Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day, public domain
Greetings All:

Today is May Day.  May Day has a bunch of meanings.  For some, it's a day to protest "The Man" and claim solidarity with all workers.  For others, it is Law Day. Law Day (as I understand it) was started as a protest in the United States to the Soviet observation of May Day.  In Moscow and other places, it was both the celebration of the worker and also a celebration of the "State." 

Years ago a group of fellow lawyers observed law with tournament.  Please, feel free to share your favorite lawyer joke in the comments below.  

Thurgood Marshall, full cite to the article below.  Fair use/public domain claimed
There is a more serious side to Law Day.  Unlike in the Soviet Union where "Beloved Comrade Stalin" watched the masses engage in a massive act of secular genuflection before the alter of the hammer and sickle, here in America, we have the right to protest and to disagree.  We also have the right to petition our government with our grievances.  (Do they always listen? Eh,...)  

The quote from the U.S. Courts website is a nice tie-in with what Law Day means in the abstract.  It also shows the value of the practical aspects of our system, such as the famous Brown v. The Board of Education case.  That case was successfully argued for the Plaintiffs by a young attorney named Thurgood Marshall.  He went on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Lively, civil discussion is the hallmark of Law Day, which is celebrated every year on May 1 and throughout the month.
The 2014 Law Day theme focuses on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. This landmark case is an example of how the Fourteenth, Amendment, which promises “equal protection of the laws ” changed the course of public education" 

May Day actually has origins further back in history.  It has origins in ancient Ireland.  The Beltane celebration occurred around May 1st.  Other examples of pre-20th century celebrations include the image posted above of Queen Guinevre's Maying.  Tennyson offered these words to describe this image in his work, "Idylls of the King in 1859:

"For thus it chanced one morn when all the court, Green-suited, but with plumes that mocked the may, Had been, their wont, a-maying and returned, That Modred still in green, all ear and eye, Climbed to the high top of the garden-wall To spy some secret scandal if he might,"
One should be free to celebrate the day (and any day, for that matter) as one chooses.  If you're an admirer of Marx and Lenin, then by all means, have a "Workers of the World Unite," parade.  If you are an ardent anti-communist, then a Law Day/Loyalty Day observance would be your cup of tea (party).  

I would suggest this:  If you feel strongly about how to observe today, then take a moment to look at the other side's arguments.  I recall reading in college something about not truly understanding your own position until you knew your opponent's.  Then there is the Mark Twain quote:  "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to stop and reflect."

I hear old Vlad in Moscow is dusting off the banners from his days of KGB glory and staging his own parade.  I would not be surprised if the boy dictator in North Korea is doing the same.  While it's always a good idea to keep a close watch on these cats, there's also something to be said for not over-reacting.  Let them march, so long as they confine it to their own parade squares.

I don't know why I remember this, but I do.  When I was like five, we made paper "May Day" flowers.  I am certain mine was horrible.  Still, my Mom assured me it was wonderful and encouraged me to give it to the elderly neighbor who lived across the street.  I did.  I don't remember much else except it was a warm day and the sun was shining.  I hope the same is true today.  After the brutal winter we've had, nice weather is worth celebrating whatever your politics may be. 

The flowers (finally) blooming in my front yard.  Photo by Jeno Berta
Be well my friends,


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