Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cheering for the Dream



  For those who are unaware (as I was, up until a week or two ago), May 1 is Law Day.  Turns out it’s been Law Day since the days of President Eisenhower.  Who knew?  Anyway, apparently it’s a day set aside to commemorate our commitment as a society to the rule of law. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  So why do I tell you this now?  Well, because at my school, they recently sent out a notice about our on-campus Law Day activities, as well as a blurb about an essay contest sponsored by our local legal assistants association.  If you win, you get a tour of the Oklahoma County courthouse and a visit with some judges, plus get to attend the Bar Association luncheon.  Most of my classmates couldn’t be bothered with writing another paper, but I figured if the contest is being sponsored by the group I hope to eventually be representing, might as well try now to get in a little bit of early networking.  So, I submitted an entry yesterday; now just to wait and see if I am selected.  But, honestly, I don’t have very high hopes, and let me tell you a little bit of why.

But, first, let me tell you a little bit about the contest itself.  First, as you may have gathered from the graphic at the top of this page, the theme for this year’s celebration is Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, so apparently that’s where the theme idea came from.  What you ought to know about the contest is that the first requirement was for a short essay.  Specifically, one page, double spaced.  Honestly, I almost gave up on the idea of entering as soon as I read that.  I mean, really?  You want me to talk about equality in this country in a single page?  That’s a pretty daunting challenge.  But, my legal writing professor, as well as our PTK advisor, always preaches about the value of brevity, and what a great skill it is to be able to convey a thought in as few words as possible.  Well, anyone who’s read this blog more than a time or two could probably tell you I need some work on that, so, what the heck.  Might as well get in a little practice.  And, yeah, I had to do quite a few rounds of editing, but I finally brought it down to one page, even had a line to spare.

But, style is not why I think I won’t be visiting with any judges a couple of weeks from now.  No, I’m more worried about substance.  See, my guess is that when an organization is celebrating Law Day and whatever the theme of the year happens to be, they really want to be celebrating.  To me, this implies that they might prefer essays with a more upbeat tone, and maybe—given the theme—a little bit of rah-rah for good ol’ Abe Lincoln or something.  But I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that.  Not in a society where on any given day I can see people discriminated against because of race, gender, or sexual orientation.  And don’t even get me started on what happens if someone of the “wrong” nationality shows up.  So, there wasn’t a lot of rah-rahing going on in my essay.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I didn’t trash the country or anything, just pointed out that maybe we aren’t quite as enlightened as we like to think we are when it comes to the subject of equal treatment.  I’ll be surprised if that’s the kind of message they’re looking for to celebrate our commitment to the rule of law, though I can’t deny it would please me on a couple of levels to be selected as one of the winners. 

It would please me more, though, if I live to see the day where I could write an essay about equality in this country and actually do a little cheering.  I’d really like to be able to bust out the rah-rah for this one.