” Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice anywhere.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter From a Birghinham Jail
This is one of my favorite quotes from Doctor King. If you haven’t read the letter in full, please take a few moments to do so here. I can get caught up in the visceral notion of what Justice should look like, righting wrongs.
Growing up, I believed that everyone in jail were all bad guys and deserved to be there. I believed all law enforcement were for the good of all.
Then I grew up and started to learn that this wasn’t always true. I began to understand that often people are lead less by altruism for others and more so for their own gain. Or defense of what they believed needs to be protected.
This week the Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Alabama. It honors those who suffered at the hands of being lynched. A type of “justice ” served up to punish those who were convicted not of crimes breaking the laws per se. But the reality often was ( and is) the breaking of social morays. This memorial is necessary to highlight past injustices and current ones. To address the reality of our past and present.
This memorial is a place of reckoning. A small piece of justice but one that can be fully more so if the gravity of this place is fully embraced.
Justice is often more emotional than is admitted. We want to believe that justice is blind, where the facts of the case carefully weighed. Instead what often happens is the opposite. Emotion rules over facts.
Justice is something we will never get right. Human nature will always mess it up. Desire to be right or to push “undesirables” out of view will be around.
But we can do better. By being willing to learn and listen is a start. It’s the place I started. By asking the hard questions and leaning into the often hard answers.
Trusting in what God is doing is another place I’ve leaned into. In the end, true restorative and healing justice lies with God. Trusting Him, loving God and learning is the start of true justice.
Injustices must be called out, those previously dismissed listened to and given space to speak. We must examine our hearts about what we choose to look past because of the truth being too hard. It has to be hard.
Justice begins by learning, taking time to read, listen and absorb. I have much to learn yet but this is where I am today. Developing a better awareness and understanding in order to do better.
There is the possibility of true justice but I believe that it’s possible to do better, to have hope in that.
Two books that I reccomend reading
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
White Trash by Nancy Isenberg
I suggest Truths Table podcast and finding voices on Twitter follow as well.