Posted On March 23, 2022
There are many forms of injustice in the world. This is nothing new. As long as people have been around, there has been injustice. Likewise, for as long as people have been around, there have been efforts to overcome such injustice.
One of the challenges is defining what injustice is. It’s difficult to define because most people look at life through a lens. Some hear the word injustice and immediately think in terms of their ideology. It’s the lens that they see things through. When that happens, an injustice is just another thing in the ongoing ideological battle – not something that actually has a negative impact on people.
Justice has to do with something that is morally right, or treated fairly. Justice often has to do with relationship – not romantic in nature, but rather societal. We can talk in terms of the justice system or a just society. In theological terms justice and righteousness are closely related. Both have to do with being in a right relationship. A simple way to think about this is that righteousness is someone having a right relationship with God. It’s more individual in nature. Justice is more communal – how a person relates to a society or community and vice versa.
The foundation of injustice is based on three core beliefs. 1. Might makes right. 2. Only the strong survive, and 3. The ends justify the means.
When you take a stand against injustice, be prepared to face attacks from those who think they benefit from the injustice. It’s been said by a wise man that there are those who confuse criticism of an unjust system as an attack on someone, when in reality the person feeling threatened has so closely aligned with injustice that it becomes a part of them. I think that was Thomas Merton, but I’m not certain and I can’t find the exact quote.
Responding attacks are predictable in this regard. And the attacks will be consistent with the core foundation. These attacks will employ violence, labeling, insult, scapegoating and more. All of this is an effort to make you adopt unjust methods, thus making the core beliefs correct. This is why responding to such attacks with anger or attack is counter productive – you are only giving ammunition to unjust methods.
Injustice sees the world through an impersonal lens. It has too. Using violence, labeling, insult, and scapegoating are all ways to dehumanize another person. That way the other person is no longer a person, but a thing to be crushed and destroyed.
The way of Christ is through seeing the image of God in others – especially one’s enemies. It’s to turn the abstract into the personal and personified. This shouldn’t be a surprise though. In the birth of Jesus, God goes from the infinite and abstract into a finite and enfleshed being. People aren’t abstract things, pawns in a never ending war. Rather people have value and worth by the very nature that they exist and are made in the image of God.
This is why grace and love are so very difficult. People like to claim that they support love and grace, but love and grace go against the foundation of injustice. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Love is vulnerable. Love requires seeing the image of God. Grace is an act of God – a freeing act.
The core value of injustice is about control – control of others. The core value of the way of Christ is not about control at all – it is about fulfillment of being. To move towards the fullness of who we were created to be. To be out of control, in a sense, because we recognize that we were never in control. Only is capable of control and love isn’t about controlling others, but inviting others into vulnerable relationship willingly.
The whole foundation of injustice is a rejection of God’s love and what love is really about. Injustice isn’t invitational because no one would accept it. So it has to force people into it. To control them. Control to the point that people have been conditioned to see it as normal and to see love as abnormal.
Cruelty is a means to that end. Cruelty is the point of injustice. Cruelty is about declaring someone as inhuman, worthless. Something to be controlled. All things based on injustice are predictable and have the same ultimate goal, which is unobtainable – control. Whether you call it fundamentalist thought or belief systems, partisanship, greed, toxic masculinity, racism, sexism, mysogyny, Christian nationalism, or any number of other unjust belief systems, they are the same at their core. Their end is control. And they won’t rest until they get it, which means they never rest. They never take a sabbath. They always demand compliance, and correct thinking and belief. They offer no grace or mercy. They focus on punishment. Their burden is heavy – often unbearable.
And they all end up failing. Because their goal is unnatural and in opposition to God.