The River Justice

On Sundays in my Ideal Life Exercise, I ask myself how things are going in my Spiritual Life.

On this particular Sunday, there is one thing that is going really, really well. Somewhere buried in my original pages and pages and pages of Ideal Life Exercises, this sentence is written: In my Ideal Life, I am a person who loves justice.

“What, pray, may I ask, does this have to do with Spiritual Life?” (That’s you speaking.)

The God I believe in is a God who loves justice. “Let justice roll like a river,” it says in the Bible.

Justice isn’t about fairness. Fairness is playing by the rules that everyone agreed to. Fairness implies that all parties got into an activity voluntarily. Fairness is not justice.

Justice is much deeper than that. Justice is about using the tools at our disposal to right wrongs.

This week, God was in the news

As I have been paying attention to the news this week, two particular stories started plucking that chord about justice.

Two separate news stories that resonated deep in my soul, and in which I could hear God whispering: I love justice; I will not rest until there is justice. Keep watching.

The first story is this one, a story about Keith Strickland, a man wrongly convicted of murder, who has spent the last forty-three years in prison. Forty-three years. I am forty-three years old. This man has spent every single day that I have been alive serving time for a crime that the victim’s family says he didn’t commit. The eyewitnesses say he did not commit. The people who did commit the crime have confessed. The prosecutor has publicly announced that she wants to see Keith Strickland released from prison.

What is holding back the righting of this wrong is the Governor of Missouri who refuses to look at this case. However, the legislature has passed a law that, if the Governor does not act by August 28, the prosecutor herself will be able to act to order Mr. Strickland released.

And that woman intends to act swiftly and decisively. Justice is coming to Mr. Strickland. It may be slow, but he is going to get his justice.

Every time I hear about this, my heart wells up with hope. Justice is coming, Mr. Strickland. Justice is coming.

Juneteenth

The story of Opal Lee, who has been advocating for June 19 to become a national holiday, is one that likewise strikes that chord of justice. No, I don’t believe that the wrongs of slavery can be righted by the declaration of one day a year to celebrate the end of that slavery.

Opal Lee, whose own harrowing and inspiring story started with tragedy, is ninety-four years old. Her family experienced a terrible terrible injustice when they bought and moved into a new home a few days before June 19, 1939

Undeterred, this woman has walked tens of thousands of miles in order to see June 19, which is the date on which news of the emancipation proclamation reached the African American slaves living in Texas, become a federal holiday. And this week, on June 17, President Biden signed into law that Juneteenth would become a holiday.

This woman’s life’s work came to fruition and she was alive to see it. It is only a tiny, tiny flicker of justice. But it is still justice. And God loves justice.

Proud of where I am from

It has been several years since I could say that I was proud to be an American. But this week, for the first time in about four and a half years, I had a deep, deep, gratefulness to be from where I am from. Grateful that a woman prosecutor in Missouri, and an ancient woman from Texas can be tools that God can use to bring justice.

Earthly justice cannot return the forty-three years that have been stolen from Mr. Strickland. Earthly justice cannot undo the horrors of two hundred years of slavery. But my heart tells me that God is on the case.

My heart tells me that my country has people in the top jobs who have justice in their hearts and that God wants to use them, like he is using that woman prosecutor in Missouri and an old woman from Texas.

Of course, I want to see all the wrong-doers get struck down. It would be so satisfying. But there is greater power in restoring dignity and livelihood, and recognizing and celebrating justice than there will ever be in seeing the bad guys fall. (I still think it would be pretty satisfying to see the bad guys go down. Just sayin’.)

The river Justice has been undammed. Let’s watch it roll.

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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