reflections: no justice, no peace

lodged in between two worlds. one i have seen with regularity & the other is beyond this pale of current affairs. these worlds sit opposite one another. they frequent the same spaces i find myself, but they never come together. i find myself to be painfully blissful to never have noticed their preeminence until now or notice how much is at stake in coming to terms with what they are. what’s even more remarkable to me, is how long i’ve been pulled back & forth by these worlds. i’ve been asked to choose & no longer masquerade in between & i am also realizing that, choice between the two is given to us all.

on one hand, i have been witness to this world of peace seeking. peace offerings seek to smooth the divide & move past it. peace is where a lot of us want to be – with ourselves & with others in the world. to be at peace is to have seemingly quieted a fierce, unceasing storm. i suppose what really entices me to be peace oriented, is the messaging behind its ambition. we’re told that peace is loving, kind & calm. i certainly aspire to be all three & so, i almost naturally fall into its bosom, because it feels warm & inviting to me.

on the other, there’s the world of justice. justice is thorough & meticulous. it requires a lot of effort to be just, because it leaves no stone unturned. on the surface, justice sounds more rigid than peace & more times than not, it is. justice seeks to identify the issue & where things are said to belong; it then launches investigation on the divide & aims to rectify the matter. i identify with the endgame of justice, but also take stock of the work & the feathers that will be potential ruffled in the process of seeking justice.

peace is ideal, but when peace is offered in a shallow attempt to mend what’s broken, justice is circumvented. i love harmony & hope we find it one day, but, in this time & place, there’s work to be done to achieve it in full, without question. therefore, to call for peace, before or without earnestly seeking justice first, is to thoroughly turn a blind eye to the levity of struggle & even worse, is to passively strike a violent blow upon millions of already marginalized bodies.

in this year i have come to see this as absolute truth. the democracy of south africa is a young & developing 22 years of age. one could drive around one of the country’s beloved cities, travel a relatively short distance & see literal & symbolic images of a country still rebounding from an ugly history. the state-sanctioned segregation of apartheid is no longer legal. however, though some of the essential freedoms, such as: the right to vote, the right to take up residence in one of the beloved major cities & the ability to be gainfully employed anywhere are now available to non-white citizens of this country, it is readily apparent to anyone who spends time here that there’s much left to be done.

in the rural village that i call home, demoralizing poverty, lack of accessible quality education & healthcare, joblessness, and disease still plague the communal body. what’s more, is in the communities such as the one i call home, the experience of these collective traumas have seemingly left lives in bleaker conditions than in times of the apartheid era. there’s work to be done, not only in terms of building sustainable living for all, but also in building equitable opportunity that is sustainable. this work will be long & rigorous – this work must be lead & sustained through an earnest effort to create a society based around justice seeking.

of course, based on what’s at stake, there are those who will continue to call for peacefulness. this stems from the subconscious realization that, if justice prevails, what results is loss of not only the profits of privilege, but also loss of an identity centered around the subjugation of bodies. prioritizing peace benefits the privileged, because, peace, in this context is to ignore one’s culpability & place the hones on the oppressed to forgive & move on. not only is this problematic because of lacking accountability, but also, because in the long run, nothing has changed.

it must also be said that many well-meaning folks prioritize peace-building over justice-seeking, even through a proclaimed desire to work for change. this comes from a short-sided view of the divide that looks at it as only an interpersonal matter. let’s be clear – the attitudes & deep-seeded beliefs of oppressors are indeed what have laid foundation for this plunder, but, there’s carnage that must be accounted for. the interpersonal is only a pillar of the design. the systemic, organizational & institutional pillars have long been the fruits of the labor interpersonal hate has harvested. to neglect this is to be a passive part of the divide.

if we’re really about liberation, this whole thing needs to be uprooted – there’s no two ways about it. justice is needed & long overdue.