Is it possible to have both peace and justice at the same time? Yes, but not always.
We have some great historical examples of where peace reigned and justice prevailed. Tragically, there are probably more examples of when this didn’t occur.
The most recent and relevant is related to Sudan and the ongoing extermination of the Darfuri people.
What are Peace & Justice?
Peace – For our purposes, peace is a freedom from civil disturbance a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom or a state or period of mutual concord between governments as in a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity. (Webster)
Justice – is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness and equity. (Wikipedia)
So in the case of Darfur, peace would be the absence of conflict, improved security and safety around refugee camps, and a return of the refugees to their original homes without a fear of violence. Justice would be the prosecution and imprisonment of individuals involved in illegal activities, such as rape, murder, pillaging, arson, and other similar atrocities.
Advocates around the world have been actively seeking a combination of the two to occur in the Texas sized province of Darfur in Western Sudan. However, at times their actions and advocacy have not always aligned with the best interests of the refugees and aid workers. I am just as guilty as the next advocate in this instance. We have been advocating for peace since 2003 and haven’t had any real success in that regard.
Governments around the world took action… but failed the people of Darfur with their token responses. We send peacekeepers without proper equipment, underfund them, and understaff them – setting them up for failure yet again. What is the purpose of documenting atrocities instead of preventing them? Yes, you must document a crime to prosecute it… but how many must die in the process?
In the past few weeks the International Criminal Court issued an indictment for the President of Sudan. The first time such an indictment has been issued for a sitting head of state. It may also be the first time that it is clearly a head of state allowing crimes against humanity and war crimes to occur. Read more at the ICC’s Darfur Page.
This indictment was a clear step toward justice and holding an individual accountable for the actions they knowingly allowed to occur. The debate in many circles is… was that a wise move?
I don’t know claim to know everything but there definitely are some problems related to this. Everyone knew that after the indictment all the humanitarian aid workers would be either kicked out or harrased and that came to pass. Everyone also knew that the indictment is almost impossible to enforce – Sudan and many of its closest allies are not signators (nor is the US) on the charter of the ICC. This means that we and they have no responsibility to act on its warrants. The president is fairly safe to travel around within those countries without risking arrest. It is almost impossible to arrest him in Sudan because he has popular support within the capital and much of north Sudan.
So why go after justice knowing that it will be hard to serve and create everything but peace? I agree it should give Darfuri people hope that ultimately justice will be served and their death and suffering will be vindicated. I can’t imagine that will mean much as they continue to suffer each day.
Jim Wallis gives a clear account of what has happened since the ICC indictment:
Over the past few weeks, 13 international humanitarian organizations have been expelled from Sudan at the dictate of Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan. These actions came soon after the International Criminal Court handed down an indictment of al-Bashir and issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. As a result, 1.1 million Darfuris are without food, 1.5 million without health care, and more than 1 million without access to clean drinking water. If there was any doubt as to whether or not he was truly acting in the best interest of his people, his use of food and water as weapons of war show that he just does not care about the people of Darfur.
With the expulsion of these humanitarian organizations, al-Bashir has shown that he has no interest in the well-being of the people of Darfur or in bringing piece. These actions show that once again there comes a time when a political leader has so violated standards of international law and morality that he should no longer be treated as a sovereign, even in his own country, but as a criminal. Actions like this show that he should no longer be president, but prosecuted and brought to justice like the international fugitive of the law he now is. If he was serious about peace and progress, the first thing he should do is welcome the aid organizations back into his country, and without that he has ensured that this warrant will be pursued.
There is no doubt that if we continue to watch there will be neither peace nor justice. We must act for both. Hoping and praying that somewhere along the way somebody with power will stand up and say ENOUGH and take immediate action that will end the pain and suffering of millions of innocent children, women, and men.
Other good reads include
ICC Not as stupid as the cynics may have thought
If Not Peace, Then Justice
Technorati Tags: Darfur, ICC, Bashir, Sudan, Genocide
In this heated election season it is important that all Christ followers act in accordance with Scripture and love everyone for who they are. As a unique creation of God, each person holds the image of God within them. Everyone from the most right-wing to the most left, black, white, elite, poor, old, and young should be treated with dignity and respect.
With that said, each of us will make the best decision we think possible on November 4. As American’s we should go to the voting booth and vote within the best of our knowledge and conscience.
In that vain, Jim Wallis of Sojourner’s wrote this about Christian Civility:
So maybe we should have some rules of civility for this election. Let me suggest “Five Rules of Christian Civility.”
- We Christians should be in the pocket of no political party, but should evaluate both candidates and parties by our biblically-based moral compass.
- We don’t vote on only one issue, but see biblical foundations for our concerns over many issues.
- We advocate for a consistent ethic of life from womb to tomb, and one that challenges the selective moralities of both the left and the right.
- We will respect the integrity of our Christian brothers and sisters in their sincere efforts to apply Christian commitments to the important decisions of this election, knowing that people of faith and conscience will be voting both ways in this election year.
- We will not attack our fellow Christians as Democratic or Republican partisans, but rather will expect and respect the practice of putting our faith first in this election year, even if we reach different conclusions.
On Nov. 4, Christians will not be able to vote for the kingdom of God. It is not on the ballot. Yet there are very important choices to make that will significantly impact the common good and the health of this nation — and of the world. So we urge our Christian brothers and sisters to exercise their crucial right to vote and to apply their Christian conscience to those decisions. And in the finite and imperfect political decisions of this and any election, we promise to respect the Christian political conscience of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I think we can all live within these 5 “rules” of discussion and life. What do you think of these?
Christian Civility Jim Wallis Sojourners Politics
Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani both mocked Barack Obama’s career as a community organizer. Palin made the most blatant mockery of the profession by comparing her experience as mayor to his as an organizer by saying “a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”
As I’ve thought about the comments they have made me a little upset, in some ways my job and experience is tied very closely to that of an organizer. As to be expected the community of organizers are very upset, no doubt organizing against McCain & Palin!
The joke played well to the party faithful, but in my opinion, mockery may be the best form of flattery, but its not a good way to get votes. Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t make fun of her experience as a mayor of a small town.
Christianity Today wrote that
Obama was incensed by the mockery, asking, “Why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they (Republicans) fighting for… They think that the lives of those folks who are struggling each and every day, that working with them to try to improve their lives is somehow not relevant to the presidency?”
I’m not sure how any one could say that there is no responsibilities in community organizing. Essentially organizing is the most basic form of democracy – working at the grassroots level gathering support for community change. I don’t know much about Obama’s work in Chicago, but in general organizing is tireless work, often calling for long hours and at times small, incremental successes.
The Wikipedia definition of community organizing may shed some light on the situation:
Community organizing is the foundation of the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement, labor rights, and the 40-hour workweek. Throughout our history, ordinary people have made good on America’s promise by organizing for change from the bottom up. From winning living wages to expanding affordable housing to improving the quality of public schools to getting health coverage for the poor and elderly, community organizers have made and will continue to make our communities and our country better for all of us.
It is my understanding that the Republican Party doesn’t really like these issues. I am a moderate who tends to lean conservative on many issues, but these are issues that are important to really discuss and actually act on during the 4 years between presidential campaigns.
Less Controversial – A Christian Perspective
Surprisingly Christianity Today quietly chastised Giuliani and Palin for their remarks.
for a party still trying to shake off the stereotype that Republicans are out of touch concerning the plight of the poor and care only for the rich. Certainly pro-lifers and others who help the poor do their own brands of community organizing in dysfunctional pockets of society. Whether community organizing is the best way to help the poor is one thing, but to dismiss out of hand the work of someone willing at least to try to help is another entirely.
Jim Wallis of Sojourners was offended by these comments, but more importantly he provided comments from a variety of faith-based community organizers, some of which are or were Republicans.
When people come together in my church hall to improve our community, they’re building the Kingdom of God in San Diego. We see the fruits of community organizing in safer streets, new parks, and new affordable housing. It’s the spirit of democracy for people to have a say and we need more of it,” said Bishop Roy Dixon, prelate of the Southern California 4th ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ, member of the San Diego Organizing Project and former board chair of PICO National Network.
I should also note this paragraph about what community organizers have been doing since Hurricane Katrina to help prepare for Hurricane Gustav. So community organizers were doing a ton of work to help evacuate and prepare people for a potential disaster:
“Perk,” as we used to call him, reported on the enormous consequences of 2 million people being evacuated because of Hurricane Gustav, much of the state now being without power, how hard cities like Baton Rouge were hit, the tens of thousands of people in shelters and churches, and the continuing problems caused by heavy rains and flooding. Then he talked about how their community organizers were responding to all of this — responding to hundreds of service calls, assisting local officials in evacuation plans, aiding evacuees without transportation, coordinating shelters and opening new ones, providing food, essential services, and financial aid to those in most need. Since Katrina, Perry’s Louisiana interfaith organizations have played a lead role in securing millions of dollars to help thousands of families return to New Orleans and rebuild their homes and their lives.
Another blogger from Sojourners, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah had this to say:
Community organizing attempts to give voice to the voiceless in our society (not just the powerful and the elite) and attempts to build influence based on relationships, rather than positions. Community organizing provides a prophetic voice because it arises from outside the system of power from the local community. Those feel to me like very biblical values.
Sojourners has published some great articles in the past about faith-based community organizing – Organizing Hope and Saul Alinsky goes to Church.
Elana Wolowitz responded at the Wellstone Action Blog with a post entitled: Responsibilities of an Organizer. She had this to say:
Being an organizer means putting the needs of the community above yourself and your ego. Your task is to influence the powerful with little more than the common will, and do so while developing the leadership of those around you. A good organizer is always working to put themselves out of a job, because many others should be prepared to step up and take their place. You listen and learn, coordinate and plan, arrive early and stay late, and do the real work that improves people’s lives.
I guess this means putting people first – not country first.
A local paper, Minn Post interviewed several organizers around the Twin Cities including
Elana Wolowitz, communications director for Wellstone Action!, is quick to point out that the nonprofit organization she works for is bipartisan. She’s just as quick to note that Palin’s “remarks were insulting and inappropriate to a field of work that is made up of people who are really sacrificing of themselves to give back to the community.”
Chuck Repke, longtime executive director of the District 2 Community Council in St. Paul, said “Clearly [Palin] doesn’t have much understanding of what community organizers do in a larger city.”
The District 2 Community Council facilitates communication between 10 neighborhoods in northeast St. Paul. It also offers English classes, carries out recycling efforts and crime prevention measures, and holds school supply drives, among other programs.
“The big thing of a community organizer is empowering the citizens to be able to take control of their communities, to give a voice to people who normally are voiceless, to empower those people who tend not to have much power and to facilitate the development of leadership in the community. It’s about making other people have power, not power for yourself,” Repke explained.
Yes the Democrats need to be thick skinned and should expect some harsh words and criticism about their lives. But in their remarks, Giuliani and Palin attacked a profession, not a person. I would venture to say that Republicans don’t really like Community Organizers too much because they are the opposite of big business and oil. Organizers are often organizing against “the establishment”, it is the nature of the beast.
Two late posts about organizing from The Moderate Voice and Daily Kos (don’t think about them as a liberal blog, take a second and look at their photo diary of organizing).
What do you think?
community organizing Palin Obama faith+based
When you start talking about social justice and advocating for the poor as a Christian some may wonder where you are at spiritually. When we moved to Minneapolis we were looking for a church community that was focused on creating change in the community and serving the “least of these.” We found some places that were doing excellent work but we felt that they were also taking away the importance of Christ for salvation. We have found a church that we feel is doing a good job of both caring for our neighbors while at the same time preaching salvation through Christ alone.
Both aspects of that can be pretty tricky and scary for others, but both are vital to our Christian faith and walk. We believe that salvation is through Christ alone, but we must also work out our faith.
I have read many books by “liberal, left-wing Christians” who many on the right would say aren’t really Christ followers because of their positions. I often find myself agreeing with the so called left-wingers on many issues. So I was quite pleased by this recent interview with Jim Wallis, who many see as the leader of the “Evangelical Left.”
For me it was great to hear him say this line:
And I just said, “… we’re committed to the central lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Scriptures.”
But many of his responses were powerful to me. I have mentioned before (1 2 3) that I am against killing unborn children – but the answer isn’t necessarily outlawing abortions.
But the abortion question is real. It’s a moral issue. The number of unborn lives that are lost every year is alarming. It’s a moral tragedy. And I want Democrats to say it’s a tragedy, and to take it seriously. Whichever Democrat wins, Barack or Hillary, I’m going to work very hard to make abortion reduction a central Democratic Party plank in this election. It never has been before. Their plank is simply a woman’s right to choose. That’s not adequate. The Democratic Party is not going to call for criminalization, but they can call for serious abortion reduction. And I want Republicans to not have only a plank that they trod over every four years to win elections. I want them to try and actually help reduce the abortion rate.
Bottom line: Jesus came to save us as individuals, but also to redeem the world. We need to be His hands and feet in the world bringing about salvation and change. Being a hater isn’t showing Christ love for a world in need of Love.