Liberty and Learned Hand

Photo by Mark Dixon (Pittsburgh, PA).

I recently attended “Constitutional Crisis, Trump and the ACLU” at Fordham Law school. I was struck by a quote that David Cole, the ACLU’s Legal Director, shared from Judge Learned Hand: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it. While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.”

We live in a time when the unrelenting barrage of attacks from Trump and his collaborators aims to redefine our core values – trying to put selfishness and hate in place of decency, justice, and honesty. It can be overwhelming. But, it is essential that nonprofit organizations do our part to uphold American ideals and inspire our constituents with messages that awaken in people a renewed sense of responsibility for preserving liberty. It is really up to us to remember our history and remind people that this country was built on the power of big revolutionary ideas that must be nurtured and defended every day.

While we must resist, we need to also renew. One place to start might be to take a look at your mission statement and messages. Do these reflect or resonate with those big ideas? As the debate over tax “reform” gets underway, are your constituents aware of the impact this is likely to have on your funding and the people you serve? Major cuts are anticipated across the board that will hurt people in need. Getting the word out about these dangers offers an opportunity to educate but also to activate supporters.