March 24th: Geoffrey

Fasting for the principle of doing as one would be done by raises an alarming question. Does fasting for that principle really help reaffirm it as one still accorded general respect today, or is “reaffirm” the wrong word? Is there nothing left today to reaffirm? Must everyone with any conscience today witness and affirm certain basic decencies all over again? — decencies that have now become so old and battered they are now new — and too vulnerable to stand of themselves? Are we doomed in this young century to replay the last two hundred — or the last two thousand — years of history? Can only a fast, an organized protest, a sit-in — whatever — give strong witness and affirmation today to basic decencies of mutual respect we thought were already made sacred by so much blood and suffering generations before we were born? Can our given culture today no longer safeguard these decencies through the mere example of a past? Can only fasts and protests today establish these decencies today? Is a past rendered useless for our institutions now? Are those institutions only fashioned by the protests of today? — if we’re lucky? Can no past sacrifice or past protest or past principle or past law hold sway over the corrupt forgetful institutions of today? Will a culture we were fooled into viewing as a protector of human rights need new struggles all over again to be safe for the vulnerable? Have these uneasy years of the early twenty-first century chucked so many judicial and cultural decencies out the window that a fast for any assumed principle is really a fight from scratch? Is there nothing left that can be assumed? Are we back to the third millennium B.C.E.?

I fast today in solidarity for principles that many feel were already made solid untold generations ago.

Some of us feel that Adin Ballou, the Quaker activist at the turn of the 18th/19th century, successfully promulgated, once and for all, the freedom from slavery as a moral imperative. Yet what else is this Sword of Damocles now hanging over Roxroy Salmon but a threat to treat one human being as a mere thing, an object, not a human being of self-evident dignity at all? Where is there the due process befitting a human being who has harmed no one in any of this?

Some of us feel that John Locke established, once and for all, the rights of life, liberty and property, and Thomas Jefferson, once and for all, the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet show me where there is the strong assurance for each and every one of these rights in the threat now hanging over Roxroy Salmon? Has he deserved being deprived of those rights? Has he been deprived of them by due process?

Some of us feel that Ulpian, jurist of the Roman Empire, whose writings form the basis of the later Justinian code, established, once and for all, the principle of equality for all before the law, a principle without which the American experiment might never have gotten off the ground. Yet what pretense to equality is there in the threat hanging over Roxroy Salmon?

Some of us feel that 2000 years ago a carpenter from Nazareth established, once and for all, how ministering to others exalts us while lording it over others only debases us. Whom does it help to terrorize Roxroy Salmon?

Some of us feel that, along with Jesus, Confucius too introduced, once and for all, his own Golden Rule: Don’t do unto others what you don’t want them to do unto you. How are we following the Golden Rule in our treatment of Roxroy Salmon?

And some of us feel that, back in the third millennium B.C.E., Urukagina, the Sumerian reformer, established, once and for all, the right to protections for the treatment of the vulnerable, introducing too the concept of “freedom” [“amagi” in Sumerian] and of society’s obligation to “the widow and the orphan”. Why must we remove the protection of a father and a husband, Roxroy Salmon, from his children and from a beloved wife in poor health?

I fast today in solidarity with those who want to keep Roxroy Salmon’s family together. I fast with those who still respect the Golden Rule. I fast with those who will not abide the intimidation of a vulnerable and decent human being. I fast with those who remind us that all are equal before the law. I fast with those who still recall the rights advanced by Locke and Jefferson. And I fast with those ready to affirm the self-evident dignity of each and every human being.

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