Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gearing Up for the Next Round

Really, there's nothing special about January 1.  Nobody looked at the seasonal cycles or at lunar months or at much of anything and said,
Gee guys, I've got an idea.  Let's celebrate the new year around 10 days after the winter solstice.
That our year begins when it does, and that we celebrate it's beginning when we do, is essentially an artifact of calendrical history liturgical convenience, and Western European global hegemeny.
Still, it's what we have.
Yesterday, I wrote that 2011 was a year pretty much like any other.  The odds are that 2012 will be, too.
The good, the bad, and the ugly in some generically predictable but specifically uncertain admixture.  Just like always.
But if New Year's Eve is when we traditionally shuffle off the past, New Year's Day is a traditional time to look forward.
I don't make new years resolutions.  I can feel guilty about overeating and underexercising without an annual promise to myself to do better.  (I don't actually feel guilty about those things, but I could.)  I'm not into rituals of self-improvement.
Nevertheless, I've been rereading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  I'm old enough to have read it when it first came out, in 1960.  I remember  buying it in hardcover at the big Doubleday bookstore on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.  I probably read it again a couple of years later when the film came out.  But I'm not one of those people who went to law school (or into criminal law) inspired by the vision of Atticus Finch.
But his figure lurks.
Not so much as a model of how to do law - I once attended CLE session built around how really awful his representation of Tom Robinson was.  Constitutionally ineffective.
But as a model of how to live.
There's a stubborn decency in the man.  And a commitment to facing up to responsibilities and doing what you can.  And not judging or condemning.  And mostly, there's this sentence he speaks to Scout.
Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.
Which is what we do.
As criminal defense lawyers.
As human beings.
Which for some of us is much the same thing.
The King is dead. Long live the King!
Welcome to 2012.

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