Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I feel like I should write something about September 11th
And how being a law student makes you realize how powerful the rule of law is
And how scary it is to live in a place without the rule of law
And how September 11th made it feel, for a while,
That we weren't under the rule of law anymore
And that was scary

Until I sat down and thought about this
I hadn't really made any kind of connection
Between being a law student and what happened on September 11th
And the rule of law stuff just sounded intelligent
But I wasn't sure I really knew what it meant
I just knew that it was scary
Because who knew what had happened
And what might happen next

But what law school really does make me think about sometimes
Is all of the bad things that can happen but don't
We could have people defying court orders
Rioting, looting
Overpowering the police and militia
If we lost faith in the security of our currency
People would just steal stuff
If we lost faith in our government
And didn't trust the coercive police power of the state
There would be anarchy
Bad things would happen
The future would be uncertain
And as I thought about this, I realized
This is what living under the rule of law means

We're fortunate to live in a country
Where most of the time, bad stuff isn't happening
And when it does, there are ways we deal with it
Bad people do go to jail
Good people generally don't
Our Presidents, no matter their parties, listen to the courts
Leave office when they lose elections
Don't turn the military against its own citizens

We're fortunate that there's transparency
TV, radio, newspapers, Internet
That will tell us if bad stuff starts happening
And won't permit secret government plots
To undermine the rule of law
Most of the time

When I think about September 11th
I think about what it must be like every day in places less secure
And it's frightening
To think that instead of worrying about mundane things
Like whether you're out of toothpaste
You need to worry about whether you can leave your house
Without something bad happening
Or whether something bad will happen
Even if you stay home

September 11th was scary
But without the rule of law
September 12th would have been scarier

And I really don't know why
I've written this as a free verse poem