I’ll be honest, sarcasm is a native language for me. It’s become a way to cope when I’m tired, irritated or overwhelmed. My first inclination when writing this post on justice was to take that route, because tired, irritated and overwhelmed definitely apply here, but I don’t want to take this one lightly or flippantly. The emotions run too deep, the frustrations run too high, and I want to treat this topic with the respect it deserves.
A lot of people have defended the protests I referenced in my last post as being solely about “injustice” and having nothing to do with the police. I disagree with that assessment wholeheartedly because I’ve read why the protest began in the words of the person who began it. (I find it’s generally helpful to look at why someone says they’re doing something before deciding to defend their motives) I disagree strongly with what has been said and the lies that have been told in interviews and social media posts in order to fuel this protest.
All that aside though, I do wholeheartedly agree that injustice is a very real problem.
Ever wonder why we can’t just get along?
Proverbs 14:10 says: Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.
We can’t see eye to eye unless we start opening our ears.
A pilot can see what’s out the window in front of him. He can look at the instruments. He knows what’s going on with the plane. But the control tower has a different vantage point, and we sure hope they’re listening to each other when things go wrong.
We each have our own perspectives because we have each experienced life in a different way. I will never understand what it’s like to be male, to be black, to be born into a third world country or to be born blind.
I’ve often said that while I was always supportive of law enforcement, I never could have understood what it was like to be in a blue family until I was. You can’t ever see the world the same again. You can never go back. But I’ll still never know what it’s like to be an officer, and my husband will never know what it’s like to be the one waiting and praying at home.
There are a lot of things I just won’t ever fully understand because they will never be my experience, but injustice…that I understand oh so well.
You see, in 2014 I found myself in an abusive relationship with a man who wore a U.S. military uniform. While I was trying to get out of that situation, I met another man in uniform who told me he was concerned about me and wanted to make sure I was safe. He was just looking out for me. Except he wasn’t.
Instead, he sexually assaulted me. He then admitted in front of an agent that he did it, “apologizing” to me. To my knowledge, he has never denied he did it at all. But the “justice system” responsible for holding him accountable…comprised of more men in uniform…chose to do nothing. They let it go.
The trauma of the assault was devastating, but honestly, the staggering realization that those who were SUPPOSED to make sure justice was served had simply washed their hands of the matter was soul-crushing.
I understand injustice. I understand when it feels like no one cares about you, no one is listening and you have no voice. I understand that it makes you feel desperate and angry and it’s easy to act on those emotions. I get it. I really do.
But here’s the thing…it would have been so easy to hate men in uniform. To speak out against the whole lot of them. Abused, assaulted, betrayed…they were supposed to be heroes. They were supposed to be protectors. Every one of them had let me down.
Except every one of them hadn’t. I have dear veteran friends who were livid over this. I had a special victim’s counsel who has more integrity in his pinky finger than all those other men combined. He was amazing. And, in the end, I married a man in uniform and he’s the best man I’ve ever known. (Well…actually I only got to see him in uniform once because he never wore it for his job, but it was great. #AFOSIwifeproblems)
Experiencing true injustice creates some crazy emotions. One minute you feel so worthless you want to just end it all because no one cares about you anyway…the next you’re so angry you want to put your fist through the wall or make them hurt the way you do. It’s not wrong to be angry over true injustice. However, the reality is, getting angry with whole groups of people and inciting hatred or violence won’t fix the wrongs that were done. And knee-jerk reactions won’t either.
A lot of people talking about how they just want “justice,” but in the wise words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Justice, by its inherent nature, is blind- hence its statue representation being blindfolded. Justice is impartially looking for the facts of a situation and bringing them to light and then enforcing accountability based on those facts alone.
Jumping on Twitter 20 minutes after a news story breaks that says that there’s been an officer involved shooting and ranting about how the police murdered someone is not just.
Taking to the streets 2 hours later to trash businesses, harass innocent people and burn cities before interviews have even taken place, is not just.
Calling for the killing of thousands of innocent people who wear a badge because you’ve personally convicted someone of murder in 15 minutes based on a Facebook live video taken after the fact, is not just.
People in positions of power making comments to the news media condemning the actions of an officer when all the evidence hasn’t even been disclosed, is not just.
Media posting eye-witness interviews with people who were not, in fact, eye-witnesses, is not just.
If the evidence shows that what happened was not, in fact, murder…continuing to facilitate a lie in direct contradiction to actual evidence, is not just.
Paying out millions of dollars to someone who experienced the natural consequences of their own poor choices, especially if those poor choices involved harming someone else, is not just.
When people call for an officer’s badge, or life these days, without ever even waiting to see the actual facts of the situation, they’re acting in complete contradiction of what they SAY they’re calling for…justice.
Justice is waiting for the facts before responding.
Justice is eye-witnesses telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Justice is evidence being compiled and brought before a jury.
Justice is a jury deciding on guilt or innocence based on the evidence alone.
Justice is a judge upholding the law rather than caving to what is politically expedient.
And if they get it wrong, justice is the Lord’s.
Our justice system is horrifically broken, but we have to be careful not to place blame where it doesn’t belong. And we need to be especially careful never to behave unjustly toward someone else just because someone did us wrong. The cycle never ends that way.
We have to stop lumping everyone together and start judging people on the content of their character. We have to see past the color of someone’s skin or the uniform they’re wearing. We have to stop glorifying criminals. We have to start demanding personal responsibility. We have to start waiting for facts and listening for the whole story before we grab our torches and pitchforks. We have to start holding those in our justice system accountable- the politicians making unjust laws and the judges making poor judgments. (They’re elected, folks. We hired them and we can fire them.) There has to be a right and wrong.
Because at the end of the day, if we want change, it’s going to have to start with us.
Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly. – Leviticus 19:15