story also shows that the system is capable of change. The following discussion puts the story into a larger context.
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50139876n
Modern Civil Death
From colonial times, the American legal system has recognized the reduced status of a convicted criminal, derived from the ancient Greek concept of “infamia,” or “outlawry,” among the Germanic tribes. The idea that criminals should be separated from the rest of society led to “civil death” in the Middle Ages, and to exile by transportation in the Enlightenment. A half century ago, Chief Justice Earl Warren observed that “[c]onviction of a felony imposes a status upon a person which not only makes him vulnerable to future sanctions through new civil disability statutes, but which also seriously affects his reputation and economic opportunities.” It is this semi-outlaw status more than any prison term or fine that is frequently a criminal defendant’s most serious punishment.

In 1960, the phenomenon that Nora Demleitner has described as “internal exile” had a limited impact on American society because conviction was comparatively rare, criminal records were hard to access, and official forgiveness was relatively easy to obtain. Chief executives still treated pardoning as an integral part of their job, and the Model Penal Code reflected the new fascination with judicial restoration of rights through vacatur or expungement. The reformers of the era thought permanent branding inhumane and inefficient.

In 1967, the President’s Crime Commission called for the wholesale reform of “the system of disabilities and disqualifications that has grown up” because it interfered with rehabilitative efforts. Other reform groups, including the American Bar Association (ABA), called for the abolition of mandatory status-generated sanctions, favoring “an informed and restrained exercise of discretion.” As late as 1981, the ABA confidently predicted that “collateral consequences” were on their way to extinction: “As the number of disabilities diminishes and their imposition becomes more rationally based and restricted in coverage, the need for expungement and nullification statutes decreases.” We will see just how wrong that prediction was.

The modern era of escalating prison populations that began in the mid-1980s saw a retreat from the forgiving spirit of the earlier period. In the past two decades, the status imposed by conviction has become increasingly public, the sanctions generated by it have become ever more severe and hard to mitigate, and the number of people trapped in that status—usually for life—has ballooned. Promulgated indiscriminately over three decades in the War on Crime, and administered rigidly in the risk-averse post-9/11 environment, collateral sanctions now mandate exclusion of people with a criminal record from a wide range of benefits and opportunities.

A minor drug conviction like Darrell Langdon’s, for instance, can make a person ineligible for welfare benefits, public housing, a driver’s license, student loans, insurance, voting, government employment, and hundreds of different types of jobs requiring a license. It can also lead to mandatory deportation for a noncitizen. Sex offenders may be effectively barred from living in urban areas because they cannot reside near schools, playgrounds, or even bus stops where children congregate. Repeat offenses can result in designation as a “career criminal” and harsh recidivist or three-strikes sentences. In August 2010, as part of a federally funded study, the ABA Criminal Justice Section identified 38,000 laws and regulations imposing collateral penalties.

Beyond legal obstacles, there is social stigma. A recent study of online job ads posted on Craigslist in five major cities noted widespread use of blanket policies excluding from consideration anyone with any type of conviction in entry-level jobs such as warehouse workers, delivery drivers, and sales clerks. People of means are not exempt from this chill, as government procurement officials and private insurance companies steer clear of businesses that employ people with a record. Law firms and human resource consultants counsel their clients (“just to be safe”) against hiring anyone whose background includes any brush with the law.

As collateral penalties have proliferated in legal codes and administrative rules, the mechanisms for overcoming them (such as executive pardon) have atrophied. Background checks are routine even for volunteer jobs in the community, and criminal records are available online for as little as $15. (It is now surprisingly easy to delve anonymously into someone’s past: A Google name search may bring up an unsolicited offer from a private screening company to do a criminal background check on a neighbor, coworker, or teacher for a nominal fee.)

And, of course, more and more people are caught up in the dragnet of the criminal justice system. Most don’t go to prison, but all face a modern civil death, in law and in fact. That people of color are disproportionately branded and ostracized is particular cause for alarm. That was the new reality facing Darrell Langdon when he tried to get his old job back.

Today there are more than 90 million Americans with a criminal record who cannot hope to pay their debt to society. If we still like to imagine our country as the “land of second chance,” and rejoice at Michael Vick’s redemption, as a practical matter, our laws and attitudes point in the opposite direction.

Countervailing Trends and Influences
There are the beginnings of resistance to a regime of exclusionary laws and policies, as policymakers understand that degraded status and lost opportunities exact a high price in public safety and taxpayer burden, quite apart from considerations of fair play for the individuals affected. When people returning from prison are barred from jobs and housing, they are more likely to slip back into a life of crime. It is the goal of reentry programs to see that this doesn’t happen. When people like Darrell Langdon continue to experience discrimination decades after their rehabilitation is secure, they may reasonably ask what the point was in trying.

The Supreme Court has been an unexpected change agent, giving lawyers and judges new reason to concern themselves with how collateral sanctions are imposed and how they may be avoided. In its groundbreaking decision in Padilla v. Kentucky (130 S. Ct. 1473 (2010)), the Court held that a criminal defense lawyer was constitutionally required to advise his noncitizen client considering a guilty plea that he was almost certain to be deported as a result. Characterized by the concurring justices as a “major upheaval in Sixth Amendment law,” Padilla’s rationale is hard to confine to deportation consequences alone but potentially extends to other status-generated penalties that are sufficiently important to a criminal defendant to influence his willingness to plead guilty.

Because of Padilla, competent defense lawyers will now advise their clients about collateral penalties and incorporate them into negotiations over the disposition of criminal charges. Judicious prosecutors will take steps to protect against post-conviction challenges based on consequences no one was aware of and may be more open to alternative dispositions that do not result in a conviction record. And courts will no longer declare collateral consequences to be “none of our business” just because they do not control their imposition.

The Padilla decision suggests that forgiveness has a constitutional dimension as well. In finding a constitutional obligation to warn, the Court emphasized that deportation is a “virtually inevitable” consequence of a guilty plea because Congress has eliminated judicial and administrative mechanisms for discretionary relief. Lower courts have held that the availability of relief from collateral sanctions in post-conviction proceedings is relevant in constitutional challenges to the imposition of these sanctions in the first instance, under the ex post facto and due process clauses.

Reinventing Pardon
In The Federalist No. 74, Alexander Hamilton argued that “humanity and good policy conspire to dictate that the benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed.” He spoke of the “necessary severity” of the criminal code that required “an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt.” As Hamilton expected, pardon functioned as a fully operational part of the justice system from the earliest days of the Republic. Pardon was useful not only to cut short mandatory prison sentences, but also to remove legal disabilities and signify an individual’s good character. Until quite recently, the routine availability of pardon after service of sentence meant that a convicted person could look forward to a full and early reintegration into free society—with the same benefits and opportunities available to any other member of the general public—free of unwarranted collateral penalties and the stigma of conviction. Expungement and set-aside statutes, enacted as a substitute for pardon, relieved minor offenders of the need to report their convictions.

In the past thirty years, the old routes to official forgiveness have become impassable. Pardon has come to be regarded as a bothersome and politically dangerous anachronism. Relief premised on concealment has become increasingly unreliable and unpopular in the face of technological advances and a public appetite for full disclosure. Systemic efforts to avoid threshold rejection, like “ban-the-box” legislation or limits on pre-employment inquiries, have driven discretion underground.

Yet, as we have seen, the idea of official forgiveness finds new policy support in efforts to reduce recidivism through reentry programming and new legal support in the reasoning of the Padilla decision. If the pardon power cannot be reinvigorated, as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy urged at the 2003 ABA Annual Meeting, perhaps it can be reinvented.

It happened that just two days after Justice Kennedy delivered his now-iconic speech, the ABA House adopted a set of standards that proposed a new template for limiting and rationalizing the collateral consequences of conviction. Among other things, the Criminal Justice Standards on Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification proposed that forgiveness should be an important responsibility of the court that imposes punishment. Borrowing the framework proposed some forty years earlier in § 306.6 of the Model Penal Code, the ABA Standards provided that “timely and effective” relief from mandatory collateral sanctions should be available as early as sentencing itself, to alleviate impediments to successful rehabilitation.

Conclusion
Collateral sanctions have been recognized as an impediment to successful reentry and reintegration of persons with a conviction record, but very few jurisdictions have developed an effective way of avoiding or mitigating them. Many years after conviction, these legal barriers frequently serve only as irrational punishment, not reasonable regulation. Even if a convicted person is not legally barred from eligibility for some benefit or opportunity, decision makers are frequently reluctant to take a chance on someone with a criminal record, even with evidence that conviction is a poor predictor of future criminality after an extended period of law-abiding conduct.

The law provides little by way of encouragement or support for those otherwise willing to recognize redemption. This is as systemically short-sighted as it is unfair to the individuals involved. That is why, so many years later, Hamilton’s observation about the conspiracy of humanity and good policy still rings true. Unless we as a society are comfortable living with a growing class of “internal exiles” who have no way to pay their debt to society and return to its good graces, with its attendant public safety risks and moral dilemmas, we should be looking for a more effective way of giving convicted individuals a fair chance to become fully productive members of society. As lawyers, it is our job to make the law forgiving.

O’ Where-O’ Where has my America Gone-O’ Where can It Be?

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We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.

Henry Miller

What in the world is happening to America? The things that you are about to see in the videos posted in this article are so disturbing and so violent that it is hard to believe that it is actually Americans that are doing this to one another. Once upon a time, Americans generally conducted themselves with humility, grace, civility, honor and with a tremendous amount of respect for others. Sadly, those days are now long gone. Now, large numbers of people in this country are just going wild. Unfortunately, the videos you are about to watch are not isolated incidents. Stuff like this is going on all over the country. So what is going to happen when the economy collapses and shortages begin? What kind of violence and rioting should we expect to see at that point? Just recall what we witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sadly, if the videos below are any indication, the thin facade of civilization that we all take for granted every day could completely disintegrate in the event of a major economic catastrophe.

Today, society actually teaches our young people to be disrespectful and rude. Arrogance and violent behavior are glorified in our movies, on television and in our music. Our culture is literally degenerating right in front of our eyes. The whole country seems to become more selfish, more self-centered and more greedy every single day. In such an environment, is it any wonder that our young people are exhibiting such extreme behaviors?

The violence that you are about to see is very disturbing because it is real. If you spend most of your time isolated in your own little world, these scenes of brawling and violence will probably come as a great shock to you. But this is what is really happening in the United States of America today.

If people are willing to go so wild while times are still relatively good, what in the world is going to happen if a major disaster strikes or the economy collapses and they have been without food for two or three days?

This is something that we all really need to consider. In the United States today, there are millions of people with no jobs, no hope and no future. The mainstream media keeps promising that an “economic recovery” is right around the corner and most Americans are desperately hoping that 2013 will be better, but you can almost feel the frustration of the American people rising.

We live in a country today that is very frustrated and very angry. Some of that anger and frustration is rational, but a whole lot of it is irrational. Most Americans have been brought up to believe that they are entitled to “a good life”, and when that doesn’t happen they start behaving like spoiled little brats.

If some major emergency comes along that pushes the U.S. economy over the edge, it could cause massive societal upheaval. There wouldn’t be close to enough law enforcement personnel in the entire country to be able to handle the rioting and looting that we could potentially see.

Back during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the American people were able to pull through because our citizens still possessed a great deal of character. But today many Americans are incredibly spoiled. Many Americans believe that they are entitled to everything and that life is all about them. They are in love with themselves, they are in love with money and wealth, they are arrogant and boastful, they don’t respect their parents, they are addicted to entertainment, they have very little self-control and they have very little love for others.

Fortunately, there are also many Americans that still have good hearts, that are willing to fight for the truth and that are willing to live for something greater than themselves.

This is one of the most extraordinary times in all of human history to be alive, and as I noted in a previous article, it is those that are willing to live life unselfishly that will be pleased with the legacy that they have left behind….

When I was young, someone told me the following: “Life is like a coin – you can spend it any way that you want, but you can only spend it once.” So how are you spending your life? Are you just “killing time” and watching world events go by or are you actively trying to make a difference? When your life is over, will you be proud of the legacy that you have left, or will you be ashamed of what you have done with the time that you were given? None of us can go back now and change what we have done in the past, but the future stands unwritten before us. The remaining chapters of your life can be a beautiful thing – but only if you are courageous enough to seize the day.

We are going to need leaders that are going to be able to keep it together when times get tough in the years ahead. When most people realize that the “good times” are gone forever, they are absolutely going to lose it. Many people are going to totally freak out.

But if you are willing to embrace the challenges ahead instead of letting them swamp you with anger and desperation, then the coming years could become a great time of victory and adventure for you.

So what do you think about the crazy videos that you just viewed above? Do you think that Americans are emotionally prepared for an economic collapse? Why do you think people are suddenly acting so crazy?

In the America that most of us grew up in, most Americans considered themselves to be part of the “upper middle class”, the “middle class” or “the lower middle class”. Yes, there have always been poor people and homeless people, but they were thought to be a very small sliver of the population. Well, today all of that is dramatically changing. America’s emerging “poverty class” is exploding in size at the same time that America’s middle class is rapidly disappearing. You won’t hear it on the mainstream news, but the truth is that the United States has lost ten percent of its middle class jobs over the past decade. Only the top 5 percent of income earners in the U.S. has had their incomes increase enough to keep up with the rising cost of living over the past 40 years. The truth is that today there are a whole lot of people aggressively jostling for the small number of good jobs that are actually available and each year millions more Americans are being squeezed out of the middle class. The number of Americans that are financially dependent on the U.S. government continues to set new records month after month. The number of Americans that are participating in the labor force continues to go down. The sad reality is that the “American Dream” that so many Americans used to take for granted is being ripped away from us. If you still believe that the United States is guaranteed to always have a very large, very prosperous middle class then you really need to read the statistics listed below.

If you told most Americans ten years ago that in 2013 over 43 million Americans would be on food stamps hardly anyone would have believed you.

But yet here we are.

The U.S. economy simply is not producing enough good jobs anymore. Most of those that are able to acquire one of these jobs have been able to cling to middle class status, but for millions upon millions of others economic desperation has become “the new normal”.

In fact, more Americans than ever seem to have just given up. The number of working age Americans that are not even looking for work anymore is at a record high. The number of Americans that endlessly receive government “anti-poverty” benefits continues to go up and up.

Once upon a time America was a nation packed with hopelessly optimistic “go-getters” that were brimming with entrepreneurial spirit. But now we have tens of millions of docile sheep that seemingly have no hope, no future and that apparently have no problem with permanently being dependent on the government.

But of course it must be noted that thanks to “globalism” and thanks to the greed of the gigantic predator corporations that now dominate our economy that it has become extremely difficult to “make it” in today’s economy.

It really is incredible to see what has happened to America. Once upon a time we were the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, but now we are literally being dismantled piece by piece. The poverty that we are witnessing today is only going to become even worse as the U.S. economy continues to decline.

The following are 27 signs that America’s poverty class is rapidly becoming larger than America’s middle class….

#1 Only 47 percent of working-age Americans have a full-time job at this point.

#2 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

#3 In America today, 8.9 million people are working part-time jobs for “economic reasons”.

#4 During the last school year, almost half of all school children in the state of Illinois came from families that were considered to be “low-income”.

#5 In 2010, more Americans than ever before were living below the official federal poverty line.

#6 The number of net jobs gained by the U.S. economy during this past decade was smaller than during any other decade since World War 2.

#7 The Bureau of Labor Statistics originally predicted that the U.S. economy would create approximately 22 million jobs during the decade of the 2000s, but it turns out that the U.S. economy only produced about 7 million jobs during that time period.

#8 108.6 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed or considered to be “not in the labor force”.

#9 The United States now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.

#10 The number of Americans that have become so discouraged that they have given up searching for work completely now stands at an all-time high.

#11 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

#12 According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visits to soup kitchens are up 24 percent over the past year.

#13 Approximately 5 million U.S. homeowners are now at least two months behind on their mortgage payments.

#14 The number of Americans filing for bankruptcy rose another 9 percent in 2010.

#15 In 2009, total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined in the United States.

#16 According to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

#17 Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

#18 The number of Americans on food stamps set a new all-time record every single month during 2010, and now well over 43 million Americans are enrolled in the program.

#19 Even in our nation’s capital stunningly large numbers of Americans are suffering in desperate poverty. Today, 21.5 percent of the population of Washington D.C. is on food stamps.

#20 It now takes the average unemployed American over 33 weeks to find a job.

#21 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#22 The number of American families that were booted out of their homes and into the streets set a new all-time record in 2010.

#23 Some formerly great industrial cities are rapidly turning into ghost towns. For example, in Dayton, Ohio today 18.9 percent of all houses are now standing empty.

#24 Ten years ago, the “employment rate” in the United States was about 64%. Since then it has been constantly declining and now the “employment rate” in the United States is only about 58%. So where did all of those jobs go?

#25 A recent study by a law professor from the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies. It is getting really, really hard to live on a fixed income in the United States.

#26 In the United States today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

#27 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

In 2011, even more Americans are going to fall out of the middle class and into the poverty class.

The dynamics of the game have changed. Once upon a time if you got a college education and you worked really hard you were virtually guaranteed a ticket to the middle class.

Well, no matter what you may have been promised, those days are now long gone. Now those in the U.S. middle class are trapped inside a really twisted, really bizarre game of musical chairs. If you still have your seat you should be very thankful, because chairs are being pulled out of the game constantly as the middle class rapidly shrinks.

Sadly, the economic decline of America is only going to accelerate as government debt continues to mount and as our jobs and our industries are shipped overseas as part of the new “global economy”.

Our politicians are doing nothing to stop all of the long-term trends that are ripping the middle class to shreds so the poverty class is going to continue to explode in size in the months and years to come.

So if you are still part of the middle class, enjoy it while you can, because the party is ending and they are starting to turn out the lights.

Understand the power of our words

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Nothing but encouragement can come to us as we dwell upon the faithful dealing of our Heavenly Father in centuries gone by. Faith in God has not saved people from hardships and trials, but it has enabled them to bear tribulations courageously and to emerge victoriously.

Author: Lee Roberson

Words communicate abstract or vague things. We can use them to explain events, to share feelings, and to help visualize the future. Words shape our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards a subject. They help decide if we stay neutral or take action. Just reading words can affect your thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. For example, read these six words slowly and vocally, taking notice of how they make you feel.

Murder Hate Depressed Cancer Sad Despair

Now read the following six words slowly and vocally, noticing how the words affect you as you do so. Wealth Success Happiness Health Inspiration Joy

How did these words make you feel? Successful persuaders know how to use the right words to create the desired response in their audiences. Speakers with greater verbal skills come across as more credible, more competent, and more convincing. Speakers who hesitate, use the wrong words, or lack fluency have less credibility and come across as weak and ineffective.

The use and packaging of language is a powerful instrument that can be fine-tuned to your advantage. We all know the basics of language, but mastery of both the aspects of language usage and the verbal situation can control human behavior. The proper use of verbal packaging causes you to be adaptable and easy to understand. This type of language is never offensive, and is always concise. I will try to convey what the Lord choice of the word “In” means and how we should feel while “In” a trial of afflictions.

Glorify ye the Lord” In” the fires. ( Isaiah 24:15 kjv)

Notice the little word “In”! We are to honor the Lord in the trial—In the very thing that afflicts us. And although there are examples where God did not allow His saints to even feel the fire, usually the fire causes pain. It is precisely there, in the heat of the fire, we are to glorify Him. We do not this by exercising perfect faith in His goodness and love that He permitted this trial to come upon us. Even more, we are to believe that out of the fire will arise something more worthy of praise to Him than had we never experienced it.

To go through the fires will take great faith, for little faith will fail. We must win the victory in the furnace. We must win the victory on the battle field as Joshua did, he exuded so much faith that he prayed and asked God to still the sun and God did. A person has only as much faith as he shows in times of trouble, The three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace came out just as they went in—except for the ropes that had them bound. How often God removes our shackles in the furnace of affliction!

These three men walked through the fire unhurt—their skin was not even blistered. Not only had the fire “ not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” ( Dan.3:27) This is the way Christians I feel should come out of the furnace of fiery trials—Liberated from their shackles but untouched by the flames. I had the honor yesterday to speak with a blessed man of faith name Trevor, he went on to encourage me that though the enemy of our souls was raging against me that I need to remember to preach to myself about the faithfulness of God’s word and His presence while going through. I have found that I have to be “In” the word daily always meditating on what God has promised in-order to prevail.

Triumphing over them “In” it.( Colossians 2:15)

This is the real triumph—triumphing over sickness in it, triumphing over death in dying, and triumphing over other adverse circumstances in them. Believe me, there is a power that can make us victors in the conflict. There are heights we can reach where we can look back over the path we have come and sing our song of triumph on this side of heaven, we can cause others to regard us as rich, while we are poor, and make many rich in our poverty. We are to triumph in it.

Christ’s triumph was In humiliation. And perhaps our triumph will also be revealed through what others see as humiliation. Isn’t there something captivating about the sight of a person burdened with many trial, yet who is as lighthearted as the sound of a bell? Isn’t there something contagious and valiant in seeking others who are greatly tempted but are “ more than conquerors”? Isn’t it heartening to see a fellow traveler whose body is broken, yet who retains the splendor of unbroken patience? What a witness these give to the power of God’s gift of grace!

When each earthly brace falls under,

And life seems a restless sea,

Are you then a God-held wonder,

Satisfied and calm and free?

My life will never be the same because I am not waiting for the prophet to come to me, I am girding myself up and proclaiming God’s power myself to quite this devil that is angry because love kept Christ on point for us due to the fathers love for us. I am going to be successful and powerfully used by the Savior of this world, I will be a great friend and husband, I will have a prosperous ministry, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, there is no sickness that shall prevail against me, I will walk in the power of my creator “In” every trial He allows me to endure In the blessed name of Jesus. Darkness tries to steal our hearts away daily, but remember this beloved “Mercy says No” Things that are visible are brief and fleeting, while things that are invisible are everlasting.

Thank you Jesus for being a ever present help in our time of need, we will not be defeated because we believe you are saying a prayer for us as you did Peter. You O’ Lord will see us through triumphantly in everything we encounter. Let us look to the only thing Lord that will not perish, that is your word that became flesh and dead and arose. Holy spirit thank you for keeping us until our redeemer returns In Jesus Holy name Amen & Amen……

If God would have wanted us to live in a permissive society He would have given us Ten Suggestions and not Ten Commandments. – Zig Ziglar

What is considered unreasonable “Entitlement”?

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Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves. To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other.

Chris Christie

In my quest to understand “entitlement” today I watched the debate on whether college athletes should be paid. I also pondered the question why low caste status felons have no right or entitlement to live their life as this T.I. rapper or Marth Steward, and let us not forget the countless football and basketball felons and celebrities of hollywood that are still moving forward with life. To deny any one of any status associated with life and humanity I feel is an endictment to all the “Ehtical” core values affiliated with the Constitution.

I find all of the practices of “commercialism” to be unfair. Why is it alright for our college athletes to put all on the line with their future and get nothing while pursuing their dream? Why is it alright for the lower caste status felon’s to be exploited while serving their debt to society with no hope of ever being employed all the while having to survive on crumbs and no decent housing? Can you Imagine living a slow death coupled with the temptation to survive everyday and no help nor training or opportunity to reintegrate into society as a higher caste felon? I have looked from the inside out on these issues and felt compelled to write about it today. I also thought of the Human Beings called illegal citizens, my God whales and other protected animals seem to have better rights than we as Human Beings. We need to take a look at our value system. I am ready to make some noice, how about you?

The parallelism should enable readers to surmise at once the basis for our entitlement to certain equalities. Just as with the liberties to which we have a natural right, so here with respect to the equalities that we can rightfully claim, the ultimate basis of the right lies in the nature of man.

If human beings were not by nature endowed with freedom of the will and the power of free choice, to be exercised in the pursuit of the ultimate good that they are morally obliged to seek, they would not have, by nature, a right to liberty of action. If they were not by nature political animals, they would not have by nature the right to political liberty. Their right to these liberties lies in the fact that deprivation of them renders their power of free choice ineffective in the pursuit of happiness and frustrates their natural inclination to participate in political affairs.

The equalities to which we are all entitled, by virtue of being human, are circumstantial, not personal. They are equalities of condition–of status, treatment, and opportunity. How does our humanity justify our right to these equalities?

The answer is that, by being human, we are all equal–equal as persons, equal in our humanity. One individual cannot be more or less human than another, more or less of a person. The dignity we attribute to being a person rather than a thing is not subject to differences in degree. The equality of all human beings is the equality of their dignity as persons.

Were all human beings not equal in their common humanity, did they not all equally have the dignity of persons, they would not all be entitled to equalities of condition. The point is strikingly illustrated by an ancient and erroneous doctrine (which, by the way, takes many disguised forms in the modern world) that some human beings are by nature slaves and so are radically inferior to other human beings who are by nature their masters. If this view of the facts were correct, as it is not, all human beings would not be entitled to any equality of condition–equality of status, treatment, and opportunity.

The factual basis for the correct view is biological. All members of any biological species, human or otherwise, are alike in possessing the properties or powers that are genetically determined attributes of that species of living organism. These common properties, shared by all individuals of a certain species, are appropriately called species-specific. Of these species-specific properties, some are generic, shared by other animals; such, for example, in the case of human beings, are their vegetative and sensitive powers. Only some of man’s species-specific properties consist of powers that are not generic, but being distinctive and definitive of the human species, differentiate human beings as different in kind from other animals.

To say that all human beings are equal in their common humanity is, therefore, to say that all have the same species-specific properties, both those that are generic properties shared by other animals and those that are distinctive and definitive of the human species, such as man’s power of free choice and his power of conceptual thought.

The statement in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights is not, on the face of it, self-evidently true. Nor can it be made self-evident by substituting “are by nature equal” for “created equal,” and “endowed by nature with certain unalienable rights” for “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

The truth of the statement, even when the substitutions are made, is the truth of a conclusion reached by reasoning in the light of factual evidence, evidence and reasoning that refutes the ancient doctrine that some human beings (all members of the same species) are by nature slaves.

I am not going to present here the evidence and expound the reasoning that establishes the truth of the conclusion that all human beings, as members of the species Homo sapiens, are ipso facto equal. I have done that in another case study, entitled The Lynching of felons.

The conclusion there reached is that man differs in kind, not merely in degree, from other animal organisms, which means that while he has certain generic properties shared by them, with respect to which he may differ in degree from them, human beings also have certain distinctive properties that only they possess and that all other animals totally lack. It is the having and not having of these distinctive human powers that differentiates human beings in kind from other animals.

The truth of the proposition that all human beings are by nature equal is confined to the one respect in which that equality can be truly affirmed; namely, their all being equally human, their having the species-specific properties and especially the differentiating properties that belong to all members of the species.

There is no other respect in which all human beings are equal. Two or more individuals may be personally equal in some other respect, such as height, intelligence, talent, or virtue, but equality in such respects is never true of all.

The contrary is true. When we consider all members of the human species, we find that, in every respect other than their possession of the same species-specific properties and powers, inequalities in degree prevail. In other words, though all human beings have the same generic and specifically distinctive properties and powers, some will have them to a higher, some to a lower, degree than others.

Individual members of the species differ from one another either by innate endowment, genetically determined, or by voluntary attainment, individually acquired. From these individual differences arise the inequalities in degree that make one individual superior or inferior to another in some particular respect.

One individual, by nature equal to another in kind, which means equal through having the same species-specific properties, may be by nature unequal to another in degree, which means being genetically endowed with a higher or lower degree–with more or less–of the properties or powers that both possess at birth. In addition, one may be superior or inferior to another in individually acquired attainments as well as in genetically determined endowments. This may wholly result from differences in individual effort; but it may also be partly due to the favorable or unfavorable circumstances under which the individual strives to accomplish something.

For brevity of reference, let us use the phrase “specific equality” to refer to the personal equality in kind that is the one equality possessed by all human beings. Let us use the phrase “individual equality” or “individual inequality” to refer to the personal equality and inequality of human beings in all other respects, whether that be equality and inequality in degree of endowments or equality and inequality in degree of attainments.

From the declarative statement about the specific equality in kind of all human beings, what prescription follows? The answer is that all human beings are in justice or by right entitled to a circumstantial equality in kind, especially with respect to political status, treatment, and opportunity and with respect to economic status, treatment, and opportunity.

Being by nature equal, they are all endowed by nature with certain unalienable rights, unalienable because they are inherent in man’s specific nature, not merely bestowed upon man by legal enactment. Legal enactment may be necessary to secure these rights, but it does not constitute their unalienability.

Merely legal rights are alienable. Being granted by the state, they can be taken away by the state. Natural rights can be secured or violated by the state, but they do not come into existence through being granted by the state; nor does their existence cease when they are not acknowledged or secured by the laws of the state.

As we have seen, human beings, having by nature the power of free choice, have a natural and unalienable right to liberty of action. Being also by nature political animals, they have a natural and unalienable right to political liberty and participation. Justice requires that all should be accorded the equal status of citizenship with suffrage, through which status they can exercise their power to participate in government. All citizens have this power. It is totally lacking in those who, being disfranchised, are deprived of it. Having this power to some degree confers upon all citizens with suffrage a circumstantial equality in kind. Between those who have it and those who are deprived of it, there is a circumstantial inequality in kind.

Turning now from the political to the economic sphere, parallel reasoning reaches a parallel conclusion. Both as an animal generically, and as a specifically human animal, man has certain biological needs, such as his need for the means of subsistence in order to survive, and his need for certain comforts and conveniences of life, which he needs to live humanly well. Economic goods are the goods that man by nature needs in order to survive and, beyond that, to live well-to engage successfully in the pursuit of happiness,

These include more than food and drink, clothing and shelter. They include schooling as instrumental to fulfilling man’s need for knowledge and skill; a healthful environment as instrumental to fulfilling man’s need for health; ample free time from toil or earning a living as instrumental to fulfilling man’s need to engage in play for the pleasure of it and in the pursuits of leisure for the improvement of his mind by engagement in all forms of learning and creative activity.

From these natural needs for the goods mentioned and for the goods that are instrumental to achieving them arises man’s natural right to the possession of that sufficiency of economic goods which is enough for living well–for making a good life. The existence of natural right leads us to the conclusion that every human being is entitled to whatever economic goods any human being needs to lead a good life.

Just as all human beings are entitled to a political equality in kind, so they are all entitled to an economic equality in kind.

All should be haves with respect to political liberty, none have-nots, none disfranchised persons totally deprived of the power of political participation that a political animal needs.

All should be haves with respect to wealth in the form of whatever economic goods a human being needs to live well, at least that sufficiency of such goods which is enough for the purpose. None can be have-nots in the sense of being totally deprived of such goods, for total deprivation means death. But none should be destitute–have-nots in the sense of being deprived of enough wealth to live well.

In both the political and economic sphere, justice requires only as much equality of conditions as human beings have a natural right to on the basis of their natural needs. The statement of the matter just made occupies a middle position between the two extremist views mentioned earlier.

At one extreme, the libertarian maintains that the only circumstantial equality to which all human beings are entitled is equality of opportunity. He argues for this view on the ground that such equality tends to maximize individual liberty of action, especially freedom of enterprise in the economic sphere.

The libertarian rightly thinks that attempts on the part of organized society to establish an equality of economic condition other than an equality of opportunity will inevitably result in government regulations and interferences in economic activities that restrict individual liberty of action and put curbs on freedom of enterprise. Where he is wrong is in failing to see that such curtailments of freedom, made in the interests of justice, are proper limitations of liberty. His error lies in asking for more liberty than justice allows.

At the opposite extreme, the egalitarian maintains that the circumstantial equality to which all human beings are entitled should not be merely an equality in kind that is accompanied by inequalities in degree. It should be more than that. It should be the extreme form of circumstantial equality, which is an equality of condition attended by no inequalities in degree.

Stated in political terms, this would mean that all should be haves in the sense of having political liberty and power, but no individual should have more, and none less, of the power that all should have because it is requisite for participation in political life.

Stated in economic terms, this would mean that all should be haves with respect to wealth in the form of the economic goods needed to live humanly well, but also that all should have the same amount of wealth. None should have more, and none less, of the wealth that everyone needs for the successful pursuit of happiness.

The middle position between these erroneous extremes, in both the political and the economic spheres, calls for a moderate, not an extreme, form of circumstantial equality. With regard to the possession of political or economic goods, real goods that every human being needs, it calls for no more than everyone is entitled to by natural right. It is willing to settle for no less.

A moderate or justly limited equality of conditions is an equality in kind, with respect to either political or economic goods, but one that is accompanied by inequalities in degree that justice also requires. Justice requires only that all shall be haves. It does not require that all shall be haves to the same degree. On the contrary, as the next chapter will attempt to make clear, some are entitled by justice to more, and some to less, of the goods that everyone is entitled by justice to have.

Two additional reasons can be given for rejecting the wrong prescription concerning equality of conditions that the egalitarian recommends on the basis of man’s specific personal equality.

First of all, he appears to forget that the specific equality of all members of the human species is accompanied by individual inequalities of all sorts, both in endowments and attainments and in what use individuals make of their endowments and attainments.

Human individuals are not all equal in the way that so many precision-made ball bearings are alike–identical with one another in every respect except number, all having the same properties without any difference in degree. Unlike the ball bearings, which of course have no individuality at all, human individuality consists of individual differences that result in one person’s having more or less of the same attributes that also belong to another.

To recommend the prescription that all human beings are entitled to a circumstantial equality of conditions, political and economic, that should involve no differences in degree is to neglect or overlook the existence of significant individual inequalities in degree among human beings. These personal inequalities in degree call for circumstantial inequalities in degree, just as our personal equality in kind calls for circumstantial equality in kind.

The error being made by the egalitarian arises in the same way as the one made by the elitist who neglects or overlooks the personal equality in kind of all human beings. On the sole basis of personal inequalities in degree, the elitist recommends circumstantial inequality in degree with respect to political and economic goods. He rejects the recommendation of any circumstantial equality in kind, except perhaps equality of opportunity. The elitist makes that one exception because he believes that, in the race of life, the superior will win.

Elitism can be avoided without going to the opposite extreme of egalitarianism, simply by rendering what is in justice due human beings by reference to their personal equality without overlooking their individual inequalities and by reference to their individual inequalities without ignoring their personal equality. In recent history, the most glaring and egregious example of an egalitarian overreaction against elitism is provided by the cultural revolution to which China was subjected under the gang of four.

A second reason for rejecting the extremism of the egalitarian looks not to its injustice, but to its practical unfeasibility.

It is possible for miscarriages of justice to occur that would permit liberty to run rampant beyond limits and to become injurious license. The libertarian extreme is feasible, but not the egalitarian extreme. More liberty than justice allows is possible in society, but more equality than justice requires cannot be sustained.

To recommend that all should be haves with respect to political liberty and power, but that none should have more and none less, is to recommend a form of direct democracy so extreme that it would allow no distinction whatsoever between citizens in or out of public office–a democracy in which there are no magistrates, one in which everything is decided directly by a majority vote of the whole citizenry.

It is doubtful whether such extreme democracy ever existed, in Athens or in New England townships. It certainly would not be practically feasible in any state of considerable size; having a population so large that all its members could not deal with each other face to face, nor when confronted with the complexity of problems that states and governments must deal with in the contemporary world.

In the economic sphere, to recommend that all should be haves with respect to wealth in the form of whatever economic goods human beings need to live well, but that none should be richer and none poorer in their possession of wealth, is to recommend an equality of conditions that has never existed, except perhaps in monasteries where the monks, taking the vow of poverty, participate equally in what wealth is available for the community as a whole.

If, under secular conditions, all individuals or all families were somehow to come into possession of the same amount of wealth, in whatever form, that absolute equality of economic condition would not last for long. A magic wand would be needed, not only to bring it into existence, but also to make it endure. No one has ever worked out a plan whereby, short of magic, this extreme form of economic equality might become feasible.