Actor Keith Hamilton Cobb website

The Great City

On both sides of the crime and punishment equation there reside imposters in the great city.

choke18n-12-webThey are not difficult to identify, for they can be found seeking not to benefit the city, but to benefit themselves.  Criminals do this.  It is the very definition of their enterprise.  Seeking to benefit one’s self at the expense of the greater good is also a human failing, however.  Another is the tendency to cloak the criminal enterprise in rationale that either excuses it, or worse, dresses it up to look as though it is in support of the great city that one goes about one’s selfish business.

The great city strives to be just.  It does not strive for justice after the fact, for any mediocre society will show a semblance of making that effort.  There is no greatness in that.  The great city is just before the fact, always and only…  The great city defines itself by what is just, and the pursuit of justice presupposes that what is just has already been undone; that what is just has fled, and justice seeks but vainly to retrieve it.  But it cannot be gotten again.  We of the great city cannot, in our hearts, ask an eye for an eye.  If we know the difference between “just” and “justice” we cannot.  If we derive our solace and comfort from the punitive, we do not belongsiegel22e-1-web here, in the great, just city.  We of the great city know that restoring what is just can only mean doing the impossible; that we un-injure the injured, un-wrong the wronged, and return the dead to life.  We know that, in the just city, injustice cannot thrive, but once it has entered in, we cannot un-do the damage it does.  If it is here, then the just city has become unjust, and ungreat, and we can only start again, from the beginning, as a people, in the great city, to be just.

Because, in the great city, we are just, we must forgive cop and criminal alike.  We must admit, if we are just, and not seeking justice, that we cannot often tell them apart, and hope that they come to realize that they are both engaged in service to themselves, no matter what they would like to claim.  And we hope that they will forgive us, seeing that we are people, and not great, like them, in the great city.


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