Social injustice is a deceptively appealing indulgence, a deep draught that both quenches and inflames the darker urges of the human psyche. We who live in today’s world are not the first to drink from that cup through desire or under duress, however. No, social injustice has been one of society’s cardinal sins throughout the long centuries of human existence. Though we may not have been the first ones to brew the bitter drink, like our forebearers we are guilty of seasoning it to convince ourselves the taste is sweet.
And it can be if we are the ones sipping from the frothy rim of the glass. The sweeteners we have added rise like cream to the very top and mask the bitter dregs that lurk at the bottom; and should we continue to add pleasant things to the surface we might almost forget we are consuming a sugary poison. But the poison is still there, and that poison filters upward through the veil of denial and self-imposed blindness to corrupt our souls. Left unchecked, the corruption can become so complete the bitter dregs themselves begin to seem sweet.
Simply becoming a product of our history and environment is an easy thing. It requires little thought, and an equally small amount of effort beyond believing what we have been taught. This does not mean that everything we have learned lacks value, or that the lives we have lived are without positive meaning. But it is imperative that we question our inner truths, not with a goal of disproving them, but for the purpose of discovering the heart of those truths. And it is when we question these things that the moral poison, which is injustice of any stripe, is revealed and can be purged from our hearts and souls.
It is to facilitate this process that the right to peaceful demonstration and protest is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. Such assembling of citizens serves a useful and crucial function which benefits not only those who are protesting, but the general public as well. Social injustice seldom surges upward in a wave that covers the country, but rather erupts in pockets of which many citizens are not directly aware. The message these protests deliver need to be heard by every ear across the land, but too often that message falters beneath the overwhelming noise of riots. And when the message is drowned out, the only voice truly heard is that of chaos and anarchy.
This is a crucial time for both society and for true justice when demonstrations and riots are raging across the country over the death of George Floyd. People demand justice from a system many feel is corrupt; a system designed to protect, but that has instead failed them. And because of this, the thirst for justice has become a desire for revenge. Lines have been drawn and crossed. Property has been destroyed and still more lives have been lost. Other groups with their own agendas have appropriated the cry for justice, turning it into a strident cry for mindless destruction.
In midst of all the pain, outrag, and violence, the question has become this: can the calm voice of justice be heard over the deafening tumult?
That voice needs to be heard at all costs. Both those delivering the message and those who are intended to hear it must work hard toward this end. The system many feel is against them has a framework of avenues to ensure a failure can achieve its ultimate remedy. And those who should hear must filter out the noise, because the message is always of the utmost importance. And those who have voiced the message should work to ensure that message is received with the clarity and conviction it truly deserves.
Our society should work diligently to ensure that those who speak and those who hear can meet whenever the need arises, because at any time it could be any one of us on either side. Justice must be a universal right to all of society’s members, or it cannot be guaranteed for any of them. It is time to set aside that bitter cup, because in the end poison always kills those who drink it, even if for a time that poison is bittersweet.
Reach CHARLES ROMANS at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2655.