The Lenten series, Healing Justice, has been a good reminder of the power of love, the power of connection, and the power of healing – and how these can transform even the most destructive of social structures. In exploring the criminal justice system and the harm it causes so many, our country has much to repent from and so many ways we can turn toward healing, toward humanity, and toward the interconnectedness of all life. Here are a few Lenten take-aways I’ve gleaned from the series:
- We, as a country, need to turn from othering people by labeling them “criminals” in a way that marks people as not belonging to the community; we need to turn to our interconnectedness. No one is disposable; everyone belongs.
- We need to turn from viewing justice as punishment to justice as restoration. Instead of simply punishing a “perpetrator,” we need to focus on what victims need for healing.
- We need to turn to models of accountability. As Sujatha Baliga put it, “No one is accountable sitting in a box.” What does it mean to hold people accountable to their communities (rather than the state) for the harm they have caused?
- We need to turn to expansive understandings of justice that seek to make individuals, communities and relationships whole. Consider this Biblical definition of justice “the restoration of a situation or environment which promotes equity and harmony (shalom) in a community” (Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary).
- We need to turn from despair in a very broken criminal justice system to investing in programs that offer hope, healing and restoration.
There are no quick fixes for systems that have been broken for decades or even centuries. Yet, there are a multitude of opportunities for healing at every turn. Each of us individually and collectively can turn toward healing – and can find ways to seek a return to wholeness.
As part of our Lenten process, we have been learning the stories of Mario Ramos and Gabriela Solano, two immigrants who have been harmed by both the criminal justice system and ICE. I encourage you to listen to their stories and reach out on their behalf as they seek release from punishment and return to their communities. Signing a petition, making a phone call, or sending an email are simple acts that support their journey and the work of healing justice for our society. It is through listening to people’s stories and participating together in healing that we create justice for one another.
May we continue to turn toward one another as we seek healing, wholeness and transformation in our society.
Join us next Wednesday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. for Part 3: The Power of Healing.