Ketanji Brown Jackson and Celebrating Change

Today, Judge Katenji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the Supreme Court. I celebrated, but some others are not celebrating.

I am almost done reading the book See No Stranger by Valerie Kaur. I have already committed myself to Revolutionary Love. Part of this means I am trying to understand others and opponents.

Some people, no doubt, are angry about the vote to confirm Katenji Brown Jackson. I spoke with people today, asking why these people may be angry. We came to no good conclusion.

I was still thinking about it when I went out today. While out, I saw a white man who could possibly be one of those angry people.

In her book, Valerie Kaur says that anger protects what we love. It could be ourselves. It could be our kids. As I stood looking eye to eye with an angry white man, I realized what he loves: He loves tradition, comfort and power.

Ketanji Brown Jackson may seem to threaten these things to the people who love them. If we understand this, we understand our opponents.

However, Brown and Black people are Americans, too. And their numbers are increasing. It only makes sense to have people of color in political positions for, at the very least, the sake of representation. To add, Ketanji Brown Jackson is, shall we say, supremely qualified.

For people who are angry today, it’s important to have some self-reflection and ask yourself: Why? Why am I angry? What do I love that is being threatened? Are those things worth loving?

Today, I personally celebrate along with millions of others. As we move forward, America will look different. That’s a good thing. We need to embrace these changes and celebrate our differences. I believe the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson is a long time coming. It’s about time.

You Don’t Own Nature: My Thoughts on the Environment

Earlier this year, my friend and mentor Steve Russell, Cherokee judge and scholar, passed away. There’s something he used to say that I only just now grasp. He said, according to Native Americans, we don’t own the land. The land owns us.

Over the past several years, I have stripped away various extraneous things from my life. I live modestly. I drive little. I wear casual and mostly old or used clothes. I’m surrounded by trees. And my family’s dogs. I go outside a lot and experience nature’s rhythms. Right now, it’s Spring, so there are mosquitoes, caterpillars, rain storms. There are budding flowers and green trees.

The other day, I was shown a video online with some comments. The video showed a white man petting a manatee. It’s against the law to touch manatees. They are endangered and important.

It was noted that petting manatees is illegal, but many commenters said: I don’t care. I would pet one, anyway.

The person who showed me this video was upset. She cares deeply about wildlife. Couldn’t they see that if manatees got use to us instead of being cautious that the manatees could get hurt? Already, manatees are struck quite often by boat propellors and injured or killed. Why couldn’t people just leave wildlife alone?

I thought about for a couple of days. Most of the people online were white people–and they seemed to feel entitled to nature. They seemed to think nature belonged to them.

I don’t know for certain the root cause of cultural norms like this, but I get the feeling that it’s mostly about power and control. Power and control over nature. And people who feel terrified by a loss of power and control are deeply injured inside.

Of course, it’s useless to try to own nature. My mentor Steve Russell was right: Nature owns us. This great Earth exerts her power whether we like it or not.

I hope that some day, we will begin to think of each creature as having autonomy and dignity just like us. Each is entitled to its life.

Maybe then, manatees won’t be endangered anymore and people who see them will only take pictures.


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