It’s a big question: How do we defeat injustice in the world?
OK, well, let’s not think of the World. Let’s think of our world. Let’s keep the peace, make peace, and create a just society in the circle of our influence.
Because our circles intersect and overlap. That “6 degrees of separation” thing turns out to be really true. We all know somebody that knows somebody that somebody else knows, but we probably won’t figure it out until 3 years from now – or until the First Eternal Meet ‘n’ Greet in Heaven.
And if we all keep our circles peaceful and just, the peace and justice may soon blanket the world. Imagine that.
There will always be holes that need patching. There will always be moths and mildew and hate and violence. And despite all of our ninja darning and peacemaking skills, some patches will never fit, let alone stay mended.
Be that as it may. Remember, we’re not talking about the holes around the world. We’re talking about the holes in our own cities and neighborhood and families. (I wrote more about this here.)
We’re talking about the angry kids who have been given the green light to take an eye for an eye. Those who believe that if somebody hits you, you hit them back – harder. Not defend yourself. Not protect yourself. Just hit back.
The other options? Walk away, ask for help, tell someone in authority, anything else?
Nope. Just hit back. Harder.
Don’t let anybody get away with anything. The “Might Makes Right” cycle continues.
James is a 5th grader. And he is so freakin’ mad. He got tripped on the soccer field – and he was THIS CLOSE to making a goal. James knows, deep down, that it was kind of an accident. Maybe not completely. But he knows that the new kid, Manny, wasn’t trying to be mean. He was just trying to help his team and gain some swag.
But James is so mad. And he hears his uncle’s voice, Make it right. He runs over to Manny, who has his back turned, and gives him a shove into the net. Manny is left with a pretty good scrape and ripped jeans.
And James still didn’t make the goal.
Ok, this can go at least 2 ways.
- Manny can get up and get busy. He can shove James into the mud. Maybe James gives up. Maybe he gets up and starts swinging. It’s a crap shoot from then on. Or…
- Manny can get up and get help. He probably needs a little soap and water. The jeans will make it through the day. He can decide to blab to the nurse … or just chalk it up to the heat of battle.
He can decide. Manny makes the call.
Sure, Manny may have to fess up to the skirmish since he’s wearing evidence. But he knows he did have a tiny part in it. And even if he didn’t, it’s not up to him to administer justice.
The only thing a shove back would do is satisfy Manny’s call for revenge – and probably get him into just as much trouble.
The only thing a shove back would do is perpetuate the conflict.
The only thing a shove back would do is make it worse.
Good golly, Miss Molly. We’ve got some work to do.
This little episode in no way mirrors the global injustice of poverty, hunger, inequity, and hate in the world. A kerfuffle on the playground won’t make headlines.
But the influence of every childhood scuffle that is NOT peacefully resolved is added to the last and the next negative event. And, little by little, we realize it could be true: might makes right. The only justice in the world is the justice we exact ourselves.
So let’s just patch instead of tear. Let’s teach our children that, so far as they can manage, the fight stops with them. The peace begins with them. The forgiveness. The equality. The idea that what’s good for me is good for you.
Pie in the sky, I know.
But I’m pretty sure I’d rather have a black eye than a black heart. How about you?