'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'
This is the kind of powerful statement that sends us running out into our streets when injustice occurs anywhere. It could be us next, we say. We're just one breath away from that being our story. If it could happen to him, it could happen to me. If it could happen to them, it could happen to us.
But is that really true?
It's hard to know what to say at a time like this because words seem to fix so little. Rather, they seem to always ignite somehow and burn fires you didn't even know were smoldering. We're told that we can't be silent, and then we're told that we can't possibly understand enough to say anything meaningful. We're told that this is everyone's problem, and then we're told that because of who we are, we don't know anything about it. And maybe that's true. And maybe that's not as true as we want to pretend that it is. I don't know.
I'm just going to stick to justice because this is something I do know with absolute certainty, without a doubt. They say injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And I ask you - is that really true?
Because I don't know of a world where darkness ever triumphs over the light. I don't know a place where death defeats life. I don't know any story that ends with a lie over the truth.
While it's true that there is injustice in the world, I don't believe for a minute that injustice is so powerful that justice cannot defeat it.
Injustice is a perversion - just like darkness. Just like death. Just like a lie. It takes what we know to be good and true and honorable, and it spins it into something so far lesser. We know this. We're watching it on our headlines every day. And we wonder what the answer has to be, what we're supposed to do about it. We think maybe we're supposed to rise up and cry out. Demand answers. Demand change. We're supposed to use our voice and raise a stink and refuse to quiet down until we've been heard. We're supposed to take our anger to the streets and stand there until they can't ignore us any more.
But I think the answer is much simpler than that.
When there's a dark place in the corner of the room, you flip on a light and shine it that direction. When there is death, you celebrate life and resurrection. When there is a lie, you speak the truth. If this is the way that we respond to these perversions, then this is how we must respond to injustice, too.
We must, simply, live justly. Not only in the places where injustice occurs, but in all the quiet places where we are.
The truth is that the world is not what you see in the headlines. These things happen, yes; but there are a lot more communities even in this country getting it right than are getting it wrong. There are a lot more neighborhoods living in justice than living in injustice. There are a lot more lines being crossed than drawn. There are places in this world that are doing justice well, even places tucked into the very communities that are torn apart by injustice itself.
And the best witness we give to the world, the best response we have to its injustice, is to show it our justice. It's to put on display these places that are getting it right. It's to refuse to trade in what we've found that is working in so many of our places for the rallying cry of broken places. We have to be willing, and able, to cry out with the same voice that injustice has no place here and that justice is possible. It's possible because we're living it; it is real in so many places in our country - places where communities have come together to stand for each other without having to stand against anything.
One of the most heartbreaking things about watching the news coverage on events like these is how many communities across the country have made great progress, are making great progress, just to throw it all away in 'solidarity' with a place that's just not there yet. Cities without tension have thrown themselves into the fight and created war amidst peace. They have taken a 'we' and created an 'us' and a 'them' because there is injustice somewhere, and they have given up their justice to fight it. It's heart-wrenching.
Injustice needs our voices, yes, crying out against it. But even more than that, it needs our example, living justly in spite of it. It needs our witness, proclaiming that justice is still real, that community still works, that love still wins.
When darkness falls, we turn on a light. When lies spread, we speak the truth. When death comes, we fold up our grave clothes and walk out of the tomb. The absolute best thing we can do in the face of injustice...is to live justly. Right where we're at. Show this world the peace it needs, the truth it needs, the hope it needs by proclaiming that justice is not only possible; it's present. In more places than we often realizes, in ways we may not even notice.
There are communities in this world that will fight for each other without having to be against something to do it. We need more of those communities, and we need the ones we have to show us how it's done.