By DL Banks
The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine. For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked.Your ultimate reason for staying in this crooked world is not to imitate its devastating physique, but trying to do something about its ugly appearance.To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men. Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
If one imitates the upright, one becomes upright. If one imitates the crooked, one becomes crooked. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.
I marvel at the placidity of the Utopian who imagines that man is perfectible. There is no denying that the human creature is born selfish, abusive, vile. Just look around you and see. Society cynical and ferocious, the humble heckled and pillaged by the rich traffickers in necessities. Everywhere the triumph of the mediocre and unscrupulous, everywhere the apotheosis of crooked politics and finance. And you think you can make any progress against a stream like that? No, man has never changed. His soul was corrupt in the days of Genesis and is not less rotten at present. Only the form of his sins varies. Progress is the hypocrisy which refines the vices. There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Profit should never come at the cost of human blood. Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law.
Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die. Don’t show your inferiority by climbing a stunted tree, show your superiority by climbing the longest and crooked one.I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin. Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. There’s no guarantee that justice will win out or that a noble sacrifice will make any difference. But when it does, there’s something that still swells my chest. There’s magic in that It tells me that’s the way things are supposed to be. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.
Someday, the realm of liberty and justice will encompass the planet. Freedom is not just the birthright of the few, it is the God-given right of all His children, in every City, state, and country. It won’t come by conquest. It will come, because freedom is right and freedom works. It will come, because cooperation and good will among free people will carry the day. Justice is about making them pay for pain inflicted. Revenge is making them pay for yours. True peace required the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.
Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.