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The One You Feed
By: Evan Daniels

Stone Mountain, GA


An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.”

 The grandson thought about it for a minute, and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

 The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

     While this Native American tale describes the moral war inside a man, it also applies to injustice. As life goes on, we can either feed justice or injustice. It is our choice. When we feed one, we starve and eventually kill the other.

     As time progresses, America is feeding injustice mote frequently. Nearly every day, there are reports of people either being the victims or perpetrators of acts of injustice. Some affect the whole country, such as the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Others affect small areas, such as the recent shooting at Price Middle School in southern Atlanta.

     Sometimes, injustice is legislated. One of the largest hands in Georgia that is feeding the mouth of injustice is the Stand Your Ground Law. The law stems from what is known as the “Castle Doctrine.”‘[1] This doctrine states, through the powers of common law, a man can defend his home without retreat. However, the Stand Your Ground Law applies the Castle Doctrine on a larger scale. Instead of just including a person’s private property, such as a home, this law allows any man to defend himself in any public place.

     Now active in 33 states, the issue with the Stand Your Ground Laws is they allow what would have been rulings of murder to become justifiable homicide. Originally, justifiable homicide only applied if a person was killed in a case of absolute self defense. Currently, as shown by the Trevon Martin case, justifiable homicide has become a scapegoat for blatant murder. Instead of the Stand Your Ground Law being used in a trial after an extensive investigation, many criminals use it at the beginning of the trial to justify a plea of self-defense.[2]

     As a result, murderers are escaping conviction. The number of justifiable homicide rulings has increased nationally from 196 in 2005 to 278 in 2010.[3] At the same time, overall killings have decreased, which is theorized to be a shift from homicides to justifiable homicides due to these laws. Thus, the Stand Your Ground Laws are allowing criminals to avoid the justice deemed by their actions.

     Another problem with these laws is the number of firearms purchased by citizens for protection. As more states adopted the Stand Your Ground laws, firearm purchases skyrocketed in those same areas. Along with an increase in weapon purchases, people’s value of their safety has decreased due to their willingness to become involved in dangerous situations,[4] which brings the purpose of the Stand Your Ground Laws into question. The original intent behind the creation of these laws was to make America safer. However, these laws are one of the main causes of the rising crime rates nationwide. We can stop ibis by advocating in-depth investigations before permitting claims of self defense. Through personal political action, we can exert force on the legal system to ensure these laws are not abused. Additionally, we can appeal to our legislators to limit the use of the law to defense of one’s property.

     Another hand that feeds injustice is Georgia House Bill 87, which allows undocumented immigrants to be detained after a search permitted by probable cause and anyone who hires, transports, or assists them to be arrested. On the surface, the bill seems to make sense. After all, these aliens did sneak into the country illegally. Would not letting them live and operate freely amongst us make a mockery of the laws of the land?

     However, lost in the mirage of our doubts about these immigrants is the fact that we, American citizens, condone their illegal actions. Over the past decades, we have wanted them for their vital role in our economy. Drawn by cheap labor, we laid out the welcome mat for them. All of us are responsible for their presence in the U.S. It is wrong to justify otherwise. Therefore, instead of making excuses and directing the blame for illegal immigration solely on undocumented immigrants, we, the same citizens who endorsed HB 87, should contact our representatives, the media, and anyone who will listen in an attempt to persuade the government to enact an affordable, simple guest worker program that would allow these workers to remain in the U.S. legally.

     Dr. King stated, “Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...” Based on the Stand Your Ground Laws and House Bill 87, this is the path we are on. We are feeding injustice, and it is growing hungrier. Nevertheless, the injustice of these laws can be stopped by the power of everyday citizens. There comes a time when we, the American people, must stand against injustice. We have to let go of the thought that whatever the government gives us is true, right, and just. Dr. King said, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

     We have to stand for justice, but we must do it in a way that we do not feed injustice ourselves. Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We must look outside our own little world and care for our fellow men as if they were our own.

     Can you imagine how the grandson felt as his grandfather described the battle between good and evil, the battle raging inside of him, someone his grandson admired? The battle is not in one man alone. It is in every man, woman, and child. It is in our schools, our homes, and our churches. It is fought daily by police officers, teachers, attorneys, judges, and politicians. Yet, it is a battle that all of us should fight. We are all citizens, and we all have the responsibility to stand up for what is right and just. We must accept accountability for the state of our society— locally and nationally. We are the ones who decide the outcome of this war. Just as the grandson asked his grandfather, we must ask ourselves, “Which wolf will win?”

 

Notes

[1]   Levin, B. (2011). “A Defensible Defense?: Reexamining Castle Doctrine Statutes.”  Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 52.

[2]   Megale, E.B. (2010).  “Making Murder Legal: How Laws Expanding Self-Defense Allow Criminals to Get Away with Murder.”. Working Paper  http://works.bepress.eom/elizabeth_megale/l.

[3]   McClellan, Chandler B., and Erdal Tekin. 2012. “Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides:’ NBER Working Paper 18187.

[4]   Lott, John R. Jr. 2010. More Guns, Less Crime. University of Chicago Press.

 

Bibliography

Levin, B. (2011). “A Defensible Defense?: Reexamining Castle Doctrine Statutes.” Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 47, No. 2, p. 52. Lott, John R. Jr. 2010. More Guns, Less Crime. University of Chicago Press. McClellan, Chandler B., and Erdal Tekin. 2012. “Stand Your Ground Laws and Homicides.”

NBER Working Paper 18187. Megale, E.B. (2010). “Making Murder Legal: How Laws Expanding Self-Defense Allow

Criminals to Get Away with Murder.” Working Paper.   http://works.bepress.eom/elizabeth_megale/l

Vilos, James. D., and Evan John Vilos. 2010. Self-Defense Laws of All 50 States.  Guns West Publishing.

 

 

 

 

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