It was a Saturday night, and I was “frolicking” with a group of friends when my smart phone signaled that I had received a text. I tell you that I am obsessed about not answering those damn gadgets in a social situation. To me, this is the height of rudeness. Nonetheless something made me take a quick glance at the screen which told me in a nano second that Justice Scalia had died. And I could not squelch my initial re-action which was an audible “Yay!” bringing a number of friends to my side to share what seemed to be my good news.
I tell you this in the spirit of a confessional. It is one of those moments of which I am not proud. True, the good Justice had handed down decisions that were a complete anathema to me, and sent me virtually screaming in the dark trying for a split minute each time, to fathom the rationale that would arrive at a place so beyond the range of what I considered to be rational.
And then – you can count on them every time – the news media – overjoyed at the prospect of being diverted from the Trump Travesty began to expose the Life of Scalia and my closed mind began to open. In a typically narrow-minded political vise, I had not bothered to view him as a person, but saw only one side of the man and made my judgement according to my ignorance. People do that and it’s so wrong.
I began to see him as a principled man of high intelligence and humor who just happened to see things from a perspective different from mine – but none the less an honest one. Was I an “originalist” as regards the interpretation of the constitution? I had given it some thought as major SCOTUS decisions were highlighted by the media, but my thoughts were fleeting as life continued to “happen.”
But that’s for another treatise. The fact that Scalia’s judgment had national consequences that I found to be abhorrent is what living in a democracy is all about. But the fact that I could not separate the man from his views is scary in this time of political parody and lack of civility – and I do not want to fall in line with political haters. The more I looked into the life of Antonin Scalia, the more I could admire his qualities as a human being who felt as passionately about his views as I do about mine. Mankind is not monolithic. We are all “many people” in one body.
We talk about tolerance all the time. We talk about acceptance. We talk about coming together. We talk about compromise. These are the high values that truly make America great. It is worth noting that the Roman Empire fell into decline as onlookers cheered the gladiators for their fierceness at dirty fighting.
And so, with all due respect, and a lesson learned, I can acknowledge with sorrow, the demise of a patriot and one who was true to himself. May he rest in peace.