Is It Time for Organized Compassionate Legal and Political Action?

I've struggled for a long time with personally finding the right form and mix of outer action and inner work.  And the idea of compassionate listening as a lawyer and an activist has added dimension and depth, form and content to a "lifetime" devoted to this effort.  Given the world unfolding around us, I now ask: Is it time to start a legal educational project and a political action organization or organism rooted in compassion?


What would it look like, I ask, if aesthetic, sensitive, compassionate and talented lawyers, with others of like mind and heart, entered the legal and political arenas in an organized and effective (measured by impact on these processes) way?  Surely, I say, we would be responding to Chief Justice Burger's challenge to move effectively toward becoming healers of conflict.  ["The entire legal profession - lawyers, judges, law teachers - has become so mesmerized with the stimulation of the courtroom contest that we tend to forget that we ought to be healers - healers of conflicts.”[1],


And surely the international surge at the time of the ramp up to the second Iraq war reflects a fertile source of public support, perhaps just waiting to be stirred again.


Surely the energy I felt and saw emerge with millions of others with ideas like Potlucks for Peace, signage that said "War is Not the Answer" and worldwide (though then unsustainable) marches has not disappeared.  We are entering another Presidential election cycle in this country, and God, Vishnu, the Tao and other great presences and paths only know how much we need an opening door to ideas and teachings of the heart about compassion in the way we listen and speak to each other, individually and in our community and social processes.


Can you imagine a group of lawyers organized enough to be issued press badges with the right to ask questions of our political leaders about the role of compassion in the way they address, and think we all should address, the needs and crises we, and they, experience daily?  Can you imagine the current political debate about budget and deficits steered in the direction of compassionate listening first, before position taking and as an alternative to "my agenda first?"  And can you imagine the use of the legal tools we have learned to utilize to escalate the dialogue when necessary by forcing the discussion of these healing issues?


The year 2012 is said by many to be a harbinger of great change.  Might our work as lawyers seeking to enhance compassion as part of the spirit of the law, and compassionate listening with our clients and others, be part of the larger picture?  Might our concepts and actions as an ADR Section of the State Bar be joined by its Compassionate Action Legal and Political Committee counterpart?  I think the answer is "for sure", and I wonder if others think the same.



[1] Chief Justice Warren E. Berger, The State of Justice, Annual Report to the midyear meeting of the American Bar Association (February 12, 1984), published in 70 A.B.A. J. 62 (Issue 4, April 1984), p. 66.


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