On the argument for justice

I think we need to insure justice.  It starts with I matter, you matter…. everyone matters and no label, term, name or diagnosis that implies otherwise should ever be tolerated, believed or nurtured.”
From an earlier post…..

Is that enough??

In the real world does the argument for justice work? Does it make the impact we want to believe it does?

A friend told me no. He said just look around. He said justice was about connection and common humanity and much of what our world was about was division and exclusion and conflict. He said injustice has winners and losers and those that gain from it will not easily give up that gain. He said the key thing about any truth was not just it’s accuracy but who it served. We believe, he said, many foolish things simply because it serves us to believe those things.

I told him I thought justice was never an easy battle but that perseverance mattered. I told him that I had learned for my own survival the difference between battles and wars, that more than one defeat had left me shattered and wanting to quit.  I told him power patted itself on the back way too quick and that often it was about the last man standing.

He told me it was more complicated than that.  He said perseverance only counts if you are doing the right thing.  If you are just digging a hole it is not an admirable trait.  It is sometimes he thought very hard to see the opening you are falling into.

We talked about mental health advocacy.  He said he had absolutely no doubts that mental health reform was in important part about human rights….but…..”Larry, the human rights approach has lost almost every legislative battle it has fought.  The people against it have convinced legislators that people that argue for human rights are against helping people with “mental illness.”  Most legislators, whatever their party or philosophy, don’t understand what human rights has to do with mental health reform.  They do not understand the damage done to so many by the mental health system.  They think the problem with the mental health system is that there is not enough of it and don’t understand that mental health reform is as much about a different mental health system as it is a bigger system.”

He talked about the Treatment Advocacy Center.  “I don’t know nearly as much about mental health as a lot of other people but even I know that most of what they offer is nonsense.  They demonize “psychiatric survivors” and try to make them into kind of the illuminati of advocacy and say they are spearheading a plot to rob people who really need help from the opportunity to get that help and offer themselves as the protectors of those who have no one else standing for them.”

I don’t know how accurate this is.  I think perhaps sometimes we are more verbal about what we are against and not always clear about what we are for.  We sometimes advocate for ideas and assume that translates into action which sometimes it doesn’t.  I don’t know that justice or human rights either one translate into a language that moves many legislators.  Particularly now days I wonder how much traction it has.  Maybe there has to be a statement that says we are not against this because it is morally wrong but that we are for something that will work better.  I don’t know.    The call for justice or human rights is a call for a better way of doing things and perhaps that is not always clearly heard.  I don’t know.

I also wonder about reaching legislators.  In Tennessee many legislators seem curiously immune to the notion that poor people should not die because they are poor and have no access to health care.  Many of them seem to measure things solely on whether or not they think it is more or less likely to get them reelected and maybe it all comes down to how you convince legislators that justice can work for them.  I don’t know.  These are all questions I have.

Power never loses easily or fast and maybe it is just about persistence.  Maybe it is about being a thorn.  Maybe it is about being a thorn that cant be ignored, that cant be itched or wished away.  Maybe it is about persisting until what is normal is no longer normal.  Things do change.  I have seen many things in my life that were never supposed to happen happen.

I think it is about mattering.  I look forward to the day that all of us matter.  It would be a great normal.  A new normal.


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