ON THE FREQUENCY OF SEEING INJUSTICE
ON THE FREQUENCY OF SEEING INJUSTICE
By Randy Nabors
I speculate on the effect of being overloaded with the sensory exposure of violence and injustice. This present generation has the experience of being able to instantly see acts of injustice perpetrated in various places, usually in short snippets of video, and that repeatedly.
We see the same incident over and over again, and then before we have fully understood it we see another incident from somewhere else. Many of the incidents are acts by authorities, which are targets of cell phone cameras since sirens, lights, and uniforms act like magnets for public interest. This has given the public, the citizenry, unprecedented access to at least limited knowledge of what is going on, especially regarding police versus minority interaction.
My speculation has to do with several things. I wonder how God can put up with us since he sees all of us, all the time, in every circumstance? People caught in videos can still try to justify what they did, explain that another perspective or angle would show a different reality. People caught on camera can explain their fears and emotions which videos don’t always capture. God sees from all angles. We are left without excuse before him. God doesn’t have to see anything twice; he knows all about it. He knows the history, motive, intent, relationship, and action of all the players. He knows our hearts.
When I think of all that God sees I realize that there is a lot of injustice to see, in so many places, so many times. We hear despair from people who say they are “tired” of it all, who don’t want any more injustice, no more killing, no more brutality, no more bullying. Sometimes this is selective exhaustion focused on our people, ethnicity, or cause. None of us could shoulder all of the misery, all of the oppression in the world. Yet God puts up with us, the combination of his patience and his justice is both mystifying and relieving. Instant divine justice would thin out the population immensely.
Greater exposure to incidents of injustice, both in their frequency and their detail gives us more fuel for our anger, gives us passion for societal change, gives us political leverage for accountability. Maybe it should also give us humility, a
deeper understanding of how complex sinful people are, and maybe it should give us some appreciation of how difficult public safety, order, and governance is to maintain?
I speculate that in the seeing of and exposure to documented injustice, (which does create a momentum for changing systems so that less injustice happens, especially in police and citizen interactions), people may be led into a naivete that injustice will cease and that evil can be eradicated. It won’t and it can’t, not until God brings his final judgement. All concepts of justice without a belief in a God of justice who finally brings all things to light and a judgement of execution are inadequate. All such theories of justice put too much hope in mankind to solve all the injustice mankind keeps producing, which only leads to despair.
We can make progress, we have made progress, and we have the ability to reform institutions so that they can serve and protect without so many fatal consequences. I believe we should, and must, always be trying to create more equitable, honest, and life-affirming systems of justice. There is no doubt we can do better. As we look at other nations, we know we can have less guns, less gun violence, less tolerance for racism, better policing and better systems of justice and incarceration. Nevertheless, we will never end evil. Technology hasn’t made injustice new, and it hasn’t made it more frequent, it just keeps bringing it to our attention.
We are beset with contradictions. We don’t want police, but what do we do about murder, rape, theft, and assault? Will these things go away with good social service? We don’t want prisons, but what do we do with the people who commit, and keep committing, violence, exploitation, and oppression to others, especially to the innocent? We don’t want mental institutions, and we have done away with many, and now we don’t know what to do with the mentally ill who wander the streets or even terrorize their own families. Human optimism in the context of human depravity creates constant contradiction.
The cross of Jesus gives us a demonstration of God’s condemnation of sin, and God’s atonement for it so that we might be forgiven. Forgiveness is the other side of the reality or our common human fall into evil, sin, and injustice to others. This is a reason for optimism; people can be forgiven, and they can be changed by grace!
Lord, give us anger against injustice, and give us awareness of how we ourselves are capable of it. Lord, give us humility and deliverance from any arrogance that imagines we can make other people stop being evil when we are not able to change ourselves. Lord, give us impatience with injustice and patience with people. Lord, give us the fear of God, with an awareness and hope that all things will be brought into judgement, whether they be good or evil. Amen!