Let us start with, 'first do no harm'

Jim Redwine

The great Greek philosopher Hippocrates (460-370 BC) balanced the art of healing with scientific observation. His most famous admonition was to, “first do no harm.” Plato (429?-347 BC) was a contemporary of Hippocrates in that blazing caldron of brilliance of ancient Greece. Plato balanced the art of legal philosophy with observations on the law, such as what Socrates (470-399 BC) told his jury, “The jury (or a judge) does not sit to dispense justice as a favor, but to decide where justice lies.”

Dr. Michael Jordan is a disciple of Hippocrates who lives near JPeg Osage Ranch on a similarly sandstone-studded tor and occasionally shares his prescient observations on life via letters to the editor of the Pawhuska Journal-Capital. The good doctor, whom I have not as yet had the pleasure of meeting in person, recently offered a letter on the subject of immigration. In that letter, Jordan solicited my opinion on the topic. It is apparent to me that Dr. Mike is a physician of keen observation much as was Hippocrates and that he is somewhat familiar with my weekly musings on various topics as I offer them up to the readership through Gavel Gamut.

Mark Twain posited that to ask someone for their opinion raises the presumed oracle’s spirit. But to ask a writer to pen and publish his opinion on any subject warms the writer’s soul. Thank you! However, my pride is tempered by the self-evaluation of that greatest of philosophers, Socrates, who said he was wise because he knew that he knew nothing.

I fear my response to the man who is my almost neighbor, and who wields his pen as a sage of the Osage, may fulfill another of Mark Twain’s aphorisms, “It is better to keep quiet and have people think you know nothing than to speak up and remove all doubt.” Regardless, into the breach I charge.

One good thing about philosophizing on a topic one knows little about is it does not matter where you start and probably will mean little where you end. As one who has written a newspaper column since 1990 and has had more than 800 burnt offerings submitted to the normal indifference and occasional indignation of readers, I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts on the likely efficacy of his address at Gettysburg: “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.” Of course, Lincoln’s prediction about his 11-minute speech far missed the mark. But my guess is such a prediction will be accurate for my offering herein.

Further, much as Cassandra of Trojan War fame, who based her correct but ignored predictions of the future upon her analysis of bird entrails, my suggestions on immigration policies are based more on the vicissitudes of incomplete and inaccurate news reports than actual knowledge or experience. Therefore, Gentle Reader, should you be one of those rarest of individuals, i.e., one who actually reads Gavel Gamut, please remember that when I respond to a request to address the complicated and convoluted dilemma that faces us on our southern border, I am simply following Dr. Jordan’s orders. In other words, please place blame where it properly belongs.

Also, even though the entire world might have been created in six days, Hammurabi’s ancient Babylonian Code (c. 1780 BC) was carved on one pillar and the Constitution of the United States has so far only been amended 27 times since 1789, it will take me more than one column to resolve our immigration mess.

For now, let me start by asserting the overarching issue is one of Due Process of Law. Therefore, we can begin our discussion with reference to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and the United Nations Charter adopted by the U.N. Assembly in 1948. The charter contains the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which we, the United States, agreed. If you are available, we can jump off from there next week with our main goal to be, “first do no harm.”

Columnist Jim Redwine, who grew up in Pawhuska, is a retired Indiana state court judge. He and his wife, Peg, live on a ranch near Barnsdall.