“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr
On a recent visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., I was struck by this quote. I stood frozen, reading and re-reading these words. It left me with a question. “Can we find peace where there has been no justice?”
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke these words in relation to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. He realized that ending a tense situation in the African American struggle for civil rights was not a true peace. More was needed. Justice was needed.
For me, this quote also applies to the struggle for peace, and longing for justice that is shared by victims of trauma. For many of us, there was no justice. No one was punished. If a price was paid, we aren’t aware of it. The scales of justice can seem forever tipped.
For those who have been victimized through war, or natural disasters, or sudden grief, there is often no single perpetrator to identify or seek justice from. For those who have been victimized by a single person or group, the justice we are afforded on a human level can often seem insufficient. Even if you have suffered through a trial, and the perpetrator is in prison, it will never feel like they are receiving as much suffering as they caused.
All trauma survivors have to come to terms with this at some point: there will be no justice that feels right.
To me, this is because we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Our desire for revenge, to even the score, and to find justice, are human urges. When we allow those urges to quiet down, and focus our minds and hearts spiritually, we get closer to the radical notion that peace lies in letting God take care of the justice.
“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
What does it mean to let God take care of the justice? It means having trust and faith that there is a Divine Order to the Universe. It means to believe in the laws of karma and trust that they will play out, without creating more karma of your own by seeking revenge.
Karma is truly a reliable law. What goes around, comes around. “That which ye sow, so shall ye reap.” I’ve seen so many examples of it that I have complete faith in it. We don’t always see the end result of karma, but suffice it to say, if someone causes harm, harm will come back on them at some point. Our peace relies on us having faith in this balancing law of the Universe.
For me, this was all I had to rely on. I never knew if the person who assaulted me was brought to any kind of justice. Justice in a legal form was not something I could cling to, so I had to find my own way to justice. Without it, I would have imprisoned myself with hatred.
The more I turned it over to God to provide my justice, the clearer it became I was on the right path. I began to relax into knowing that God is Love and that whatever was for the highest good of all involved is what would happen. It requires such faith at first, but the more I practiced it, the more I had peace around the issue of justice – a sure sign that healing was taking place, and the Divine was leading me home.
This is not to say that wrongdoers should not be dealt with on this earth. But it is to remind us that sometimes justice doesn’t look like we expect it to look, or come in the package we were expecting. And often, people who receive justice find no peace from it. There is more peace in forgiveness, than justice.
So can we find peace where there is no justice? Yes. Because justice is not ours to have or to give. Peace is just a God-thought away.
“By acting compassionately, by helping to restore justice and to encourage peace, we are acknowledging that we are all part of one another.”
You are Still Beloved.
November 6, 2016
4 thoughts on “Can We Find Peace Without Justice?”
Trauma survivors have suffered too much already…to cling to the injustice would be a cruel and unjust self punishment. What a delicate line we all walk between justified frenzy and liberating Faith as we are finding our way from pain to Peace. Thanks for this uplifting, full of promise and hope, motivating message!
Thank you Ms. O’Connor!
Beautifully said, I find this to be true as well. Carrying hatred and bitterness does not cause harm to the other, only to oneself.
Thank you, Lucia. Kindred heart!