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We Dissent – Above the LawAbove the Law


Pretty woman shouts into a megaphone, possibly protesting

(Image via Getty)

We dissent.

This fight over abortion has never and will never be about protecting the unborn child because if it was, we would have universal healthcare for all.

We would do everything possible to reduce maternal mortality associated with giving birth, especially among Black women.

We would have programs to nurture and care for all children born in this country.

We would address the systems of inequality to correct the devastating reality that one out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys. We would work to fix the system because it would benefit all, including the one of every 17 white boys who can also expect to go to prison in their lifetime.

We would fix the food insecurity in this country. More than 38 million Americans, including 11.7 million children, struggle with food insecurity. That is 12 percent of the U.S. population.

We would have gun laws that protect all, especially the children.

Today, I grieve. I had my daughter through IVF. My body made 26 embryos. One survived. I am directly responsible for destroying some of the embryos. I can’t imagine a more fundamental right as an American than having full autonomy over my own body.

In no other circumstances do we force one human to give up their bodily autonomy, even if it would save another. We don’t force people to donate blood, organs, skin, or any other body parts.

Fundamentally, this fight has always been about maintaining control over women. For over 250 years, enslaved women never had dominion over their own bodies.

This battle continues today — here and now.

This is about white male body supremacy. It’s about patriarchy. It’s about maintaining the systems of control that only benefit the few.

I am not an American by birth. I am an American by choice. I became a naturalized citizen at the age of 24.

I took an oath to “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity” to my mother country, to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States,” and to “bear arms on behalf of the United States.” I choose to do this voluntarily because I believe in the vision for America, that this is a country that aspires to a better version of itself, one that holds true equality, freedom, liberty, and justice for all.

I chose to become an American because I believe in the vision stated in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

During dark moments, I often come back to the teachings of Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights lawyer. It’s a simple prescription, but not an easy one to follow.

He shares four things we all must do to change the world.

  1. Get Proximate. We can’t fix a problem unless we have an intimate understanding of it. He says, “We’ve got to find ways to get closer to the poor, the neglected, the abused, the excluded, the marginalized, because it’s in proximity to these communities that we hear things that we will not otherwise hear; we will see things that we will not otherwise see.”
  2. Change the Narrative. Stevenson says there is always a narrative behind the systems of oppression. He talks about the “politics of fear and anger.” “Fear and anger are the essential ingredients of injustice and oppression.” We must understand the narrative that is driving the current discussion, and change it by infusing hope and imagination.
  3. Stay Hopeful. When people stay hopeful, “extraordinary things happen.” “We actually break down barriers that allow us to see one another and care for one another and love one another.” It is critical for lawyers to remain hopeful. We must continue to hold hope for a better version of America. “I actually believe that hopelessness is the enemy of justice. When you allow yourself to get helpless about what you can do, what you can achieve, and what can be accomplished, you actually become part of the problem.”
  4. Learn To Be Uncomfortable. We can’t change the world and cling to our sense of comfort. “We cannot change the world if we aren’t willing to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient,” Stevenson explains. Pay attention to when you are feeling uncomfortable and learn to tolerate the discomfort that is necessary to have hard conversations about white supremacy, patriarchy in this country.

I vow to continue to resist, to persist, to fight. Not with hatred but through joy and compassion. Because I owe it to my daughter. We owe it to all of our children.


Jeena_Cho_Brand_Session_0621-06Jeena Cho is a coach and a consultant who specializes in lawyer well-being. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, The Anxious Lawyer, An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation (ABA). She offers a unique perspective and insight as an attorney and brings her personal experience as an immigrant, a Korean-American, and a mom to the table. Her work is steeped in science- and research-based practices in mindfulness, positive psychology, cognitive-behavioral tools, and leadership coaching. You can learn more about her work at jeenacho.com.

 



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