We are actually getting somewhere
In college I took a class called “Foundations of the American Legal System.” We learned all about the British common law and tort systems that the American legal system was based on. We read several landmark cases and discussed how they were decided. We talked about what impact those noteworthy cases had as they became precedent in the cases that followed. Naturally, we also read about Roe v Wade.
At the time I was horrified to learn such a significant decision (that affected me very personally) was hanging by a very thin legal thread. A thread connecting the right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure to a person's right to bodily autonomy. I called a friend who was in law school at the time and talked to her about it. Then I settled into an uneasy hope that no one with the power to pull on that string would ever reach out and untie the knot. Unfortunately that's exactly what happened this week.
I was glad to see so many people come out to march and protest, making their feelings known on sassy signs and creative placards. And although I am upset and disappointed, I am not surprised: we all knew this was coming. As was true last week, we need some better legislation in place that expressly gives individuals autonomy over their own body. And while we’re at it, clearly we should codify protections for The Gays and other queer folk and anyone else on Justice Thomas' chopping block.
A lot of things need fixing. And since we’ve got quite a long to-do list, we should also take note of what’s going right (or right-ish). We should make an effort to see the signs of things headed in the right direction. I had dinner with some friends who wanted to practice gratitude in a different way than they are used to. We picked a theme and each shared something we are grateful for on that theme. The practice of sharing gratitude was not new to any of us, but the framing definitely was. The frame: what are you seeing in the world that feels like a sign that things are moving in the direction of people fixing the world?
For example, this week I was at a work conference and I was pleased to hear just how many times diversity, equity, and inclusion was wound into other content. After the main conference, I stayed for a two day course on professional interviewing. There were useful tips and templates, and other practical content, but what really struck me about the course was the underlying principle of humanizing the interview subject. It wasn’t labeled as such in the presentation, but that’s what it was.
All the techniques the presenter introduced and all the templates and methods they provided formed a structure to keep the interviewer present within the process and less likely to allow their pre-mature conclusions to run away with them. It makes for a more well-rounded interview and a more complete investigation.
This presenter is out there giving this same trainings to cops all across the country. So he's sneakily giving cops tools and techniques that make them more accountable for the methods they use and the conclusions they come to. Even though the entire institution of policing needs a complete overhaul, it's the system we have right now. So as long as it's still around, I want this guy out there subverting the historical misuse of power through his training offerings.
Recently I heard a segment on the BBC about decolonizing the institutions of arts and antiquity. Powerful nations stole art and cultural artifacts from many parts of the world during centuries of colonial expansion. Many of those peoples and nations understandably want their history and heritage back. But it can be very complicated. Transporting delicate items across great distances is a challenge, as well as identifying who should receive the items if a cultural group is split between nation-states or across a broad geographical area. And then there's the question of reparations for the many decades pieces have been separated from their original or appropriate custodians.
Several museum curators and indigenous art advocates had a conversation about how to deal with all the facets of the situation. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and earnestness with which everyone engaged in the discussion. There was clear acknowledgment of both the past wrongs and the present complications. I was glad to hear the frank and open discussion aired on the BBC, the home channel of one of the biggest colonizers there ever has been. I'm not sure that same conversation would have been possible even a couple years ago.
Once I started looking, I found signs all around that the efforts of the many people and institutions engaged in building a more equitable and inclusive future are actually working. Public monuments commemorating indigenous culture and legacy are more common than they were decades ago, even in conservative areas. Marginalized people are refusing to go back into the closet, even in the face of legislative threats from bigoted public officials. Affirming support for those folks from community near and far is much more public and prevalent. Capitalists are even starting to care about the environment.
Often it seems like we humans will not get around to fixing a thing until it's all the way broken. But there are some things at least some folks have been working on all the while, whether you knew about those efforts or not. There’s no shortage of things that need fixing, so in order to keep our pep up and avoid burnout it’s important to remember that overall we’re well on our way. When you have your head down in the work, it’s hard to recognize the incremental progress. So I invite you to step back occasionally and see how far we’ve come and how much we've all grown.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.