Last week I was relaxing with my wife, talking about the state of the world, and I commented on how much I love that she, too, cares about justice. She looked at me and she said, “I don’t care about justice.” As I looked at her quizzically, hoping that there was more, she paused for a moment, smiled, and said, “I care about injustice.”
It is one of the things I love about her, this wry sense of humor that causes her to say things that pull me up short and make me think. And that comment did just that — made me think.
We preach and teach and pray and reflect so much about justice. Liberty and justice for all… Let justice roll down like waters… If you want peace, work for justice…
Yes. Justice. We are passionate about justice, and want to create change in our community and in the world. In our congregations, we take action for social justice. Ostensibly, justice is what we seek. And yet, as my wife’s comment illuminated, there is some benefit to turning around the way we think about it, a benefit to looking at it from a different angle. Justice as a concept is huge. It is impossibly abstract. It seems unattainable and unmeasurable and impossible, and leads us toward utopian kinds of thinking, which tends to be inefficient and unsustainable. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where everyone had equal access to resources? Yes, that would be great. Amazing, in fact. It’s the reality we are trying to create. But how on earth do we get there? Where would we begin?
Justice is an ideal, and it is important to continue to preach and teach and pray and reflect about it. Because that is the big picture. It’s how we know where we are headed and what we want to accomplish.
Injustice can be overwhelming in a different way, when the scales fall from our eyes and we begin to see it everywhere. But on the other hand, injustice is real and concrete and tangible. It is visible in the lived experience of individuals and groups. It is something we can wrap our minds around.
Of course we care about justice, it is who we are and what we do. But caring about injustice gets us closer to a place of being able to take concrete and meaningful action. When we look at injustice we can make changes at a micro-level.
What choices might we each make in a given day to bend that arc of the universe toward justice? We can make choices based on where we see injustice in our every day lives.
In the words of an oldie but goodie by Holly Near & Meg Christian:
Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone
Splashing, breaking, dispersing in air
Weaker than the stone by far but be aware
That as time goes by the rock will wear away
And the water comes again
I hope so. It’s a good place to begin.
What do you think?