Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One Giant Leap

As I drove past the Temple of Justice today, I saw something that made me gasp, shout, screech to a halt, and make a quick U-turn. I had to see it again.
Could it be true?
It was!

The phrase I have detested ever since I could read was being hacked off the face of the building, letter by letter. LET JUSTICE BE DONE TO ALL MEN is, at long last, being rearranged to say LET JUSTICE BE DONE TO ALL.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to leap for joy. I wanted to twirl around like Fraulein Maria and sing ''The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music.'' What I did do was smile and praise the construction supervisor as if it were his idea to make the change.

No small steps here - This is one giant step for women, and one giant leap for Liberia. Many of our country's problems boil down to a poor justice system. Why the regular mob violence? Why the rampant corruption? Why the reluctance of victims to prosecute criminals? Why the lack of respect for laws and for authority figures? Why the exploitation of the poor? Why the disregard for human rights? Because there is, usually, no justice for ordinary citizens and no consequences when one violates a law. Of course, this new phrase won't automatically change things, but language is powerful, and this change in wording is a step in the right direction. When the renovated building is unveiled it will show (visually) that we recognize the need for a change, that we are striving for a change, and that we are actually moving forward toward this end. LET JUSTICE BE DONE TO ALL will say this is a new Liberia - one that includes and protects its women and girls, and that is fair to the poor, as well as to the rich.