Today, Scott Greenfield writes a bit about a lawyer-turned-crusader who finally outted himself on the tubes. He’s gone by a few different names on the internet, such as “Atticus” and “John R.” I never knew him, nor was I an avid reader of his blog(s). Frankly, the whole story confuses me and makes my head hurt–especially the part about fleeing to Canada because the NY Bar would not allow him to resign.
I don’t get it, but I also don’t feel a need to get it.
What I do get is that a lot of folks in and out of our profession see themselves as crusaders–fighting for a higher good and calling.
For all those crusaders and wannabe-Vietnamese-monks out there, I have news for you.
There is no higher calling. There is no perfect law or set of laws, and the societal rules that we love (or hate) are imagined by a bunch of folks who, like you and I, fart and take dumps.
If that is too much for you, I invite your attention to the most popular of bumper sticker slogans, “Shit Happens.”
In order to see my perspective, please note a few key factors:
- Each of us, individually, is statistically insignificant to humanity as a whole.
- Our society, as much as we may love it, is also statistically insignificant insofar as societies have ever existed on the Earth.
- Our system of laws has failed on a massive scale on several occasions. If you need examples, please feel free to Google “Japanese Americans during World War II,” “Segregation in the United States 1865-1970,” “Wars against Native Americans,” or “Causes of the American Civil War,” just to name a few. Our venerable Constitution really worked wonders during those events.
- Our Constitution (and all other laws) are subject to the interpretation and enforcement by human beings. Don’t believe me? Do some research about “De Facto Segregation.” It’s a truly heartwarming read.
- Everyone loves their interpretation of the Constitution and laws. They are always right, from their point of view.
- Groups of people love to talk about higher callings. Of course, interpretations of “higher callings” vary widely, and they are usually tied to religious observations. Everyone wants a “higher calling” or “higher duty” to control a system of laws (and, consequently, the public morality), so long as it conforms with their faith and belief. After all, everyone else’s religion is bullshit. Don’t believe me? Go have coffee at the local diner, and you’ll hear no less than 5 people suggest the same within the first 1/2 hour. God-given rights vary widely depending on your god, and those same gods love creating exceptions.
Knowing this, you can go on a crusade, set yourself on fire, or otherwise martyr yourself for a higher calling. You’ll find your self-consuming conflagration rewarding prior to the intense pain your body will feel, and afterward you’ll not be there to help anyone.
Or, you can continue to battle, often to no avail, but with the knowledge that you were able to stand next to someone, hand on their shoulder, at their hour of need. You actions won’t be statistically significant to anyone but your client, but to them it is the greatest act of kindness and humanity in the history of this god-damned planet. For it to happen, you just have to be here, and put up with loads of crap in the process.
Welcome to the human invention.