We are all horrified at the video we’ve seen of a white policeman, pinning a handcuffed black man named George Floyd, face down on the ground, with a knee in Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine long minutes. This was not an arrest; it was an execution, with three other police officers standing by doing nothing. The alleged crime that Mr. Floyd was arrested for? Possibly passing a counterfeit bill? We don’t know, and it’s irrelevant at this point. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But Mr. Floyd never received the benefit of that presumption. After almost nine, agonizing minutes it was over. Our hearts go out in sympathy to Mr. Floyd’s family.
We have all seen the protests in pursuit of justice taking place all across the country in almost every major city this past week. Many of these protesters are peaceful.
On the other hand, many demonstrations are so violent that they have turned into full-fledged riots with protestors looting stores, burning buildings and cars, including police cars, attacking old women, shooting policemen or running them over with cars, and the list goes on and on. What exactly are they pursuing? Certainly not justice.
So what is “justice?” One definition I saw online that seems to fit the times is: “Justice is a concept on ethics and law that means that people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone.”
We are a nation divided. How do we solve this problem and heal our nation? A good start would be to read what the Bible has to say about justice. Reading is not enough. We need to read and discuss. And out of that discussion, maybe – maybe – maybe, groups will be formed from all walks of life – politics, sports, entertainment, business, education, religious, labor/unions, law enforcement, and all ethnic groups – will start a (peaceful) dialogue and begin to come up with a plan. Not a wish list, but a real plan with goals, objectives, timelines, and a method to measure whether these goals are being met. If they are not being met, then analyze why not and make adjustments. It’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight, but if we don’t start now the problem will never be solved.
Until now we have only heard rhetoric from our leaders. Our politicians are name calling and blaming everyone from the opposite party. Some governors are even blaming mayors from their own party. We even have NFL football players blaming Roger Goodell for not coming up with a plan. I have not heard anyone even talk about a plan to overcome what is being called “systemic racism” in order to have “liberty and justice for all.” It’s time to start.
Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about justice and following laws. It’s a good place to start the discussion.
Deut 16:18-20 “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”
Leviticus 19: 15 -17: ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord. ‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”
And finally (because I could go on and on) from the Gospels, the Pharisees, trying to trick Jesus, asked him which of all the commandments is the most important. His answer (paraphrase) is what I call the greatest executive summary of all time.
He said to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
And on these two commandments depend the future of the United States of America!