Imagine: Making Reality What You Want It To Be

March 21, 2016

I realize that we are a long way from where I think we should be. I wrote this article about to inspire imagination.

Imagine a world where everyone individually and collectively did their best to follow the Golden Rule.

We cannot make it so unless we imagine that we can succeed and then strive to make it happen.

Now, just for the halibut, place your doubts, fears and cynicism on hold for a day while you imagine that world and how it would change your life.

Hold that thought.

Sleep.

Try it again tomorrow.

Why not?

Doesn’t hurt and doesn’t cost you anything. You can’t lose by trying.

If it works, share it with your friends.

If it doesn’t, go back to your life.

Remember: meaningful change starts with yourself.

You can’t change unless you want to change and most people don’t want to change unless they are unhappy.

We can’t change others, especially a nation’s foreign policy, unless we change ourselves.

When enough of us have changed, institutional change will come from within and change overnight.

Ironically, being unhappy is necessary to motivate change.

Talk is cheap. Show by example.


Golden Rule should be the guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy

March 20, 2016

A belief in American exceptionalism and a right to exercise dominion and control over the natural and human resources of the planet has produced a catastrophic foreign policy that is destroying the planet. Hillary Clinton, like her mentor and friend Henry Kissinger, is a true believer. Just like him, she believes it’s OK to lie to get what she wants. For example, from an OpEd in Salon by Patrick L. Smith, here is a recent example of her lying to get her way regarding a free trade agreement with Colombia when she was Secretary of State.

“I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia agreement,” Clinton promised a gathering of communications workers at the time. In the releases of Clinton’s emails last year, we learned that she was simultaneously lobbying hard among members of Congress to get the pact passed—assuring them, among other things, that the rights of Colombian workers would equal or exceed those of U.S. workers.

[Dan] Kaufman [a labor writer in Wisconsin] concludes this pithy passage thus: “According to Escuela National Sindical, a Colombian labor rights group, 105 union activists have been assassinated since the agreement passed.” This is more than 20 a year on average, which computes to nearly a couple of murders a month.

This duplicity happened two years after she supported a 2009 military coup in Honduras that overthrew the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya by officially recognizing the military as the legitimate government of Honduras. Since then, Honduras has been awash in blood. Berta Caceres y Flores, an environmental activist was murdered earlier this month by a military death squad. Anyone who is suspected of attempting to organize labor unions or, as Caceres did, resist the construction of an environmentally destructive hydroelectric dam, is marked for murder. Small wonder then that thousands of refugees from Honduras are seeking asylum at the Mexican border. Read more about Berta Caceres.

We need to stop the insanity.Destabilizing any foreign government (e.g., Libya: “We came, we saw, he’s dead,” said Hillary referring to Khadafi) to gain control of natural and human resources should be punishable as a war crime.

This is not complicated. The guiding principle of our foreign relations should be the Golden Rule. We should treat other nations the same way we want them to treat us and we should avoid doing things to other nations that we would not want them to do to us.

We also need to confront our past with public hearings conducted by a Truth & Reconciliation Council.

This simple truth has been staring us in the face since our beginnings in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. We survived the ice ages not because of survival of the fittest, but because we relied on each other. Because of global climate change that we have caused, we are facing another Malthusian bottleneck. We are going to have to ourselves in the other and rely again on each other to survive it.

Predatory capitalism and wars have no role in the future we need to begin envisioning today on the Vernal Equinox — March 20, 2016.

So it shall be written; So it shall be done.


War Against the Poor must end now

December 19, 2015

This article is directed to those who call themselves Christians and anyone else who is interested.

In Matthew 25:31-46 [New International Version (NIV)] Jesus said to his disciples what has come to be known as the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Note that Jesus is not referring to himself when he mentions the ‘Son of Man.’ Instead, he is referring to someone else whom God would send to preside over the coming Kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi who believed the apocalypse was at hand. In this parable he is explaining what a person must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This parable almost certainly goes back to the historical Jesus because he is telling his disciples that salvation comes to those who perform good acts. He does not mention religion, belief or faith. Indeed, they did not matter to Jesus.

Paul and the early Christians, however, believed acts had nothing to do with salvation. They believed salvation will come to those who believe Jesus died for their sins and was resurrected to eternal life. Therefore, they are unlikely to have made up the parable of the sheep and the goats.

Present day Christians, and others who despise and shun the poor, who believe their acts do not matter because they are saved by their belief in Jesus as their lord and savior who died for their sins are in for a rude awakening. Their reward will be eternal damnation.

And no amount of wishing it were otherwise matters a whit.

If they want a shot at the eternal life they so dearly hope for, they need to stop hating and demonizing the poor and start following the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (positive version) or do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you.

In Mark 12: 30-31 [New International Version (NIV)], the historical Jesus also said in response to a question about which of the commandments was most important,

30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Additional Reading: Ehrman, Bart D. The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (2013)


Pope Francis reminds us about what matters

September 24, 2015

Neither building walls nor hunting down and deporting millions of immigrants is the answer to the refugee crisis.

In a speech to both houses of Congress this morning, Pope Francis said,

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”

Deceptively simple, but so very true.

“Do not judge, lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7, 1-3)

“There but for the grace of God, go I.” (Uttered by John Bradford)

May we turn the page today and begin a new tomorrow based on respectful good faith dialogue to reach solutions that benefit the many instead of feeding the greed of the self-interested few.

He also called for an end to the death penalty, respect for all life, an end to income inequality and cooperation to end human-caused climate change.

He praised four Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

Dorothy Day was an American socialist.


Just because we are natural born killers does not mean we are not good people

September 18, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good morning:

The significance of the recent scientific study published in Nature, which found that chimpanzees are natural-born killers, is that killing has a genetic basis. They did not learn that behavior from humans or choose to be that way. They are genetically predisposed to kill because, via natural selection, that predisposition has resulted in a competitive advantage for scarce resources and reproduction compared to chimpanzees that do not have that predisposition.

We need only look to our own culture and past to realize that we have the same genetic predisposition.

The Boston Globe reports:

It can be tempting to take a dark view of the violent behavior of chimpanzees, but Joan Silk, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, said discovering the origins of human behaviors in other animals is not the same as learning our destiny.

“How do animals resolve conflict is interesting,” Silk said. “How do animals find out ways to cooperate? Those are general principles from which we can learn a lot, but it doesn’t mean we’re expecting them to be the same across species. I study baboons, and I love them dearly, but they do all kinds of things I think are sort of uncivilized. If they were my kids, I’d be very distressed.”

We are finally beginning to understand that human behavior has a genetic basis. That is, we are predisposed to act in certain ways, despite our race, ethnicity, language and culture.

A predisposition to kill when vital resources are scarce is a competitive advantage. In times of plenty, it’s a competitive disadvantage.

Empathy is a competitive advantage during times of scarcity because survival is enhanced by living in a peer-to-peer cooperative relationship with others.

Individuals cannot long survive unless they belong to a group and groups cannot survive without the informed consent and cooperation of their individual members.

Mutual respect and dignity promote harmony and cooperation in times of scarcity and plenty.

Greed and exploitation of others never do. They promote discord and ultimately cause chaos.

This is why living the Golden Rule and democracy are a better model for living than a corporation that exploits other people and the environment for profit and has no accountability for the harm it causes.

Survival of the fittest is not a law. It’s only a prediction of the outcome of a fight.


Reject neoliberalism and resuscitate the fundamental right to human dignity

July 10, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good afternoon:

The time has come for all the people of the world to reject neoliberalism and its fundamental assumptions that greed and exploitation of people, resources and the environment serve the greater good. Instead, they serve an ever diminishing group of supremely selfish parasites who enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.

In his State of the Union address to Congress on January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt identified four essential freedoms:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

Human dignity is the basis of the four essential freedoms.

Each human being has a right to dignity.

We must recognize and enshrine this right for all time together with the Golden Rule by which we assure it by our deeds:

That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.

We know about freedom of speech and religion. They are protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Freedom from want means the right to a job and a guaranteed living wage with benefits, including universal health care. The government should be the employer of last resort to assure that anyone who wants to work will have a job compensated by a living wage with benefits. That wage shall be the minimum wage.

Exploitation of labor shall be prohibited.

Freedom from want shall also include the right to a free education.

Freedom from fear means outlawing aggressive wars and prosecuting those who initiate them.

There shall be no right for a nation to start a war in preemptive self-defense.

This is our 1126th post. If you appreciate what we do, please toss some money into the hat. We need it to keep the lights on.

Thank you,

Fred


Greed is a false god

April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Good morning:

Today is Easter Sunday.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, resurrection is an ancient myth that was old before humans invented writing. The Ancient Egyptian story of the resurrection of Osiris dates back to a time long before Menes unified the Two Lands creating the fabled Old Kingdom of Egypt in approximately 3,000 BC.

Jesus was a rabbi and the core principle of his teachings is the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Rabbi Hillel, who lived and died before Jesus was born, expressed the Golden Rule:

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Law. The rest is commentary. Now go and learn.”

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and incompatible with the Golden Rule.

Nevertheless, greed is the so-called invisible hand that regulates the free market and, according to neoliberals, the only acceptable form of regulation. Not only is unrestricted greed an acceptable business plan, it has become the only acceptable business plan. Thus, has greed been accorded godlike status.

And we wonder why the world is so messed up.

On this day that we celebrate resurrection and rebirth, we would do well to recommit ourselves to living the Golden Rule. Believing it is not enough. Breath it. Live it. Become it, now.

Rabbi Hillel also said,

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?”

We are in this together.

Greed is not a path to prosperity. It is a path to corruption, exploitation, enslavement and chaos.

We all know know it.

Now let’s do something about it.


Should nations follow the Golden Rule

September 15, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Good afternoon:

I had to attend to some personal matters yesterday in Tennessee and was unable to post a new article.

I write today to remind everyone about the importance of basing our conduct on the Golden Rule. We humans could literally change the world in an instant if we could get everyone in the world to agree to base their conduct on the Golden Rule. I am not the first person to say this. Philosophers and spiritual leaders have been saying this throughout recorded history. Nevertheless, instead of seeing progress in our country toward reaching a consensus about the fundamental importance of basing all human conduct on the Golden Rule, I see a retreat from it. I do not believe it is a coincidence that we are also seeing an increase in racism, disrespect for human rights, incarceration and demonization of the poor and the mentally ill.

I have a few simple questions.

1. If George Zimmerman believed in the Golden Rule, would he have gone hunting for Trayvon Martin or would he have identified himself and asked him if he needed any help?

2. Would racism exist if people followed the Golden Rule?

3. Would the right wing hate machine gain traction or lose credibility, if people followed the Golden Rule?

4. Would people, including the blind, be buying guns in record numbers, if people followed the Golden Rule?

5. Would the United States be interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and considering bombing Syria, if people and the government followed the Golden Rule?

6. What do we have to change about our thinking in order to apply the Golden Rule in our lives?

Let’s start with the last question because I think it is the fundamental question that answers the other questions.

We live in a society in which many politicians play the fear card to promote fear, suspicion of strangers, and demonization of the other. Seems like they are constantly declaring a war against this or that alleged calamity instead of using evidence based research to identify problems and propose reasonable solutions. No one is going to seriously consider following the Golden Rule, if they believe their existence is constantly threatened. Instead, they are more likely to follow a perversion of the rule and do unto others before they do unto you. This is the idea behind preemptive strikes in self-defense that our government used to justify invading Iraq and we all know how that turned out.

We have seen the fear card played over and over and it is long past time to recognize we are being played and refuse to support politicians who persist with the one-trick-pony show.

We need to reorient our thinking to see our fellow humans as basically the same as we are regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or the language one speaks. Our differences should be celebrated rather than feared. For example, the science of genetics informs us that 99.99% of human DNA is identical. Therefore, the obvious differences we see in others, such as skin color, are really insignificant in the big picture. Beneath the skin we are the same.

We cannot eliminate suffering by practicing the Golden Rule, but we certainly can reduce it. Rather than disregarding the Golden Rule as impractical and demonizing all Muslims as enemies or potential enemies, we should examine our nation’s conduct in the past to see what we did wrong or could have done differently to have avoided the hatred of so many people. This requires evidence based thinking, which is the mature and intelligent way for individuals to resolve their disputes.

Why is our government so afraid to admit mistakes and wrongdoing?

Why does it default to bully behavior and military options to solve problems when we have seen them fail over and over?

Groans Quoted Bill Maher in a comment at 12:10 am this morning:

“Forget the Syria debate, we need to debate on why we’re always debating whether to bomb someone,” Maher said. “Because we’re starting to look, not so much like the world’s policeman, but more like George Zimmerman — itching to use force and then pretending it’s because we had no choice.”

As our Founding Fathers said in the Declaration of Independence, we have the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

So does everyone else.


Ma’at, Justice, the Golden Rule and Jury Nullification

January 3, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I inadvertently muddied the waters last night on jury nullification when I responded without thinking to a question by Judy75201, who asked if the prosecution ever benefited from jury nullification. I said, “No.”

Whonoze corrected me using my own statement.

He said,

I believe the Prof. has already answered your question in the previous thread:

“Far more likely is the wrongful conviction of innocent people, which happens possibly as often as 20% of the cases.
“I fear racist jurors would increase the already unacceptable rate off wrongful convictions, if they could ignore the evidence pursuant to jury nullification and convict minority defendants who should be acquitted.
“That danger is an every day reality in the South.”

So if the defense has not met it’s burden, and, for example, an all white jury convicts a black defendant anyway, that’s an example of jury nullification that favors the prosecution.

Prof., perhaps you could explain to all of us what role the judge’s instructions to the jury play in all of this, and whether those are typically invoked for a verdict to be labeled as “nullification” rather than just “unexpected.”

The application of the label seems to be somewhat subjective, as some might consider the Simpson or Anthony verdicts to be nullification, while others would consider that the State did NOT meet its burden in either case, depending upon how each evaluates the evidence and argument presented at trial. Do I have that right?

I thought it over and here is my response.

Yes, I stand corrected. If a racist White jury convicts a Black defendant, despite a reasonable doubt, the prosecution benefits and the wrongfully convicted defendant loses.

Of course, we usually never know why a jury does what it does because jurors are not required to reveal why they did what they did and their deliberations are not recorded. Jury deliberations are sacrosanct and no one is permitted to be present in the jury room or to listen in on jury deliberations.

I did not follow the Anthony case, so I know little about it.

I think there was a reasonable doubt in the OJ case because I know the police planted pilfered blood evidence obtained at autopsy and broke the chain of custody creating all sorts of reasonable doubt. I was a DNA consultant for the defense and followed that aspect of the case closely.

Many people disagree and think the verdict was due to jury nullification by Black jurors in retaliation for the “not guilty” verdicts returned by White jurors in the Rodney King beating case. For example, Colin Black expressed that opinion here a few days ago. For the record, I do not believe the Rodney King verdict had anything to do with the OJ verdict.

And so it goes.

Let’s take a look at the core legal principles in all criminal trials.

Despite what lawyers and judges may say, a trial is only incidentally about a search for the truth. I use the word “incidentally,” because the real purpose of a trial is to determine whether the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime(s) charged. The jury determines the answer to that question in a jury trial and the judge determines it in a bench trial, if a defendant knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waives his right to a jury trial and agrees to permit the judge to decide the case.

The “truth” may or may not be revealed and become known during a trial. For example, even when a defendant has confessed to a crime, there will always be a theoretical possibility, however unlikely, that he may be innocent and have falsely confessed to the crime. My next article, for example, will be about false confessions.

In addition, even if DNA evidence supports a confession, appearing to remove all doubt regarding guilt, there will always be a theoretical possibility that the DNA evidence was fabricated or planted due to forensic fraud.

The important points to remember are that a trial is a quest to determine whether the prosecution has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and theoretical possibilities, in the absence of any evidence to support them, remain theoretical and cannot constitute a reasonable doubt.

We begin all criminal trials with the presumption that the defendant is innocent and must be found “not guilty,” unless the the jury decides the prosecution has overcome the presumption of innocence by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defendant has no burden to produce any evidence or do anything. He can remain silent throughout the trial and elect to testify or not testify. If he does not testify, his silence cannot be held against him and the judge will instruct the jury to ignore the defendant’s “insoluble silence” as there may be any number of reasons for it that are unrelated to the issue of guilt or innocence.

The burden to overcome the presumption of innocence is placed on the prosecution and it must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Should it fail to do so, the jury must return a verdict of “not guilty.”

Reasonable doubt is defined in the jury instructions as “a doubt for which a reason exists” and it “may arise from the evidence or lack of evidence.” That is, it must be an evidence-based doubt. Either certain evidence supports the doubt or the absence of certain evidence of guilt supports the doubt. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both that supports reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt cannot be based on suspicion, speculation or hunches.

“A reasonable doubt is such a doubt as would exist in the mind of a reasonable person after fully and fairly considering the evidence or lack of evidence.”

Either side is entitled to claim the benefit of the evidence regardless of which side introduced it.

Put another way, during deliberations, the jury is supposed to review all of the evidence that was introduced at trial and decide whether (a) there is a doubt about the defendant’s guilt and whether (b) that doubt is supported by a reason arising from the evidence or lack of evidence. In other words, an evidence-based reason. If the answer is “yes,” then the jury must acquit. If not, then it must convict.

Unless it decides not to and that is where jury nullification comes in.

There also is a possibility that a jury verdict might be based on confusion or a mistake. However, the jury instructions were specifically designed and written to reduce the possibility of a mistake or confusion as close to zero as humanly possible. All courts use standardized sets of pattern instructions and my quoted material comes from the pattern instructions in Washington State where I practiced law for many years. I know them by heart.

I looked at the pattern instructions in Florida several months ago and they are similar, if not identical. This is not surprising as all of the state and federal courts are on the same page when it comes to defining the presumption of innocence, burden of proof and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

No one should be surprised that judges believe jury nullification is a terrible threat to due process of law and the orderly administration of justice. They have done everything they possibly can to structure trial procedure, the introduction of evidence and the jury’s deliberative process to simplify, guide and focus jury attention on the “important” stuff.

Despite their best intentions and efforts, however, justice cannot be captured in a set of definitions, procedures and step-by-step instructions.

The whole concept of Justice is greater than the sum of its individual parts, as defined by laws, court rules and jury instructions.

The ancient Egyptians understood this principle and that is why they elevated Justice to the status of a god.

They called her Ma’at and paid homage to her in all aspects of their lives and dealings with each other.

She is the basis for what we call the Golden Rule.

When you think about it, Ma’at or the desire for justice is why we have juries decide cases, and if juries are to manifest Ma’at in their decisions, they must have the power to exercise jury nullification.

Unfortunately, jury nullification, like everything in this physical dimension of space-time, including our ideas and ourselves, comes with a shadow. That shadow manifests as something evil when an all White jury wrongfully convicts an innocent Black defendant, despite reasonable doubt. The prosecution benefits in that situation.

But a jury that acquits a sick defendant undergoing chemotherapy who is technically guilty of possessing and using marijuana for medical purposes manifests Ma’at and strikes a blow for justice. I see nothing wrong with that.

As I explained in an earlier article in this series on jury nullification, I am focusing attention on the defense effort to use racism and jury nullification to deny Justice for Trayvon. I am ringing a bell and issuing a warning to the prosecution and all who seek Justice for Trayvon in hopes of reducing the probability of that outcome to zero.

So let it be written.

So let it be done.

I hope this article clears up any remaining confusion about these vitally important principles.

___________________________________________

Previous articles in this series:

Nitty Gritty: Three Questions for Jury to Answer in Trayvon Martin Murder Case

Jury Nullification: The Best Kept Secret in American Law

How to Nullify Jury Nullification and Obtain Justice for Trayvon Martin


Ma’at, Trayvon Martin and the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant

October 6, 2012

The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant is an Ancient Egyptian story about the relationship of Ma’at to justice. Written sometime during the Middle Kingdom in the 19th century BCE, it relates a story about an incident that occurred during the chaotic First Intermediate Period.

The main character is a farmer from the arid and desolate Wadi Natrum named Khun-Inpu, who loaded up his donkey with most of his barley and set off for an urban marketplace in the Nile River valley where he intended to trade the barley for goods to take back to his wife and children. Along the way, he came to a place where the path narrowed down to the width of a loincloth bordered by a stream on the low side and a wheat field on the high side. A wet cloak lay across the path.

Khun-Inpu stopped when he reached the cloak. A man stepped out of the wheat field and warned him not to move or touch it. He said his name was Nemti-Nakht and he claimed to be the overseer of the wheat field.

Khun-Inpu asked him to remove the cloak so that he could resume his journey, but Nemti-Nakht refused. Khun-Inpu then stepped into the wheat field pulling his donkey behind him intending to go around the cloak and resume his journey. The donkey flattened some wheat, however, and then decided to stop and eat some grain, notwithstanding Khun-Inpu’s entreaties to to the contrary.

Nemti-Nakht started screaming in protest. He accused him of trespassing on his master’s land, destroying part of the crop, and stealing grain to feed the donkey. Then he assaulted Khun-Inpu with a tamarisk and beat him unconscious.

When Khun-Inpu regained consciousness, Nemti-Nakht was nowhere to be seen. Neither was the donkey nor the load of barley.

Khun-Inpu decided to find the owner of the wheat field and plead his case for the return of the donkey and his barley. Upon reaching the next town, he soon discovered that Rensi, son of Meru, owned the land and he found him down by the riverside in the city.

Addressing him with praises according to the customs of the day, Khun-Inpu told him what had happened and respectfully asked for the return of his donkey and the barley. Rensi referred the matter to his judges, but they denied Khun-Inpu’s request because, according to the law, they could not grant it unless he presented witnesses to verify his claim against Nemti-Nakht.

Although he was a mere peasant and outlander lacking a formal education, the judges were greatly impressed by his presentation, which was not at all what they expected from a person from such humble origins. His honesty and passion for justice and his fearless yet polite and earnest way of expressing Ma’at, or good speech would have been exceptional, even if expressed by one of their own. Believing pharaoh might be also be impressed, if he were to hear Khun-Inpu’s literally divine speech, they convinced Rensi to refer the case to the pharaoh for his consideration. In short order the pharaoh agreed to hear the case.

Pharaoh listened politely but appeared unmoved. Nevertheless, he agreed to allow Khun-Inpu another opportunity to argue his case. And so it went. Hee prepared and argued eight successive petitions, but pharaoh remained unmoved. Finally, in desperation he prepared a final petition in which he really let it all hang out speaking truth to power. He told pharaoh that if he denied him Ma’at, he would seek it from Inpu himself in the Hall of Two Truths in the Duat. In pertinent part, he said the following:

nn sf n wsf(There can be no yesterday for the do-nothing)
nn xnms n sX mAat (There can be no friend for one deaf to Right)
nn hrw nfr n awn ib (There can be no festivity for the greedy hearted)

Pharaoh was so moved after reading Khun-Inpu’s three fundamental truths that are so essential to any understanding of Ma’at, that he ruled in his favor and ordered the donkey to be returned to Khun-Inpu and for him to be compensated with all of Nemti-Nakht’s property, including his job.

The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Rule of Law manifest our fundamental values and principles. Together they form the basic structure by which we define and should conduct ourselves. They are not mere words on a piece of paper. They are sacred. They are our Ma’at.

One of the most fundamental ideas expressed throughout those documents is the principle of equal justice under law. In other words, no matter who we are and what we do, we are all equal and entitled to the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

No one is entitled to special consideration, much less a lifetime exemption from having to comply with the laws and the unlimited use of a get-out-of-jail-free card to avoid suffering the certain consequences that any of us would suffer for the same misconduct.

Yet, despite this fundamental and defining principle of equal justice under law, we are witnessing and experiencing a different reality in which race, wealth and economic class increasingly set us apart and undermine our faith and trust in our laws and institutions to treat us fairly and protect us.

Ma’at is breaking down and like Khun-Inpu did 3,500 years ago in Ancient Egypt as recounted in the Tale of the Eloquent Peasant when a law was being used to wrongfully deprive him of his property and deny him justice, we have to speak truth to power to reclaim what we have lost and restore our faith.

We must give voice to Ma’at and together we shall overcome.

Please consider the following question:

Have we not been summoned one at a time from near and far by our empathy for Trayvon Martin and our desire to do what we can to restore justice in his case?

I believe there is a spirit that moves us and I choose to call her Ma’at as the Ancient Egyptians did.

Namaste


%d bloggers like this: