Cry Justice - Introduction

Cry Justice!

by Christopher Blaze

Spokesperson for Apostolic Action, Inc.

Introduction

Abstract

 

These days media content alone is sufficient cause for widespread dis-ease. We argue that much of this dis-ease is because a basic human need is not being met. We believe that one of the major causes of widespread anxiety is the sense of frustration experienced by most human beings in their attempts to pursue happiness – which seems to be frustrated at every level of society manifesting most markedly as poverty.  We believe that  the level of poverty that exists and persists in the world is predominantly   perpetrated poverty – a crime against humanity!  We join our voices with those who argue that widespread ownership of productive or creative property must be at the heart of any public policy aimed at the amelioration of poverty in every culture. The major obstacles here, as we see it, are the many and varied illusions and allusions seemingly accepted by the masses as freedom. We propose to breech this obstacle field by focusing the twin forces of the “universal hunger for freedom” and the “universal thirst for justice” on the problem. The positive way onward remains – and we point to it.  Not unlike the Founders of the U.S.A, who steadfastly steered between the ship of state between the shoals of Tyranny and Anarchy, we point our compass to the just, third way!

 

 

We don’t all live in a yellow submarine! We are not all living “a life of ease” where “every one of us has all we need,” as lyricized in 1966 by a British rock band, the Beatles.[1]

If that is the ideal of how life should be in this world, then to dream that ideal, for most, is “to dream the impossible dream”[2], along with the Man of La Mancha.[3] The harsh reality is that far too many people can cry out from the multitude, Les Misérables[4], with Fantine “... life has destroyed the dream I dream”![5]

No, we do not all live in a yellow submarine. But most of us do live in a kind of ship – a ship of state. And, wherever we look in the world, each one of those ships seems to be sinking!

In this series we are speaking, generally, to all human beings, everywhere. From time to time, however, we will be speaking directly to Americans with whom, theoretically at least, we share a cultural heritage. Nevertheless, the underlying message is for all humanity.

We believe that Americans aboard the ship of state called the “SS United States” are all in peril, are all in harm’s way, and are all, understand it or not, in great need! Say what? Say this for everyone, everywhere: It is one thing to suffer a rotten apple in the barrel; it is quite another thing to suffer a rotten barrel!

Say what? Say this to Americans: For many years medical professionals and social scientists have been checking satisfaction levels and anxiety levels of all those aboard the SS United States – and the levels of dissatisfaction and anxiety are alarming! Since 2006, a majority of Americans – at the time of this writing a near supermajority (66%) – consistently have expressed dissatisfaction with the way things are going in the United States.[6] The majority of Americans think that America is headed in the wrong direction! This is a matter of perception. And there are a multitude of facts that support the validity of that negative perception.

Say what? Say this, for a sampling:

  • No longer does the U.S. rank first in “democracy” – among other nations, America ranks eighteenth;[7]
  • In terms of “economic freedom” America ranks tenth;[8]
  • In terms of “quality of living” America ranks thirty-first;[9]
  • In terms of “life expectancy” America ranks forty-ninth.[10]

Don’t stop here! Please read on. There is some good news – and we are determined to get to it. Meanwhile, all relevant aspects of reality must be faced if we would hope to identify and overcome the negative ones. And, my colleagues and I are determined to overcome. Our cry is a cry for justice! We join our voices with those who in protest sing out “We shall overcome!”[11]

What follows is a sampling of facts, perhaps little known and perceived, which offer reasons – symptoms and affects if not causes – why anxiety in America is so widespread. According to Ranking America[12], The United States ranks low in many areas where she should rank high:

  • Seventeenth in educational performance;
  • Eighteenth in reading literacy among fifteen-year olds;
  • Twenty-fourth in literacy;
  • Sixty-fourth in quality of rural drinking water;
  • Forty-ninth in life expectancy;
  • Forty-sixth in civil liberties...

According to Ranking America, the United States ranks high in many areas where she should rank low:

  • Second in general ignorance about important social statistics;
  • Third in poverty, juvenile crime suspects, and in auto accident deaths;
  • Fifth in unemployment and male obesity;
  • Sixth in drug crimes and assaults;
  • Seventh in divorce and per capita pornography revenues;
  • Eighth in female obesity and death penalties;
  • Ninth in bribery;
  • Tenth in per capita rape suspects and bullied teenage females...

Do we believe that all the data posted at Ranking America is 100% accurate? For a variety of reason, we say “No.”   To be useful, it is not necessary for the data to be mathematically precise.   For our purposes, we believe that the data are indicative – and therefore instructive.

In the absence of credible sources to the contrary, these data cut through the fog of generalized malaise and potentially point to specific serious solvable problems. Some of these problems diminish personal happiness. Some of these individual issues destroy happiness!

Moreover, the perception that America is on the wrong track is shaped and colored by a constant bombardment of “news” – mostly bad – from the media. It is said in the newsroom: “If it bleeds, it leads!” These days – and nights – media content alone is sufficient cause for widespread dis-ease.

All the reasons cited above, and many more that could be cited, may be why Americans seem to be in love with mind- and mood-altering drugs. Say what? Say this: America ranks first among nations in the use of cocaine and fifth in the use of amphetamines.[13][14]

Prevalent drug abuse may represent a culture attempting to escape from reality! Nevertheless, short-term alteration of one’s mind or mood through drugs or alcohol – or any other escape mechanism for that matter – contributes nothing positive to external realities. And, the result is wide spread mental illness – and an increasing incidence of suicide.

Say what? Say this: America ranks first among nations for anxiety disorder.[15] In the United States an estimated 46% of all persons will be diagnosed as mentally ill at some point in life.[16] And, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 20% of America’s children either currently or at some point in life will have a seriously debilitating mental disorder.[17]

That’s a lot of people with anxiety. That’s a lot of people with dis-ease. That’s a lot of people in need! And the picture is not much better anywhere in the world. In most places around the globe the picture is worse.

Why are so many people so anxious? It is self-evident, at least to us, that the major triggers of anxiety – the stressors or drivers – are many and varied. Herein we will focus on a small subset of stressors – or depressors – that, we believe, cut to the heart of the matter – the human heart.

We would argue that much of this dis-ease is because a basic human need is not being met. We would argue that among the most basic of human needs is the need for peace of mind. We would argue that peace of mind naturally flows from an underlying sense of harmony.

We speak here of harmony among and between all persons. We speak here of harmony among and between human beings, non-human beings, and all else that exists. Some call this “ecological harmony.”

We would argue that the word that best expresses the concept of ecological harmony is found in Hebrew in the Old Testament. In Hebrew, that word is “salom” (aka shalom).  And, in the New Testament the Greek word “irene” is most often used to translate the Hebrew concept of salom.[18]

There is no single word in the English language that is packed with as much meaning as the Hebrew salom and the Greek irene. The word peace in English comes closest – but is not equal – to the rich concept connoted by salom and irene. And what we accept as peace in our lives, at all levels of society, is often far less than salom.

In the Old Testament the word salom signifies a condition in which nothing is lacking and everything is rightly ordered, perfectly balanced, and sweetly harmonious. Typically, salom is experienced in varying degrees of fullness. Salom is expected to be perfected in the messianic salvation. It is prophesized that the Messiah is the prince of salom [Prince of Peace] and that in His Kingdom there will be salom without end (Is 9:6-7).

In the New Testament the word irene is nearly synonymous with the English word salvation. Irene comes through Jesus the Christ and surpasses all human expectation. Irene cannot be effected by human ingenuity (Phil 4:7); it is a gift from God!

In both the Old Testament and the New Testament this is the “perfect peace” that becomes a hopeful expectation, a blessing, and a greeting. It is this peace that is both a calling (a vocation) and a state of being for those who live in peace. “Blessed be the peacemaker, they shall be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).[19]

Herein whenever we use the word “peace” we will be intending to convey the fullness of meaning symbolized by salom and irene. And, we would hope that more human beings would understand that “peace” means more than the absence of apparent conflict or war.

In this series, we will argue that what is most lacking in the world – in plain language – is peace, authentic peace (salom)! We believe that there can be no authentic peace without real justice. And, we believe that there can be no real justice without truth.

Some say that we are living at a time of great cynicism and skepticism. They say we have a crisis of truth! Some even believe that there is no absolute truth, believing that absolutely.

For the sake of all humanity we will have much more to say later about truth. For our American audience, for now, suffice it to say that as a society – at our founding – we declared certain truths to be self-evident and we declared certain rights to be inalienable – “and among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”[20] And, we declare that we are among those who continue to believe in inalienable, although not exclusive, human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What we mean by “not exclusive” is that the rights of one person must be balanced with the rights of another person and harmonized with the rights of all persons.

We believe that the right to life itself is preeminent among all other human rights. This has been argued wide and well by many others. Should anyone really expect to articulate a cogent, convincing, and winning argument for any other inalienable human right if the inalienable right to life were not first stipulated? The right to any other inalienable human right hinges upon the inalienable right to life itself – and the inherent dignity of the human being! A dignity too often dimmed by prejudice, poverty and slavery!

The argument that we want to continue right here and now is that without liberty – freedom to pursue happiness – a person cannot become happy in any meaningful and lasting way. Not that this isn’t self-evident. Not that this isn’t the primary lesson of human history. Not that the arguments in the past have been deficient in any way. But, varied and many are the enemies of real liberty! Many and varied are the proponents of subtle forms of dependency or bondage or slavery – e.g., welfare dependency, wage bondage, and debt enslavement! And, far too many continue to confuse license with liberty!

We believe that one of the major causes of widespread anxiety is the sense of frustration experienced by most human beings in their
attempts to pursue happiness! The pursuit of happiness seems to be frustrated at every level of society – manifesting most markedly as poverty.

We believe that the level of poverty that exists and persists in the world is predominantly perpetrated poverty! Pervasive poverty is perpetrated because it is a direct consequence of governance – regardless of whether governance is by so-called democratic means or by fiat!

We hold that such perpetrated poverty is a crime against humanity – a grave and gross injustice, a perverseness, an iniquity! We join our voices with those who argue that widespread ownership of productive or creative property must be at the heart of any public policy aimed at the amelioration of poverty in any and every culture!  For those of Jewish and Christian faiths – and those of other religious faiths – which hold to the right to private property, we believe that it is faithful citizenship to advance as public policy “the right to productive or creative property.”

One does not have to believe in the One God of Jews, Christians and Moslems – or any deity or deities for that matter – to share in the benefits of inalienable rights enshrined in constitutional law. One only has to value and protect such rights and preserve and extend such law.

One of the major problems that we believe we face in advancing our argument in this so-called post-modern culture is the lack of a common language and, therefore, common ground. We believe that this is more than a consequence of the widespread acceptance of multi-culturism. We believe that this is more than a consequence of the corruption of language – e.g., stretching applications of the word tolerance beyond its definition.

The major obstacles here, as we see it, are the many and varied illusions and allusions seemingly accepted by the masses as freedom. And so, we propose to breech this obstacle field by focusing the twin forces of the “universal hunger for freedom” and the “universal thirst for justice” on the problem.

We begin our argument by recalling the exceptional circumstances in and around the founding of the United States of America. In doing so, we will be recounting views that may be philosophical, theological, ideological, or juridical – but we will be relying on the ability of our readership to apply right reasoning. We rely on common sense!

There are some that want to take issue with the Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How? of the discovery of America. In the alternative, we would have you focus on the establishment of the United States of America (U.S.A.) and the three founding documents. These founding documents enshrine the driving imperative and logical rationale for forming the new nation, the beliefs held in common, and the shared values of the people of the new nation.

The founding documents of the United States of America are available for all to see and study. They are The Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution (1787), and the Northwest Ordinance (1787) – (aka The Freedom Ordinance).

The Northwest Ordinance prohibited slavery in the new territory. Slavery was not a shared value at the Founding; slavery was an accommodation in the face of imminent war with England. England was then the reigning global super-power.

Five thousand years after the failed attempt to establish a long-lasting democratic society in ancient Greece, the Founders of the U.S.A. created the first nation of a professedly free people in modern times. Imperfect as it was in its founding, and as defective as it is today, the U.S.A. was then and is now – in terms of freedom, equality, and justice before the law – the hope of and the model for the human race.

The Founders of the U.S.A. “created a new cultural climate that gave wind to the human spirit. They encouraged exploration to reveal the scientific secrets of the universe. They built a free-enterprise culture to encourage industry and prosperity. They gave humanity the needed ingredients for a gigantic 5,000-year leap” (W. Cleon Skousen).[21]

With the Constitution, the U.S.A. became a nation based upon the rule of law subject only to the Laws of Nature, learned through scientific investigation, and the Laws of Human Nature, as revealed by God. Thus the U.S.A., we can say was founded on stone and not sand (Mt 7:24-27), William Blackstone (1723-1780).[22]

In the U.S.A., as founded, the Constitution was – and still should be – supreme, and not some governing person or persons, or governing body or bodies. Under this legal framework the U.S.A. has become the greatest nation in history:

  • The U.S.A. has created more new wealth for more people than all the rest of the world combined;
  • For more than a hundred years the U.S.A. has been the food basket of the world;
  • During the last two hundred years the U.S.A. has out done the rest of the world extending the benefits of inventions and discoveries to its people;
  • Indeed, the U.S.A. has been responsible for more achievements, discoveries and more inventions in science and elsewhere than any other nation – including putting a human being on the moon and eradicating or ameliorating terrible diseases; and,
  • The U.S.A has given more aid to and relief to other nations in distress than most other nations combined.[23]

All this has been actualized, realized – and so much more is promised in potential! Nevertheless, intergenerational poverty not only exists but persists in America, to the shame of all.

We point to intergenerational poverty in the U.S.A. because, as a society which continues to welcome many immigrants, Americans may have to accept as inevitable, in the short term, some level of poverty among such immigrants. This is due to the fact that many of the immigrants who arrive in the U.S.A. are uneducated or under-educated, some are illiterate and unskilled. If these find any work at all, their income from such may well be below the poverty level for an extended period of time.

The challenge here is to ensure a safety net of aid to ensure the necessities of life, health, and safety – not the niceties. This is a work of charity.

When family income continues to be below the poverty level from generation to generation, however, such is the work of justice! Intergenerational poverty should be intolerable everywhere – especially in America. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” [24]

A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau says that some 46 million to 49 million of the people are living in poverty in America.[25] That is a lot of people. That’s about 15% of the population. And, as the statistics bear out, this degree of poverty is not explained by migration alone.

Poverty is not the only major American social issue. America has declined from previously held high ground – morally and ethically as well as by other lofty measures.

And, in our judgment the U.S.A., as a society, presently lacks the vision and the energy and therefore the will – to overcome her challenges. Missing are the qualities of vision, energy, individual conviction, internal cohesion, and leadership that led her to be victorious over the tyranny and oppression of colonialism in the 1700s, lifted her from the devastation of her bloody and costly civil war in the 1800s, and strengthened her to bear the burdens of two World Wars in the 1900s – and various “police actions” ever since.

Lack of leadership is certainly an issue. “America! America! God shed His grace on thee till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free! ... Till nobler men keep once again thy whiter jubilee!”[26]

The positive way onward remains – it is a lighted path and we point to it. Not unlike the Founders of the U.S.A, who steadfastly steered between the ship of state between the shoals of Tyranny and Anarchy, we point our compass to the just, third way! And, to help navigate through the present fog of social confusion and unrest, our trumpet – like the mariner’s foghorn – blares with the sound of the word Justice.   Deep calling on deep!

And though the American ship of state is somewhat tarnished, battered, bruised and leaky, yet she floats – and we sing still: "Sail on, O Ship of State, Sail on, O Union, strong and great" (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1850)![27] Sing along with us, O People of Good Will. The journey alone is worth the effort! The nobility of the cause is deserving of the struggle!

[Questions and comments on this series may be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. }

Footnotes

  1. “Yellow Submarine” is a 1966 song by the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney).
  2. “Man of La Mancha” is a musical and film (1972) with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay “I, Don Quixote,” which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his seventeenth-century masterpiece Don Quixote.
  3. "The Impossible Dream (The Quest)" is a song composed by Mitch Leigh, with lyrics written by Joe Darion. The song is the most popular song from the 1965 Broadway musical “Man of La Mancha and is also featured in the 1972 film of the same name.
  4. “Les Misérables”  is a French historical novel by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862.“Les Misérables” has been popularized through numerous adaptations for the stage, television, and film, including a musical and a film adaptation
  5. "I Dreamed a Dream" is a song from the musical “Les Misérables.
  6. www.gallup.com/poll/1669/general-mood-country.aspx
  7. http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/the-us-is-the-18th-most-democratic-country/
  8. http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/the-u-s-ranks-10th-in-economic-freedom/
  9. http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/the-u-s-ranks-10th-in-economic-freedom/
  10. http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/the-u-s-ranks-49th-in-life-expectancy-at-birth/
  11. "We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became a key anthemAfrican-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968).
  12. http://rankingamerica.wordpress.com/how-does-the-united-states-rank-in/
  13. According to the 2008 “World Drug Report,” released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the United States is tied for first (with Spain) in terms of cocaine use. In both countries, three percent of adults and teens state that they have used cocaine.
  14. According to the United Nations’ “World Drug Report,” 2008, in any given year, 1.6% of Americans between the ages of 15 and 64 use amphetamines, a rate that makes the United States rank fifth in that category.
  15. According to a presentation to the IFPE Congress in Vienna, Austria on April 18, 2009, on the results of World Health Organization’s “World Mental Health Survey,” 19% of Americans experience a clinical anxiety disorder in a given twelve-month period, which makes the United States rank first in that category.
  16. Kessler, Ronald C.; Berglund, P; Demler, O; Jin, R; Merikangas, KR; Walters, EE (2005). “Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders” in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry 62 (6): 593–602.
  17.  www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistiucs/index.shtml
  18. Dictionary of the Bible,” John L. McKenzie, S.J., © 1965, The Bruce Publishing Company, pages 651-652.
  19. New American Bible,” Revised Edition
  20. 20.United States Declaration of Independence
  21. Dedication. "The 5,000 Year Leap; Principles of Freedom 191," W. Cleon Skousen, 1981, 1991, 2006. Seventh printing.
  22. Academics have noted that all the formative documents of the U.S.A. and seminal decisions of the Supreme Court were drafted by attorneys steeped in Sir William Blackstone's “Commentaries on the Laws of England.”   Even today, the “Commentaries” are cited in Supreme Court decisions.
  23. As detailed, for example, by Ronald M. Mann, Deputy Director, Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, in “The Challenge,” in the introductory pages of The 5,000 Year Leap, op cit.
  24. This quote comes from Emma Lazarus' sonnet, “New Colossus,” which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty now sits. In the early 1900s and after Lazarus' death, a plaque with the poem's text was mounted inside the pedestal of the statute.
  25. http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-251.pdf
  26. America the Beautiful,” written by Katharine Lee Bates (1893).
  27. From “The Building of the Ship,” “The Republic,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, published in 1849.

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Category: Cry Justice