By Derek Wallace
Derek Chartrand Wallace is a returning student in the Extended Opportunity Programs & Services (EOPS) department, U.C. Berkeley-bound to major in Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology with a minor in Video Journalism. A park Ranger in-training who believes in justice for humans and animals, you can follow Derek on social media where he aggregates stories highlighting the synthesis of such diverse topics as citizen journalism, social betterment, technological breakthroughs, nature interpretation, and pop culture.
Justice comes not from the barrels of guns, at the ends of batons, via the electrodes of Tasers, through the nozzles on canisters of tear gas, nor from inside the confines of prison cells. No amount of expensive body cameras, time-consuming Freedom of Information Act requests, Sisyphean citizen oversight committees, or protracted courtroom battles bring forth true justice. When last-resort measures such as these are required, the grand social contract has been broken. Humans required to carom from one injustice to another just to defend their inalienable rights are forced into lives of reaction versus volition. Can it honestly be said we are masters of our own destinies acting of our own free wills? As long as “they” (rampant criminals, abusive police, corrupt politicians) continue to guide our responses in life, peace shall elude us. We’ve heard it said, “No justice, no peace,” but have we considered the alternative: “No peace, no justice”? Maybe it is beyond our control to achieve peace on Earth, at least instantly, but what about inside our own hearts? For souls not at peace often seek revenge over justice, and this too we must guard against.
Perhaps you may have also heard it said that “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” You may not have heard the flip-side of that coin: “The price of justice is eternal publicity.” Technology increases at an ever faster rate, and now most of us have the equivalent of mobile television production studios in our pockets. Smartphones with cameras and video capability have solved the ancient riddle of the Roman poet Juvenal, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (often translated as “Who watches the watchmen?”). The answer? A resounding “WE DO!”
“Surveillance” (French for “watching over”) monitors activities/behavior from up above, but “sousveillance” (“from below”) is recording of an activity by a participant involved in said event, as shown by Black Lives Matter, the Occupy movement, and the Egyptian Revolution. Only when the current alienating eye-in-the-sky methods of surveillance are transposed with the community-building of our now prevalent “captured personal experiences” may “equiveillance” (“equilibrium”) be achieved, which is vital to empower citizens to build their own news stories and legal cases from evidence they gather themselves and collaborate on together. Going deeper than short Youtube clips of criminal activity/abuse by authorities or Livestream feeds of protest marches/political rallies, this turns all of us into the world’s next ABC and CBS and CNN.
It has been said that there are four types of justice: distributive, procedural, restorative, and retributive. I believe there should be a fifth type: transpersonal. Now we all have the ability to be journalists and with that great power also comes greater responsibility to use it for good. Everyone can connect with fellow truth-seekers through their schools, jobs, neighborhoods, and churches to make a lasting communal difference. We must all realize our potential as forces for positive change in this often negative world. We should be the “All-Seeing Public Eye” which tells the stories that mainstream media either distorts or ignores altogether.
If we are really going to “rethink justice” we must realize hero worship abdicates us of personal responsibility, so we must avoid expecting our personal political champions to do the hard work for us. Without our votes at polls, they don’t get into office. Once elected, without pressure from us, their constituents, candidates invariably forget they serve our interests, not corporate ones. Without our video clips, mainstream media has nothing to work with but what they produce for a much higher cost (when staff, vehicles, gas, equipment, etc. are factored in). Because we are a global leader, the world is depending on us to step up to the plate. So, we’d all better start taking film classes/workshops to learn how to get the best footage and sound possible for the stories we will need to tell to change the narrative established power structures have been in control of and fear losing. We shouldn’t watch the skies for Superman to save us with outdated “help from above.” Rather, we should transform into Clark Kent citizen journalists who supply the “help from below” to save ourselves. That is how true justice is realized. We’re in turbulent times, so stay safe out there, but fear not, as the power is literally in our hands!