‘It’s not fair, they have more than me!’
Written by: Eunice Attwood
Finding Our Hope explores the adventure of what it means to be a follower of Jesus through articles, projects and stories. In this article, Eunice delves into her passion for justice from the perspective of her Christian faith.
‘It’s not fair, they have more than me!’, shouted my seven-year-old brother as he banged his knife and fork onto the wooden dining room table. So began yet another argument about who had the most chips between him and his two younger sisters. The chips were counted and redistributed so everyone had the same number of chips on their plates. This calmed him for a very short time, until he noticed some of his chips were thinner and shorter than the chips on our plates! More swapping occurred. We began to eat and then he muttered under his breath, ‘I deserve more than you, because I am older! Our Mum, as ever looked at us all sternly, ‘why can’t you just all be kind to each other!’
Many people think fairness is at the heart of justice, an equal sharing and equal access to resources with equal rights for all, but like my brother some people think there are occasions when people deserve more than others.
People often really struggle to see the amount of power and privilege they have compared to other people. Power is often held by dominant groups in which others are excluded for various reasons including because of their gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, age, and economic circumstances.
For some people, freedom of choice is at the heart of justice, but what happens when our choices impact and even exploit others. How do we balance individual freedom and everyone living well together?
At the age of seven, my brother would fiercely defend his right to more chips, to the point of physically fighting with his two sisters, much to the despair of our parents. This raises another question about justice and violence. Is violence justified in some circumstance? It seems easy to answer when we think about children and chips, but not so easy when faced with defending people who are being abused by others.
Christians believe justice is part of God’s character, who God is. We believe all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore every human being is sacred and has intrinsic dignity and worth. God wants every person to live a life in which they flourish. A life in which they thrive and not just survive.
Dr Emilie Townes said, ‘When you start with an understanding that God loves everyone, justice isn’t very far behind.’ Justice isn’t a thing, it’s about our relationships, how we live with ourselves, with others, with the created world, and, for people of Christian faith, our relationship with God. This raises important questions about how we live together and how we share resources.
Martin Luther King said, ‘the moral arc of the universe is long, and it bends towards justice’ someone has added to this statement, but ‘only if we do the bending’. Justice involves our daily actions and choices. As Christians this means asking daily questions about how we respond to a God of love and justice in every part of our lives.
Where do you recognise injustice in your communities?
Who is actively responding to issues of injustice and how could you join in?
Where could you listen and learn about injustice?