And Justice for All? What a Mess!

Posted: June 9, 2016 in Things of Faith

Have you ever looked around and thought that your surroundings were representative of the state of your life. As I sit here in my office and I can’t help but notice the piles of books and unpacked boxes that are cluttering my space. I organize one spot only to clutter and new-justicemake a mess of another. What I’m coming to understand is that my office is a microcosm of the society in which I live. This past week the story broke of a young woman who was raped buy a young man. This violent act would be enough for a person to be outraged. However, the mess we have created in our society bears proof to the fact that our systems (judicial or otherwise) are a broken and tangled web that functions according to bias and privilege.

A friend recently wrote in his blog concerning these events (be sure to read the full article). He states:

For all of us white men, who are “not racist” or not prone to misogyny, or “not homophobic” we finally have to realize just how much leeway we are granted simply because of our skin color and gender. Not only are we innocent until proven guilty (a luxury many blacks, latinos, LGBT persons are granted in name only), but we are even given the future benefit of the doubt when we are indeed guilty. (Joshua Brockway, “Our Moral Calculus,” collaitiones.wordpress.com)

The crime in and of itself is disturbing enough, but to add the full context and final verdict leaves one with the overwhelming urge to scream (perhaps only at a wall, but scream nonetheless). I’d also like to add one dimension that is not included in brother Brockway’s blog, “social class.” One of the increasingly apparent distinctions in this society is that of socio-economic standing. This young man’s status is evidenced additionally by his being afforded admission to one of the top private universities in this country. I’m not sure that this fact offers anything additionally meaningful, but it is nonetheless an additional contextual element contributing to this crime. As one of those ‘“white men” who are “not racist” or not prone to misogyny, or “not homophobic,”’ I find it highly offensive that such benefit is offered (or withheld) due to one’s station, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

I find it unspeakable when such a tragedy is acted out with such disregard for the person injured. There is one layer of disturbing facts layered upon the other not simply by the perpetrator but by the whole system and its actors that are supposed to guard some semblance of law.

Regarding these hierarchical inequities Brockway also points out:

When we employ this calculus, we overlook that sexual predators are more likely to be white straight men preying on children in church than they are transgendered persons lurking in bathrooms. We conveniently omit the fact that the so-called black-on-black crime rates are statistically the same as white-on-white crime. And because white men have such potential in our culture, the accounts of women who have been sexually assaulted are attempts to falsely discredit men until a jury finds enough proof to the contrary. And even then, as we have seen this week, even the testimony of the victim, bravely read in court at the sentencing, is not enough to actually enforce the law (“Our Moral Calculus,” collaitiones.wordpress.com).

It is indeed a mess in which we are sitting. While I sit here in my own mess frustrated and not knowing where to start, I want to scream at the seeming futility of injustice. I know that change must come if we are to live in real peace. My problem is that I am becoming more and more convinced that as human beings we are incapable of making real changes. What we need is revolutionary transformation. What we need, as Joshua points to, is to be like Jesus. But in the meantime we are left with pain, brokenness, and anger. With the father of the demoniac I pray in Mark’s gospel, “Jesus I want to believe, help my unbelief.”

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