Monday, August 23, 2010

A Still, Small Voice

Supreme CourtOne of the most beautiful, and most awe-inspiring, buildings in Washington is the Supreme Court. It was designed to impress upon the visitor the majesty of the body which it houses, and to say that it accomplishes that would be understatement. One ascends 44 steps while gazing at the towering columns that you see in the picture, and upon passing between those columns one enters the building through massive bronze doors.

Except that on May 3rd, citing “security reasons” the court ordered that those doors be locked and that the public be allowed to enter through an insignificant side door instead. This more than eight years after the last successful terrorist attack on this nation, and subsequent to no apparent overt threat to the court itself.

Have we become a nation behind barricades? A people cowering under our beds afraid of monsters?

Philip Kennicott writes yesterday in the Washington Post of a hopeful sign; a resolution posted in the House of Representatives by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) calling on the Supreme Court to re-open those doors. The bill has attracted more than 30 co-sponsors.

She admits that we live in dangerous times, according to Kennicott, but says, "I think we can address risk without giving up our ideals, our national ideals in terms of justice, openness and access."

Kennicott calls upon us as individuals to inject courage into our institutions. “Individuals may find courage within themselves,” he says, “but when it comes to institutions, courage can be injected only from without.” I think he makes a valid point.

We look to our politicians for the courage to face dangerous times, but they represent our institutions. It is we who should be “injecting” the courage into those institutions with our votes, and our rejection of the politics of fear.

Kennicott’s piece is worth reading, and I hope more will take up that theme.

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