Wednesday, 11 June 2003

Courts Count for the Quality of Your Community

I recently attended a conference on the essential qualities resulting from the best-planned, best organized communities. Items like affordable housing and recreational opportunities immediately came to mind. People need shelter that matches a budget and they need recreational opportunities for health and exercise as well as places to visit like parks, lakes, or rose or vegetable gardens. One of the guest speakers, a local judge, added that good communities also have an excellent court system.

Of course, the safety of a community arises from sound law enforcement and a fair judicial system. If officers are out and about in a community, with their eye out for the well being of citizens, those who live in a community are able to feel secure and live knowing that they are safe. Whether they are in their backyard for a barbecue or out for a walk through the neighborhood, knowing officers are on duty is a priority is reassuring that a community is protected. And, I believe, safety breeds safety just as dangerous neighborhoods so often breed danger.

When laws are broken it is critical that the judicial system is in top working order. It makes no sense to arrest or charge willy-nilly, but rather with the best intentions and the best plans for the safety of a community. Officers who are brash are often as dangerous as the criminals they are looking for just as officers who enjoy donuts and coffee more than patrolling and keeping an eye on a community, do not fulfill the commitment and responsibilities of their job. I just want things in my community to be fair, with citizens served with honesty and trustworthiness. Living in a small town I have the advantage of knowing most of our officers. I admire their dedication to their job and those of us who live there. I know that if I ever need help they will be on the scene in a flash to assist me.

From the work of these officers those who have or who allegedly have broken laws appear before a judge. The judge provides probably the most important factor in maintaining the safety of a community. As not all cases are cut-and-dried, it is invaluable that the judge be able to examine each case in an individual fashion. Sometimes bad things just seem to happen while at other times crimes are perpetrated. The judge has to see through all of this and then determine a punishment that is fair and that also serves as a life-long deterrent. If the judge is too lax, the criminal is very likely to become a courtroom regular; if the judge is too severe, a person's life can end up dedicated to the four walls of a cell.

Yes, our speaker is absolutely correct: The courts of a community, regulated by the judge or judges of that community, do count for the quality of the community and thus the safety and security of every resident. I thank my local judges for their wisdom and devotion. They do make a very positive difference.

Friday, 6 June 2003

Humans and Humanity

What are the critical elements that make us human? Do these elements transpond time and space, cultures and continents, communities, families? We breath the same air, occupy the same planet, live and die, but beyond these how similar are we? Genetics play a grand role in determining our human characteristics such as hair and eye color, stature, other physical traits along with many capabilities such as brainpower and physical dexterity. Our environment also plays a special role. Where we were born, the time frame, our parents and extended family begin us on our journey and then comes all of the other potential encounters and experiences. It is nature versus nurture and so much more.

Our humanity is influenced by the civilization in which we live, the morality and mortality factors that affect our lives and living, the human condition that surrounds us, and the variables of life. Humanity is also the characteristic that presents itself through our kindness, compassion, and sympathy for others. Having been brought up in a loving, two-parent home, with terrific sisters as role models, I was taught to love the out-of-doors and nature, physical fitness, and education, my family and friends, and to live with generosity and goodness toward others. Because my family likes each other, we can also love each other, forgiving the errors we make and embracing the wonders of family. I think this solid foundation of mutual respect set up much of the personal life I live now.

Because of my upbringing and experiences, I model my behavior in certain ways but I also know that others live differently and I work hard to accept that that is their right. While I feel relief that I never was put in a situation where I needed to consider an abortion, I respect that that is a decision that others might make. I live in a loving heterosexual relationship but I understand that others might desire to live in a different style. As a woman I have freedom to go and do and choose, but I realize that this is not true everywhere in the world and while this is hard to accept, I appreciate that other women live a different life. I embrace the freedoms that are provided to me in this country and see them as quite wonderful, but I realize that others live differently and that these freedoms appear altogether wrong. In my recognition of the variation of humans and their lifestyles, I believe I exemplify compassion and consideration to all humankind.

I found it interesting to read that some communities that have been overtaken by ISIS forces are quite content to have these soldiers present. One man stated that at least with ISIS there is no corruption and no greed and as long as he stays within their good graces, he lives a safe and secure life. The murders that surrounded him just seemed to be the way things are and he is neither alarmed nor particularly interested. He feels his life is in better shape under what I view as a reign of terror than his previous life, which I would also view as a life of terror. The article mentions the fact that ISIS and similar forces may win out in the end simply because citizens are satisfied with this less terroristic lifestyle and acceptance of current conditions.

This type of life and ideology are alien to me but if I am human and a true member of humanity, I must accept that for some, freedom is valued differently and is not necessarily the government and life choice they want. Who am I to judge? I do not live in these nations, I have not been brought up in these cultures, I have little understanding other than brief visits abroad, reading, and listening to the news. And so as a human, while I am willing to help and education, it is not my job to interfere with criticism or moral degradation. I am fortunate to live where and how I do, but it is not mine to subject upon others.