Aretha the attorney – commitment and conscience

-More on Mr Trump’s `Americans’

It’s the early to mid-1900s. The slaves had left the plantations. The Indentured were making post-bound-yard choices. For themselves and all their off-spring.

The African descendants were sabotaged with their post-plantation agricultural survival enterprises. They gladly opted for “education” then the civil service and all the “services” where they could don an authoritative colonial uniform – police, fire, army, prison-service.

Once “bound” no more by the estate–yard, the “Indians” stuck with agriculture. But they ventured into commerce too whilst eyeing the professions and trades the afros adapted to. Apparently the professions of engineering, aviation, telecommunication, the arts, did not have the high-end prestigious pull as medicine and law did. Both groups wanted their educated offspring to become “doctuh” or “lawyuh”.

Fast-forward to the era of the seventies through to 2000. Despite the abundance of newer professional careers now available hundreds of young persons still are attracted to medicine and law, why?

They are, indeed, noble lifelong vocations. Christians hold that Jesus healed the sick, raised the already dead. Doctors are still inspired, motivated to heal humanity. Lawyers are society’s interpreters and upholders of the rule of law. Law is there – whether by tradition, authorities or parliaments – to ensure order, then justice.

Spare a moment considering today’s younger attorneys in our Guyana. What was their motivation to embrace law? To advocate fair play? Defend what is right (or innocent)? Each young lawyer can explain, no doubt. (Look at our proud tradition in this region, this world: Burnham, the Massiahs, Ramphals, Wills, Jacksons, Denbows, Shahabuddeens, Kissoons, Luckhoos, Haynes et al…)

Perhaps a young attorney knows the power of judges. These latter lawyers and arbiters can determine what you say; how you eat; where you go; which political entity is “right” (in law); whether government or opposition can proceed; in short judges tower large in this society. The new lawyer has to be impressed! Then of course, if their careers are too slow or challenging lawyers may become politicians! Authority, position, even power! But now for a quick tale about young attorney Aretha.

Attorney, duty and conscience

To me, Frankly Speaking, “conscience” is now a rare commodity or measurable trait or characteristic in these dot-com days.

Conscience has to do with the feeling, the consideration of what one knows to be morally right – or wrong – even as one acts. Who cares now about “conscience” when allegiance, survival or money is a powerful motive?

Young attorney Aretha – good Christian who graduated tops, specializing in family law- had to confront a choice. Quite apart from the ethical guidance outlined in her legal practitioners act, Aretha had to choose whether to defend a young accused rapist when she discovered that she was once close to relatives of both the accused and the victim.

As heinous as the alleged crime – and the actual crime of rape was, she had taken an oath to defend her client(s) to the best of her legal training. However, that temporary but soul-searching dilemma helped her to make a significant career-related decision. After explaining her conflict-of-interest situation(s) she declined to defend the accused rapist but found another willing and able colleague to do so. She felt better as her colleague was quite capable. Then she made the decision not to do rape cases ever – except, perhaps, as a prosecutor in the distant future. And she turned her attention fully to family law. She was, and still is, a legal defence professional with a conscience. Rare?

Mr Trump and “Americans” all

A brief follow-up to last week’s offering as promised. Two up-front points: Donald Trump, to me, is the most unlikely President the USA ever had. Frankly Speaking, he should have been an independent. But he needed the might of the Republican apparatus and base to propel his unique populist appeal. I smiled when his own Dr Ben Carson explained that the businessman-candidate had once been “a millionaire playboy”!

Secondly, I forever marvel at how new immigrants, “aliens”, resident workers, guest students, brand new citizens of the US robustly claim and enjoy all of America’s rights and freedoms they never – and could never – enjoy in their homelands. And man, how often they abuse and exploit those rights.

It is easily understood that America is a nation of immigrants.” How did it become so? Its environment? Its welcome opportunities? Why don’t immigrants flock to Scotland, Nigeria, Japan or Saudi Arabia? Okay, the answers are obvious.

I support President Trump’s determination to implement “extreme vetting” of those thousands who wish to visit or settle in the USA. When terrorists can infiltrate refugees and even would–be students why should not Mr Trump impose sensible restrictions before entry.

However the “extreme significance”, the power of (newer) immigrants to the US was unveiled when some Americans – (the WASPS?) – called for a ban on immigrants after 9/11. The following was some of what was discovered: “Sealing the border or cutting off immigration, even temporarily, would undermine our economy and our freedom. The numbers alone are mind-boggling: Last year (2001), the Customs Service processed 472 million people, and 144 million cars and trucks – entering the country. About 500,000 of these visitors were bona-fide immigrants seeking to make a new life. Another 28 million or so were tourists, foreign students and business travellers.”

The piece analyses the ripple effect of interfering with even controlled immigration or immigrants in the US. The American workforce would be seriously disrupted if immigration was significantly altered. Other stark statistics included the fact that: Immigrants are 20% of all medical doctors; 22% of all Ph.D’s;  81% of all farmhands and 10.7% of the self-employed. Now these are all official/legal numbers. Imagine if the illegals were included! And 20% of American patents (new “inventions”) are created by foreign-born people! The partial power of immigrants!

So the American government and people have decided that stopping immigration is improbable. They just have to screen visitors more carefully than ever and keep tabs on visitors and immigrants already there (2002).”

Ponder please…

1)  When it’s the last day of the school year, what steps could be put in place to offset end-of-term naughtiness? On the streets?

2)  Is it the stress of the demands of the job – or just the new-found status – which makes some new ministers, CEO’s, department heads, chairpersons, directors, become a little – or outright – arrogant?

3) Who is stopping the old Co-op Bank building from becoming a modern vendor’s mall? The owner!?

Til next week!


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