I'm sure you all saw the Arthur Andersen
story in the paper the other day. This is the kind of story that can really depress you. Or make you angry. Or drive you crazy. Especially for people who want Justice to be served.
Now I know that there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye and it doesn't mean that AA is innocent or that they will rise up and rehire the 27,800 employees that have left (but don't get me started on Accenture--a.k.a. Andersen Consulting that was a big part of the Enron debacle but got away with it and weren't tarred with the same brush because THEY CHANGED THEIR NAME! I remember thinking at the time, are the media really that stupid that a name change will allow people to disassociate them with Enron? I guess so.).
I don't want to get into an analysis of the story, but I want to point out that legal "justice" and moral "justice" are not the same. In The Myth of Moral Justice
, law professor and novelist Thane Rosenbaum suggests that this paradox stems from the fact that citizens and the courts are at odds when it comes to their definitions of justice.
After listening to two friends talk about their rage at small injustices it occurred to me how much pain is right at the surface when it appears that justice is denied in big situations like this
. If you constantly see leaders and companies "getting away with it" after awhile the hunger for justice, either legal or moral or physical, drives people to several attitudes and copying strategies based on your internal belief system.
1) Activism. Go get 'em. Punish 'em.
My new hero is Elliott Spitzer. I think it would be cool to work for him. What a great feeling it must be to make people pay when you bust them for ripping off consumers and clients. You could use the word comeuppance in a letter home to mom.
. Willful or active. Billions are spent on think tanks and on right wing talk show hosts that actively work to facilitate people's denial. Check out the apologists, spinners, out and out liars that all want blunt your instinct to scream "Hey they are getting away with murder!" Because make no mistake, they ARE getting away with murder. And torture and grand theft. But maybe it will be less painful if they can deny or define away flying someone to Jordon to kill them through torture if you call it "extraordinary rendition."
3) Go Cynical. "TS, life ain't fair.
The Golden Rule is 'Those with the Gold make the Rules'. So when you see injustice it fits just fine into your world view. No one is punished for lies? That's life.
4) Lashing out at the injustices with words.
"Read my angry rant on my blog. For example, The Rude Pundit
, one of the funniest, foulest mouthed writer on the web, (who, by the way, will be doing a stage play with some of his rants soon in NYC.
If I lived there I would go in a flash.) Injustice provides an opportunity for you to spew and that might make you feel better. Okay, I'm doing some of this now. I feel a tad better, but just a tad.
5) Be depressed.
One of my favorites. I know dozens of people in this category. Seeing stories where justice is miscarried, delayed or simply ignored can lead to a sense of hopelessness. "What's the point of: voting/suing/boycotting/writing letters to the politicians/rich/evil corporations/media because they will: simple ignore me/over turn my lawsuit/rig the market/marginal my comments.
6) Lashing out at smaller injustices you feel you can control
. In the movie Crash there was anger just bubbling beneath the surface of most characters. Maybe you can't stop the big corporations and politicians from "getting away with it" but damn it I'm not going to let this clerk treat me like dirt. Psychiatrists have a word for it, transference
I often wonder, "At what point will watching people "get away with it" reach a point of no return? Would a bunch of investors and employees riot and lynch an Enron executive who didn't get punished? On TV cop shows they always had those episodes where the offender 'got away with it' and the father (almost always the father) of the victim took the law into their own hands. Those little morality plays fed the hunger people had for justice and especially if they couldn't get it in a court of law.
I don't think the American people will rise up in revolution because too many are in denial or depressed. There is also a multi-billion dollar industry working 24/7 to disconnect the perpetrators of injustice from their acts. They will use all the tricks of money, power, PR and the press to deflect attention and cover up their involvement. I'm being purposely vague here. If you want some specifics of the distortions go to PRwatch.org
. They have pages and pages of both corporate and government tricks.
A violent revolution will only happen if people feel that other coping strategies aren't working or that they have nothing left to lose. With the gap in pay becoming greater and greater there might be more people willing to go that route.
But because Christian religious leadership has failed people, the media has failed people and also the Democratic leadership have failed people they continue to get away with it (oh and just to be clear --the Republican leadership have REALLY failed the people of America, although they haven't failed their rich friends and sponsors).
And sadly if it ever goes really bad the wrong people will probably get blamed. When there were riots in LA I remember hearing people say, "Why are they destroying their own town?" Because they can't come to the homes of the people who pissed them off!
Would there be gas riots? Marches on Washington demanding better jobs? Roving bands of foreclosed homeowners rioting outside the banks? Will the Chinese take the blame? Or will "The Architect", Karl Rove?
Me? I'm rooting for Elliott Spitzer trying to avoid #3, #5, and #6. For my relatives using #2, well I guess it keeps them happy. I just hope that there are enough number 1 and 4 out there so we don't have #7.