In 1972 I was in law school at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and like a number of my classmates at the time, was planning to get engaged. Jolly’s Jewelers in Raleigh advertised heavily and their commercials resonated with me, especially considering they had been in business for a long time and enjoyed a good reputation.
At the store I met with a salesman and we discussed the usual questions pertaining to budgets and different stones. I asked him if I could purchase a perfect diamond within my price range, which was quite limited. He said yes and showed me a diamond under ten power magnification. It was crystal clear, and from all I could see, it was the stone I had come to buy.
The salesman then suggested I view the diamond under twenty-five power magnification, and my just immediate delight turned to disappointment. It had any number of “flaws”, or what looked like blotches.
The salesman explained that when one talks about a perfect diamond, perfection was defined by what was visible under ten power magnification. Increasing that magnification would only bring out more of the imperfections. I left the store a happy customer with a new understanding of how diamonds are graded.
This also became one of the great metaphoric lessons I took away from Jolly’s Jewelers. I think of all the people I know ranging from family, friends, co-workers, civic groups, business, the gym, and more. It is so easy to drill down to the twenty-five power of magnification and find every flaw in a person if we are not careful to remind ourselves about what perfection and imperfection means---and how we might look if examined closely. While I am not a person of faith, I readily acknowledge that there are some pearls of wisdom in the Bible, to include Paul’s admonition in Romans 3:23, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Usually the Christmas season brings out the better angels in most of us because of the number of parties and social events, music, shopping, and anticipation of the big day involving family, friends, good food, and good cheer. This year is probably the one exception that everyone alive today will remember for the rest of their life because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In talking to people and reading any number of stories in the print media, social isolation and the lack of human contact is taking its toll. We are all on edge, and while the end might be in sight, it’s still a relatively distant sight. The current political situation involving the presidential election and the two runoff elections in Georgia for the U.S. Senate have divided us---Americans---as no other time in my seven and a half decades.
Republicans are in a self-destruction mode, especially in Georgia, but certainly not limited to Georgia. I was saddened to hear Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) speak out the other day about physical threats to his family---to his wife and children(!)---because he is following the law as he understands it versus the demands President Donald Trump has made on him that Kemp said would violate his oath to both the U.S. Constitution and state Constitution.
Kemp is hardly the only elected official who has been threatened with physical harm. The mayor of Dodge City, Kansas, a Republican, resigned last week when the death threats and other vile attacks on her became too much, all over a mask mandate. Anyone can do an internet search and find all too many officials with similar experiences. This is wrong on every level.
I have to wonder why those filled with so much hatred, people who profess to be “Constitutionalists”, would resort to violence instead of letting the democratic processes run their course, especially elections, to make change. If violence becomes a substitute, then it will become a regular occurrence as one violent group seeks to overthrow another violent group. The Constitution and our laws require people to support them even when we disagree or they are nothing but pieces of worthless paper. It is part of our social contract as Americans.
This commentary isn’t intended to debate Trump’s claims of having been defrauded of victory. I remain confident that our bipartisan institutions still work, that our local, state, and federal governments by and large are run by honest people, that our courts try hard to make honest and reasoned decisions irrespective of political parties. It is another example of American exceptionalism.
All of our officials, to include judges, are flawed human beings. But they deserve to be examined under a ten power magnification unless there is a factual basis to increase it to a twenty-five power. Both Republicans and Democrats have their political idols, such as Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Neither could survive anyone’s scrutiny beyond the ten power. And Abraham Lincoln would also fall short because he, too, was human.
I didn’t vote for Governor Kemp, but he has my support right now. He was elected by the voters of Georgia, and unless he proves to be corrupt, he deserves to govern as he promised he would, and the citizens of this state can choose otherwise after he completes his term if they don’t like the way he is handling the presidential election or anything else.
The violence against our elected officials and judges has to stop if our Constitution is to have any meaning, if it is to remain the most respected governing document in the world, if Americans still want to consider our country exceptional.