Dr. Cornel West famously said “Justice is what love looks like in public.” As I ponder this profound statement, and the state of the world, I have to ask myself, where is the love in our public institutions?
First, I thought about the terrorists who stormed the US Capitol building. What does justice look like for them? Many people mischaracterized the violent mob as poor and uneducated, but that is not the case. Among that group were doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and members of our armed services. Those people were our friends and neighbors. They were the lady that sold you your first house, and the entrepreneur whose businesses you patronize. How do we bring them to justice? How do we, in the face of an attempted coup, show love?
In Missouri, where I was born, and where I attended college, State Senator Rick Brattin just proposed a law that would allow deadly force against protesters. The bill is a naked attempt to discourage protest, and to curry favor with police unions. This law isn’t about justice. It certainly is not about love. I would argue that police officers already have a wide berth when it comes to using deadly force. I would argue that Kyle Rittenhouse is walking around his hometown now after allegedly killing two people who were protesting in Wisconsin. Is it not already practically legal to harm protesters dependent on your profession or creed? Do we really need more Kyle Rittenhouses walking around? Breonna Taylor’s killers are still walking free, as are the officers who killed George Floyd, while there are likely people still in jail for protesting police brutality. Is that justice?
Jesus said, “By this, shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:35) He also said we that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. We teach our children to live by the golden rule. But as adults, are we practicing it? We all want mercy for ourselves, and justice for other people. As a result, we are neither just, nor merciful.
Lord help us to do better and to be better. Life and death hang in the balance.