In his fourth book, A Frolic of His Own, novelist William Gaddis writes:
"Justice? – you get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law."
We disagree with Gaddis here, but we love this quote: we recognize the anger and cynicism in it. Perhaps we are being presumptuous, but we imagine that you too have thought justice is lacking in this world.
What started our mission in developing this newsletter was a simple question: what is the definition of justice, and what actions can we take to live it today? We are still working on the definition, but our faith leads us to believe justice can be breathed.
We also believe that what we are seeing in our community is not justice. 23.2% of our adult neighbors and 36.2% of our children live in poverty. There is no fixed-route public transportation program to get people to and from jobs, to and from the doctor. Licking County Jail is overcrowded, and not enough of our community is asking, Why and how? How could so many of our neighbors fill the beds? Are we bad people?
The struggle for justice will be a long road, and we, your neighbors, your brothers and sisters, need your help.
The first issue of our newsletter will be about health care. This was a hot topic over the summer, as twenty-four million Americans risked losing their health care coverage as part of a GOP-led repeal and replace plan. While the Democratic option, the Patient Protection and Affordable Coverage Act, remains law, rising costs on life-saving drugs and operations continue to hurt the members of our Think Tank. And being the experts in poverty that we are, we know this pain is shared by millions of our brothers and sisters.
The Basic Idea of our first issue is this: All humans have a right to live and pursue happiness, an idea not unfamiliar within our country, considering it is in the second line of our Declaration of Independence. But this right has been under attack by private, free-market forces that have told us we can live and prosper by pulling ourselves up by the laces of our sneakers.
Continued deregulation – a result of the bribery conducted by insurance and pharmaceutical industries – have kept us from enjoying that right to live and laugh healthily. And whatever threat health-care-for-all might pose to those billion-dollar industries is nothing compared to the threat an infected tooth can have on an uninsured working class family.
What makes this for-profit force more devilish is the role they have played in the current opioid epidemic. Not until 2016 did Pfizer agree to a written code of conduct guaranteeing that they will warn users of the serious addictive potential of their opiate-based medications. How often before 2016 have you heard Emergency Medical Service sirens scream across the night?
We live in the largest nominal economy in the world, but people still miss work days, wages, rent, and grocery money because of the common cold. Working class people suffering from mental illnesses cannot get the treatment they need, and end up in our county jail as a result. When a mother conducts the miracle of life, she has to schedule time between the child and scanning your groceries. Our brothers and sisters of color, too often the poorest of our friends, still suffer life-ending diseases more than our white brothers and sisters.
Our mission, beyond this Health Care issue: to call on you, the curious citizen, our curious and loved friend, to give us a chance with this newsletter. You are holding in your hand our first issue, or browsing it from the Newark Think Tank’s website. We will be printing quarterly, and updating our blog between issues. Please read it slowly. Show it to your friends and family and talk about it. Tell us what you think.
We want to open a dialog in our Land of Legend about improving the lives of our brothers and sisters. We want to restore soul to our shared community and the responsibilities we have to one another on this dream we call Earth.
To change the system, to win justice, we have to understand the system. But understanding is not enough. We need to bring people together to act for change.
From all of us on the Editorial Board, thank you for reading. We love you, and pray you remain safe in your travels,
-The Think Tank Editorial Board