Injustice stands in the way of justice in nasty ways. I was to take students to their service site to serve a few weeks ago, and the trip was canceled due to a lockdown. There was a police chase outside our high school doors that ended with the alleged criminal, who was driving in a stolen car, crashing into a pole and fleeing the scene.
It was a teachable moment for me. I told the students that the people who were waiting for us were being denied the opportunity to be served due to one person’s poor choice. I think they got the message.
I didn’t know the reason for the person being chased. I didn’t know the story of desperation that led to this person’s life of crime to survive. No doubt it was an interesting story. It may have begun with a desperate experience of poverty that led to a series of poor choices and wrong moves ending with this calamity.
Judging from what I know about poverty, children who are born into poverty continue the cycle if they are not able to get the education needed and rise above through an equal opportunity for education.
We live in a world of injustice and sometimes it’s hard to fight it. We battle to fight for what’s right. We are trying to teach our children to do right by others, but they see a very different perspective playing out on TV. We need to establish a context to help them see why these injustices exist.
Too often we see plots to fix a wrong. We don’t look at the origins of the injustice. Our debates today point to solving an existing problem rather than going to the source of the injustice.
For example, it’s easy to build a border wall to keep people out. We’ve convinced ourselves that the influx of illegal immigrants is the problem and we need to shut them out. We are highlighting the wrong part of the problem.
We have convinced ourselves that we don’t need to address the root of the problem. We don’t need to address why people are risking their lives. We don’t need to consider looking at those governments that are causing an injustice to happen that is challenging families to make the decision to flee their countries and risk their lives in deadly terrains.
We don’t see the coyotes that are stealing from those that are fleeing or the nefarious activities of politicians in developing nations who use family misfortunes as an opportunity to line their own pockets or take the family’s properties for a song and resell them at a premium cost.
We don’t see the deadly games of gang members who came from Los Angeles and established mafiosa-styled organizations in countries like El Salvador and Guatemala. We don’t see that governments look the other way as long as their pockets are lined and their proverbial bellies and coffers are full.
We can no longer address problems from the level of the problem. We need to look at the problem and ask the root questions that lead to solutions to social injustices. We need to go to the heart of the illness and cure the root cause of the illness.
Here are a few questions to consider: Why are governments violating the rights of others? Why are other countries not addressing injustices in these countries? Why are we not holding them accountable to the Declaration of Human Rights established by the UN? How can we hold these countries accountable for inequality? What economic initiatives can we create to help these countries grow their economies?
At an individual level we may consider this question. How can economic disparities inspire greater injustices in a country? What can we do to give all children equal access to resources like clean water, housing, safety and security issues that meet the most basic needs? Beyond meeting basic survival needs, what can we do to help with “thrival” needs like education and job initiatives?
There is a light in the darkness. There is hope. We don’t always see it, but there are organizations and brilliant minds addressing these issues.
Warren Buffet’s son Howard G. Buffet is one of them. Howard Buffet is working with developing nations to help them establish sustainable agricultural practices that will help countries raise crops to feed their people.
Bill and Melinda Gates are asking those questions with their philanthropy and foundations around the globe.
Christians are called to be an example to others… to be “A light in the darkness”. We are called to be a “shining city on a hill” so others may see that light.
We need to think about how to make that climb up the mountain together. We start with looking at the resources we have and making a plan to fire up the electricity atop the hill.
It’s time we started thinking about lighting our world with the resources of intelligence and asking the essential, foundational questions. Christians can do this by abiding in the first and second commandment to “love our Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul. And love our neighbor as ourselves”. We need to educate students to send them out of the classrooms and start climbing the hill to light the city.