All of our survival is tied to the survival
Quotes and Wisdom of Bryan Stevenson
You ultimately judge the civility of a society not by how it treats the rich, the powerful, the protected and the highly esteemed, but by how it treats the poor, the disfavored and the disadvantaged.
We have a system of justice in [the US] that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.
I've come to understand and to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet. I think if somebody tells a lie, they're not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn't belong to them, they're not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you're not just a killer. And because of that, there's this basic human dignity that must be respected by law.
The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
In many ways, we’ve been taught to think that the real question is, "Do people deserve to die for the crimes they’ve committed?" And that’s a very sensible question. But there’s another way of thinking about where we are in our identity. The other way of thinking about it is not "Do people deserve to die for the crimes they commit?" but "Do we deserve to kill?"
Why do we want to kill all the broken people?
We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent.
But simply punishing the broken--walking away from them or hiding them from sight--only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.
The greatest evil of American slavery was not involuntary servitude but rather the narrative of racial differences we created to legitimate slavery. Because we never dealt with that evil, I don't think slavery ended in 1865, it just evolved.
We live in a country that talks about being the home of the brave and the land of the free, and we have the highest incarceration rate in the world.
I don't think there's been a time in American history with more innocent people in prison.
Whenever society begins to create policies and laws rooted in fear and anger, there will be abuse and injustice.
We've all been acculturated into accepting the inevitability of wrongful convictions, unfair sentences, racial bias, and racial disparities and discrimination against the poor.
When you come to Montgomery, you see fifty-nine monuments and memorials, all about the Civil War, all about Confederate leaders and generals. We have lionized these people, and we have romanticized their courage and their commitment and their tenacity, and we have completely eliminated the reality that created the Civil War.
The Bureau of Justice reports that one in three black male babies born this century will go to jail or prison - that is an absolutely astonishing statistic. And it ought to be terrorizing to not just to people of color, but to all of us.
We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it's necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.
Somebody has to stand when other people are sitting. Somebody has to speak when other people are quiet.
The opposite of poverty isn't wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.
Always do the right thing even when the right thing is the hard thing.
There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can't otherwise see; you hear things you can't otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.
You can't demand truth and reconciliation. You have to demand truth - people have to hear it, and then they have to want to reconcile themselves to that truth.
It's that mind-heart connection that I believe compels us to not just be attentive to all the bright and dazzling things but also the dark and difficult things.
Intuitively we all like to seek the things that are comfortable rather than uncomfortable. But I do think there is a way of saying that if I believe in justice and I believe that justice is a constant struggle, and if I want to create justice, then I have to get comfortable with struggle.
My parents, who grew up in terror and dealt with segregation and humiliation, nonetheless taught us to be hopeful and open and loving and not hateful toward anyone.
You don't change the world with the ideas in your mind, but with the conviction in your heart.
We all have a responsibility to create a just society.
All of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone.
- Bryan Stevenson
From Just Mercy: A Story of Justice