Martin Luther King Jr Day
“Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood, now is the time to make justice a reality.” Martin Luther King Jr (from the “I Have A Dream” speech, August 28, 1963)
Justice comes in at least two different, broad forms. There is ‘retributive justice’ – having to do with policing and settling scores (vengeance can be a form of retributive justice). And there is ‘distributive justice’ – having to do with goods and rights being passed out evenly. As I see things, Christians ought to engage in working towards justice of the distributive kind (whereas they would have little to no place in engaging in retributive justice).
Martin Luther King Jr was an articulate proponent in favour of justice – distributive justice – for all people.
We would want to build walls of division, or draw lines as to where our rights and property are infringed upon or held up. But we’re called to work towards the rights of all. We’re called to hold up what is of utmost concern and importance, no matter what, and that is: life.
I’m conscious, for myself, that I have certain agendas and pursuits that are personal – I want the best for myself and my family. But sometimes that can be at the expense of another. Is my living making it hard for another person to live? As a concrete example: do my choices at the store (conscious or without thinking) keep a person somewhere else in a cycle of poverty – am I buying something cheaply, but is that price being borne by someone else?
And once my needs and wants are met, do I work towards the rights and needs of others? Does my concern end only when I am “full”?
A quote that I’ve used a number of times is “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King Jr wrote this from jail in the 1960s. He’s absolutely correct. We must always raise up the cause of our fellow creatures and parts of creation! The work of justice does not end when our needs are met – it only might end when there is justice, enough, for all.