A personal sense of loss for a man I never met

It was pleasant, but February cold late Saturday afternoon. Our dog was enjoying his after-walk treat, and my wife and I were anticipating a pleasant evening at a neighborhood gathering.

As smartphones do, mine signaled an alert: “Justice Antonin Scalia has died.”

My knowledge of the man is limited to the news media and having read some of his opinions and dissents. No personal connection with him, even twice removed. Thinking of Justice Scalia in a personal way had not once crossed my mind, but a sense of loss settled on me.

Whenever a case came before the Supreme Court, the nation knew we could count on Justice Scalia to be true to his principles. We knew where he stood.

But my feeling was not of political loss, it was personal and disturbing.

We the people, of the United States are not monolithic. Since the beginning we have been, and continue to be, of different ancestry, different cultures, different religions and different opinions. We might ignore history and look only so far as the Middle East to see the consequences of attempting to impose a monolithic government on a diverse population.

We would be better off to know the history, and to know we the people are about protecting a union that is striving to be more perfect. We are about justice, domestic tranquility, our common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Justice Scalia approached public service with a deep understanding of why we have a government. He understood because of his knowledge, not his gut feelings. He also understood that no one has all the correct answers to every issue. How else could he have had so many friends who disagreed with him?

And that is why I felt a personal loss. Justice Scalia represented the reality of living under a government like ours. It has to be for all the people, including those of different desires and opinions. Justice Scalia expressed his views with eloquence. And he listened.

Because he listened, he had friends of different persuasions. As long as we can do what Justice Scalia did, we have a chance of securing the blessings of liberty. And that is personal.