One evening this week, my partner and I hosted a reception for a local candidate for Court of Common Pleas Judge here in Philadelphia. This has gotten me thinking about our judicial system, service, community and noble purpose. Let’s take it from the top. For those of you who aren’t familiar with our fair city and how justice works here, allow me to explain. In Philadelphia, we elect judges. That means we need to get voters to pull the lever of the candidates we think are best for the bench.
This being a two political party town, those candidates who are endorsed by a party tend to be more successful than independent candidates. So, it is important to gain the favor of a party. This system may or may not be more or less problematic that other States’ or Nations’ systems of judicial appointments where people are appointed by a select group of people with the power to choose and no voter input. But in this state, to be a judge, you have to get people to pull the lever next to your name in the voting booth.
That is where we come in. Why are we opening our home to just about everyone we know and potentially everyone they know? Because justice here in Philadelphia and in your community, is a very important principle that each citizen needs to ensure, however we can. Here in the United States we have the luxury of falling into mindlessness about this, while our fellow humans in the Middle East and other parts of the world, are protesting and being killed to gain the right to a fair trial.
We know from research in organizations and criminal justice, that when inequity is practiced and not addressed, performance and morale suffers[i]. This is bad enough in organizations, but the negative result in an individual’s life, and that of their family, and community, when an innocent person is sent to jail, or a guilty person gets off, is profound. So, justice is an important principle to uphold.
Jonathan is running for “Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.” I like the sound of this. I like the very fact that there is a set of “common pleas” that our society seems to have. It also seems very important to have a person at the front of the court room who is able to listen and “judge” with self awareness of his or her own subjective bias. A person with a deep understanding of the law; who is ready to give his full self to the job—in short, a judge with emotional intelligence. Jonathan’s noble purpose is to serve kids; to help deliver “wake up calls” to kids and their families and to ensure fairness is a lived value in our city.
A second important reason we are doing this falls under the umbrella of that famous bumper sticker—Think Globally, Act Locally. The candidate, Jonathan Q. Irvine[ii] is our next door neighbor. And if he is willing to serve, we are willing to help. Helping him makes us feel good; it’s a renewal practice.
“Community “ is an abstract concept that doesn’t happen magically, rather it is an outcome that is a result of many, many acts of service that individuals perform. We are doing our part to enable Jonathan to live his noble purpose, that will in turn, help our community be safer and also be a place where the principle of “right to a fair trial” is enacted.
How do you bring your values to life? How can you contribute to bring the values of your society into action? What can you do to support your neighbors’ realization of their noble purpose? What I can tell you is that it feels good to be a connector and a person that is helping make the community in which you live be more of the community you desire and aspire to be.
I will let you know when he wins!
[i] HBR Leadership that Gets Results and a cite from criminal justice