Every time I think of the new Arizona immigration Law 1070 I’m reminded of the song “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.
Woody Guthrie wrote, “This Land is Your Land” in 1940, he wrote it in direct response to the song “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin. Woody thought the song Irving Berlin wrote was “unrealistic and complacent”. He recorded the song in 1944 in New York and all the lyrics you usually hear today from this song were just the verses he put in the original recording. He didn’t include the bolder verses about private property or our responsibility to the poor. You can read these verses, and more about the song here. These additional verses really drive home the point, that “truth, justice and the American way” are comprised of all of our combined personal commitments to these ideals. The way we act, the laws we pass, the markets we create all express our values.
I have child who’s very interested in what’s fair. This is usually about how sharing is not fair. I tell him that “sharing is about giving something up, and sometimes that’s what fair means”.
In the Bible there’s an absolutely wonderful verse in Micah that really hits me as my major complaint with Arizona’s Immigration Law.
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously take God seriously.
In its brevity, says a lot about Justice. Looking up from the bible to the world I live in, I realize I don’t get much guidance and precious few examples of Justice being done in our modern society.
There’s a scene at the end of the Bonfire of the Vanities that kind of rants on the theme that Micah is teaching us.
I'll tell you what justice is not. Justice is not the will of the few and it's not the will of the many. Justice is not politics. Justice is the law. And the law is man's feeble attempt to set down the principles of decency. Decency! And decency is not a deal. Or an angle, or a contract, or a hustle or a campaign or a trick or a bid for sympathy. Decency is not the beast that bays for money, power, dominion, position, votes and blood! Decency is what your mother taught you! Decency is in your bones! Do I make myself clear! Now go home. Go home now. Be decent people. Be decent.