Confucius Say: Are You People Serious?

Interesting story:

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In a belated celebration on Wednesday, the House marked last month’s 2,560th birthday of Chinese philosopher Confucius by passing a resolution recognizing “his invaluable contributions to philosophy and social and political thought.”

But some members apparently prefer their Confucius confined to a fortune cookie rather than on the House floor. According to the vote tally, 47 voted against the birthday resolution and 13 voted “present,” while 361 supported it.

“We love Confucius, but what a joke of a vote,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CNN.

“I can’t go back to the people of Utah and say, ‘Yeah, we’re voting on Confucius today,'” said Chaffetz, who called the resolution “absurd.” “How many more birthdays do we vote on before we start fixing the economy?”

The resolution’s sponsor, Democrat Al Green of Texas, said on the House floor the resolution is meant to celebrate the “personal introspection” of the Chinese philosopher and his “respect of social relationships, personal and governmental morality.”

“He preached that politicians must always present truth and morality. He taught the philosophy of reciprocity, never impose upon others what you would not choose for yourself,” said Green.

When asked about the criticism aimed at his resolution, Green gave CNN a Confucius-like statement: “Although I would like 100 percent of the people to agree with me 100 percent of the time, I have learned that rarely happens.”

Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, who also voted against the measure, tried conjuring the Chinese philosopher in an e-mail prediction: “He who spends time passing trivial legislation may find himself out of time to read healthcare bill.”

OK, I don’t really care what your politics is, this IS a joke. I’m admittedly not current on Al Green’s record as a legislator, but I had a couple cases before him way back when he was a Justice of the Peace here and I do have an impression of him based on that.

First, when you were scheduled for court, even a one minute hearing, you had to sit and listen to his spiel: the rules of the courtroom, the rules of procedure as they differ between Justice of the Peace Court and Small Claims Court (a JP in this state will hear both types on the same docket), what mediation is and why your case will be sent to it, the postjudgment procedures, his personal theory of justice, and several personal anecdotes, and so on and so forth.

Don’t get me wrong – many JPs have a little speech that they repeat before they begin hearing cases. However the speech is usually less than ten minutes. Justice Green spoke routinely for an hour or more.

When you are a busy attorney charging your client by the hour, this expense of time is no trivial matter. Also, it was pure torture to have to sit and listen to.

I quickly came to the conclusion that Mr. Green really likes the sound of his own voice. Like. Really. And I began turning down any case in his court or that would have to be filed there (there weren’t many, but still). In retrospect, this may have been part of his plan – lower his workload by boring the attorneys into fleeing his precinct, in which case, I do have to give him credit for a job well done.

I had one case – fairly trivial, but the client was willing to pay and legally they had an interesting case. Two extremely hostile neighbors were fighting over a tree and the damage it allegedly did to a carport and garage. Note: tree cases are rarely about the actual tree – they are much more likely to be about something else altogether. Bad feelings were not new between these neighbors – they had bickered for years over this and that – as I said, the problem was not rooted in the actual tree. It was a power struggle and nothing more, but there were legal issues that the parties could not (would not) work out, so to court it went.

Trials in JP court are often only a few minutes long. Once in a while you end up before a jury and even then, it doesn’t last long. I think my maximum prior to this was a couple hours, but that included taking the judge out to a property (Road trip!) to personally view the damage.

This case (part of it the judge’s speech and I think we went involuntarily to mediation for a short time, which did not go over well with either side) lasted six hours. I wish I was kidding – it lasted all day long. It was insane. I have never worked so hard for such a trivial matter in my life. And we won – I don’t remember the details, but I do recall the Client thanking both myself and Jesus, so I know we won…..the specifics are irrelevant now. Six hours for something like a $1,400 case. Moral victory. Financial loss.

The same case in any other court would have lasted maybe an hour – there were a few witnesses and an expert witness (yes, I’m serious) to put on, but certainly not all day. It was solely because of justice Green that the parties and I unnecessarily wasted the better part of the day in his courtroom.

I don’t think he is a bad guy. But in that instance, he was inconsiderate, impractical, dismissive of the value of each parties’ time (and the financial repercussions of having counsel present), and I don’t know if it was caused by an unduly high valuation of his own importance or that he was just completely oblivious of other peoples’ needs. Maybe both.

This vote on Confucius seems to be a waste of time too. Perhaps not the biggest waste of time, but a waste nonetheless – a waste of effort and a waste of time. And it did bring him some recognition to boost his already inflated ego. I’m inclined to think it’s not out of character for him at all. I hope I’m proven wrong.

The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
-Confucius, The Confucian Analects

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