A Reason to Believe

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Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe
- Bruce Springsteen “Reason to Believe”

"Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation ... … Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
- Bobby Kennedy, Capetown, South Africa, June 1966

Well, I didn’t see that coming. I’m not sure whether I should be disappointed with myself for not really feeling the anger and despair pulsing through so many of our fellow citizens or at our leaders for failing to adequately address the inequities and inequalities that lead to the surreal scene we witnessed early this morning.

As a community dedicated to economic justice, to consumer justice, to civil justice we know better than anyone the damage done to our clients, our communities over the last several decades. We’ve witnessed the predatory mortgage lenders prey on our most vulnerable people, then walk away from the economic wreckage they caused unscratched, unbowed, and unaccountable. We’ve seen our justice system turned on its head – a public system for the powerful to wring every last unowed cent from the weak and the unrepresented, and a private system for rich corporations to hide from their responsibility. We’ve pushed and prodded our government to reform our bankruptcy system, our student loan system, our credit system to allow all of us to have a fresh start, to achieve an affordable education, to gain financial stability. But we’ve only achieved, only received half measures, weak tea.

So now we’ve seen the response from many (but not a majority) of our fellow citizens. And we now know that for those of us dedicated to community service, to consumer justice, the next few years will be brutally difficult. We will need to recalibrate our goals and our dreams and how we can best serve our clients and our community. But that’s exactly what we will do, and we will do it together. We will find a reason to believe. And with each small act we take in standing up for our clients and against injustice, we will send forth a tiny ripple of hope. And in the words of my hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, we will not be satisfied “until justice flows down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Together, we can and we will do this.

Your friend,