08 Jul Justice for All
Sisters and Brothers,
Monday we celebrated the 240th birthday of our nation, “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Yet we hear about, and many of us experience, daily, the injustices to which too many of our sisters and brothers in our community and throughout this nation consider their lot in life, their normal…….the poor and marginalized. These injustices have led many to experience violence, both as actors and victims. This week, in two cities geographically distant from each other, this nation saw two more Black men die at the hands of law enforcement officers. This led to protests throughout the nation. In Dallas, a Black Lives Matter protest erupted in violence when snipers took advantage of the situation and killed five law enforcement officers and injured many others.
I am deeply saddened at the death of my brothers in Mississippi, Minnesota and Texas. Yet, I am not surprised. In a nation that professes to value justice for all, we have been remiss, at best, if not in fact negligent, in ensuring that justice for all is not just a platitude but a reality.
As sisters and brothers related one to another in our common humanity, we have an obligation to ensure that justice and fairness is available to all of us and each of us in the pursuit of life and living. Yet we find reason to vilify and undervalue one another. The poor are relegated to the margins and the rich do all they can to secure their positions and favored status. So why are we surprised when the poor and marginalized finally lash out and, in return, the rich and favored react with violence of equal magnitude?
It is time to stop this senseless violence. It is time to recognize that All Lives Matter….not just the rich, not just the poor, not just our Black or Native American or Latino or Asian or “white” brothers’ and sisters’ lives, not just our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, but ALL lives.
It is time to stand with each other and rebuke those who would secure their positions of privilege by pitting us one against the other. We must be willing to peacefully, yet with conviction, confront: those who would blame the undocumented immigrant for the loss of jobs and the lack of basic needs available to middle class and poor citizens of our community; those who would blame sisters and brothers, as a people, who practice a faith different from that upon which principles this nation was founded for acts of mass violence perpetrated by individuals and small groups; those who would blame this violence as an act of God visited upon a country that accepts and embraces sisters and brothers whose gender identity does not conform to their concept of “normal”; those who would undervalue our sisters and brothers because of the color of their skin, the language they speak or the cultural practices in which they engage. We must speak out and say, you are wrong and we will not tolerate fear-mongering and we will discourage generalizations that wrongly target others for all the ills of our society.
And we must confront those in power and who are privileged within our society (looking inward at ourselves, as well) who say we need to provide tax breaks and special benefits with hope that such benefits will then “trickle down” to the poor and marginalized. We must act to open the floodgates”, such that the reservoir of society will be filled with a justice that lifts not just the poor and marginalized in our communities out of poverty and marginalization, but all of us. In this way, we will all be lifted together, “boats” of different colors, shapes and identities , floating in a more just and peaceful society. We must say to our government officials that justice is for all and it is core to our principles as a just society to ensure that all those who live in this country have access to justice, rather than just providing such access in bits and pieces out of the leftovers from the government’s coffers.
Sisters and Brothers, we must speak up, stand shoulder to shoulder with the poor, the marginalized and the disenfranchised and make it clear that ALL lives matter……ALL lives deserve justice, fairly administered and universally provided. Then and only then can we all live together in peace, harmony and with justice and liberty for all.
We can and should do no less.
Justice & Peace,
Ruling Elder Conrad M. Rocha
Synod of the Southwest
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)