The call for justice in society, a universal desire inherent in the heart of all people, resonates across all cultures. Protests across the USA illustrate this principle. The triggering spark that lit the fire of protests was the senseless death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer abusing his power over this man. Violence against police officers and others defending their businesses is also a serious injustice. When institutions enable injustice in subtle or not-so-subtle ways, such as inconsistent treatment of people depending on the color of their skin or other differences, these need to be challenged. (Ecclesiastes 5:8; Proverbs 17:14-15)
Assertiveness. Free speech is a fundamental right in this country, since the First Amendment was ratified by our founding fathers. We all must speak out against wrongdoing and strive for justice, even if those injustices are through institutional politics and power inherent in some organization. Those who enforce justice must be careful not to abuse the power they have been granted, or tragedies like Mr. Floyd will continue to occur. Revenge by some who have chosen to go beyond peaceful protests needs to be stopped. Assertiveness is not aggression, and getting back to respectful assertive relationships is essential.
Reflect on: Ephesians 4:25-27; Proverbs 28:1
Boundaries. Responsibility for our own individual actions is inherent in the concept of justice. Who is responsible for violations of the boundaries we define in our laws? The perpetrator! Defining the rules and consequences for violating those rules is part of why we vote for politicians who represent our personal beliefs and values. Children need to understand this in the home to internalize lessons from disciplinary actions and learn self-control. Apart from healthy boundaries, abuses of power will only grow and become more devastating to society. Perpetrators of all crimes need to be held accountable, not through removal of boundaries, but rather through proper enforcement of justice.
Reflect on: Galatians 6:1-5; Proverbs 22:6, 15; 24:23-25; 28:4
Forgiveness. Dr. Everett Worthington and Dr. Enright, and many others specializing in forgiveness research, have much to contribute as we seek unity. Marriages would all fail, if offenses were not put behind them. Families would all disintegrate. And societies cannot stand, if prior offenses cannot be put and kept in the past – after we have learned the lessons of our mistakes and changed our behavior. Sitting at the table together to dialogue is essential in order to achieve the unity forgiveness brings. Notable quotes: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude” (Martin Luther King Jr.). “There is no peace without forgiveness” (Marianne Williamson). “To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and realize the prisoner was you.”
Reflect on: Ephesians 4:29-32; Matthew 18:15-35
Leadership. We have much to learn from leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He had a dream which should be our dream, too. Love, unity and justice for all are at the heart of that dream. Mercy and forgiveness, as Dr. King preached, are also necessary for us to move forward toward this goal. The science of leadership development can help. Humility, vision, and character are all essential in picking leaders we can follow.Reflect on: I Timothy 3:1; 5:17-18; I Corinthians 11:1