There was a time that I had hope for the United States. There was a time that I even wanted to be the President and held that as my most esteemed dream and aspiration. That was also a time when I trusted the government was established to protect and serve me. That dream has vanished, those hopes have been torn to shreds and that trust has been violated beyond repair.
There was a time when I was naïve and although not innocent; I had an immature mind that still believed what I saw on the surface of things. They should have put a warning label on my education that read, “Beware, if you look too deep and make too many connections between the things you find your conception of the world will be irrevocably altered forever.” I chose to pursue a law degree because I thought a healthy knowledge of the way our laws were constructed and function would help me to be an effective servant of the people. I thought studying history would provide me with knowledge of where we came from and help me to envision the future. I thought studying philosophy would teach me the morality and ethics necessary to make the tough decisions when there were no clear answers and both choices had negative outcomes. I was correct on all counts, but I was not prepared for what I discovered.
The laws primary function is a form of social control. Now this would not be inherently wrong if, the laws were equally enforced ubiquitously upon all equally, but that is not the case. And it would not be wrong if all the people under the jurisdiction of the laws helped to create and change the laws as the need for the laws shifted with the times, but this is again not the case. The laws are written to benefit those with power and wealth, while concomitantly suppressing and constricting the rights and privileges of those with less power and wealth. The main problem is that there are so many laws that there is not any person who could know them all and at the same time comprehend their collective meanings and draw conclusions from their interrelated implications. Furthermore, it is not a single law that is the problem, but rather, the system of laws that have been created that stack upon one another to create an unjust system that seems nearly impossible to deconstruct. What is clear from the little that I have learned is that these laws although, they may appear to be fair, they are not applied to everyone in the same force, if at all. Thus, it has become clear that the social control the laws form is intended not for all, by all, but for some particulars by other particulars and therefor, the system of laws is wrong.
Justice is a word that is tossed around often, but it is a word that seems to have lost its meaning. Justice is that which provides for the flourishing of both the private individual and for the collective group or the public. However, the manner in which justice tends to be used, in particular by the government of the United States is in a manner that equates the law, whatever these particulars agree upon to use as social control for other particulars of this society as being just. That is a fallacy and a lie that has been neatly crafted to fool the general public into the acceptance of this inaccurate definition of justice. Based on what justice means, then for the laws to be just, they would have to provide for the enhancement of all who the laws apply. However, the opposite is the case as those with less power and wealth are subjugated and relegated to inferior positions and their ability to flourish is diminished and constricted by the laws and therefore, the laws are unjust.
Assata Shakur said in, To My People:
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
What I draw from this is that it is not the duty of the government to protect our freedoms and to provide justice, but rather, it is my, it is our duty to define what justice is and to protect that justice. We do not work for the government, the government works for us, but this is only the case so long as we hold the government accountable to us. In this regard, the words of Thomas Jefferson, from the Declaration of Independence written in 1776 seem most fitting:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
This shows that even the founders of the United States agreed that it was not only a Duty to fight for Freedom and Justice, but also a Right to do so. What it also reveals is that it is the responsibility of The People to determine what justice is and to define how they are to be governed by a government and not the other way around. Furthermore, at the tail end of the Civil War (1861-1865) when the United States was torn over the definition of justice and its application, President Abraham Lincoln remarked in the Gettysburg Address (1864):
“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Again, it is a government of the people and by the people, which situates the responsibility of holding the government responsible and accountable squarely in the hands of The People. The ugly truth is that since this is the foundation of the United States, then the responsibility of the shape and the oppressive nature of the government of this country rests squarely upon the shoulders of The People for allowing the formation of a quasi-Totalitarian government that is ruled in a plutocratic form by particulars that forms laws marginalizing and exploiting others less powerful and wealthy.
This happened because The People became complacent and did not value our vote or the power of our votes or remember how difficult it was to achieve the Right to vote in the first place. And as a result we shirked our responsibility to govern ourselves and to care for our own communities. We turned our backs on those responsibilities and placed them into the hands of others who are not responsible, and are motivated by self-interests, so we have no one to blame but ourselves.
However, it is not too late. I was disillusioned when I began this journey because I was under the impression that it was the responsibility of the government to define justice and to govern us, like most other people, but I have found that that is not accurate. The power resides in us, The People, as it always has. And whenever we choose to assert that power as those who have come before us did and who provide the examples for us to follow, we will find that there is nothing that can stop a group of driven and motivated minds working together on a problem.
The truth that has been concealed is that there is no government without us because We, The People, are the Government.