Spirituality for Today – September 2010 – Volume 15, Issue 2

Editorial – Justice for All

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

Why didn't you do something?
This question has been asked of the world powers seemingly forever or at least every time in human history when unbearable oppression, pogroms, or acts of genocide are inflicted upon a people. Nearly a decade ago, an organization, based at The Hague, known as the International Criminal Court was founded. The ICC was formed to address just such questions. For now, the ICC can do nothing punitive against offending nations or groups other than call the attention of world community to the problem and try to pressure the host country of the atrocity to act. This feeling of impotence has been experienced by countless individuals in witnessing injustices in their own societies.

A photo of a gavel and a scale

In a review of Cormac O'Grada's book Famine: A Short History, Samuel Loewenberg comments, "Further, food shipments generally aren't the best response to a hunger crisis. The United States is one of only a few countries in the world that still ship food, a practice that congressional analysts say wastes 50 percent of funds allocated to hunger relief and takes months, as compared with the far more efficient method of sending money to NGOs [Non-governmental organizations] that purchase from local food supplies. But the Bush administration's efforts to reform this system over the last several years were stymied by members of Congress beholden to powerful American agricultural and shipping interests." Will the "change" regarding politics as usual proclaimed by the Obama administration truly do something about these immoral political and corporate practices? Often when profit alone motivates action, justice is sacrificed.

Although it appears that all one can do is to shake one's head at the problem, an appropriate response can be executed. Taking to the streets is not an action with which many people are comfortable; but modifying the person one takes into each day may very well be. The application of a sound Christian ethic to the individual processes of reason and emotion is a shaping force upon the significance and effect of how one perceives the give and take of daily life. This reference is aimed at the character formation of a person, specifically a person who calls him –or herself– a Christian. The mandate attached to living as a follower of Christ is clear and all encompassing. The command to love God, others, and one's self is the impetus behind all Christian moral law. Victory of the principles of justice, equity, and peace in the world depends on the triumph of love in the human heart. The Christian "man on the street" operates with a conscience that ought to make a difference in that person's world and the world in general.

Among the many lessons learned from the economic crises we have witnessed is the necessity of doing something about whatever negative circumstance we had to face. Perhaps, like the ICC, we could not resolve every issue through our own initiative, but we could manage to our benefit what we could control. Another uncomfortable lesson was that times of struggle invite the emergence of the best and the worst not only in others, but also in us. A person could either turn from his or her principles or grow more determined not to beaten by the current injustices. Saint Paul alluded to this in declaring that through our dependence on God our weaknesses become a source of our strengths. An economy emerging from recession may be an occasion for fashioning a recovering, a renewed, and a stronger individual.