Friday, October 28, 2005

Justice, Truth, and Unintentional Virtue

This week brings to light two of the greatest things that define our country. One, the impact that a single individual can have on all of us, the fact that one person can make a difference in all of our lives. The other is the fact that our leaders are accountable, that no one is above the law, and that there are consequences for our actions.

A Real American Hero

Rosa Parks died Monday. Half a century ago, she showed us all that an individual, even one of small stature, can make all the difference in the world. Just a tired woman who would not give up her seat simply because of her race, Parks was arrested. This set off the Montgomery bus boycott, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which lasted for over a year. Parks' action, which was not a planned arrest but instead a spontaneous decision of a citizen to not take any more abuse, brought to national prominence one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks, by not standing that day, stood up for all that is good about the United States, and she truly is an American hero deserving of the honor of lying in the Capitol Rotunda.

How the Mighty have Fallen

Today, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby resigned after being indicted in the investigation surrounding the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to reporters. In this case, we see again that political power does not put a person above the law in the United States. One of the most powerful men in terms of influence in the government, Libby has now resigned in disgrace and faces federal charges of lying to FBI agents. With the investigation not over yet, the Bush administration could lose another key adviser in Karl Rove. Although he appears to have squeaked by for now, Rove could still face charges and justice in this matter might finally be achieved.

Justice and the Spirit of the United States

The Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle wrote "The history of the world is but the biography of great men." This week shows us that he could not have been more wrong. The history of the world is but the biography of simple people who do great things. Rosa Parks is one such person, whose personal actions drove us all to be better people. Scooter Libby's indictment and resignation show us that the strength of the United States is rooted in the idea that our leaders can be brought down peacefully and justly, and we can still go on, stronger than we were before.

"Justice is rather the activity of truth, than a virtue in itself. Truth tells us what is due to others, and justice renders that due. Injustice is acting a lie." – Horace Walpole