Wilder's Whole World

By: Dwayne Wilder

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I now understand why lawyers fight so hard for people’s rights.
I have been informed by local law enforcement that I am not allowed on certain property. It was a total and complete surprise. Not included in the information was the reason why. All I know is that I will be arrested if I trespass on said property.
I have been and always will be a law abiding citizen. I learned in grade school what the rules were and I know right from wrong. I have prided myself in being on the side of ‘right’ my entire life. Not just in a legal sense, but also in a moral and ethical sense. Suddenly, I am accused of actions that are bad enough to bar me from an actual property site.
After being stunned by the ‘warning,’ and after the shock wore off, I began thinking what could I have possibly done to cause this surreal experience. I am a reporter by trade and I go to places in search of information or stories and sometimes, both. I have never had a hint of anything being considered illegal in my actions for 10 years.
Why now?
Without discussing specifics, which are personal, this situation is disconcerting. There is ‘something’ and the end result is my ‘warning.’ Regardless of the situation, a right of mine has been taken away. Fortunately, only one right is gone; and not all of them as if I were a convicted felon and in prison. I don’t get to know the reasons, only suffer the consequences.
This reminds me of a statement one of my professors made in my only summer session in college. I was taking “The History of Christianity” as an elective and thought it would be easy! I was wrong on that account, but if for no other reason, I got something out of it: my professor’s statement, something that has stayed with me all these years.
On the first day of class, he puffed on his pipe as he asked the class, “Do you really know what it feels like to lose your personal rights?” Before anyone could answer or make an attempt at a joke, he answered for us: “No, you don’t!”
He stared right at us on that hot July morning in Lubbock, Texas and stroked his beard.
“No….you……don’t!”
He went on to discuss the criminal process and due process and individual rights and what happens when someone is arrested. I thought, “What?!” Did I come to the wrong class?! This isn’t religion!”
This professor knew his stuff and he talked for a long time about rights and what a person is ‘entitled’ to in certain societies, both then and in the past. He went over everything from the handcuffs and ‘Miranda Rights’ to the jail process and your one phone call.
For the life of me, I couldn’t help but be interested. Then, when he parlayed his talk into the early Christian times; and their struggles. I was stunned. I didn’t know much about those times – the first and second century A.D. – and was shocked to see what they went through. His course wasn’t so much about Jesus Christ as it was the human beings who continued after Him; those human beings and their rights as residents, as citizens and as people.
I’ve never forgotten that talk. I’ve always wanted to be on the side of the law and I know the consequences………….I know them because of the discussion that professor gave us on that seemingly innocuous summer day so many years ago.
When I realized the situation I was in now and the loss of my rights, I thought of that information and that professor. He had made it feel so real. As I looked at the policeman, I realized on some level that my professor was right! I felt just like he described even though I wasn’t under arrest or had all my rights taken away.
This situation was bad, but it could have been much worse. Once I was left with my thoughts, I agreed with my professor – as I may not have in class that day – that a person’s ‘rights’ are the most precious thing he has. Everyone – including lawyers – should and must preserve them at all cost. One must never lose sight of what allows you to live.
The details of my situation aren’t so important. The loss of my right to go on that property, as I had done for years, is what is critical. I should make sure all actions in the future allow for me to retain that right. Of course, I will obey the law! I will follow the order for as long as it takes, but I will not forget what I have lost……..I…..can……not….forget!
I may not understand, but I respect others’ opinion and feelings. If I did something unwittingly to someone, I want that person to know I meant no harm. I am not one to question the other person’s feelings as ‘wrong’ or ‘not worthy’ of the law. I am human and I can make mistakes even while thinking I’m doing the right thing. It does happen………..
And apparently, something like this has happened to me.
I attempt to be friendly because it is a positive attitude and it helps when talking about unpleasant things. If people consider you a friend, they will more than likely ‘open up’ to you when a negative story happens. I don’t do this as a scam, I do it because I genuinely want to be positive with all people….not just people I work with as a reporter………..but everyone!!!
Of course, I think about any pain I may have caused. I am crushed by the thought of everyone involved thinking of me as someone I’m not. I now have a ‘reputation’ as a person to avoid and scorn. I can only look into their eyes and see the distain where before there was friendship; or at least casual trust.
So, I am hurt on two fronts: the loss of rights and the loss of trust I had worked to establish as a reporter.
And how can I interview anyone now?! I am afraid I will somehow offend anyone new I meet to interview or even someone I know! How can I go on with my chosen profession? The only one I’m good at! Am I destined to be undone by a string of unrelated events I have no control over? How is this fair?! Should I even ask the question?
What am I going to do.....................? It is amazing to see what one can lose!
I don’t know, but as people are wont to be, a good ‘story’ about someone is much better than the facts of what he or she actually did. And in many of these cases, someone’s rights are lost.
I now understand why lawyers fight so hard for people’s rights…………………..


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