An attorney friend not long ago asked me, “What is justice?”
I had no answer for him, but the very next day, while doing research for a theology class, I read the answer. It came from Matthew Fox’s book A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity. In it, he says: “Sustainability is another word for justice, for what is just is sustainable and what is unjust is not.” The flavor of that phrase resonates with me as truth.
Today, of course, I’m thinking about the heart-wrenching oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But I’m also thinking about poverty and social inequities. I’m thinking of the poor people in Haiti without shelter during the hurricane season as the Goldman Sachs people defend their million-dollar bonuses.
I’m thinking about Capitalism and how it is neither sustainable nor just, and wondering what will replace it. I’m thinking about our energy, taxation, health care policies all of which are neither sustainable nor just, and wondering what will replace them. In fact, what policies do we have in place that are sustainable and therefore just?
Few, if any.
Even the way we elect our officials is unsustainable and therefore unjust, but to ask them to effect real change in the electoral system is like asking a knife to cut its own handle. Therefore, it’s up to us.
This is the task that lies ahead for all of us–personally and individually–and as an election approaches, these are the questions we should be asking the candidates. Ask them to define sustainability. Ask them to define justice. Challenge every decision they make on our behalf to consider, as the Iroquois Nation does, the effects of their policies seven generations hence.
In 1887, Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This has always been true, but these days it can no longer be hidden. Now that it has been exposed, let us hold our elected officials to a higher standard.
Let’s not let them get away with any of this any longer. Our lives depend upon it.