Letter: Do not mourn; rejoice

Do not mourn; rejoice

Editor of the Reformer:

Condolences to the friends and family of Justice Scalia. By many accounts, he was loved and respected by friends and colleagues for his intellect and humor. I, however, do not mourn his passing but rather, rejoice in the opportunity that now presents itself to set the court on a progressive path towards socially just decision making.

Every individual is afforded the right to hold personal beliefs and principals and to act on those beliefs so long as they do not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. It is only when that individual believes so strongly in those personal ethics and is willing to impose them on others that individual human rights become subject to the religious and cultural tyranny of the politically powerful.

Not one of us is free from the myriad family, cultural, religious, and political ideologies to which we have been indoctrinated from the time of birth. We are the product of family and social systems which inform our thinking and feelings on all subjects and each of us is, to some degree, a captive to these systems. It is the responsibility of the individual to grow and transcend these belief systems through experience and education in order to seek deeper truth and balance than that which is afforded us through custom, culture, and tradition.

Justice Scalia is an example of the opposite pursuit. A man, who by all accounts, was an intellectually brilliant individual, yet chose to spend his life reinforcing and defending a belief system which reflected the worst aspects of medieval philosophy. Scalia reportedly despised the changes that were brought about by the Catholic Church after Vatican II, clearly evident in his personal opinions and his judicial behavior. This belief system, while still shared by many, is a dying paradigm though it remains strongly entrenched in our governmental and religious structures where it continues to inflict harm on humanity. Misogyny, homophobia, racism, and all other forms of intolerance and persecution are its hallmark.

It is the eternal irony of humankind that the very same personality types which often exhibit such high levels of intellectual brilliance and charismatic energy are often coupled with an ego driven, narcissistic need to dominate and control others. Those who rise to the top politically do so through the power of these traits and as power corrupts, so they are corrupted. Positions of authority become vehicles for dominance and control allowing such individuals the capacity to inflict the punishment of their personal fears and prejudices on others.

Such is the case with a man like Scalia. Driven by religious dogma and a family system in which he was an only child and the only child in that generation. Raised to believe that he was better than others by a family that demanded achievement Scalia fulfilled the dogmatic expectations of his church and family and succeeded in leaving a deep but hopefully impermanent mark on our modern culture.

And so I joyfully say to you little Nino, Godspeed and good luck. I hope there is a heaven for you but I will pray it is not the heaven in which you believed, for if so, you just may not meet the criteria. Meanwhile we here on earth will go about the business of cleaning up and undoing the mess you made.

David Lloyd, Brattleboro, Feb. 16


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