Justice and Injustice

In order to bring about a more just America we need to recognize what justice is and how it behaves. It doesn’t hurt to have an idea of how it contrasts with injustice.

Justice is time consuming. It takes time for investigation. In our soundbite society, whatever you see on the news is likely to be more for the sake of ratings than truth telling. Injustice makes snap decisions based on assumptions rather than clearly understood facts.

Justice is blind to details such as race, gender, income, and political position. Injustice cannot see beyond these points. Justice will see all of human life equally despite any of these issues, while injustice will separate people into groups trying to define the value of each category.

Justice is calm and seeks to spread calm in order to allow true issues to be addressed. Injustice is emotional and seeks to spread anger and other negative emotions in order to manipulate both the offended and the public. 

Justice is quiet and honors boundaries around the privacy of individuals. Injustice screams loudly, and has no boundaries. Justice will prevent the further victimization of those affected, but injustice will force the victim into the spotlight in order to retry their case in public, not allowing them to move on from the trauma.

Injustice can gather a lot of attention. It will likely claim it is going to bring about positive change, but in the process will only be perpetuating itself. Justice will get less attention, but in the long run will see truth served.


Unjust Streets

Several weeks back I saw a press conference in one of our embattled cities where the backdrop was a repeated logo that boldly declared “No Justice, No Peace.”

This sight has stayed in my mind, and been refreshed there every time the tension in America has spread to a new city.

I am not sure what the person who wrote the slogan meant by it. Perhaps they were saying that ultimately we will find peace by creating a society that practices justice. In this manner it could have been a call for justice in America.

But on the other side of the coin, it could be taken as a call for violence, lack of peace, in order to force the nation to behave more justly. This was how I took it, and it seemed to be (as much as soundbites can reveal), what the speakers in front of that curtain were asking for.

The problem is that nothing is more unjust than rioting in the streets. Any person or property caught in the path may meet the anger of the crowd. Instead of injustice occurring individually or in isolated incidents, hundreds of people will be caught in the grind of injustice simply because their homes, businesses, or workplaces are in the affected regions.

The people most adversely affected by violence in the streets are the same ones who were offended by whatever initial event sparked the unrest in their area. In this way the violence in the streets becomes a downward spiral, further disenfranchising and socially alienating those they hoped to help.

I am sure that some of these people are hoping to return to actions similar to those of Martin Luther King. In his era, he was the figurehead for a movement that brought about positive change. But please study your history and remember that he did it by advocating non-violence. He didn’t tolerate roaming neighborhoods, burning businesses, or looting. Nor did he advocate attacking police, not even when they were attacked.

Trying to address injustices in America is important, but doing so by spreading injustice is nonsensical.