we're... we're supposed to be the good guys here. and being the good guys means we have to be civilized about this. - stuart redman, the stand
this is my favorite quote from my favorite book of all time. it's my philosophy of life, it's my guiding principle, professionally and personally. i ran an ethics committee for a year in law school. i took every professional ethics class i could get my grubby little mitts on when i worked. i care about what gets done, but i'm one of those annoying people who also cares - quite a bit - HOW it gets done. if it has to be shady, i don't want to deal with it. this comes up because yesterday, i got to get up at oh-dark-thirty, hop in a rental car, and drive two and a half hours one way to spend all damn day at a mandatory professionalism course for my law license. never mind that i had to pay $150 for the privilege, too; i hate that i, being someone who has specialized in legal professionalism throughout my young career, had to sit through situations i already know about. sigh.
but the worst part of all of this wasn't the repetitious nature of the conference. i could've dealt with that. it was the keynote speaker. they dragged out this retired judge guy to talk at us on the subject of professionalism. first off, the man started a generational war with us. i personally don't want to be told by a man who came of age in the era of massive resistance that it's MY generation that was raised in an era that disrespects morals and civility. thanks, but my generation understands that racism is not appropriate, be it de facto or de jure. but leaving that aside, he also spent the whole time blathering about how civility and professional conduct is something special to virginia.
look, i've been a virginia resident off and on since 1998. i've lived all over this commonwealth: the shenandoah valley, hampton roads, richmond and northern virginia (where i reside to this day). i am a virginia attorney. there's a lot of good here. but i'll be DAMNED if i buy into this virginian exceptionalism, a unique type of psychosis in which a lot of well-born virginians specialize. i have a big enough problem with the attitude that americans are more special than other nationalities by mere virtue of our birth (we have to actually LIVE UP TO our awesomely high standards to earn that title, if you ask me). but to extend that to the commonwealth of virginia? no thanks.
i don't get down with chauvinism, in any of its forms. really, it's a ridiculous enterprise to think you're better than anyone else just because of a characteristic that you possess by accident. you're not better because you're, for example, male, virginian, blonde, tall, etc., etc., etc. you're "better," if you can call it that, because you choose correctly. if you comport yourself with civility, respect the people around you, do the right things, live a good life and try to be kind, you're "better." if you don't, no amount of inborn "specialness," be it american citizenship, gender, or even being a virginian (please read in the sarcasm - i'm straining to get it through here), is going to fix your bad choices. end of story.
so judge? allow me to civilly, respectfully disagree with every word that left your mouth yesterday. we're not special because we're virginia attorneys. we're special, if we all even are, because we choose to live by a set of standards. we're supposed to be the good guys because of the oath we took. not all of us are, nor will we be. but those of us who choose to try? being virginian didn't make us that way. being good people and making good choices did. end. of. story.
Letter 70: Be Louder
4 weeks ago