Thursday, July 28, 2011

With Liberty and Injustice for all?

A few months ago, my 8-year-old cousin asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  When I told him I wanted to be a lawyer, he made a disgusted face and said, “All lawyers do is get bad guys out of jail.” I couldn’t help but smile, because that’s exactly what I thought as an 8-year-old. As a child, I would have never considered being a lawyer; law always looked so corrupt. In my mind, lawyers were rich old men in suits like the man who lived across the street, and they all lied to get their money. (And as Mom always said, lying was bad.) But like they say, you can’t help who (or what) you fall in love with. And I, well, I fell pretty hard for law.

I don't know what it was exactly, but I think the first thing that attracted me to law was the way all the lawyers I met spoke about law – with romanticism, respect, and complete faith. And through them, I’ve developed a similar respect for the law, and the way it guarantees equal access to justice for all men and women, regardless of race, or color, or age, etc. But that’s what you learn in the classroom; that’s the way the law was designed. In reality, however, the application of law is far from equal.

If you dig deep down into the issue (not that you have to dig very far), you find that people wrote the law, and people have been shaped by their own biases and preconceptions. So it logically follows that these prejudices will flow through into the policies that they design, and the legislation they support.

Why, after 9/11, have the airport security screening policies of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) evolved to promote racial and religious profiling against men and women who wear turbans? When people standing in line at airport security constantly see people that wear turbans go through mandatory tertiary screening, a negative stereotype is created, and profiling by the federal government is just reinforcing that negative image.

Why aren’t there laws accommodating articles of faith in places like schools, courtrooms, and other public places? By denying access to courtrooms, men and women are being denied their constitutional rights of due process, and basic rights such as free exercise of religion.

Why is Hungary so close to passing a Religion Law that will contradict all European Court of Human Rights decisions by essentially de-registering three hundred minority faiths from status as religious organizations, subjecting all members of minority faiths to a possible ban on their religious freedom and a rejection of religious rights solely based on discrimination?

How can laws promote discrimination and inequality? Wasn’t the law meant to prevent injustice?

I can’t help but think that my 8-year-old cousin was onto something when he scrunched his nose at the mention of law. The law, as beautiful as it is, has a nasty underbelly. People will always scrunch their noses at the mention of law for as long as there are corrupt people in this world, but I won’t give people the chance to scrunch their noses at me. All I know is that I’m not going to be one of those rich old ladies who lie to get all their money. All I hope is that I can be part of the effort to attack the law’s underbelly and stand up for the little guy, because in the end, the law was meant to provide justice for all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

To the iPhone Generation,

The other day, as I was sitting on the ferry during my evening commute, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone around me was on some-or-other electronic device. Most of the teenagers were texting. The woman next to me was talking on her cell phone as her child sat quietly next to her, absorbed in his Nintendo DS. The man in a business suit who sat a row down was busy typing away on his laptop.

But there was nothing unusual about this scene. Nowadays, college students can’t possibly get work done without laptops, little children need cell phones, and if you don’t have an iPod, there must be something wrong with you. And the Internet – I can’t even begin to imagine – how would we communicate without email, or stay in touch with old friends without Facebook and Twitter? We would be lost in oblivion without Google to answer all our problems.

I really am in awe of how fast technology has grown and how quickly it has enveloped our lives.

I remember when my family got our first desktop computer, when I was in elementary school. It was such a huge deal back then, to own your own computer. My sister and I would take turns using that desktop. Now there are five computers in my house and we think nothing of it. I remember in school, teachers would give us projects and ask us to raise our hands if we had computers at home. If we didn’t, we’d have to go to the library to use one. Can you imagine teachers asking that nowadays? It would be absurd to think that someone didn’t have a computer.

I remember how my sister and I would record ourselves on tapes. But tapes became obsolete when CD’s became popular. And now, it’s all about mp3’s and iPods.

I remember back in middle school, when we did research projects, we would use search engines like Yahoo! or Ask Jeeves.  I still remember the day when a classmate told me Google was better than all of them. Today, we ask Google everything.

I remember when I got my first cell phone. The screen was green and the characters that showed up on it were black. Picture phones were a luxury. Now I see little children running around with iPhones, which are capable of infinitely more than what my first cell phone could ever do.

I was talking to my friends the other day about how everything has become so simple, so fast, and so digitized. Gone is the romanticism of writing letters; you can connect with someone from the other side of the world in an instant. But as great as technology is at helping us connect with people, it keeps it all digital. And we’re losing real face time and interaction. 

So, from time to time, stop texting, put down your phones and have a real conversation. Break out of your digital bubble and experience the world. I promise, there’s so much more than meets the i-Phone :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

To breathe in the city that never sleeps

Everyone is on
an adrenaline rush,

like a violent heart,

with people often colliding
in every which way
as they drift about

like molecules
in the air.

The shapes and colors
all melt
and boil away
into a big blur.

Sometimes I like to stand still
and watch it all
pass me by

as everything
in fast motion.

The people always pace
like a violent heart;

each one shifting
in a unique direction,
determined to get where they’re going
as fast as they can.

Sometimes I wonder why
everyone is in such a hurry

in the end,

we’re all going to the same place.