Thursday, April 1, 2010

Losing Faith

I've been away from the "news" for a few days, spending time with my family. So I "missed" the big New York Times pope bashing article, and am catching up on the repercussions, and the continuing "pope hunt". What I see is a disturbing lack of faith.

Our "justice" system, and indeed, most of the western world's, is supposedly based on impartiality (which is why lady justice is depicted blindfolded). We should be able to believe that when the accused is acquitted that he is actually innocent of the crime of which he was accused. Likewise, when someone is found guilty we should have some confidence that he is, in fact, guilty.

Likewise our electoral system. We should be able to believe when an election is held that it was done fairly; that the candidate who is declared the winner actually got the most votes. Likewise our representatives. When they vote for or against legislation we should be able to believe that they represented their constituents, even if it is not to our liking.

Yet today we see our government, our media, our nation, sitting idly by or intentionally destroying that faith. We have a health care bill passed despite some 60% of the population in opposition, containing provisions that over 70% of the population finds anathema. Our own president says that it is not the job of the representatives to represent the population, but that a vote into office is a mandate to legislate at will.

Several recent elections have been very close (consider the 2000 presidential election, for instance). The response to this has been widespread introduction of electronic voting systems that eliminate the possibility of a recount and remove transparency and traceability from the system.

There is widespread corruption in our judicial system at almost every level. Our president appointed a supreme court judge who states openly that policy should be legislated form the bench and that decisions should be based on judges' feelings rather than the Constitution. We see hundreds of prisoners being released, some after decades, because DNA evidence indicates that they were not guilty of the crimes for which they served time. Hundreds of others wait or fight legal battles, trying to have their cases reopened.

Do people then want to turn thing around, make government accountable, make decisions transparently and with fairness? No. Instead we make our own decision about what "justice" is, usually without any evidence other than a sensationalized media report by a reporter (who also made his own decision without facts) and attempt to influence the corrupt system towards that idea. The problem is that our very influence on the system is what's wrong with the system.

This is not the first time this has happened, I can think of a famous case:
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, "You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him.  Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."
But all together they shouted out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us." (Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.)
Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
Pilate addressed them a third time, "What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed.

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.


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