Liberty and Justice for All as the Words of Destiny

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“Liberty and justice for all” are the words recited by students across the United States each day. This phrase is included in our nation's Pledge of Allegiance, which is supposed to represent the idea that each citizen is equal under the law. It signifies the concept that every American is free and not to be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” as indicated in our Bill of Rights. When we pronounce the pledge, is it merely an obligatory ritual or do we listen attentively to all the words and take them seriously “liberty” has been reduced to a license for self-centeredness and “justice” has been diminished to simple retaliatory or punitive action. Although dictionaries routinely define liberty as “the state of being free,” liberty involves much more.

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In 2013 the Jury found George Zimmerman, not guilty on the charge of second degree murder stemming from the devastating shooting of the young African American Treyvon Martin in 2012. Sybrinian Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, couldn’t do anything but let go of her composure, and just—cry, fall on the floor, scream and shout in rage against the injustice as she watched the killer of her son walk freely. On the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student was walking with a grey hoodie on his head, an Arizona tea and a bag of skittles in his hands. He felt that he wasn’t alone and was soon being questioned by the neighborhood watch coordinator. The conformation soon led to Zimmerman shooting and killing the innocent teenager. Apparently, chasing down an unarmed man and shooting him would seem to count as self-defense in Florida.

Not to mention, we like to believe that decisions made in U.S. courts are determined by the wisdom of the Constitution and guided by fair-minded judges and juries of our peers. Unfortunately, this is often wishful thinking. Unsettling research into the psychology of courtroom decisions has shown that our personal backgrounds, unconscious biases about race, gender and appearance, and even the time of day play a more important role in outcomes than the actual law. Delayed justice is termed as denial of justice. Thousands are denied of the justice daily and their cases remain stored away collecting dust, pending for years and in the courts of law for one reason or the other. Many could be the reasons behind the obnoxiously delayed cases. One of the reason as reported by the common justice seekers are the hurdles in speedy dispensation of justice.

In conclusion, how can there possibly be liberty and justice for all, when, in the name of justice, people claim rights to income, food, housing, education, health care, transportation, ad infinitum? We can’t. Positive rights to receive such things, absent an obligation to earn them, must violate others’ liberty, by taking some of their income without their consent. They are just wishes, exchangeable into benefits for some only by employing the government to violate others’ rights not to have what is theirs taken. “Under God” refers to the source of the inalienable rights asserted in our Declaration of Independence. Nevertheless, “liberty and justice for all” reminds us that “justice” today is a far cry from the conception underlying our Founding.

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