Nov 10, 2017 Veterans Day & when to sheathe and unsheathe weapons in criminal court
Military and criminal defense power must be used wisely and effectively
On past Veterans Days, I have cautioned against overglorifying the military, about the ongoing overgrown military-industrial-government complex, about the importance to remember veterans as well as peace activists and all victims of war, and about the human weaknesses and errors that bring war atrocities and other abuses of military power. On this Veterans Day, I will address some better and more humane ways of fighting, both with the military and with criminal defense.
Dealing well with people calls for remembering the many physical and psychological wounds that so many suffer
The dissonance is great between the impressive image of a soldier marching in a parade in a military dress uniform and gleaming medals, versus the bloody hell of battlefields. Essential reading on that point is Vietnam War veteran Claude AnShin Thomas‘s At Hell’s Gate, underlining how so many generations go to war and bottle up their war trauma, and act out in such debilitating ways as Brother Claude’s having pickled himself in drugs, alcohol, and sex, after he killed in wartime scores of people as a very effective killer. Claude later found his path as a Buddhist monk, but to this very day still feels the torment of war and positions his lecture chair in a way to protect himself from possible physical attacks that will never materialize.
Criminal defense and military fighting are about wise actions and not brute force
Jimmy Carter has always been a much tougher person than most people realized with his toothy grin and peanut farmer history, and knew as president the importance of sheathing weapons when they should be sheathed, exclaiming that he “was thankful that although my profession was that of a military man – commander in chief of the armed forces, prepared to defend my nation with maximum force if I had to – I was able to go through my entire term in office without firing a bullet, dropping a bomb or launching a missile.” (Esquire, January 2005).
Going to criminal court with weapons ready to use effectively when they are needed
Carter’s foregoing quote is reminiscent of the essential lesson of Kung Fu‘s Master Kan, which translates very well into my criminal defense work: Perceive the way of nature and no force of man can harm you “. Do not meet a wave head on: avoid it. You do not have to stop force: it is easier to redirect it. Learn more ways to preserve rather than destroy. Avoid rather than check. Check rather than hurt. Hurt rather than maim. Maim rather than kill. For all life is precious nor can any be replaced.”
When it is time to fight, that might must be strategic and not overextended, as Sun Tzu wisely advised.
My taijiquan martial art reminds me to use my power to harmonize imbalanced situations and to neutralize threats, but not to wield power for the mere purpose of wielding power. My criminal defense clients are better served that way.