“They aren’t rights if they only apply when we’re safe.”

(written some days ago but simmering for editing purposes)

“They aren’t rights if they only apply when we’re safe.” ~Marissa Reichert

I don’t really know her, but this more-than-articulate friend-of-a-son-of-a-cousin said it as right as a person could articulate …in a conversation related to Miranda rights and the young, alive suspect caught in the boat after the Boston marathon bombings.

It got me seriously thinking about what it means to be free and how we balance that with the duty and responsibility to protect ourselves.   How far do we go in the hunt to identify and catch people who will hurt us in the future if we don’t stop them, and how do we treat them when we think we have found them?

Well, this morning’s news answered that question a bit.   A young suburbian from Chicago, an 18 year old, has apparently been “arraigned on terrorism charges” and I’m wondering what that means….terrorism charges exactly?   Must be federal and patriot-related.  They have their purpose.  Laws, and thus charges, have to be very specific and give us notice as to what we did wrong.

The flavor of news I’m reading and its headline read:  “US teenager snared in FBI ‘terror’ sting.”  That’s probably because I am not getting the CNN effect but the Al Jazeera effect, which I personally find a little more tolerable (only because I need a refreshing viewpoint), but not always fair.

So I move to CNN just for balance…oh wow, look at that….the story is not even evident on the front page.  A search is not revealing any related story anywhere.

I am left to wonder why that is I suppose.  After all, we are the people…..

Perhaps the People have forgotten who runs things...

Constitutional Law back in the late 1980’s was a very different beast.   While there could be unique situations where bypassing Miranda was warranted (the now-famous “public safety exception”), by no means would it qualify in a situation where there is no imminent threat of loss of life, like when an 18 year old is bleeding out in a boat some 24+ hours after the alleged incident causing a search for him and is unable to speak.

See, we want to preserve the admissibility of their statements in a court of law.  We also want our system to preserve its honor and humanity even when our human emotions would lead us to potentially strike out and make a mistake ourselves.  If we strike out and screw up, that suspect person might walk away (recall they are “innocent” at this point regardless of CNN and FBI reports) because that smoking-gun kind of evidence will not be allowed into the trial (fruit of the poisonous tree stuff-left for another day).

While the public’s emotions are inflamed by fear and news reports (possibly designed to inflame further under the guise of asking the public for help), all we’ve done is become that which we claim we hate.   Did you know a news report out of New York ran shortly after the Boston bombs went off, depicting a young man on the front page….. the wrong young man apparently?  Can you even imagine the damage done to that guy because of our attempts at helping the FBI?  This is probably why the police try to limit the public’s help in the first place.

If the ONLY time we get to have rights, like Miranda, is during peaceful situations in books and pieces of paper called court rulings, then me thinks Marissa is right…. they aren’t Rights at all.

We were tested in the crucible of life on our theoretical stance …. and we kind of failed a little bit.  I wonder if it will help us have some tolerance for others around the world enduring that same crucible.





The Miraculous Mara

The Miraculous Mara

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated,often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.

“The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. 

‘Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind –

“and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

– Mark Jenkins (perhaps the American artist born in Alexandria, Virginia 1970, who is most known for his street installation art with box tape)  SAM_2883

I am uncertain which is greater, the travel itself, or perhaps the traveler.   Whenever I go to a new place, I think the greatest change is inside myself.  It is the experience I seek, not the mere accumulation of images.  But the mere 2-D accumulation of images is all I really have in physical form to share… that and a few quotes written by those more artistically verbal than I.

“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.”     – D. H. Lawrence (English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist 1885-1930)

So goes our trip to the Massai Mara with our friend Monique and her family.  Her husband, Agostino, is a well-seasoned safari guide and now operates his own company, Lokenjen.  Click on that word and check them out, particularly Monique’s photography!  Yannick, her very charming 3 year-old son, is also a seasoned safari expert.

You will get a much more personalized and real experience with Agostino than with the big companies operating out of the Serena hotel with their shiny new Land Rovers and clean, well-appointed people sitting upright, donning tourist safari hats, slathered with imported bug sprays and sun screens, gently cradling their expensive Nikon & Fuji cameras.

“If seeing sights is your kind of travel, then you, my good sir, are no traveler.”

I am a passionate believer that going off-road in life with a knowledgeable person is far superior to traveling the established routes, tourist or otherwise.   Giraffes off-road

     This is the “off-season” in the Mara, and Agostino quips that the animals are never off-season, but only the tourists.  This “off-season” weekend brings us amazing off-road things.  While Agostino tells me, “honestly we were just ‘lucky,’” I am amusingly reminded of Oprah’s version of Seneca’s (ancient Roman philosopher dude) sentiment along the lines:  “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.”

Agostino provided the skill & opportunity….and Marco, a Maasai, provided the years of eagle-eye preparation.

Marco is a traditional Maasai and a trained guide, thanks to a visionary who realized a kind of inequity in this land of the Maasai where the people were losing the capacity to sustain a livelihood on their own land.  Marco accompanied us as we took game drives to seek out the things you see below so that Agostino could concentrate on the task of driving rather than capsizing.   Monique’s skill and camera are so much better than mine, and I hope to provide a link to her photos at some point, but these are my humble offerings of our truly breathtaking experience in the wilds of East Africa.  My elephant and ostrich photos apparently did not make it.

We had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and Olly, kind of newly weds (2010) and fellow adventurists on a year-long road trip from Australia to the UK.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber (Austrian-born Jewish philosopher 1878-1965).

I experienced the most inexplicable sense of being safe amongst these raw and uncivilized animals.   The baboons visiting in the early morning hours to steal our stuff didn’t even concern me.  The torrential rains at our Aruba Mara Bush Camp did not disturb me.   It was a peace and calm that I cannot describe, but that every human, especially city dwellers, must experience.

Video sometimes helps understand what words cannot convey.   The King of the Mara and The Cheetah Four

We bid you adieu from the Mara …SAM_2953