A common cliche we are accustomed to hearing in today's world is that "we live in strange times." This era is certainly not the first time that this refrain has been applicable and accurate. Perhaps we have always lived in "strange times." But the circumstances are ever-changing, and the absurdities are related to all of the relevant factors affecting each generation.
The technological advances of the last 100 years are so monumental, we can take for granted that the tools at our modern fingertips are things our great, great, great grandparents could not have imagined. Technology, like everything in the world, can not be said to be inherently evil, and of course, the advancement in technology is responsible for so much good. With each new development, it is the responsibility of human beings to utilize these achievements for the good, the just, and the well-being of our fellow person.
With the advent of mass media in all forms, including, of course, the phenomenon of social media; we have a greater responsibility to become more informed citizens. We must be able to strengthen our discernment regarding what is true and real. It is crucially important that we not allow ourselves to be broken off into camps, or divided into "teams" as the human family, of which there is, in essence, only one team.
The United States was founded with very lofty ideals. On paper, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States of America are pivotal historical documents with profound implications for humankind. As a nation, we have not completely actualized those documents to this day, and this is part of our struggle as American citizens, to bring into full fruition the words of those documents. We are a generation that seems more ready than ever before to transform the paper into a living example of what could be. But we are also in an era of mass misinformation, confusion, and division by falsehood and fear. The challenge is ours to rise to the occasion as a people and free our minds from the shackles of mental slavery. We must be in it for the whole, not just for ourselves, and only those closest to us.
The court of public opinion is not a court of law, and a court of law is not a court of public opinion. Seemingly, today, that is confused and turned on its conceptual head. As Americans, if we truly value freedom, justice, truth, due process of law, democracy, a constitutional republic, etc., then we must be honest with ourselves about our opinions, and we must scrutinize them. In short, our minds must be emancipated and able to guide our emotions. And though this takes a bit of hard work, the responsibility is on all of us, and the cost of the effort is certainly worth the great benefit of birthing a truly just society.
The need to be right is something that, unbeknownst to most of us, plagues adult society. In general, children would rather be happy than right. They have a greater ability to move on, not hold grudges, and live in the moment. As adults, we have much to learn from children and their ability to be free-spirited, willing to learn, and not hold too tightly onto things that cause division and strife. If we are to impart the values of fairness, truth, empathy, mercy, unconditional love, justice, integrity, and objectivity to our youth, then we must be sure to think, speak, and act with these values. The youth will reject hypocrisy and falsehood, and it is on us adults to be sure to impart active integrity if we expect it from our children. If we have that expectation of our children, we must, with certainty, expect it from ourselves.
As Americans, if we permit our rights under the law to be tampered with for any citizen, then all of our rights have been violated and threatened. If we turn a blind eye to injustice in the justice system because we reason that it does not affect us personally, or because we've formulated unfounded opinions based on the vast amounts of media overload, we are threatening the integrity of our democracy. We must move away from the "blame game." From the divisiveness rampant amongst us and strive for objectivity in thought, speech, and action. Lives and livelihoods are at stake when we are not remaining sharp as informed citizens, when our emotions, conscious or subconscious, are driving our thinking and judgment. We have a responsibility to and for one another, and this must be intellectually internalized, be seriously contemplated, and reckoned with by each of us.
"We, the people," is a phrase with significant implications. It sets upon us, the citizens of the nation, the responsibility of forming this "more perfect Union." The governing body works for the people, and as such, we are truly the overseers of the government and the justice system. When we turn a blind or an uncaring eye to the state of the justice system, we unwittingly jeopardize our rights under the law. With mass and social media in the picture, and with the amount and pace of information reaching all of us, it is not hard to fall into forming strong opinions quickly. It is not tricky or beneath any of us to fall into taking sides, dividing into camps, and wanting to be on the "winning" end of an issue. We all must slow the world down using the strength of our minds. Our emotions and our nervous systems are hijacked by a world operating at a speed that just keeps increasing astronomically by the day. None of us are simply "sheep," we are just easily misled as we are only human. As human beings, however, we are called upon to become more than human, to go beyond our natural tendencies and self-interest, and actualize the phrase "E Pluribus Unum," "out of the many, one." When we allow the justice system to fail any of us, it jeopardizes all of us, for, out of the many we are One.
In this country, by law, we have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is a right we all expect to be upheld and would be justifiably outraged if the opposite was thrust upon us. We must realize that too often there are people who are found guilty by public opinion before they've ever had their day in court. And often, even after they've had their day in court. It is on all of us to respect the courts and due process of law, because if we expect it for ourselves, we are duty-bound to expect it for every individual.
Introspection is key to understanding ourselves. Self-examination is not the process of "digging up dirt," instead, it is a process of self-discovery. Maybe, we believe we are not susceptible to intense subjectivity or strongly unfounded and unfair opinions. But if we are to be honest with ourselves, none of us are above it. This should not leave us dejected; instead, it should leave us accepting ourselves as human and beautifully flawed. To rise above subjectivity, we must recognize that we all tend to move toward it. We also have a human tendency to strive for truth, to be objective, to think critically, and act responsibly.
As a society, we are in the process of facing important things about our history that have yet to be resolved. If we pay too close attention to the media and not enough to our immediate surroundings, we may be on a collision course, and spinning out of control. Naturally, we are scared. To be afraid is to be human. Bravery is not being fearless; bravery is how we act in the face of fear.
We will have to speak about things that make us uncomfortable, but with respect, honor, and the upholding of dignity. If we want to create a truly just society, we must not let our emotions lead the way. Self-honesty must be our guiding principle and light. We must ask ourselves how we can and do have such strong opinions about matters in which we have no first-hand knowledge? How do we benefit from allowing the justice system to act as a type of “reality tv” show for the masses? What benefit do any one of us outside of an immediate case, gain from being on the “winning side?” Are we inadvertently distracting ourselves from our own internal needs? Let us seek a justice system that acts as a beacon of light for what should be the highest standard of justice attainable amongst human beings. If we genuinely care about a more perfect union, we should accept no less.
If someone has not been found guilty by a jury in a court of law, nor have they pleaded guilty to a charge, that person is, by law, presumed innocent. The right to a fair trial is not something we can take for granted and yet still proclaim ourselves free citizens. The task of being open-minded and free-thinking individuals is on us. We must protect our ears from slander because it comes at us in all directions, and there is an agenda and business to it. We must scrutinize what we hear at all times. With so much information abound and available, it must be sifted through with extreme care, and we must check ourselves and our reactions to any given story. If citizens are going to be able to have fair trials, as is a right granted by the constitution, we must stop appointing ourselves as home judges and juries. We must learn to escape from desiring to be the judge over someone else’s life, just like we’d like others to flee from pronouncing judgment on us. When we have a collective shift in this attitude concerning the justice system, we can begin to ensure true justice for all!
The above legal analysis lays out clearly that the case against R. Kelly, the acclaimed R&B singer, writer, producer, and performer is one that has not yet had its day in court. By law, since Mr. Kelly has pleaded innocent and has not been convicted of any crime, we must afford him the presumption of innocence. The court of public opinion, as stated earlier, is not a court of law. With so much hearsay (statements that would not be admissible in court) being thrown around on all media platforms regarding this case, how can R. Kelly be guaranteed a fair trial? If we believe he does not deserve one, we do not understand our rights under the law. We have now succumbed to the influence of not believing in equal justice and, therefore, are liable to fall short in pursuing it. If we are able to pick and choose who deserves justice, we threaten the integrity of the courts for us all.
The burden to bear regarding a legal proceeding, never simply falls on the accused and the accusers. We are human, and we love our families. They are rightfully sacred to us and are our first responsibility. Lisa and Cassandra Kelly, R. Kelly’s sisters, are like any loving family. They support their brother through all of this, regardless of the verdict. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty puts the burden of proof on the prosecution; without his day in court, R. Kelly is presumed innocent.
The Kelly sisters are trying, with unrelenting exertion, to ensure that their brother, Mr. Robert Kelly has his fair day in court. He is currently being held in jail under the pretense that he is a flight risk. He has cooperated fully and willingly in all that the court has asked of him, including surrendering his passport to the authorities. R. Kelly was acquitted in a court of law in 2008, on allegations of sexual misconduct. His legal team is doing everything they can do to not fail their client on the path to justice. It is no easy task with the media fanning the flames of defamation, as well as possible political considerations tainting the objectivity of the court.
Mr. Kelly’s assets are not what the general public may perceive them to be. As a young man, R. Kelly did not have the knowledge and experience he would come to accumulate as a veteran of the recording industry. He signed some bad deals that left him receiving very little of his royalties. His record company, as is still typical though changing rapidly, owns his master recordings. Due to his current detainment, he cannot perform, which would be the most lucrative avenue for him to pursue regarding earning a living again. The cost of legal fees is exceedingly high, and the bonds are unaffordable for the average citizen. He is responsibly paying child support and is currently dealing with health issues. His legal team is advocating for his release so he can prepare for the case of his life, quite literally.
Lisa and Cassandra Kelly are creating a fund on their brother’s behalf; however, their vision extends far beyond their own family. This fund will grow to serve the needs of anyone caught in legal proceedings where the process pursued is preventing them from having their just day in court. The vision is that Mr. Kelly’s case can serve as a catalyst to repair the holes in our justice system; as well as in our understanding of what constitutes equal rights under the law, and our responsibility to protect them for every individual without distinction.