Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Injustice Tarnishes all it Touches

Injustice Tarnishes all it Touches
Injustice is all around us, in small ways, in large ways, it permeates our world. It exists in the jerk who cuts you off in traffic and in the child abused for someone’s pleasure. Injustice is like darkness or coldness, it is not something itself, but the absence of something. Injustice is the word we use to describe the lack of justice, the hole ripped in our moral worldview that occurs when someone takes something that they had no right to. They exist in the overt and in the anonymity of the commonplace.
When someone’s actions forces another person to expend resources to mitigate the harm to themselves, that is injustice. When the expenditure is minimal, the inefficiency that is caused by having to tap your brakes, or the moments wasted in line when someone cuts in front, we call those injustices, rudeness. We trivialize them, we dare not call them evil, or even remark on them as unjust. If one defy our culturally imposed line, they risk being demonized as petty and self centered. Yet is the drive to commit these acts of rudeness any different than the drive to commit any other act of injustice? Does not the base urge come from the same fundamental human failing, namely, we view our own pleasure as outweighing the pain we cause others. In this light can we any longer excuse the injustice we cause in the world, just because we see it as minor?
So then how shall we live in the knowledge that any injustice, no matter how small, we create only perpetuates the suffering of others? As a follower of the Way, I am commanded to serve all my fellow men, and to show them the love I show myself. This strikes right at the heart of the problem, by forcing us to place regard for the well being of others on the same level as we regard our own well being, we have to choose between being just or harming ourselves with sin.
But how can we know what being just looks like? It is often said ‘the Bible doesn’t speak on this or that topic.’ But is that really true? The Bible is very clear that God looks at the heart, not the exact actions. Jesus said in Matt. 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (NIV) He was not speaking there only about adultery (he goes on to say hate is the same as murder), but rather that indulging in our unjust desires taints us with the sin. Even before we harm anyone else, we harm ourselves. Is there any question then that hitting someone with a club and taking their goods is stealing? Then likewise is there any question that emailing an old lady claiming to be a “Nigerian Prince” is stealing as well?
    We get so caught up in how great we are, we have instant communication, non perishable food, and shoes made by slave labour. We think that the old problems do not affect us anymore. But as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes (1:9 and many times after that) “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (NIV) How can this be, unless he was speaking of our hearts? Yes, the tools change, and praise God for it, but the intentions of those who use the tools do not. Honestly, are we any better now that we use the internet to bring us lust, facebook to hide the suffering outside our door or a computer virus to steal money, than the Pharisees lusting after a servant girl, the rich ruler ignoring the beggar at his gate, or the thieves conspiring to rob the widow? I say not.
    But I say we can be. If we wake up each morning looking for the injustices we cause, eliminating them, work towards a state of being in which our actions do not harm anyone else. Is that standard actually obtainable? No, but if enough people began to eliminate the injustice in their lives, the culture would change. Studies have shown that when presented with peers doing small unjust acts, people are many times more likely to do larger unjust acts. So by changing our culture in small ways, we can stop larger injustices from happening. How can the world change, if we do not become that change?

Robert W. T. Short, Sr. is a civil libertarian, and a veterans rights advocate, who served two tours in Iraq. He is a political consultant by choice, an accountant by trade and a chaplain for numerous groups by calling. Him, his wife and their three children, two dogs and five cats live in Lynchburg, Virginia. He can be reached on facebook and twitter at and @RobertShortSr, respectively.

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