A week ago, most of my office and I had the opportunity to participate in the Winter Special Olympics at the Arc of Tri-Cities. Ok, it wasn’t really the Winter Olympics. It was slightly adapted to our capacity as non-Olympians: we pretended cotton balls were snow and scooped them into a bowl blindfolded; we used little sports scooters (plastic dollies with handles) to race like we were bobsledding with help from a partner; and we threw pool noodles through hula hoops like we were throwing the javelin, although I’m not sure how that one fits with the Winter Olympics. Regardless, we had a great time.
You might be wondering what this has to do with the law? In Kennewick? Well, I could write an article about crime and intelligence, which seems like an interesting topic, especially when you consider the idea that very intelligent people may be more likely than the general population to commit crime. But, I’d rather not. No, I’d rather focus on the intangible effects of community, and reaching out to those within your community.
It has been said that law is what binds a community together. It protects the weak, and ensures that the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are available to all that seek them. I believe that the law protects the weak. I also believe that the law helps to ensure that basic rights are preserved and protected from a tyrannical government. However, I believe that a more fundamental force binds us together: basic humanity.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th-century French diplomat, visited the United States in the 1830’s and wrote on what he saw. In a profound moment of insight, he stated that “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” This was in spite of slavery, which was slowly beginning to trudge the long road to emancipation. This was also in spite of the treatment of the so-called “natives”, who have benefit from a form of emancipation, if not the substance. He knew then what you and I know now: we are bound together by our basic humanity, which has created a social contract that the vast majority of the human race follows without even considering it. This social contract is observed in the jungles of the Amazon. This social contract is observed in the ghettos of Venice. This social contract ensures the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the fruits of the social contract are seen everywhere you look: in the eyes of a child being held by its mother, in a game of 1-on-1 basketball at the park, and in the smile of a young man who is competing in Winter Special Olympics. And he doesn’t even care that his partner is a lawyer in a suit.