“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Martin Luther King Jr
I had bought a treat for the kids: a bag of jellybeans. They had their friends over and I thought I would teach the kids a lesson. I gave one of the kids, Caleb, 99% of the jelly beans and every one else got 1. The kids looked at the massive pile of candy in front of their friend and instantly said “that’s not fair”. “ Why does he get all of those and I get almost nothing?”. That started a very interesting conversation on justice.
Lately our power has been out a lot. Apparently there is not enough fuel to run the massive generators that power the city. So the power company decides what community gets power when and for how long. There isn’t enough fuel for everyone to get power. The poor areas of the city have had almost zero power for weeks now. We live in a wealthier area so we have had power a bit. Our friends live just down the road from us and they have had power almost the whole time. Our kids very quickly realized that this wasn’t fair. Why didn’t we have power but they did?
I must admit that up until now I have insolated my kids from the massive moral issue of justice. I am completely fair to the kids- exactly the same amount of treats, the same money spent on presents, the same number of play dates. On the playground I have been the fairness enforcer—you have been on the swing for 5 minutes now let someone else have a turn. Make sure it is fair. I have tried to educate them about world issues but even that I tame down significantly. I gloss over the harshness of the reality of the world we live in.
But here there is no escaping the issue of injustice. It is all around us and everywhere. Why are most of the people hungry? Why are there so few jobs here? Why is it impossible to access good medical care? Why can’t most kids afford to go to school? Why do so many children die? Why are the animals so abused? Why can’t the police be trusted? Why is the government so corrupt? Why do alcoholic husbands beat their wives and kids? Why did our 24 year old guard just get his 4th tooth pulled due to severe dental decay?
Injustice is everywhere and it is haunting.
I would love to say that our family was able to solve the problem of injustice in our jellybean conversation. The truth is we probably came up with more questions than answers. But at the end we all agreed that the first step in tackling the issue of injustice in this world is to notice the massive pile of jellybeans in front of us. Caleb could have just looked down at his pile, been happy with it, and then eaten all the jellybeans. But as soon as he looked around and saw that everyone else had less than him, he quickly shared what he had with the rest of the kids. He still had plenty of jellybeans for himself but was able to enjoy seeing everyone else be happy too.
In order to FIGHT injustice you must first SEE injustice. Injustice is all around us but so often we don’t even see it. We put blinders on and don’t want to be aware of the reality of the suffering. We are very happy that we have a big pile of jellybeans and don’t really want to know that most people do not. But…. when we do open our eyes and see injustice it gives us the chance to participate in the solution. The satisfaction in fighting injustice is far greater than temporary reward of amassing a massive pile of jellybeans.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small potion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage… that human history is shaped” ~Robert F Kennedy
Thank you for joining us on this journey. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to learn about the injustice of poverty that is the staggering reality for our dear Malagasy friends. Awareness is the first step to finding a solution!
“Until the great mass of people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each others welfare, social justice can never be attained” Helen Keller